Yuji Itadori, the protagonist of JUJUTSU KAISEN, starts off as so many do — living a peaceful existence as your average high schooler. He’s a member of the Occult Club, mostly for his own amusement and to mask his apathy towards the more demanding clubs, and in his free time, he visits his ailing grandfather at the hospital.
The only exceptional aspect about him is his superhuman strength, though he treats this with casual indifference, like most things in life. It isn’t until one fateful night when the Occult Club mess with magic that is beyond their comprehension, that Yuji finds his true calling.
There’s a catch, however.
He has come in possession of a potent cursed object; a finger belonging to the King of Curses, Ryomen Sukuna. In a well-intended yet poorly planned bid to prevent it from being consumed by a cursed spirit, Yuji opts to gobble it himself. Yep, he just ate a dead guy’s ancient finger.
That’s a real good way to contract Trichinella, but more significantly, it has also made him the vessel for Sukuna and given the wicked spirit a pathway back onto our mortal plain. Such a serious crime has placed Yuji in the crosshairs of the jujutsu sorcerers, a group of powerful magic practitioners set on dispelling cursed spirits before they wreak too much havoc.
The smart thing to do might be to just put Yuji out of his misery then and there, taking a piece of Sukuna down with him, but the kid seems capable of controlling the monstrous urges for the most part. Instead, he is enlisted as a jujutsu sorcerer and tasked with completing his off-putting meal of digits. Once he has ingested all of the fingers (twenty in total, because Sukuna is just that much of a showoff), the mission is complete.
Either way, Yuji is on death row, so why not try to go down on a high note, right? Sounds like a fun hell awaits.
As it turns out, Yuji is remarkably well-equipped for the art of jujutsu. He’s unrefined, impulsive and tactless, but his already impressive physical gifts prove a boon to his training that can mask his shortcomings. He operates on instinct (with a dash of flair for effect), and more often than not, his intuition is spot on. Where others would hesitate, he acts, flinging himself headlong into the fray.
Coupled with the cursed energy that comes as a byproduct of munching on an evil dude’s pinkie, and he’s potentially a force to be reckoned with. The major hurdles are whether he has the wherewithal to understand how to harness these new powers, and whether his presumed allies trust him enough to support him along the way.
Obtuse as it sounds, he is akin to a rather pliable lump of putty, mouldable to the whim of its holder, and this makes him an enticing prospect. He is free of the preconceptions and doubts held by those who have dabbled in the occult for longer periods of time, instead being impressionable and open to suggestion.
Right off the bat, it is established that Yuji is an absolutely loveable knucklehead. Aimless though he may seem in life, he earnestly chooses to act in a way that benefits others.
He can be heroic with the right motivation, though without apparent danger to himself or others, it won’t be his default mode. He’s more curious, even playful… he is just a teenager, after all, albeit one with quite a burden looming over him.
It makes his dynamic with fellow dorks Satoru Gojo and Nobara Kugisaki particularly delightful. The trio add some levity to the otherwise sober world of jujutsu sorcery, and that energy is infectious — both to their peers, and to us, the adoring viewing audience.
For more insight on what makes Gojo-sensei so wonderful, be sure to check out Yali’s article on the subject!
As soon as Yuji discovers that someone is in jeopardy however, a switch flips within him, and he becomes a different person. His concern for the wellbeing of the populace isn’t superficial or derived from an arbitrary sense of duty. It’s tangible, all-consuming. Should an innocent soul suffer, he’ll take it personally.
Even then, there’s more layers still. Underneath all of this, beyond his whimsy and determination, he is undeniably human. Unflappable for the most part, but susceptible to the sheer hopelessness that comes with this grim line of work. When his back is up against the wall — and by his standards, he has to be practically fused with said wall to hit this point — he falters, becoming painfully aware of his own ephemerality. It’s at this stage that his mettle is truly tested, and it is absolutely gripping. When would his death be a proper death, he wonders.
Surely there is no adjective that encapsulates Yuji quite as well as ‘likeable’. Simple a term it may be, it is altogether impossible to dispute. He’s fun, exciting and relatable, and it makes him the perfect protagonist for an anime as epic and sprawling as JUJUTSU KAISEN.
He leads with his heart, the same one he wears so shamelessly on his sleeve the rest of the time. What you see is what you get with Yuji, and honestly, it’s hard to ever ask for more.
Keen on uncovering more about Yuji and his mysterious colleagues? Funimation is your home for JUJUTSU KAISEN, alongside more shounen action than you can shake a cursed object at. So go ahead — expand your domain and take in one of the fastest rising anime on the scene. We’ll see you there… my… best… friend!!