In an example of the season’s continued yo-yo-ing quality consistency, Jujutsu Kaisen “Fluctuations, Part 2” is a major step up from last week’s clumsy and rushed production. With crisp lines, kinetic and detailed action flow, and some truly haunting moments of excessive brutality, Episode 15 continues to breathe life into the nightmare that is the “Shibuya Incident” arc. From a possession driven Toji arriving to wreck Dagon in his own domain to Sukuna’s chilling awakening, the episode summons up the necessary skill and strength of its overworked artists for a gripping episode that sets up the remaining season with violent death and gleeful destruction.
Dagon’s domain is given ample screen time as Toji’s fangs are pointed toward the strongest being in his vicinity — Dagon, in this case. Nananmi, Maki, Megumi, and Naobito are forced to helplessly look up and hope that Toji for all his feral ferocity is on their side. The four-minute fight sequence between Toji and Dagon is a highlight, with terrific work from animator Keiichiro Watanabe whose work includes the Todo and Yuji fight in season one. Watanabe delivers an epic faceoff that credibly captures Toji’s sheer, monstrous strength through the lines of his muscles and the flex and pull of his punches. But it’s not just about brute strength but agility too that makes the fight sequence so electric as the dexterity of the character is captured in smooth fluidity.
Take, for instance, the usage of Playful Cloud, the three-section staff he stole from Maki at the start of the fight. Similarly to how they drew Gojo’s fight with Jogo and Hanami, the animation hones in on Toji’s swift actions as he uses the staff as a means to build impact. That plus the sound design of him sharpening the segments into daggers to deliver the final, devastating blows brings home just how much of a powerhouse he is and how screwed our heroes are if they are to fight against him now that Dagon’s domain has dropped due to his demise.
They won’t get time to ponder that idea further though, as Toji sends himself and Megumi flying out of Shibuya station just as Jogo appears. In another act of truly shocking brutality, he engulfs the remaining heroes in flames before finding Sukuna, whose awakening he’s sensed. This moment of casual, hideous violence is indicative of what’s to come, starting with the violation of Yuji as he has ten (gross) of Sukuna’s fingers shoved down his throat to awaken the sorcerer.
Because when Sukuna awakens, there’s no doubt that Mimiko and Nanako — the two rescued disciples of Geto — are not long for this world, no matter the role they played in awakening him. We’re further unsettled when Nanako, in well-meaning bravado, asks Sukuna to kill the being that calls himself Geto, as she knows he’s not the man she once knew. In Sukuna’s eyes, this is a drastic overstep, his ego and power seeing the request as a demand. He makes quick work of Mimiko is a haunting blow of bloodshed. The character animation of Nanako in this moment as her face warps in horror is incredible and chill-inducing, as her wails lead to her brutal demise as well. Sukuna’s always been a horrific presence with tremendous voice acting by Jun’ichi Suwabe. In “Fluctuations, Part 2” we’re reminded of his indomitable power.
There’s a lovely discordance in the episode due to the contrasting playing fields of Dagon’s domain and the Shibuya Station where Sukuna makes his appearance. The former is ablaze with garish vibrancy, with everything from Maki’s purple glasses to Megumi’s nosebleed being given a sickly, unearthly glow due to the daytime brightness of this version of the world. There’s a Mario-style aesthetic that feeds into the artificiality of the domain. It may act as a refuge for the villains, but everything about it poses a threat to our heroes. Contrast that to the dim, neon-lit shadows of the real world, one where the grays are overwhelming as hope is repeatedly dampened in the unending carnage, and the effect is stirring. In daytime and at nightfall, this is a world overwhelmed by horror.
And it would seem that the horror will continue. With Sukuna’s promise to Jogo to kill everyone but one if he’s able to land a blow on him, there’s no doubt that destruction is awaiting our heroes and their allies. Jujutsu Kaisen “Fluctuations, Part 2” both act as a welcome, if damning, “fix it” to Episode 14 while also being demonstrative of all that makes the talent working at MAPPA so incredible. With the lives of some of our favorites in limbo, we’re left breathless as we await the coming chaos.
Jujutsu Kaisen Season 2 is available now to stream on Crunchyroll.
Featured Image © Gege Akutami/Shueisha, JUJUTSU KAISEN Project
Jujutsu Kaisen - “Fluctuations, Part 2” - 8/10