“Hidden Inventory 2” operates with a similar cadence as the premiere of season two of Jujutsu Kaisen. However, while the premiere dealt with reestablishing the world and the time period the first arc of the season was taking place in, this week the characters are given more room to flourish. The result is a dynamic between Geto and Gojo that grows all the more intriguing as we start to realize that, at this point in their lives, Geto is the more compassionate, while Gojo remains self-oriented.
It’s a genuine, fascinating layer to the two friends, especially with how much Geto seemingly changes over time, with something having to be the push that causes him to become the series’ big bad, while Gojo remains shockingly similar. An egoist with too much power, he might be a good mentor to Yuji, but he’s a bad teacher.
The episode continues with the main objective of finding Riko, a middle school-aged girl who has been tasked with becoming the host for Tengen, an immortal entity and sorcerer who is considered the most potent barrier user. The series quickly makes sure to paint a devastating picture, sharing that Riko’s parents died when she was a child, leaving her all but alone in the world aside from her tireless caretaker. Her main wish before she assumes the role of host body to Tengen is to enjoy some balmy afternoons with her school friends, a wish that is cut short.
It’s this hope of hers that highlights Gojo and Geto’s differences. Gojo doesn’t understand (or simply doesn’t care) and wants their mission over and done with so that they can return home. If he had it his way, they’d have carted Riko off the moment they found her. Geto, meanwhile, is able to understand that this action will forever separate Riko and any semblance of the real world, pointing out the threat they need her to come to terms with her own ending.
The episode spins its wheels in terms of reaching the main point of the narrative. The trip to the school amounts to little more than a hurdle for the heroes as well as an excuse to allow Geto and Gojo to display their powers. Geto gets the more stylish sequence, his fight scene being broken up and depicted in split screen frames to emulate a manga panel style, with some shots being more static as others on screen continue to move, suggesting the next plays in the fight. His curse manipulation remains visually repugnant that works at odds with his general, current, demeanor.
The close combat though is where the animation is allowed to let loose, despite the shows thrill in typically taking up as much space as possible in action sequences. Instead, as Geto manages to land brutal hits on the Shikigami user who’d infiltrated the school, the animation is caustic and severe, making sure there’s a visceral reaction to the busted nose the user sports.
Ever since Shōta Goshozono replaced Sunghoo Park as series director, the series has adopted a softer aesthetic, one that in particular works well with the current cour. Yōsuke Takada, who directed and storyboarded the episode, fits within the overall tone and look of series two, and the handling of action — especially the action that takes place in small, confined spaces — helps create a dissonance between the overall world-building and violence that happens within it.
Gojo’s fight, meanwhile, leans heavier into the humor though it never negates his own considerable skill. However, he, as well as the character known as the “Sorcerer Killer,” revealed to be Megumi’s father, aren’t given the same level of spotlight as Geto. With only two episodes though there will be plenty of time to explore both, especially as we come to understand Gojo’s near-incomprehensible powers, which become increasingly confounding when he tries to explain them.
Jujutsu Kaisen manages another strong, introductory episode as we continue to get our footing in a story that is actively deceiving us with each episode, lulling us into a false sense of security. Geto and Gojo might be close friends now, but something is going to threaten that, and it will be interesting to see how the inevitable lands after we’ve watched their camaraderie develop. It’s a bit of the old Hitchcock method of suspense: we know the bomb is under the chair but the characters don’t and we have to just hold our breath until it explodes.
Jujutsu Kaisen Season 2 is available now on Crunchyroll with new episodes each Thursday.
Featured Image © Gege Akutami/Shueisha, JUJUTSU KAISEN Project
‘Jujutsu Kaisen’ - “Hidden Inventory 2” - 8/10