Dreaming of Yuuji and Rengoku

~ short essay on Yuuji and Rengoku, from Jujutsu Kaisen and Demon Slayer, a pair of battle shōnen anime.

What is it about Yuuji Itadori that makes us want to be better?

I am talking about the strangely-haired protagonist in the latest battle shōnen hit, Jujutsu Kaisen (2020–2021). Yuuji, he’s a loner but a great friend. He never has a bad attitude. He respects his elders, so much so that he lets them guide his life path. Aloof but intense; happy-go-lucky but also willing to go apeshit with vigilant focus when the time calls for it. An automatically sincere young man willing to put himself in harm’s way for friends and strangers alike. He’s an enjoyer of cinema, and of laughing and making people laugh. Itadori is like a normal guy, but mixed with the sprinklings of a hero. Part himbo, part warrior. In some ways, he’s like every other Shōnen Hero; but in other ways, he’s not.

What does Yuuji Itadori want most of all? What is Yuuji’s “Dream” — the shonen protagonist’s ultimate tool to capture us, to make us ally to their emotional cause, to audiovisually climb the mountain alongside them for.

To be the best? To save the world? To lead it?

To be a good person.

To help the people he can. To not let his strength, his talents, his very life ever go to waste.

Short, simple, admirable. This is Yuuji’s character in a nutshell. He possesses a semi-dormant daemon within his soul, and yet, his character is stronger for it. Itadori is more than up for the challenge of making his life and the world around him — better.

These ideals seem to abide by the words of another hero, from another time and space {though very recently allied within my mind here in 2021}. Someone else who inherited his life’s course from the words of an elder. His mother, taking on her heart as Itadori took on his grandfather’s.

~ “It is the duty of the strong to protect the weak.”
~ Demon Slayer: Mugen Train (2021)

What a beautiful way of looking at the world.

Jujutsu Kaisen (“JJK”) is a revelation. I had no idea what it was before I started watching it this year.

A combination of top tier animation, awesome concepts and combat, intriguing three-dimensional characters that are given the floor to shine, and a rather simple yet satisfying story thus far… JJK has fast become one of my modern favorites in anime.

Come for the stark white-haired, sexy, masked Sensei > stick around for the panda and the android, Toudou and his vivid imaginings, Nobara and her hammer, and Fushiguro’s promised yet unknown strength > stay for Yuuji Itadori.

JJK, just like Demon Slayer, has characters, and animation, worth dreaming about. ~