The Devil’s Plaything – Jujutsu Kaisen (Episode Thirteen)
As far as body-horror beatdowns go, this is definitely one of them. I don’t mean that in a bad way, it’s just that, after writing that first sentence, I realised that I have not seen enough body-horror beatdowns to codify them. So yeah, Mahito is one messed up curse, and he goes bunches of bananas on our two sorcerers. Dude’s got blade arms, urchin body, eye hands, and even a child form. It’s all pretty disturbing. The continued glee on Mahito’s face is also less-than-pleasing, showing that even in life-or-death situations he has no real concern or compassion for anything but himself: he is, by all accounts, a sociopath. Worse still, he has yet to reach his full potential, as being pushed to the edge by a brilliant onslaught from Itadori and Nanami allowed him to develop and employ Domain Expansion. Creepy hand motif aside, Mahito’s Domain means that his Idle Transfiguration is a guaranteed hit: guy can just straight up alter anybody’s soul against their will. That. Is. Horrifying. The only reason Nanami isn’t a contorted mass of flesh is because Itadori is dumb/heroic enough to break into the Domain. Which, in addition to being completely in line with Itadori’s character, provides some nice information regarding Domains. The more powerful and deadly they are on the inside, the easier they are to break into. Why? Because they don’t need to be. After all, what moron would break into a realm of pain? Also, the rules of some Domains can be used against them, such as Mahito’s realm of touch—the medium through which he enacts his Idle Transfiguration—forcing him to impose on Sukuna’s soul when Itadori enters. Which was a very bad move on Mahito’s part.
Awesome fight aside, this episode also lays pretty damn heavily into the emotional spectrum. Itadori was forced to kill transfigured humans, throwing his entire perception of his ideals into disarray. Nanami almost died, making him think back on why he decided to re-enter the world of sorcery and curses. Yoshino “moving away” forces his school to crack down on bullying, causing everyone who turned a blind eye to it to realise their own cowardice. It’s some pretty heavy stuff…but that’s what makes this series so good. As outlandish as the world of sorcery and curses is, Jujutsu Kaisen deals with the reality of it. Sure, Itadori is a powerhouse with an even greater powerhouse housed within him, but he’s still just a kid; kids don’t normally have to ponder the moral quandary of taking a life for the greater good. I mean, I sure hope they don’t. Still, it makes everything that has happened in this series so far feel important. Yoshino wasn’t around for that long, but his impact was serious, is serious; heck, the guy even made it into the intro sequence. So, I remain ever curious to see where this series will go, especially now that Itadori has crossed a line he vowed never to cross and has his sights set on ending Mahito once and for all. It’s gonna be good.
The Greatest Strash – Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai (Episode Thirteen)
Let me start by saying this: thank you, Hyunckel.
What an incredible arc we have just witnessed. I thought the series had peaked early with the Crocodine Arc, but here we see the series surpass that with the Hyunckel Arc. The twists and turns the story has taken along the way to this final confrontation between our heroes and Hyunckel has been a sight to behold, to say the very least, and with the climactic battle here we get true catharsis and some answers to the concepts of justice the arc has pondered.
We learn—thanks to Maam’s discovery of a soul shell—that Hyunckel’s father was not actually killed by Avan; instead, Avan had recognised him as a father and came to realise that monsters are not purely evil beings, as he had once thought. This was a monumental moment for Avan, who spares Bartos’ life and goes on to defeat Hadlar. Unfortunately for Bartos, Hadlar was later revived by the Dark King Vearn and, in a fit of rage at his own defeat, brutally kills Bartos before he is found by Hyunckel.
With the last of his energy, Bartos sends his spirit’s message into the soul shell which contains the truth of the situation. Hyunckel cannot handle the truth and, realising he has gone too far now in having tried to kill Avan in the past and even joining the Dark Army, he considers himself damned.
The battle continues to rage on with Dai losing consciousness after suffering a direct hit from Hyunckel’s Bloody Scryde manoeuvre. Dai’s body continues fighting on instinct, something that Popp was informed about from Avan is something that can happen to great martial artists. Despite his unconscious state, Dai does the impossible and imbues his sword with spells, unleashing fire and lightning attacks on Hyunckel—in an incredibly animated fight sequence that may be the series best yet. After suffering a Zapple Strash, Hyunckel is defeated.
As Hyunckel is reconciling his mistakes and the ways in which perspective can affect the paths we choose to walk, Flazzard, the Fire-Ice General, rocks up and causes the dormant volcano upon which they had been fighting to erupt. In his final moments, Hyunckel redeems himself by sacrificing his life to save our heroes—the “true students of Avan”.
I really thought this episode was pretty much amazing, and I am really intrigued where the series goes from here. It is a shame to lose Hyunckel because I would have loved him to continue with our heroes.
It looks like Flazzard may be the next villain on the chopping block for Dai and company and, after his stunt he pulled at the end of the episode here, I can’t wait to see this bloke cop an Avan Strash to the face as soon as possible.
I’m not sure if I will be continuing with the weekly Writings for Dragon Quest: Adventure of Dai beyond this cour. Stay tuned for next week to see what happens, I suppose. But you can trust that I will definitely be continuing to watch this series weekly. As we head onward into 2021 and the winter anime season, I, for one, am excited what the future holds. I’m grateful to have been able to take this adventure with Dai and write about it each week. It’s a great show and, if you haven’t yet got the memo on that, you should do yourself a favour and watch this thing. Until next time: don’t touch any forbidden chests.