Skin Game – Jujutsu Kaisen (Episode Eleven)
You know what type of villain is scary? A child. Seriously scary stuff. You know what’s even worse than that? An eminently powerful being with the mentality of a child. Some villains bluster about what led them down the path of evil, what event twisted their psyche until it snapped. But those with an eerie innocence? They just don’t know the difference between sanity and chaos. Whatever shiny idea floats through their mind: they latch onto it. What would happen if I ate this chocolate? Why do people like this movie so much? How far can I push a person before they do something crazy? It’s all valid; it’s all a game. Somebody standing in the way of your fun? Push them down. They get back up? Make them stay down. It’s all very frightening; it’s all very much Mahito (the villain in question, and the guy I usually refer to as Stitches…because of his stitches). See, Nanami (previously referred to, by me, as Salaryman) deduces that Mahito has only recently attained sapience, and is essentially just seeing what he is capable of. Unfortunately, Mahito doesn’t give two flips about humanity and basically sees them as something to play with. Also: Mahito plays rough. I mean, we technically knew all of this last week, but it all hits a little different knowing that Mahito is still a growing boy.
Speaking of…something entirely different, Itadori spent his time this week making buddies—specifically, Yoshino. It’s all rather sweet; Yoshino’s mother even happens by the two and invites Itadori over for dinner—having taken a liking to the boy who understands that she is not a woman who suits holding a green onion…which is a thing? Anywho, the three have a lovely dinner involving prop comedy and Itadori confirms his reluctance to kill anybody (after being questioned by Yoshino), not wanting the option of murder to enter his toolbox for solving problems. Everything is good. Everything is happy. Everything is borked up royal when one of Sukuna’s fingers winds up in Yoshino’s house and lures in a curse that kills his mother. Straight up eats her legs off. Yep. This show’s dark. You know what’s not dark? Yoshino’s wardrobe. Yep, dude had to borrow one of his dead mother’s black jackets to wear when he went to kill some of his classmates… Nope. Show’s dark. Let’s just hope Itadori can stop his new friend from committing some murders. I mean, Yoshino already poisoned a guy and kicked him around a bit; but, maybe stopping before the murder thing would be enough to make this a happy ending? No? Maybe a happy ending by this series’ standards? Not that that’s saying a lot…because…because of the whole brutally murdered mother thing. Well, at least Yoshino’s other new friend, Mahito, didn’t help orchestrate the murder…
The Man Named Hyunckel – Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai (Episode Eleven)
Just when I thought Adventure of Dai couldn’t top the incredible finale to the Crocodine Arc, it pulls out an incredible episode like this—that is equal parts action packed and thought provoking. When we met Hyunckel last week, I figured he was going to be an intriguing opponent for Dai and his party; I didn’t anticipate how much I would come to really care about this guy in the course of a single episode.
This was really an episode in two parts: the first half focused on the backstory of Hyunckel, where we learn his reason for his hatred of Avan. As it turns out, this isn’t a simple world; there are complex moral shades to it that begs the question of who is right and who is wrong. We come to learn that Hyunckel was adopted as a child by a skeleton monster of the Dark Army named Bartos, during the time of Avan’s war against Dark Lord Hadlar. Bartos had taken in Hyunckel as his son despite him being a human, and raised him as his own in the Undead castle among other monsters of the Dark Army. That was until Avan arrived and decimated every single monster in the castle—including Hyunckel’s father, the skeleton Bartos.
It was truly interesting to see the parallels between Dai and Hyunckel, both who were found orphaned as newborns and were each raised among monsters. It really throws into question whether monsters are inherently evil, as the general populace presumes. Clearly, they are every bit as capable of compassion and love as humans are as we have seen through Brass and now with Bartos.
Among the wreckage of the castle, Avan discovers the young Hyunckel and takes him in as his student, believing him to have been a prisoner of the monsters. However, it was all part of Hyunckel’s plan to avenge his father’s death by killing Avan with the very same move he had killed Bartos with: the Avan Strash.
However, Hyunckel failed to kill Avan and was taken back in by the Dark Army under the tutelage of Mystvearn, the still mysterious general. Through this backstory, I really came to care about Hyunckel and thought a lot about what exactly constitutes justice in the world of Dragon Quest. This is something that Dai also struggles to come to grips with as well, unable to strike Hyunckel (as he hesitates). Dai knows that he very easily could have become just like Hyunckel, and that shared experience is something that he relates with.
The second half of the episode sees our heroes in truly dire straits, as Hyunckel is about to land the final blow using his newly developed Bloody Scryde attack—the anti-Avan Strash in many ways—when out of nowhere comes Crocodine, who jumps in front of the attack and takes Hyunckel’s sword straight to the gut. Crocodine uses his garuda eagle to help Popp and Dai escape, but ultimately falls to Hyunckel—still having been injured from his prior battle with Dai. Crocodine tells Hyunckel that humans can be good, a thought that causes Hyunckel to spare his life as a mercy, of sorts, choosing to imprison Crocodine and Maam, who wasn’t able to escape, for use as hostages to lure Dai and Popp back.
The episode ends with Dai and Popp being confronted by an old man who somehow knows who they are. Who exactly is this old man? We will have to wait until next week to find out. Here is to hoping that he can help our heroes with their Hyunckel problem.