If the screenshot of Yuuji sitting on a sofa and sipping on a soda with a snoring stuffed bear didn't clue you in, then breaking news: Our boy is back from the dead, and it isn't even that big of a deal or anything. Sure, there's the issue of the ominous bargain that he may or may not have had to make with Sukuna in order to return to the land of the living, but that's a Future Yuuji problem. This week, he gets to wake up stark-ass naked on the autopsy slate, narrowly avoiding getting the rest of his insides put on the outside, and saving Gojou a troublesome killing spree against sorcery's upper echelon in the process.
And that's all in just the first few minutes of “After Rain”, which is probably Jujutsu Kaisen's busiest (and perhaps messiest) episode to date. That doesn't mean that it wasn't plenty fun to watch – this week sees the show getting straight-up goofy with its tonal shifts and silly gags, so you'll get your twenty-three minutes' worth of thrills, chills, and yuks, rest assured. There's just a general lack of direction and momentum to the larger plot, which means “After Rain” can't help but feel just a little bit like Jujutsu Kaisen is scrambling to fill time.
Take the side-plot with the scheming curses, which began last week. It really only consists of a single scene, and then goes completely unmentioned until the volcano-headed cyclops curse pops out in a last-minute cliffhanger to try and whack Gojou. That one earlier scene is a doozy though, and even if it makes for odd pacing to have the curses' conversation stretch on for two entire episodes just to demonstrate that they're Totally Super Evil Bad Guys, I won't deny the grim effectiveness of seeing Volcano Face casually immolate nearly every single innocent bystander in the café. It's bleak and darkly comedic, which suits Jujutsu Kaisen well.
Right afterwards, Megumi closes out the team's last disastrous mission by following up with the mother of Tadashi, the hit-and-run driver who got killed when the Special Grade Curse arrived. It's a different kind of bleak to watch his grieving mother tearfully acknowledge that nobody else is even going to care that her son is dead, but we see that Megumi was inspired by Yuuji's reckless dedication to helping literally every human he can, living or dead. In the mad scramble out of the detention center, Megumi stopped to tear Tadashi's nametag away, if only to offer his mother some closure, and to try and see to it that the guy's death wasn't entirely overlooked, scummy as he was. It's a small character moment, but a very powerful one.
I hope everyone's appetite for dark and emotional storytelling was satisfied by all of that, though, because the second half of the episode is where the “straight-up goofy” side of Jujutsu Kaisen comes roaring in at full force. We get a decently edited cross-montage of Megumi and Nobara training for that upcoming tournament, while Gojou gives the still-presumed-dead Yuuji a curse energy crash-course in a hidden basement room. Though the explanation of how straight curse energy differs from jujutsu techniques is a helpful one, the main priority here is jokes. Nobara gets brutalized by Panda; Yuuji turns into a ridiculous chibi ghost thing when he learns he won't be able to get a curse-fueled Kamehameha or Spirit Gun; Gojou explains that Yuuji's training will consist of working through a literal mountain of random DVDs while using his curse energy to prevent a possessed stuffed animal from beating the shit out of him. Keep in mind that we saw half a dozen people die horrible, tragic deaths just ten minutes ago.
It's a lot, to be honest, and it's honestly impressive that Jujutsu Kaisen is even able to keep all of these disparate tones and energies held together in one piece. It helps that the voice actors and animators work their damndest to sell every dumb joke with maximum effort (I was legitimately cracking up at the insane noises that managed to slip out of Junya Enoki's mouth during Yuuji's temper tantrum). I'll be glad to see Jujutsu Kaisen finally deliver the main course of Curse Conspiracy plot but let it never be said that the show didn't put in the work to keep us entertained while it set the table.
Odds and Ends
• This week's after-credits stinger is what I think is supposed to be a parody of a daytime TV reality talk-shows, called “Gojou Satoru's Go Go Gojou!”, where the rascally ol' teacher gives a tour of his alma mater, and teases Yuuji some more. I'll be honest, the humor of it flew over my head a little bit, but more Gojou is always a good thing!
• The lone survivor of the Curse Café Massacre is a poor guy who has been busting his ass bussing tables in order to pay all four (!) of his sisters' college tuitions. He really needs the job, but he knows a party of five from a party of haunted-ass invisible murder demons, and he ducks right out of there in the nick of time. Don't worry, guy. I'm you'll dig yourself out of that crippling loan debt one of these days.
Jujutsu Kaisen is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.