Jujutsu Kaisen vol. 3 – Gege Akutami

4 out of 5

Volume three kicks off with a mini showdown with the Kyoto students – a precursor to an official tournament – that’s a lot of fun, and allows all of the participants’ personalities to shine. Gege’s choreography has seemingly kicked up a notch – carried through the rest of this tankobon as well – as there’s a sense of flow and space and place for each beat, keeping both the intensity and comedy in due amounts. The majority of the chapters here shift to a couple of special grade curses who manifest as human types, but, as explained by one of them capable of manipulating “souls,” are likely representations of particular forms of evil; this churlish, body “transfiguring” baddie is then first responsible for manipulating a lonely student named Junpei, who Yuji later attempts to bond with, and then secondly (or concurrently…) has a pretty wild battle with Nanami.

As before, what escalates Jujutsu Kaisen above other magic / fighting manga is a sense of maturity and humanity churning beneath the kooky comedy and oddball characters – even the extra matter between chapters speak to this: a world-building ideology that makes the cast and setting of Jujutsu seem lived in and emotive, and thus earning its page-turning excitement.

Akutami’s artwork is interestingly very loose in this volume, but feels more refined at the same time; that is, Gege would seem to be applying a fluidity to the style when it fits the moment, and because the general pace of JK is pretty quick, that occurs at most moments, taking a slightly more angular look to it when at rest. That pacing, storywise, is where I think there’s still room to improve, as the narrative frequently jumps forward and backward to present overlapping situations, and I find it’s sometimes hard to track who’s saying / thinking what, but I’m also not sold on this being a “necessary” way to tell the story. But this overall does not stand in the way of how compelling the series continues to be, and how immediately engaging the characters – both “hero” and “villain” – are.