Jujutsu Kaisen vol. 8 – Gege Akutami

3 out of 5

Although this volume rates similarly to recent entries with which I wasn’t too enamored, this is a much more solid, satisfying set of chapters that takes a hit mainly because it’s unclear how its events will pay off. The opening part of the story is Jujutsu perfection, though, giving me back confidence that Gege is still guiding his series based on character and not simply spectacle: Kugisaki and Itadori reflect, in their own unique ways, on the impact of their recent battle – specifically in relation to what taking a life means to each of them – and then there’s a disarmingly charming sidestep reminding us that these sorcerer students are still teenagers, after all. These short beats are full of the blend of intelligent dialogue / narration and sharp comedy that made me dig the series, and it’s great to see it back in full force.

The remainder of the volume is given over to a flashback series called Hidden Inventory. Suguru Getu is in training alongside Satoru Gojo, and we learn some more about the off-page, barrier-creating Tengen, recently mentioned during the curse invasion of the school. It’s definitely cool to see some history on Gojo filled in, and I don’t know if we were supposed to know that Getu had been part of the school at one point, but it’s definitely a nice twist. The flow of the chapters here are also pretty great, with Akutami completely skipping past a potential throwdown with zero ceremony – like, they’re gearing up for it, and then the next page, it’s over (and presented humorously) – which is a fun subversion of the shonen stuff I’ve been ragging on. However, as mentioned, beyond the background info provided by these chapters, their relevance isn’t fully clear yet, which prevents them from really feeling wholly motivated. Getu’s presence almost guarantees there will be a payoff, but that will likely be in volume 9, so volume 8 is only a half-step.