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Endlessness and Exclusion – Fall Anime 2020 (Week Seven) – Season’s Writings

-Kane-

The Space Between – Jujutsu Kaisen (Episode Seven)

There’s a metaphor here…

Well, job done, we know what Gojo looks like under his blindfold: pretty. I’m not to proud to admit it, dude’s got eyes you can literally get lost in; he can make the world around you fade away. It sounds like a fan fiction; however, it’s actually terrifying. Apparently, Gojo can control the infinity that exists between objects—or something to that effect—making it so that attacks never actually make contact with him. Certainly a boon in battle, it also makes it so that Gojo can stand on water, block enemy blood from sullying his form (like a magic windshield), and possibly warp (though that may be a separate power). Oh, Gojo is also really tough, like, he no sells every attack that Volcano Head throws his way. Though we certainly knew that Gojo was tough, seeing him effortlessly combat an opponent we expected to be powerful is…awesome. It’s also more than a little cathartic, considering that Volcano Head is an arrogant jerk and also immolated an entire restaurant of innocent people. If anything, the fight between Gojo and Volcano Head acts like a primer for the more intense fights of this universe; namely, Domain Expansion. Though we did see a Domain in action with the special-grade a few episodes back, now we get an explanation as to what the heck they are. Basically, curses can give themselves a homefield advantage, constructing a dimension in which their own techniques are guaranteed to strike their foe—which seems a little bit insanely powerful. Luckily, Gojo is so inconceivably strong that he simply overpowers Volcano Head’s Domain with his own Domain—which is a thing he can apparently do. Still, it shows us the variety of forms a Domain can take, from an understandable volcanic field, to an incomprehensible reality wherein every action of the universe is repeated and compounded until the psyche of those held within crumble under the sheer amount of information and leave them unable to anything but ponder their inability to act in the face of infinity…but, you know, the volcano thing is also kind of scary.

Though certainly a Gojo-heavy episode, the man in question does drag Itadori into the fold: literally. With a brief mention of how Itadori’s cured energy training is proceeding well—shown via his ability to maintain focus whilst watching a movie that totally isn’t The Lord of the Rings—Gojo decides that a practical example of battle will do him the world of good. While this essentially amounts to Gojo having a reason to explain what Domains are, it also allows us (and Itadori) to witness the levels to which this series will escalate. Gojo can easily exorcise Sukuna—he even mentions that Volcano head is tougher than Sukuna currently—and yet every sorcerer and curse is terrified of him. So, just how powerful can Sukuna get? How powerful are the curses that boss Volcano Head around? How powerful is the guy whose apartment is an Innate Domain? Why is his Innate Domain a peaceful beach? Who is the guy whose Innate Domain is a beach? There are just so many questions, and not in a bad way. Jujutsu Kaisen is intriguing; I am intrigued. Also, this was the first episode where I found the humorous after-credits sequence humorous, because it showed the villains playing soccer with Volcano Head’s head—which Gojo ripped off in the episode proper. Which he totally deserved, you know, because of the whole immolating innocents thing.

-Luke-

Another Way to Dai – Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai (Episode Seven)

Adventure of Dai slows things down this week and, after the intense conflict of last week’s battle with Crocodine, I was okay with a bit more introspection and character development. Last week’s cliffhanger is resolved pretty quickly, as we learn that Maam’s gun is able to shoot spells; she was actually shooting Dai with a healing spell not trying to harm him, as Popp thought she was for some reason. This renewed energy allows Dai to hit a devastating strike on Crocodine, which causes him to retreat not unlike how his master the Dark Lord Hadlar had done earlier in the series.

From here, we return with the crew to Maam’s village where we learn that Maam’s mother and father were actually members of Avan’s party during his battles with the Dark Lord in the past. As such, Avan had trained Maam to follow in their footsteps—combining both of their classes to become a Warrior Priestess. We see her backstory and come to see and understand her great appreciation and admiration of Avan. When shes asks about Master Avan, Dai makes a curious decision to keep Avan’s death as a secret. At first, I felt this was out of character for our plucky, forthright hero, but Dai isn’t like Goku or Luffy who will just blurt out information regardless of the situation just because he is honest—Dai has a complexity to him that is starting to show. Dai doesn’t want to reveal the truth for a number of reasons: he doesn’t want to panic the people of the village who view Avan as their hero and protector; he doesn’t want to hurt Maam, who has such deep admiration for Avan; and he doesn’t want to reveal that his training with Avan was tragically cut short—at only three days—due to his passing, which would put into question Dai’s own ability to follow in Avan’s path and become the next hero.

I really liked seeing this different side of Dai. It showed him as a more complex character than he initially appeared to be. The fact that he keeps this lie up until the episode’s end was unexpected, but it shows that Dai is willing to hide painful realities from people if he thinks it protects them from that pain. It makes for an interesting parallel for when the town Mage consults with Maam about her own weakness, saying that kindness and love isn’t enough to protect the ones you care about. It begs the question: is Dai doing them a kindness by lying or is his decision to keep Avan’s passing from them an error of judgement?

I enjoyed the ending of the episode quite a lot—which sees Maam overhear Dai expose the truth of Avan’s death—which ultimately spurs her on to join his party because, like Dai, she also wants to avenge Avan and fulfil his will. I thought it was refreshing to see the way the ending played out, with her simply telling Dai that she knows what’s up and asking him to fill her in on the details as they head to their next destination. I thought this was much better than if they had done some expository conversation where she gets upset at Dai for lying. It felt like the more mature path to take, which fits Maam quite nicely. It also was nice to show that Dai is an imperfect hero in many ways: he may not be doing the right thing all the time and may make the wrong choices, but, in his heart of hearts, he is trying to do the right thing—at the very least. He is far from perfect, but that makes him all the more compelling a protagonist to follow. Popp on the other hand remains a problematic character who I am hoping gets some development, sooner rather than later.

Next week looks to see Dai confronted with Crocodine—back for round two—in what looks to be a rad fight. This episode proved to be a nice stop gap between battles, but I am ready to see Dai and Crocodine come to blows once again.

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