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Pop and Culture References in Jujutsu Kaisen

With the manga published in 2018, and the anime released in 2021, JJK quickly became a fan favorite and scores an IMDB rating of 8.7/10, and the same on MyAnimeList.net. The plot is fairly shounen-based; uncannily athletic Itadori Yuuji’s life is thrown upside down when his friends from the Occult Club get attacked by vicious paranormal forces- from there on, a series of events thrust Yuuji into the World of Curses and soon he becomes a trainee Jujutsu sorcerer under Gojou Satoru along with two others, Nobara Kugisaki and Megumi Fushiguro. 

Gege Akutami’s series makes a lot of pop culture references like Jennifer Lawrence and SuperSmash Bros, and even the 45th President of the United States. There is a scene where Gojou informs Yuuji that becoming a jujutsu sorcerer is not easy and requires 80% talent, and Yuuji hilariously throws a tantrum demanding why he cannot just do a Spirit Gun from Yu Yu Hakusho, Bankai from Bleach, and even a Rasengan from Naruto! The hyper-awareness contributes to making the show being so hilarious but it was actually a matter of concern whether the anime would be able to keep up its licenses because of these references that are made in the conversations between its characters. But it can be safely said that there have been no problems so far. 

 The following are some of the best pop icon references made in the series, unanimously decided by fans:

  • As already said, Jennifer Lawrence is mentioned quite a few times in the series, and also Yuuji is shown to have a picture of her on his wall. 
  • Yuuji turning into a paper roll lamenting how he wants to use a Kamehameha Wave from Dragon Ball or Rasengan, Bankai, or Spirit Gun, with little illustrations drawn around him, had fans rolling in laughter.
  • A real-life MMA fighter is also mentioned in the first episode when Yuuji is showing off his Herculean strength and his classmates whisper how he is almost like a reincarnation of Mirko Cro Corp, who happens to be a real Croatian fighter.
  • Super Smash Bros in a Wii-game tournament is what Nobara speculates to be happening at the event that gets held between the rival jujutsu schools.
  • A Haikyuu reference is made extremely lightly, where a cutout of Oikawa is shown as Nanami and Yuuji proceed into the movie theatre to investigate the students’ deaths.
  • When Yuuji is made to watch movies all day every day as part of his training, in one scene Gojou comes to talk to him, and on the TV Lord of the Rings is seen playing.
  • It was beyond surprise when Momo Nishimiya is shown fangirling over the Winter Soldier and explains how Sebastian is her ideal man. Anime fictional characters fangirling over Western fictional characters, is not a bad day for the mutual fans to feel elated.
  • Geto, Choso, and Mahito playing the Hasbro’s Game is definitely a plus point for likeness to the antagonists of JJK. 

As for the cultural references,

  • Ryomen Sukuna, King of Curses, happens to be an actual real-life character from Nihonshoki, a series of events recorded in the Yamato Court, and an integral part of Japan’s history.
  • Nobara’s straw technique is a mirror of Japan’s actual Shinto rituals- which happen to be considered evil because it sometimes took a turn for the worse with devils, wishes of death, and other evil deeds. These were highly prominent during the Heian Era.
  • Megumi’s Ten Shadows is also inspired by Japanese mythology; the Sacred Treasure of Amaterasu is the inspiration behind it. Also known as the Imperial Regalia happens to be very important in Japan, so when Sukuna taunts him about being the owner of some treasure, it meant that Megumi is literally the owner.
  • Creator Akutami in his manga also used symbolism a lot more; The Eight Handled Sword Divergent Sila Divine General Mahoraga happens to be Megumi’s Shikigami’s full name. Mahoraga is related to the Dharmachakra in the history of Japan, thus finding a place in Buddhism, Jainism, and Hinduism.
  • Geto/ Kenjaku (fake Geto) and Gojou seem to come off as counterparts, with Gojou being the crass, crude, seemingly not much respected. On the other hand, Akutami illustrates him often nearly resembling Lord Buddha: the halo, the hand signs, posture all seem to give an image of ‘holy’ when he is the biggest antagonist in JJK.
  • Since Junpei has introduced, it seems that Akutami has been hinting at the Culling Games with drawings of fishes almost everywhere. This is based on a real phenomenon in Japan, the Annihilation Migration, that occurs in the sea of Japan and leads to forced evolution.

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