Jujutsu Kaisen Proves Modern Shonen Anime is Moving Away From One Massive Trope
6 mins read

Jujutsu Kaisen Proves Modern Shonen Anime is Moving Away From One Massive Trope


  • Jujutsu Kaisen
    breaks shonen norms by having no main character rival, emphasizing teamwork over competition.
  • Yuji and Megumi form a deep bond despite having different personalities through saving each other’s lives.
  • Yuji competes against himself for growth – both literally and metaphorically – showcasing his development even without a traditional rival.



Jujutsu Kaisen has skyrocketed in popularity in recent years, becoming the top-selling manga worldwide in 2021 and 2022. The series is one of the most creative and innovative series in the shonen genre, standing out from all the rest. Gege Akutami took many bold risks while writing Jujutsu Kaisen, and one of these choices is truly groundbreaking.

Most shonen series contain a rival who the main character constantly battles against and strives to beat. This phenomenon was largely popularized by Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball Z, in which protagonist Goku and his rival, Vegeta, compete throughout the series, in a constant struggle to determine whose abilities and powers come out on top.

Jujutsu Kaisen cast seemingly getting ready to fight individually while being depicted in colorful diamond-like shapes.

The concept of competitiveness between two talented adversaries continued in Naruto, with Naruto and Sasuke, whose rivalry/friendship became the paragon of the industry. Countless other shonen series give their main character a powerful competitor, who they compare themselves to and fight to surpass.

Shonen Series Popularized the “Rival” Character Trope

Jujutsu Kaisen brilliantly subverts this trope, emphasizing teamwork instead

Jujutsu Kaisen Manga Volume 1 of Yuji with a mouth on his palm.

Jujutsu Kaisen pushes back against previously established shonen trends by not following the standard rival formula. The main character,Yuji Itadori, lacks a true rival. Although he has many wonderful friends and powerful mentors, like Gojo Satoru and Nanami Kento, he never faces a true rival in the same way many other shonen protagonists have. The most obvious choice for Yuji’s competitor could have been Megumi Fushiguro, but Gege Akutami chose to go another route and make the Jujutsu Kaisen‘s two main characters close friends who fight beside one another and offer each other support and assistance, instead of rivals who compete.

Megumi and Yuji’s friendship got off to an uncertain start. Their first interaction occurred when Itadori and his friends accidentally attracted dangerous curses and Megumi came to their rescue. Eventually, as they fought the deadly curses together and were almost overpowered, Yuji chose to save Fushiguro and himself by swallowing the cursed object, Sukuna’s finger, causing the Demon King to begin using his body as a vessel. Just as Yuji protected his friend from death at that moment, Megumi helped prevent Itadori’s execution and prolonged his life, protecting him from what would’ve been certain death and solidifying their bond.

Megumi and Yuji Have the Closest Bond in Jujutsu Kaisen

Megumi was unsure about Itadori when the two first met, seeing him as just another nuisance he had to help out of the difficult situation he got himself into with curses. But after speaking with the boy, he began to view him as an honorable person who was worthy of saving, so that is why Fushiguro vouched for Yuji, preventing his execution. Similarly, Yuji appreciates Megumi for selflessly saving him and sees him as truly admirable and kind as well. They choose to form a deeper friendship, although their personalities are very different. Itadori is more outgoing and outspoken, while Fushiguro is quieter and restrained in comparison.

Itadori can be serious when needed, and he is a powerful fighter, but he also possesses a happy-go-lucky and humorous side that is on display often. Contrastingly, Megumi is quite reserved with his emotions and portrays a more stoic and standoffish personality. However, he is a loving person deep down and would do anything to protect those around him, even if his demeanor isn’t as outwardly emotional as Yuji’s. Their opposing personalities work very well together and although their stark differences could’ve made them rivals in another shonen, Akutami chose to write them as friends instead.


The Culling Game is Here – Jujutsu Kaisen Season 3 Confirmed

After a successful second season, Jujutsu Kaisen has been announced to receive season 3 which will adapt the Culling Games arc.

Yuji and Megumi Have Opposing Personalities But They Work Perfectly Together

The saying “opposites attract” perfectly summarizes Yuji and Megumi’s friendship

Yuji charges his energy surrounded by blue in Jujutsu Kaisen

Yuji and Megumi are two of the most talented sorcerers in the series; Megumi possesses unmatched techniques like Ten Shadows and Divine Dogs, while Yuji has the power of the most menacing cursed spirit within him. It would be quite easy to picture them as competitors, which is why it’s truly remarkable that Akutami chooses to take their friendship in an entirely different direction from the typical shonen format. Throughout the series, the pair rely on each other consistently. They never give up on each other, even when the curses thrown their way prove nearly impossible to defeat.

Even without a rival, Yuji continues maturing in his identity and abilities throughout Jujutsu Kaisen. He does not lack the growth a typical shonen protagonist would receive from competing with a rival, but he receives that development through his internal drive to improve and become the person he hopes to be. Rather than compete with Megumi or any other “rival”, Yuji competes against the old version of himself who was too frightened to fight for those he loves. This is one of the aspects that makes Jujutsu Kaisen so special; Yuji is his own rival, which motivates him to continually strive to become stronger.

Watch on Crunchyroll

Jujutsu Kaisen Anime Poster

Jujutsu Kaisen

Jujutsu Kaisen is a supernatural action anime that follows high school student Yuuji Itadori as he battles against magical curses. After Yuji selflessly saves a classmate by taking a curse into his own body, he is discovered and trained by a powerful sorcerer named Satoru Gojo. Gojo, who also happens to be a faculty member at a high school, enrolls Yuji there to help him and other students prepare themselves against the supernatural forces that plague humanity.

Junya Enoki , Yuma Uchida , Yuichi Nakamura , Adam McArthur , Asami Seto

Release Date
October 2, 2020


Hiroshi Seko

Sunghoo Park , Shōta Goshozono

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