Jujutsu Kaisen is an anime that deals with occult, spirits and everything that surrounds them. Curses and cursed spirits are terms that are thrown around every now and then in the series. For a newbie it could be difficult to wrap their head around these terms (as they are often used interchangeably too).
What exactly are curses and cursed spirits? How do they differ from each other?
What is a cursed spirit in Jujutsu Kaisen?
A cursed spirit is a spiritual being that has manifested from cursed energy (negative emotions) that has been collected or grouped together. Like Megumi Fushiguro explains, this usually happens in crowded places like schools, hospitals etc where there is a high chance of negative emotions flowing out from humans (people do hate schools huh).
Humans can only see the cursed spirits when they are faced with a life or death situation. Otherwise they can only feel a dark presence of negative energy emanating from where the cursed spirits exist.
Cursed spirits vary in their physical form and also their intelligence. While some spirits are intelligent enough to hold conversations, some are just grotesque monsters who linger in the place they have manifested. Intelligent curses are usually the highly powerful ones. The Shikigamis (the dogs) used by Megumi are cursed spirits. They are the types that have been forced into submission by humans and are forced to do their bidding.
Cursed spirits exist to haunt humanity. This would cause more cursed energy to release from the humans in the form of fear and hatred, leading to formation of more cursed spirits. In the manga, we see that some cursed spirits view themselves as a superior race to humans (going to the extent of calling themselves perfect humans).
These spirits also have supernatural abilities. They themselves can use cursed energy and cursed techniques. A cursed spirit cannot be subdued or destroyed by normal means or weapons. The only thing that can affect them is cursed energy, which is used by Jujutsu Sorcerers to “exorcise” them. Sometimes it turns out that cursed spirits are too powerful to be exorcised. Such spirits are sealed away using charms or talisman imbued with cursed energy. Sukuna’s fingers are an example of a cursed spirit that had to be sealed away.
Similarly one cursed spirit can attack and destroy another cursed spirit.
What are curses in Jujutsu Kaisen?
Curses (jurei) also refer to the creatures that manifest from the aggregation of cursed energy. Now, this is very similar to cursed spirits. We could say that cursed spirit is mostly used to refer to the more powerful curses that have manifested and have a soul (this is debatable). Whereas curses are mainly used to refer to the formless low level ones.
Curses too can only be exorcised using cursed energy. They tend to linger in the same place that they have manifested.
What is the difference between curse, curses and cursed spirits?
Curses and cursed spirits are terms that are used interchangeably in the world of Jujutsu Kaisen. Even the japanese term for them is the same (jurei). They both refer to the manifestations of cursed energy and we could say that there isn’t much of a difference between these two terms.
However, Curse (noroi) is a different term that encapsulates everything that is manifested from cursed energy. It includes cursed spirits, curses, cursed objects, cursed users and sometimes even cursed energy and cursed techniques.