Junpei Yoshino’s character is one of those quickly identifiable ones usually found in a shounen series. He is the timid guy who is often bullied and then turns out to be antisocial and cynical. Later he is revealed to have amazing powers of his own. Well, Junpei even has the looks that suggest that he’ll be someone powerful and important in the series.
Though Mahito is the one who begets the loner first, it should still set him up as an able rival for Yuji Itadori in Jujutsu Kaisen right? Junpei is even featured in the opening sequence of the anime. So he definitely has to be a major character! Or so you thought.
Come episode 12, (or Jujutsu Kaisen manga chapter 27) reality hits us hard. Mahito mercilessly transfigures Junpei and makes him attack a mortified Itadori. Unable to take the stress, the former soon lies motionless at Itadori’s feet. In a heart-wrenching moment, Junpei questions why this had to happen to him (and his mother).
Junpei was subject to abuse from his friends. He definitely deserved better. When Itadori manages to convince a teary eyed Junpei that “hearts” do matter, the latter asks Itadori if these very same “hearts” had cursed his mother. Oof, don’t do this to us Akutami sensei!!
But since this is a shounen series, some deaths can be reversed right? Could Junpei make a return sometime in the future?
Given how instantly he became a fan favourite, is there any way that the creators would bring him back, thanks to some reversed cursed healing performed by Ieiri. We already saw Itadori die and come back, thanks to Sukuna’s power. Will something similar happen to Junpei too? He is even seen wearing the Jujutsu uniform in the opening scene…
Is Junpei alive in Jujutsu Kaisen?
Sadly, Junpei is not alive in Jujutsu Kaisen. He is dead and will not be returning anytime in the series. After being transformed, he collapses and lies motionless at Itadori’s feet. He is not taken back to Jujutsu High for any examination, nor is anything related to Junpei mentioned later in the series.
According to Mahito, he got too excited and transformed Junpei’s soul aggressively. This also resulted in his quick death, unlike the other students who were similarly transformed. The cause of Junpei’s death could be a lethal shock to the system due to the cellular transmogrification, just like the others. Junpei was a play-thing in Mahito’s plans. The cursed spirit only intended to use him to make Itadori form a binding vow with Sukuna.
constant references to the emperor angelfish served as a foreshadowing to the culling game that would happen in the future in Jujutsu Kaisen.In hindsight, Junpei and his awakening of cursed technique, and the
Though Junpei’s death hits hard, it serves a very important purpose in the narrative of the story.
Why Junpei should not return:
The ‘What If‘ panel at the beginning of chapter 27 and the scene in the opening sequence of the anime (curse you MAPPA) makes our feeble hearts wish that Junpei somehow make a miraculous comeback in the series. However, from a narration point of view, it is very important that Junpei stays dead.
His death brings about a huge change in Itadori’s character, and sets him down on a path which he did not intend to explore. Killing someone. Itadori is all about saving people. He had never thought that he would end up in a situation that would require him killing someone. Junpei’s death exposes the naivety in Itadori’s mindset. He realises that being a Jujutsu sorcerer has its own hardships.
Death, regrets, sadness, separation, curses, negativity. He’ll have to face it all as he continues down this new path. We witness a change in Itadori’s attitude after this incident. But it needs to be seen if it’s for better or for worse.
While Junpei’s death sets a dark and realistic tone for the rest of Jujutsu Kaisen, it’s not too different from the death tropes that we see in a shounen series. Though not at the same level as some of the major deaths that we have witnessed in other series, this will have a long-standing effect in shaping Itadori’s decisions in the future!
Were you heart-broken when Junpei died? Did you wish for him to join Itadori and the others at Jujutsu High (just like us)? Let us know your opinions in the comments section…and we shall shed a tear together!