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Who Is Ryomen Sukuna In Jujutsu Kaisen? Origins & Mythological Reference

Sukuna in his innate domain

All of us are familiar with the name Ryomen Sukuna from Jujutsu Kaisen. However, do you really know who he is? Is he a cursed spirit? A human? What were the inspirations for this character and related things? No?

Then you’re in the right place! In this article, we’ll understand Sukuna in-depth using every source we can find, may it be the Jujutsu Kaisen anime, manga, Japanese mythology or the official fan book!

So without any further ado, let’s get right into it! 

Who is Ryomen Sukuna?

Ryomen Sukuna is one of the main antagonists of Jujutsu Kaisen. Yuji Itadori became a vessel for Sukuna after ingesting one of his fingers. The cursed spirit once stated that he would try to make Yuji’s body his own.

Though considered as an imaginary demon by many; Sukuna was once a human Jujutsu sorcerer who existed over a thousand years ago. However, the people around him hardly recognized Sukuna as a human.

Sukuna was as a natural calamity during the Heian era; with his name invoking nothing but terror. During the Golden Age of Jujutsu, numerous sorcerers had tried to take down Sukuna. But it ultimately ended in their defeat. And due of this, he was aptly called the King of Curses (even during his time as a shaman).

In the end, an alliance of Jujutsu sorcerers combined their powers to defeat Sukuna. He turned into a cursed spirit after his death (because only shamans can turn into cursed spirits) and sealed himself into his 20 fingers to become cursed objects.

Even after his death, Sukuna continued to instill fear in the minds of sorcerers in the form of cursed objects. The fingers, preserved in their own grave wax, were classified as special grade. No matter how hard the shamans tried, they were not able to destroy Sukuna’s remains. And hence they were covered in talismans to halt their lifestream and used to ward off other cursed spirits.

Sukuna in Itadori

As a matter of fact, Gojo also acknowledged how absurdly strong the King of Curses is. Sukuna also has accepted Gojo as a powerful opponent in turn. He has vowed to killed the blindfolded Jujutsu sorcerer as soon as he gains his complete power.

The Jujutsu Kaisen official fanbook stated that Sukuna still has memories from the time he was a human. He did not have a wife or any family. He was simply accompanied by Uraume, a jujutsu sorcerer who acted as his minion. Sukuna was someone who enjoyed eating, especially human beings. According to Gege Akutami, the mangaka of Jujutsu Kaisen, Uraume used to cook for Sukuna.

Getou (or rather brain) and the squad also know just how strong Sukuna is. A huge part of their strategy to create curses’ dominance in the world revolves around Sukuna supporting them. In fact, they believed him to be so crucial that they were ready to sacrifice their lives if it is necessary to bring back Sukuna’s full strength. But unfortunately, he seemed to have plans of his own!

Sukuna is like your neighbourhood villain, smart, witty and sadistic. As Akutami said, he will kill anybody in an instant, he has no morals. He also loves to make things tough for Itadori. You must surely remember that scene when Junpei died.

Sukuna joined Mahito to laugh and mock Itadori, calling him weak and a brat with that sadistic smile on his face; as if he lives to witness such moments only. He keeps on tormenting Yuji when they’re alone too. He keeps reminding Yuji of his mistakes and how he has failed even when he tries to sleep.

Japanese Mythology’s Influence: 

Akutami-sensei has stated that he took inspiration for the looks and powers of Ryomen Sukuna from Japanese mythology.

Nihonshoki describes Sukuna as a being with two pairs of arms and two pairs of legs, and each pair was on the front and back of the body. This is similar to Sukuna’s description in the manga. In chapter 3, Satoru says that Sukuna was a demon from the lore with four arms and two faces. The cover of chapter 117 showed the real form of Sukuna within the JJK universe; again with four arms and two faces.

JJK chp 117 Sukuna cover

While the Sukuna in the manga looks a lot like Itadori; it is possible that he might achieve this form after eating all twenty of his fingers, but we can’t say for sure. Moreover, this cover is basically Akutami-sensei accepting and letting people know that our King of Curses is based on the “real” Ryomen Sukuna. 

In the Nihonshoki; Sukuna is described as quick, witty and possessing superhuman strength, He also carried a bow, arrow and swords in his hands. During his reign as a natural calamity, he pillaged countless villages, leaving a trail of death behind him.

One could also say that Sukuna’s slash and cleave attacks like the “real” Sukuna’s sword attacks and the long-range fire attack is his bow attack since he did an archery-type hand movement when he used it against Jogo. However, even though the book states that he was a villain and an enemy to the Emperor, quite a few people treated him as a hero instead. In fact, he is a minor deity in Japan!

The original text from Nihonshoki is stated below:

In the year 65, there was a man in Hida Province. He was named Sukuna. The man had a single head and torso with two faces, each face oriented in opposite directions. The two faces met at the top but had no nape. Each face was served by its own set of appendages. Each had knees but no ankles. He had tremendous power but still could move quickly. With two pairs of arms, he held swords, a bow and an arrow. Sukuna refused to comply with imperial directives. He threatened and plundered the people. Whereupon the emperor dispatched the founder of Wanibe no omi Naniwaneko Takefurukuma to vanquish the creature.

This seems to fit well with the Sukuna we know, but kind of. While the appearance is completely different, he does have that insane combination of superhuman strength and wit.  Nevertheless, there are a few other theories about the King of Curses in Japanese mythology that we should consider! One of these theories states that Ryomen Sukuna is a symbol of twins and brothers.

For the twins part of the theory, it refers to Oousu no Mikoto and Ousu no Mikoto, twins mentioned in ancient Japanese history. The brother’s part (which technically makes it a separate theory in our opinion) states that Ryomen Sukuna refers to Emperor Chuai’s sons, Kagosaka no Miko and Oshikuma no Mikoto. The twins and the brothers mentioned in these theories are deeply related to Mino and Hida Provinces.  

A pumpkin called Sukune Kabocha is a local specialty of Nyukawa-Cho, Takayama City as well. However, Akutami-Sensei has declined any influence from this local specialty in the Jujutsu Kaisen fan book.  

With that said, what do you think of Sukuna? Do you think that Akutami-sensei will display more influences from the Japanese mythology in Jujutsu Kaisen? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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