The infamous nuisance and evil shaman, in cahoots with curses, has shown that he is an antagonist for the books. He is exceptionally determined to achieve a goal that only he can see. However, his reasons stem from much more complex experiences, tipping his moral scale towards the worse. In fact, you could almost sympathize with him at one point in the story.
He also embodies the morally grey entities humans are, making us (and the characters in Jujutsu Kaisen) question our reasoning and moral compasses on multiple occasions. There are many reasons why Geto is a well-made character. But the more one reads and re-reads, the more one realizes why that is so -, and one part of that is his downward spiral.
This ‘evil’ shaman was once Gojo’s best friend. How did Geto turn evil? Or should we be asking, is Geto evil? From the strongest shaman to a mortal enemy, how did Geto’s psychology change? This analysis attempts to break down Geto’s descent into the rabbit hole of disgust for “monkeys” and, eventually, succumb to his death with his goals.
Why did Geto turn evil?
There is no simple answer to this question, nor can we isolate an event to credit Geto’s downfall. Geto’s spiral into the worst was an amalgamation of his experiences with people, the flawed system, his own ideals, and a bit of bad luck.
Suguru first makes his appearance in chapter 65, part 1 of the Hidden Inventory arc. In hindsight, his appearance is perhaps the biggest irony of Geto’s character. He rescues Utahime, accidentally referring to her as weak. In his eyes, as he later addresses himself, the sole reason for the existence of jujutsu is to shield the vulnerable.
This appearance is ironic because right here lies the hint of his eventual madness. In truth, Geto was bound to cross the thin line of his perception about jujutsu’s good and bad some time or the other. Riko Amanai’s death was a crucial checkpoint in this process, but it was merely what aggravated the already distorted alignment of the shaman.
Would anything be different if one of these variables changed? We don’t know. But with his mindset, Geto’s conclusion wouldn’t have changed. He hated the ugliness of monkeys, and that was the truth. There is, of course, no clear line of the effects of Geto’s experiences, but we can look into them closely for the sake of deciphering Geto’s character.
Geto’s flawed ideals
As one-half of the strongest duo, Geto was strikingly different from Gojo in many ways. Gojo grew up in one of the big three families, hunted and cherished equally for his techniques. In truth, he knew that the grand “righteousness” the jujutsu world put across was a farce. However, to Geto, righteousness and reason meant everything. And so, he strove for it too.
He had a clear line of distinction between the “weak” and the “strong.” To him, the weak and the strong were two distinct “beings” themselves. Thus, he (and others akin to him) had an obligation to protect these beings. You could say that Geto was quick in generalization – be it shamans or non-shamans. The duty he and his likes held was the true meaning of their existence in his eyes.
Perhaps you could even say that Suguru was the archetype of Spiderman’s “with great power comes great responsibility.” The most important thing to Suguru was executing his duty for people he didn’t even know, who wouldn’t care about it. Thus, while he attached himself to his identity as a shaman the most, his worth and truth always lay beyond him, dependent on an external factor.
It wasn’t that he didn’t know the ugliness of non-shamans, but he was partially oblivious to its extent. He believed he saw the weak in entirety, and nothing would ever deviate his mind from his duty. He would never let it precede his purpose. However, this belief mainly stemmed from not experiencing the brutal reality.
Geto’s moral compass was built to point in the wrong direction eventually. His absolute beliefs and values in shamanism were put at stake in the Star Plasma Vessel arc. And they were about to shatter and break into his mind slowly but steadily.
Riko Amanai’s death & the Star Religious Group
The Star Plasma vessel was an eye-opener for a reality Geto had been ignoring or maybe was just unaware of. Tengen specifically recruited the strongest duo for a mission; to protect ONE girl. How much could go wrong? It is probably futile to ask that. And as far as I believe, Geto and Gojo never considered this either. To both of them, their power was absolute. As long as they were together, nothing could result in failure. But it did, and oh boy, how.
The opposite of love is indifference. This very popular conversation between Junpei and Mahito is a great insight. Junpei even says that indifference is what humans should strive for. If, and only if, Geto and Gojo had done it.
Gojo and Geto got their emotions involved for a girl they barely knew. She was meant to “die” since she was born, even if that sounds harsh. But, Satoru and Suguru believed they could protect this person from her death without caring for the greater good.
Mind you; I am not saying Riko deserved to die; she just happened to be the one who was supposed to die. But it also so happened that the strongest duo chose not to let her walk this line of fate and chose to go against Tengen & the jujutsu society. And then, a “monkey” messed up everything Gojo and Geto stood for – Gojo’s eminent strength and Geto’s (seemingly) unshakable morals.
When their unilateral decision to keep Riko from dying came into effect, the upholders were both of them, but the origin was Geto’s compassion. His compassion ran deep, and he felt everything closely, leading him to believe his importance with this task. He had to lend his power to a helpless girl who put on a strong front. Wasn’t that his true purpose? So, when Geto offered Riko a choice, he offered up everything he stood for – compassion, purpose, ideals, and friendship.
Then Toji Fushiguro came out of nowhere and blurred the lines between the weak and strong in a flash. Toji, the unlikely star of the Star Plasma Vessel arc, came along like a butterfly effect that would change everything. As much as we believe Gojo is the opposite of Geto, that is not entirely true. I believe Toji is the real nemesis of Geto.
Toji is self-serving, and he does not care about righteousness. And he is strong without being a shaman. He is the embodiment of all that Geto had never thought of happening and wouldn’t be the last of what he was in for.
But that was okay. Still okay. He knew about the harshness. But his true encounter with the ugliness of non-shamans was yet to come. When Gojo carried out the dead Riko, and as they stood talking, the applause surrounding them was more deafening than anything else. Suddenly, the weakness of the weak was not a virtue but a vice.
This moment was imprinted in Geto’s mind, and perhaps with that cheer, his mind started breaking. He would go back to it over and over, convince himself to look away, and follow through with his duty. The moment was also a reminder that he had failed, both his duty and his ideals. Well, that was just one part of it. It is evident that this event affected Geto and Gojo differently.
The strongest duo: Geto Suguru and Gojo Satoru
What seemed to us like a slice of life breather after the cruel happenstance was the beginning of another disaster for Suguru. Gojo and Geto were poles apart from the very start, but now, the chasm between them would turn into a gulf set in stone.
A huge part of Geto’s personality also consisted of his relationship with Gojo. They were the strongest duo, relying on each other to bring out the best. They also made up for each other’s flaws despite being at two ends of the spectrum.
Gojo’s moral compass was heavily influenced by Geto. His decision about Riko, the Star Religious Group, and even changing the manner of speech was the result of Geto’s influence. They were incredibly close; the story establishes that at the very beginning, when they refer to each other with their first names.
They were, however, also at loggerheads over the simplest of things like their reason for shamanism. Moreover, the levels at which they perceived and felt emotions were distinct. Gojo knew what he HAD to do without caring about reasoning or righteousness.
But there was another difference between them. For Gojo, his achievement was his own growth, and for Suguru, it was the fulfillment of his purpose. So, what they both took away from Riko’s death was poles apart. Gojo faced a momentary defeat, but Geto was pushed into a corner.
Gojo was half of the strongest duo, but now was rapidly progressing towards becoming the strongest. The farther Geto was getting from his purpose, the farther his best friend was getting from him too. Even Geto and Gojo’s abilities were an indication of the irreparable chasm that would take root between them.
Geto’s technique was a curse in itself. Over and over, he had to swallow curses that tasted like the cloth used to wipe vomit – entities non-shamans created themselves. Gojo wouldn’t understand Geto’s suffering from the distance where he stood at.
And then Satoru really did become strongest. He could do anything he wanted – things that were impossible for the others to do. Hell, he could even realize the ideal world he had in mind. If it is possible for you, can you really go around telling people it is impossible? Are you the strongest because you’re Gojo Satoru, or are you Gojo Satoru because you’re the strongest? Gojo got so swept up in his own self that he forgot to look around, even at his best friend.
I don’t think Geto even craved empathy from Gojo anymore because he had already reached his zenith. And I don’t think he hated Gojo either at any moment. It was simply how they were meant to be – picking different paths.
Yuki Tsukumo, the final push?
When Geto had a conversation with Haibara, he had already started considering himself the “bad guy.” He had begun wavering from his ideals and what was drilled in his head. Simply put, he was at war with the two possibilities, like Yuki said, that had appeared in front of him.
The conversation with Haibara is an important one. Haibara was a good person, and he was a dedicated shaman. He perhaps knew the ugly side of things, too, because he forbade his sister from stepping into it. Despite that, he knew what he had to do. There were gulfs between Geto and Haibara’s understanding at that moment. Geto was wrong; he had to be.
But then came along Yuki Tsukumo. Yuki gave him the assurance of not being alone with dual thoughts, but there was something more significant in this conversation. Yuki inadvertently gave a purpose to Geto’s hatred for non-shamans. Until this point, he just knew he hated those weak “monkeys,” but now he could see them holding the strong down.
See, Geto would never act unless there were reason and meaning to his actions. He kept Gojo from killing the Star Religious Group because of the same reason. But now? It was meaningful. All that had happened, and was happening, was thanks to monkeys alone at the cost of the strong. And for what? For ridicule and hatred.
These feelings were further fueled by Haibara’s death and Geto’s encounter with the two girls on his mission. Haibara, as we saw, was a GOOD person. He gladly took upon his responsibility, dedicating his life to it. There were hundreds, if not thousands, of Haibaras in the jujutsu world. But all Geto could see at the end was a mound of corpses.
He was fighting himself with the very thing he thought was absolute: righteousness. How was the strong dying for the weak justified? This point is also where he generalized that shamans are all good and strong.
Geto’s feelings were set into stone. He hated the weak, and now, he could kill them too. It had a purpose, and he would go ahead to achieve it. Perhaps he even knew it would earn him hate, and it was genocide, but all he could see was the greater good. A way to stop an illogical and injudicious cycle of the strong dying for the weak.
If it were to protect the strong, he would now do it over and over again. He did not care if anyone understood him anymore; he had perhaps discarded that futile emotion long ago.
The last straw for Geto was his last mission too. Nanako and Mimiko were shamans, just like him, who probably also fought with their lives on the line. Yet, here they were – locked up, bloodied, and accused of crimes. The monkeys hid behind their weaknesses and blamed others. They were ingrates, and they were hypocrites. They didn’t even know how they kill good people but wallowed in security. Only if…if they weren’t there. Only if they were dead.
And then it cracked. The images of people clapping and applauding a girl’s death and Geto and Gojo’s failure finally superimposed his vision and ideals.
Geto’s frustration and anger blew up into a genocide. And scarily enough, this downfall pulls you into feeling that it was right for a second too. Was Geto a victim of self-serving? We don’t know. He took his bundle experiences and felt them to a greater degree because it was all personal to him. However, he for sure was a victim of the system to some extent.
Geto’s spiral was inevitable, but it was still unfortunate. Look, Geto was an incredibly kind person. He was polite, and he was caring. I mean, he was ready to chide Gojo for his rudeness because he was concerned. One can even call Geto emotional and sensitive a little more than the average. And that is why it hits harder. He did not deserve this.
However, Geto was righteous to the very end. He killed his parents because they did not fit his ideal world. His compassion didn’t go away, but he redirected it to the strong now. He took on a “new family” he strove to protect, going to great lengths for them. He was still Geto Suguru, but his ideals had finally found an unshakable ground to rest on.
Sometimes I wish his best friend had noticed him more. But would that have changed anything? When Gojo did notice, it was truly too late. For him to ask something as trivial as “why” to Geto. Why? He had crossed that bridge long ago in his mind, all alone.
Geto didn’t need anyone to understand him anymore like he told Shoko. He knew what he needed to do, even if it came at the cost of sullying his name.
Geto’s spiral was a hard lesson for all the people surrounding him.
Gojo and Nanami further emphasized this fact for their students in the story later. Nanami wanted Yuji to remain a child and let the adult do the dirty work. He is someone who closely saw Geto’s downfall and maybe didn’t want another “child” shouldering the ugliness of this world for the worse.
This step by step and then all at once downfall of Geto is a piece of art. You can feel that suffocation and quandary with him. But let me ask you this: was Yuki Tsumuko the final push? Or was she merely a passerby who meant no harm? Although I believe the misfortune of Geto turning evil would happen without her too. I will leave that up to you to interpret. Let me know your thoughts in the comments section!