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Sukuna’s Fire Arrow & Flame Technique Explained: A Chef & His Kitchen!

Sukuna Fire Arrow

Fair Warning: This is going to be a lengthy post as I’ll be looking into multiple possibilities and also listing out references I took from multiple places. So grab something to munch on while you read this.

Ever since Sukuna used his Fire arrow, or the Flame Technique if you may, in the Shibuya arc, the fandom has been trying very hard to figure out how the king of curses pulled it off.

Until then, everyone was under the assumption that Sukuna’s technique revolved around the slashing attacks – Cleave and Dismantle. However, the introduction of the fire arrow completely changed the game.

It’s been over a 100 chapters since we first saw Sukuna’s fire arrow and ‘open’, and finally, in chapter 259, we get a definitive answer to how he is able to use flames.

Sukuna’s fire arrow/divine flame:

During his fight against Jogo in Shibuya, Sukuna chants to open “something”. And by doing so he is suddenly able to use flames, akin to his opponent.

Let me make this clear. The black box that we saw in the manga was actually a redacted word. The black box is there to censor what Sukuna said. 

Gege Akutami probably did not want to give away the secret to Sukuna’s cursed technique that early in the manga, which would explain what he did.

So, theories about the “black box” open (the tattoo theory) didn’t ever seem too plausible to me.

However, in chapter 259 it was finally revealed that Sukuna’s flame is a part, or an extension, of the Shrine itself, and not an additional cursed technique. We have discussed his cleave and dismantle in a previous article here!

The redacted word was actually Kamino (kanji used – 竈 ) which he used to call forth the flames. 

This revelation also confirmed a long standing theory related to Sukuna’s technique!

Sukuna’s Cursed Technique, cooking & the fire arrow:

Sukuna’s cursed technique, which is often called Shrine by the people who are acquainted with him (like Yorozu), is confirmed to be based on cooking after the latest reveal regarding the fire arrow!

It’s not cooking per se, it’s just that the technicalities are based off of it. And no, this is not an asspull move. 

In fact, there are enough hints in the manga that actually foreshadowed this. To begin with, let’s take a look at the wordings surrounding Sukuna’s Shrine in detail.

The Shrine’s kanji and cooking:

Malevolent Shrine is spelt as 伏魔御厨子. The kanji  廚 (kuriya),used in it  is actually an old-style kanji used for kitchen in Japanese. Also the latter part of the name – 廚子 (tzushi), which can once again be translated as “cook” or a “chef”.

In chapter 118, when Sukuna opened his domain expansion, the editor’s comment went like this – “The Kitchen of Death Appears”(courtesy Tempenensis).

Sukuna's Kitchen of Death - JJK 118

So, if we are considering the Malevolent Shrine as the kitchen – where the food is prepared. Then Sukuna is the chef in this scenario. He is the one preparing the dishes, the artist running the show.

A chef is basically an artist (if you don’t mind me saying that) putting together an assortment of ingredients to come up with something very tasty. 

Now, who else has been described as an artist in the manga by none other than Akutami himself? YES! SUKUNA! And that too when he opened the Shrine. Don’t gimme that look c’mon.

Now take a look at Sukuna’s attacks, the cleave, dismantle and also the fire. 

The kanji that is used for Cleave – 捌 – can be translated to English as “to prepare” or “to dress”. It refers to the process of cleaning, cutting, and trimming a piece of meat, fish, or vegetable in preparation for cooking.

This sits very well with what Sukuna uses Cleave for. In Shibuya, when he opened his domain, the Cleave was used to cut down anything with cursed energy – meaning humans and sorcerers.

Why is that detail important? Well, Sukuna’s appetite for humans needs no introduction. In fact, Uraume, who is Sukuna’s loyal servant, has a talent for cooking humans. When you look at it that way, it all kinda ties in well.

Moving on, the kanji for Dismantle – 解 – too has a specific meaning when it comes to cooking. In cooking, 解, pronounced kai, can refer to the process of breaking down a food item into smaller, more manageable pieces

This can be done for a variety of reasons, such as to make it easier to cook, to remove bones or other unwanted parts, or to expose more surface area to the heat.

Similarly, the fire arrow too has its roots in cooking.

Officially translated as the Divine Flame, Sukuna’s fire arrow uses the kanji “竈” (pronounced as Kami no) which is used to represent a hearth or a cooking stove.

The kanji used is a reference to the traditional Japanese cooking hearth made of clay or stone. It’s a sunken structure with a firebox where wood or charcoal is burned to generate heat for cooking.

While the Kanji used is that of the hearth, the pronunciation of Kami no translates to “of Gods” roughly, which could be one reason why translator John Werry used the phrase Divine Flame as the attack’s official name!

Now, the slashing attacks of the shrine – cleave and dismantle – can be categorized into the preparation part of cooking. It’s where the chef, Sukuna, cuts up all the ingredients before plunging it into the pan to cook.

And since Sukuna’s cursed Technique is indeed based on cooking, there needs to be a provision for him to actually cook. And that cannot be done without some fire. 

This is where the divine flame/hearth comes into picture. 

And based on what we read in chapter 259, it perfectly sits with the theme!

The working of Sukuna’s divine flame/hearth explained:

According to the information provided in JJK 259, Sukuna can only use the divine flame/hearth once he uses both the dismantle and the cleave

This is very much like how you light the fire, or open the hearth to start cooking, once the ingredients are prepared. 

I don’t know if this condition exists because of a binding vow that Sukuna imposed, or if these are the activation conditions of his cursed technique.

Other points that are worth noting about the flame/hearth from chapter 259 are:

  1. The flames of Sukuna’s fire attack burn hot, however it lacks both speed and effective range.
  2. Unless it is used inside his domain expansion, he cannot use the fire attack on multiple targets. This is the result of a binding vow Sukuna imposed on himself, in order to increase the effectiveness of the Divine Flame within his domain.
  3. Inside the Malevolent Shrine, Sukuna can use the flame on multiple targets – this works by engulfing the matter inside the domain in explosive cursed energy. A detailed explanation for this is given below in the article- keep reading please!
  4. Basically, the range and speed of the flames are increased within the domain expansion considerably, thanks to the binding vow.
Sukuna's Fire Arrow attack explained

From the above points, it is clear why Sukuna was able to use the fire outside of his domain on Jogo, who was just a single target and that too within close range. 

Jogo was not trying to dodge the attack either, which made him easy to hit.

It also explains how Sukuna was able to use the fire immediately after his slashing attacks stopped against Mahoraga in Shibuya. 

Sukuna hadn’t undone his domain expansion at that point. He just fulfilled the condition for being able to open the hearth and call forth the flames of destruction!!

Understanding the physics behind it: Thermobaric in nature

Now that the basic part is out of the way, let’s try to understand the physics behind the attack. 

There are a couple of words and phrases that are key to understanding how the fire arrow functions within Sukuna’s malevolent shrine.

The first thing to note is how the flame attack works by engulfing matter in explosive cursed energy

In simpler terms, it manipulates the target matter’s cursed energy to imbue it with an unstable property.  This makes the targeted matter act like a compressed explosive.

When outside the domain, only a single target is engulfed in explosive cursed energy. 

However, when inside Sukuna’s domain, all matter within the intended range of the attack is engulfed in this cursed energy. 

It is also possible that the target of the attack within the domain are all matter that were pulverized by Cleave and Dismantle. 

The fire arrow that Sukuna releases doesn’t directly cause the explosion. Instead, it only serves the purpose of detonating this engulfed matter.

This is what causes the huge destructive explosion of the Divine Flame/hearth attack.

While this piece of information is easy to ignore, I believe, this is the key to how the hearth functions.

Scientifically speaking, this whole process is reminiscent of a thermobaric explosion. 

A thermobaric explosive uses a special kind of fuel designed to burn intensely and disperse rapidly into a surrounding cloud. 

Mixing with the oxygen in the atmosphere, this dispersed cloud becomes flammable. A precisely timed detonation then ignites this mixture, triggering a rapid burn that devours the available oxygen in the vicinity.

The matter that is engulfed in explosive cursed energy acts like the special fuel in case of Sukuna’s attack.

The fire arrow does the job of detonation. The resulting explosion creates a powerful pressure wave, followed by a near-vacuum that further intensifies the destructive force.

As chapter 260 noted, this will lead to high temperatures, shockwaves, decompression and intense compression.

The science behind Sukuna's flame technique

As you guessed already, it is nigh impossible to escape this attack! Unless you have Todo’s help, or a loving onii-chan ofcourse!

Despite a perfect scientific explanation, it still doesn’t completely explain why Akutami had to redact the “hearth” or furnace, and why Sukuna had to open something to get the flames.

Why the cooking themed technique & fire/hearth?

We are now in the high seas of assumptions and theories.

I pointed out that Sukuna’s cursed technique is based in cooking and in the kitchen. Well, a possible reason for that could be Sukuna’s interest in eating.

Oh yes, if you didn’t know this already, Sukuna is a certified foodie. More real than some of the influencers we see on instagram nowadays.

According to the official JJK fanbook, Sukuna’s hobby is eating. 

Akutami described that he found a “great pleasure” in eating. To add to it, a lot of the phrases that he uses in normal situations are often food related. 

Remember how he likened Gojo to a fish on the cutting board?

Lighting has made a great thread about this on twitter, make sure to check it out! 

To top all of this – he also ate his twin brother in his mother’s womb!!

In the JJK verse, there are instances when the worldview/hobbies/traits of a person and their cursed techniques resemble each other.

Consider this – Hakari’s cursed technique turned out to be related to gambling, and that guy himself had a thing for living on the edge. 

Going by that logic, Sukuna’s cursed technique too has a relation to his love for eating.

And because of this, he is also able to do something that others normally couldn’t. What I am getting to here is slightly tricky.

I did say Sukuna’s cursed technique is based on cooking. 

But what if, Sukuna acquired the fire, and maybe even the slashing, to construct his own kitchen like environment. 

What if, his real cursed technique allowed him to consume others and somehow extract cursed energy out of them.

Sukuna’s real form has a mouth in his stomach. Not just that, his Malevolent Shrine too has humongous mouths on all four sides.

Sukuna true form

What’s so special about the stomach when it comes to Jujutsu? 

Well, it is believed by many that the cursed energy originates from the gut. It has been stated multiple times in the manga from Todo to Kashimo.

So, if that is indeed true, then the reason Sukuna has a mouth in his stomach could be for him to consume the people and then their cursed energy?

This could be a nice way to explain how Sukuna had tremendous cursed energy reserves too, almost twice as much as Yuta!

Uraume the cook:

Uraume was a cook who had a “talent” for cooking humans and that only a very few had this particular talent. 

What if the cooking Uraume did, had something to do with consuming the cursed energy of a human?

Well, once again, Akutami has given us subtle hints regarding this. 

In chapter 216 we saw them preparing a bath for Sukuna, suppressing the soul of Megumi. But that was a re-imagined bath that Uraume had created based on the real one. 

Instead of using venomous creatures in a kodoku ritual, or as Viz translated it – crushing them – Uraume used cursed spirits to prepare this bath.

What if, in a similar way, Uraume used humans to create a concoction of cursed energy which was then fed to Sukuna from the mouth in his stomach. 

However, the major catch here would be this: by eating the humans/sorcerers that Uraume cooked for him, Sukuna also gains their cursed technique? Maybe?

Well, seems a bit out there, but it’s a possibility I won’t ignore. 

On that note, check out this reddit post, which also talks about the cooking, eating and fire arrow aspects of Sukuna’s cursed technique, but is slightly different! This was made before the reveal in JJK 259, but it still makes for a good read!

The Shrine, storage & ‘open’:

And finally, I will detail another possibility why Sukuna specifically used the word “Open”. 

With the assumptions I make here, I will try to align more and explain better as to why Sukuna had to chant “open” to use the Divine Flame/Furnace/Hearth.

Lightning’s tweet about the Shrine being a cupboard for Sukuna to store his ‘knives’ – the cleave and dismantle – kinda inspired this particular section!

Let’s go back to the part where we dissected the kanji for Sukuna’s Malevolent Shrine. I said that the kanji 廚子 (tzushi) translates to “chef” or a “cook”.

However, in the context of Buddhism, 廚子 refers to a specific type of cabinet or a storage space which is used to store items.

What’s more interesting? They are often placed in temples or other sacred spaces, LIKE A SHRINE!!

You get where I am going with this right? Nope?

Okay, we know Sukuna’s cursed technique is called a shrine. What’s the one thing that everyone does at a shrine, other than praying ofcourse? Well, I am referring to making offerings.

An offer he can’t refuse:

Sukuna was a sorcerer who was feared back in the day.

And people dreaded finding themselves in his bad books. We quite literally see an exhibition of this behavior during one of Yorozu’s flashbacks in JJK chapter 219.

JJK 219, offerings for Sukuna in heian era

What if their way of appeasing Sukuna, back during the Heian era, was to make him offerings? 

It has been established in the JJK manga that the only thing that Sukuna respects is power.  And for someone who appreciates power, or jujutsu to be more precise, what could be a better offering than a cursed technique.

These cursed techniques could be stored in the cabinet at the shrine.

So, for Sukuna to use these cursed techniques that have been offered to him, he’ll have to chant “open”. I mean, this is the closest I could get to Sukuna’s Open technique.

However, I’m just painting a vivid visual picture here. There is technically no literal box that can hold a cursed technique now, is there? I mean even the shrine is the construct of his innate domain.

So where exactly are these cursed techniques getting stored? That brings us back to the brain and the cursed techniques.

Brain as a Black box:

Well, whatever cursed techniques are being offered to Sukuna should be stored in his brain. Because, for sorcerers, that’s where cursed techniques are engraved. 

This would be the perfect time to recall what Kusakabe said about the part of the brain which stores the cursed techniques – a black box.

Kusakabe - brain is black box JJK 230

Now you might jump and say that Sukuna literally said Black Box Open. But I’d like to point out that black box is just used to imply that the working of this part of the brain is unknown to a normal sorcerer.

However, Sukuna isn’t your everyday run-of-the-mill sorcerer. He is literally described as a God by Kashimo in chapter 225, when it came to cursed energy efficiency and switching between cursed techniques.

While Gojo has Six Eyes to help him with the efficiency of cursed energy expenditure, Sukuna is doing it all on his own, even if it isn’t as effective as Gojo. 

That speaks volumes about the King of Curses’ skills.

In order to have such mastery over CE and CT, Sukuna should have understood the connection between the brain and cursed techniques in depth. 

It wouldn’t be a surprise if he knew how this “black box” part of the brain worked. 

This knowledge probably allowed him to store multiple cursed techniques other than his own. 

I feel like Sukuna being able to use a non-damaged part of his brain to reactivate the domain expansion could be another hint to his prowess!

What if, by chanting “open” Sukuna is actually opening up a part of the brain in order to extract/use the cursed technique

Another hint that supports this hypothesis is Sukuna’s dialogue with Jogo.

When he uses flames, Sukuna claims that a cursed spirit wouldn’t be aware of it. 

Now, I am assuming here that Sukuna was referring to the “open” technique, which could be plausible because Akutami had stated in a recent chapter that the brains of a human and cursed spirit are essentially different.

Sukuna could be referring to this because their brains probably don’t have a specific location to engrave cursed techniques. 

Well, that’s it from me for now. I am very curious to know what your thoughts are on Sukuna’s Divine Flame/Furnace. Do you think there is something more to Sukuna’s cursed technique than what’s been revealed?

Jot down your answers in the comments below!!

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