With 135 chapters and 14 episodes under its belt, Jujutsu Kaisen has fortified its presence as a to-be-remembered series already. It is a fast-moving story splashed with comic relief and loaded with anguish. The subtle hints and foreshadowing done by the enigmatic mangaka Gege Akutami only makes Jujutsu Kaisen even more interesting. This is more than evident in the latest opening, which was laden with symbolism along with the obvious Easter eggs.
The animation sequence for the opening too is a work of art. Even people like me who aren’t very well-versed with the innards of animation or its styles can agree to that in a heartbeat. That said, we’re gonna dive right into the gorgeous opening and its animation to see the little messages that MAPPA left for us!
Before that, yes, there are major manga spoilers ahead!
Symbolism in the animation sequence of opening 2,「VIVID VICE」
Let’s be real. I am sure all of us were so engrossed in the new animation and music at first that we failed to notice what was actually going on. I had to go back multiple times to ‘SEE’ everything truly. And when I went back and observed the sequence closely, I noticed that there are quite a few wonders here, other than just the new characters.
Of course, I still might have missed something or misinterpreted, so give that a pass!! 😛
Let’s go, shall we?!
One-eyed black cat:
The opening starts with the one-eyed black cat. I found it pretty odd that the sequence focused on it so much both at the beginning and at the very end. After wondering why for a long time, I did some digging. It turns out our mangaka, Gege Akutami, represents themselves with a one-eyed cat! But if we look past this, a dream of a one-eyed cat means many things that pertain to Jujutsu Kaisen.
Dreaming of a one-eyed cat signifies that there is a loss of self-confidence in the person and that they have troubled thoughts. The person has difficulty in making choices as well as projecting themselves in the future.
This is especially resonating with Itadori Yuuji in the forthcoming arcs, most notably the Shibuya Incident arc. The principles that he believed in were questioned every step he took. Not being able to save the innocent Yoshino Junpei or stop Sukuna from causing a massacre in the recent chapters of the manga, made Itadori lose the will to live. These incidents stirred distrust in himself.
However, the dream also points to an interesting thing: the person’s instincts will never betray them. This might mean that in the future, with Yuuji trusting himself more, he will be able to conquer hurdles he could not before.
Right at the back of the one-eyed cat, we see a huge window. A window might usually be perceived as nothing more than just a background. But artists have long used this unassuming piece of architecture as symbols for something far more profound.
One meaning that stuck out the most was that windows represent a dire and intolerable situation from one needs an escape. It can represent the humans in Jujutsu Kaisen, who are often troubled by curses, sometimes even being driven to death. Or, it can indicate the larger, more prominent events in the Jujutsu world lately that caused more or less everyone to be pushed against a wall.
Windows also mean that there are some “secrets” to be protected. In the storyline, many secrets lie around, even in the form of traitors, that haunt the shamans. The secrets might also indicate a bigger force at work than what shows on the surface. Open windows also portray the unpredictability and perils of the outer world that are plenty in Jujutsu Kaisen. Of course, it is also a metaphor for hope and change.
We all know a few common meanings behind the rain, like sadness, rejection, and despair. These are all the more evident with the fact that the Jujutsu tech students and Gojo seem like they are heading to a funeral. To whose? Are these two funerals even in the same timeline? I don’t believe so.
Gojo seems like he is visiting a grave rather than a funeral. More specifically, the grave of “Geto” (well, we obviously know there was no Geto there). It may be after the prequel events or even way after. From the recent chapters, Gojo still had a place in his heart for Geto. So it wouldn’t be odd for him to visit his friend’s grave/ Whose funeral are the students heading to then? Is this in the aftermath of the Shibuya incident? It is possible since Yuuji isn’t visible either. And if it indeed is after the Shibuya incident, it makes sense for Gojo to not be there. An interesting detail here is the rain never hits Gojo due to his ability of Limitless. Kudos to the animators.
Continuing the above scene, we see a bouquet of blue flowers in Gojos’s hands. I believe these are Blue periwinkles, which is a decision from my confusion between them and blue roses. The blue periwinkles have a startling meaning that makes more sense. Periwinkle is called the flower of death. In Europen folklores, periwinkle vines were woven into headbands worn by dead children or criminals on their way to execution. IF we assume that Gojo is indeed shown to be visiting Geto’s grave, it makes a lot of sense because he is a criminal even though he was the one to deliver Geto’s (near) execution.
Blue periwinkles are often given to friends because they symbolize an everlasting friendship and sentimental memories. Again, Gojo might not show it, but his reaction to Geto betraying and murdering shook him to the core. ‘Killing’ his best friend would have been tough on him too.
These harmless and trivial objects might be the most sinister imagery in the whole sequence. As a Twitter user, @/_cinq101 pointed out, Mahito’s pose while blowing bubbles represents a plasterwork art called “Death Blowing Bubbles.” Bubbles are usually meant to depict life’s transience, but here it denotes an even unmistakable contrast with the person blowing them.
Mahito is a newborn curse who likes to use his powers for fun and humans as playthings. He has no regard for life and can manipulate others’ lives as he pleases. These bubbles can also represent the souls of the humans he has transfigured and how powerless they are in his hands. Quite interestingly, these bubbles go forth to burst and cause the rain that falls on the Jujutsu Tech students and Gojo. The sorrow that the rain depicts is caused by a child-like Mahito who has an important role in the Shibuya arc.
Yuuji’s unwavering stare of a few seconds on a butterfly gently flying is not a coincidence. Butterflies are considered to represent the souls of living and dead in Japanese cultures. It is also said that the dead take the form of a butterfly when they journey to the other world and afterlife. A lone butterfly flying around Yuuji and his friends seems too similar to a particular image of hope. It is very similar to the image we see of Junpei in Jujutsu Tech with Yuuji and his friends, right before Junpei died. It can also represent other people he has lost, like his grandfather, whose words haunt him, or Nanamin, who supported & acknowledged him.
The shadow on Mechamaru’s picture:
Shadows are very prominent in art and animes as symbolism that bear no good. The photo frame with a picture of Kyoto Jujutsu Tech students shows all of them sharing a happy moment. The scene itself is of some time in the dusk casting a mellow glow over everyone in the picture, except Mechamaru. On the contrary, a striking shadow falls on that side. Shadows denote death, and we know that Mechamaru died at the hands of “Geto” after having done his work as a traitor.
It is also painful that while all his struggles were for belonging with his friends, he overlooked that he was already there. But he chose a path that set him aside from the light and his friends.
While Mei Mei’s ability is to control crows, there can be more meaning derived from this scene. Crows represent death in most cultures and feed on the dead. Mei Mei appears in the Shibuya arc and took her departure in the midst, but the flock of crows might represent the huge number of lives lost during the incident.
Many people died due to the curses and Sukuna’s rampage, leading to a flock of crows to be gathered. Crows also mean that a profound change is imminent, which absolutely holds true as the battle draws to an end. There is a huge rift between the powers of shamans with Gojo gone and the world knows about the power of the curses (specifically Geto) now. The revelation about Geto being Noritoshi Kamo is also sure to send vibrations throughout the Jujutsu world.
A rotten piece of cake with ants crawling over it might not seem much, but at this point, I am convinced that nothing in this story is unimportant. The rotten cake is the world of Jujutsu that empties all shamans from the inside out over time and erodes their emotions. Nobody is an exception to the despair.
The four ants can represent the four special grade curses that were in the lead of the ruin, crawling over the world of Jujutsu. Ants are usually known to be determined creatures despite their sizes with superior strength of will. Likewise, the curses are determined to establish themselves as the real humans and eradicate the humans, even prepared to die themselves if Sukuna comes to life. Ants also work in groups, much like the curses in the Shibuya incident.
Black velvet petunia?
For a few seconds, the animation shows a black flower’s blooming, which I ascertain is a black velvet petunia. A meaning that stood out about this flower was “insurrection.” It means a violent uprising against authority, and this has been a major theme of Jujutsu Kaisen. Be it Gojo who wanted to get rid of outdated shamans at the top, or be it the curses who threw the Jujutsu world in chaos; it all relates to insurrection. Taking the curses’ objective, like the animation, the uprising grows slowly until it turns into the flower’s other meaning: gloom and death.
Another meaning that resonated with the characters, especially Yuuji, is anger. There is deep blooming anger in him from the recent encounters with the curses that will translate to his will later on.
The leaves falling at the feet of a certain person bewildered me for the longest time. What were they? After hours of research, I found that these are Japan’s highly held ginkgo leaves. The ginkgo tree is considered a “living fossil” and is one of Japan’s oldest living trees. It represents the nature of duality, yin, and yang. It is depicting how the world of Jujutsu has its counterparts, the shamans and the curses. The person’s face is not shown, but I am listing a couple of guesses based on the ginkgo’s meaning.
A: The person is Tengen-sama, who defines the phrase living fossil as depicted in the Hidden inventory arc. He is an ancient soul that keeps changing bodies with suitable humans to keep on living. For him to exist (yin), the life of others must be sacrificed (yang). B: Geto (brain-kun), who is another ancient entity that takes over the bodies of people via brains. It is similar to Tengen-sama; for his life, he creates death. C: It is the actual Geto who was having conflicting thoughts while he was a shaman. (Let me know who do you think it is!)
Gingko also represents the feeling of the unknown and known aspects of life and death, which is what Jujutsu Kaisen boils down to. Life and death.
How can we forget this? In the very last second, the entire sequence of the opening is rewound and stops on the first still, the cat. An obvious meaning is that everything comes around and that everything is connected. Yuuji eating a finger to Yuuji fighting curses, it comes down to the starting point.
Another insight we can draw is related to the recent theories about Yuuji’s potential ability of Memory Manipulation. He took back the minds of both Todo and Choso in the past (just like the sequence) and altered their memories. The short flashback stops on the cat and instead of our memories of the sequence, the title comes on. I wonder if this directly implies Memory Manipulation.
Lastly, the lyrics.
Jujutsu Kaisen has not made a song that did not pertain to the occurrences of the story. This time, too, in 「VIVID VICE」the lyrics are much more than just words; they are a story. I will pick the most important parts, but you can read the lyrics here. “Choices that look like traps” directly implies how Yuuji (and even the others) are walking on thin ice in the Jujutsu world with no knowledge of what lies beyond the choices they are taking.
There are bigger forces at work that are hidden is represented by the line “On a rope that seems to be tearing apart” because the world of Jujutsu seems to be falling apart.
The chorus “I won’t go back anymore, I won’t regret it/ Watch as I change reality/ Even if the truth is cruel/ I’m stained with disaster” sent chills down my spine. The first line is an obvious reference to the regret of not saving as many people as they want to. All the shamans, especially Yuuji, carry this regret. It can also indicate how Yuuji had to choose to kill humans to defeat Mahito.
Watch as I change reality is in line with the idea of Yuuji’s power of Memory Manipulation and might actually be an implication. It is no doubt that the world of Jujutsu is rampant with cruelty, and Yuuji had to face difficult truths and will have to do so in the future too. The last line is sorrow-invoking because Yuuji is literally marked by disaster ever since his grandfather died. One after another, he has faced challenges while the sword of death looms over his head.
Bonus: Symbolism in the ED, 「Give It Back」
It’s bonus time! Why, you ask? It is because the new ending song deserves so much love for making all of us cry into pools of tears now and then. This is truly gonna be a shorter section, I promise. For starters, we see Okkotsu’s desk in the ending! I hope he makes an appearance soon! The ending is shown through the eyes of Yuuji.
There have been speculations that this use of ‘film’ can also represent the Tokyo students taking a look through these videos after Yuuji dies and only seeing themselves because he was the one recording. I might be reading too much into this, but the blurry imagery in the animation might refer to Yuuji’s inability to give up on his friends or move on from their memories.
Lastly, the most prominent imagery in the ending sequence is the sea. The sea oftentimes represents boundless human emotions, the depth of life, and the unpredictability of life and death. There is both tranquility and chaos in the sea depicting the inner state of humans. Further extending this idea, the ocean also represents the unconsciousness of a person.
Many people have said that this ending is not real, just a memory that Yuuji created using his Memory Manipulation technique. It is quite a possibility given the sea’s meanings and the sudden appearances of his friends in empty places. Additionally, the title itself is in line with this theory.
HOHO. This article ends here. Again, I might have missed some meanings or read too much into some, but it was fun to connect the dots. After all, every story is meant to be interpreted to the audience’s liking. I hope this article was to your liking though! If you have any theories, discussions or spotted something I missed, comment below!
Until then, see ya!