With Yuji Itadori’s (Junya Enoki) defeat at Choso’s ((Daisuke Namikawa) hands, the sorcerers were dealt another defeat in their race to save Satoru Gojo. But the battle is far from over as Mei Mei (Kotona Mitsuishi) and Ui Ui (Yûko Sanpei, Summer Time Rendering) close in on Geto and Nanami (Kenjirô Tsuda), Maki (Mikako Komatsu), and Naobito (Jôji Nakata, Violet Evergarden: The Movie) confront a dangerous new foe in Jujutsu Kaisen Season 2 Episode 14, “Fluctuations.”
This week’s episode opens with Mei trapped in the coffin we saw sprung on her by the disease curse. While she can escape quickly, her internal analysis of her situation determines she won’t last long if the curse repeats its trap on her. Her options are limited, with only two ravens in the curse’s domain with her and Ui. If she is to get a shot in on their opponent, she needs it distracted. Her only recourse is to have Ui step in, offering himself as bait for the curse in the hopes that Mei will be able to defeat it before the boy dies in his newly made coffin.
That Ui is willing to risk his own life for Mei should surprise no one. Practically worshipping the ground she walks on, it would be far more shocking if there was any hesitation from the young man when Mei’s request is made. Instead, the big reveal now is the presentation of Mei’s concern for Ui. While Ui’s adoration for Mei has always been clear, exactly how she feels about him has been less so. With a generally reserved demeanor, it is hard to read what the axe-wielding sorcerer is handling much of the time. While some might think that her willingness to risk his life would indicate that she doesn’t think much of the boy, it is explained that the reverse is true.
As the plan unfolds, Mei’s thoughts explain that she abhors the idea of being indebted to anyone. However, she can set aside her dislike for the concept and ask Ui for help due to her faith in the boy. This revelation is handled skillfully, as it comes during the execution of their plan, without wrecking the tension of the moment.
Further bringing home the importance of Ui to Mei is how MAPPA delivers the visuals for her assault on the curse. The animation and visual design push the effects of Mei’s speed to the limit. The world warps in front of the camera, causing the power of Mei’s attack to the foreground and her urgency. She’s making a huge gamble with the life of someone important to her. She’s not losing the bet unless there is truly no other option.
Once the curse is dispatched, Jujutsu Kaisen Season 2 Episode 14 jumps from Mei and Ui to catch up with Maki, Nanami, and Naobito as they continue to navigate the deadly labyrinth that Shibuya Station has become. They don’t get far before running headlong into a powerful, aquatic-themed curse calling itself Dagon.
The obvious reference to H.P. Lovecraft’s iconic horror writing is a delight to see in this character. Not only is he named for one of Lovecraft’s creations, but the visual design for this tentacle-faced monster is a clear homage to the writer’s most iconic creation, Cthulhu. Given how much Jujutsu Kaisen plays with the familiar Lovecraftian themes of barely describable horrors living just outside of humanity’s sight, the series always felt like there was some inspiration drawn from the much-loved works Lovecraft created. Seeing it called out in this way is a fun and unexpected treat.
The battle against this new curse focuses primarily on Naobito as the viewer learns about the special techniques that the sorcerer employs. This technique is interesting in design, as it’s one of the few the series has presented that can backfire on the user, potentially hindering them as much as the target. It’s a unique ability that gives Naobito some huge combat potential, but with some significant restrictions, not the least of which is his need to touch his target. But just as Naobito gains the upper hand on the group’s foe, Dagon utilizes his domain expansion technique to turn the tides on the first-grade sorcerer.
Nothing is a surer sign in a horror-themed story that things are about to go south than when characters show up somewhere that is presented as calm and disarming. In Jujutsu Kaisen Season 2 Episode 14’s case, it takes the form of a beautiful, pristine beach with shimmering white sands and crisp blue water. The tranquillity of the new scene is quickly shattered as waves of fish of all shapes and sizes begin to pummel the protagonists, sinking razor-sharp teeth into their flesh.
While the bulk of the onslaught is focused on Nanami and Naobito, Dagon moves to dispatch Maki, seeing her as the most minor threat of his opponents. Able to easily deflect her attacks and send her packing with the barest effort, Maki seems outmatched to an extreme degree. Despite this, the character refuses to give up, highlighting the dogged determination she has always shown and allowing her to remain on her feet till an unexpected shift in the battle affords her the opportunity she needs to strike back at Dagon.
This unexpected shift arrives as Megumi Fushiguro (Yuma Uchida). Providing a draining distraction on the curse and his domain, Fushiguro allows Nanami and Naobito to escape from the domain’s clutches, potentially turning the tide of the fight.
But the new appearance’s advantage to the battle is far more than it initially appears to be. Rather than allowing his comrades an edge in the obvious battle with Dagon, Fushiguro brings a more cunning stratagem. This plan delivers on the series’ recurring desire to have battles feel more focused on intellect and skill than sheer firepower. Rather than simply having the newly freed trio overwhelm their opponent in eye-catching combat, one MAPPA could surely deliver a far smarter route that feels like a more sensible approach to the situation chosen.
As Fushiguro’s plan to put the group on a firmer footing against their foe is enacted, something strange happens that leaves Jujutsu Kaisen Season 2 Episode 14 ending on a perplexing note. What the last moments of the episode mean for our protagonists is unclear, but the series’ skillful delivery of the plot so far makes it likely that it will be intriguing to see it play out in the next episode.
Jujutsu Kaisen Season 2 Episode 14 is streaming now on Crunchyroll.
Jujutsu Kaisen Season 2 Episode 14
What the last moments of the episode mean for our protagonists is unclear, but the series’ skillful delivery of the plot so far makes it likely that it will be intriguing to see it play out in the next episode.