WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Episode 17 of Jujutsu Kaisen, "Kyoto Sister School Exchange Event - Group Battle 3," now streaming on Crunchyroll.
After Yuji Itadori returns from his apparent death in Jujutsu Kaisen, he is immediately thrown into the Sister School Exchange Event against the students from the Kyoto branch of Jujutsu Tech. The Exchange Event is the anime's tournament arc and, so far, it has proven to be a prime example of how a series should handle such an arc, with beautifully animated fight sequences, character backstories and a glimpse of what exciting sorcerers like Panda are capable of.
While only a few episodes into the arc, Jujutsu Kaisen's characters -- and its fans -- benefit from the series' masterclass in creating an excellent tournament story. Plus, since Itadori spent much of the show's first cour away from his friends, their reunion adds another exciting element.
Unlike many other tournament stories, Jujutsu Kaisen's Kyoto Exchange Event has begun with a team battle. While it was designed to allow the sorcerers of each side to show off their abilities in a race to exorcise the most curses, the news of Itadori's resurrection led Kyoto Jujutsu Tech Principal Gakuganji to order his students to kill Sukuna's vessel. Due to this threat, the team race transformed into a full-on confrontation between both sides, with the sorcerers clashing in one-on-one battles.
Luckily, these battles have given Itadori and his friends the chance to shine. While Fushiguro and Nobara have already been seen in combat, these latest bouts have made it easy to tell that their training with their upperclassmen has paid off. We're also getting a glimpse at the abilities of the other students of Jujutsu Tech -- though Toge Inumaki's potential continues to remain excitingly hidden.
These battles have also featured an essential element of the tournament arc in expanding upon many characters' motivations and backstories. During Panda's fight with Mechamaru, not only was Panda's origin explored, but the tragic life of Mechamaru was also unveiled in his battle with the Cursed Corpse. Simultaneously, the contentious relationship between twins Maki and Mai Zenin was aired out, highlighting each of the pairs' struggle within their family. The Exchange Event builds on new relationships and strengthens existing bonds -- like Nobara's desire to protect Itadori.
Building from that idea, each character from Jujutsu Tech's Tokyo branch has been motivated by the singular goal of protecting Itadori from the entire might of their sister school. Even with Itadori spending most of the show's first half away from the central supporting cast, his unifying return sows the seeds of powerful bonds among these students.
While the arc has given some much-needed attention to other characters, Itadori has also gotten plenty of play with his ongoing fight with his new best friend, Aoi Todo. Instead of taking center stage, this battle has continued in the background, granting both characters the time to develop within this fight. As Todo celebrates his new friendship, Itadori has slowly been taking his opponent's advice to heart, bettering his Cursed Techniques and combat style.
Ultimately, Jujutsu Kaisen's Exchange Event -- while still underway -- has been successful because it embraced the best elements of any excellent tournament arc. In featuring stunning action sequences, each character has become more defined (without feeling forced), with their powers established in straightforward ways, unlike some of the developments within God of High School. Amid the action, there have also been plenty of humorous moments that speak to why tournament arcs are so enjoyable.
With the Sister School Exchange Event still on-going, it is unclear how far the battle will continue, as the dark forces the Cursed Spirits plan to use the event to their advantage. Yet, the show has made substantial use of this arc, ensuring that Jujutsu Tech students are a group that viewers can root for and excitedly wait to see in action together against the many Curses that remain out there.