Jujutsu Kaisen Once Had a Different Protagonist – But Not an Unfamiliar One

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Jujutsu Kaisen, Chapter #140, by Gege Akutami, John Werry and Snir Aharon, available now in English from Viz Media.

Jujutsu Kaisen's Yuji Itadori and Yuta Okkotsu have finally met, but it's certainly not the introduction fans would have hoped for -- especially considering how much the two have in common. What's more, considering that Yuta debuted in the prequel manga, Jujutsu Kaisen Vol. 0, and that creator Gege Akutami mentions that they never intended the series to become serialized, Yuta could be a prototype for Itadori.

Given that a clash between Itadori and Yuta is underway let's take a look at some of their surprising similarities, notable differences and examine some of the history behind Jujutsu Kaisen.

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Jujutsu Kaisen's History

While western fans were introduced to Jujutsu Kaisen in 2018 when it became serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump, Gege Akutami first released Volume 0's four chapters in Jump GIGA with no intention of having it serialized. However, in the volume's postscript, Akutami explains that the story's positive reception led to the main series' creation. Akutami then said, "Why not?! Let's do this!" when told that Volume 0 could release as a graphic novel prelude to Jujutsu Kaisen. With this origin, Yuta could be seen as the series' initial protagonist.

Still, while the connective threads were there for Akutami's two characters, they aren't mirror images of one another. Besides, it never hurts to have a plethora of characters worth exploring in your story. Itadori and Yuta's journey and arcs are similar, but their differences create complementary stories -- each worth checking out.

Yuji Itadori & Yuta Okkotsu's Similarities

Right away, Itadori and Yuta are introduced in nearly identical ways. They both meet with Satoru Gojo, who informs them that they will be executed due to a mysterious power residing in them. Thankfully, Gojo intervenes on both of their behalfs and has their executions postponed. In Itadori's case, that power is Sukuna and came from eating one of the King of Curses' fingers. While Sukuna would have instantly possessed an ordinary person, Itadori proves he's a unique vessel capable of containing the dangerous Curse.

Yuta's mysterious strength is much more tragic as it comes from the Cursed Spirit of his childhood friend, Rika. When Yuta was younger, Rika was struck and killed by a car -- a significantly traumatizing event for Yuta, who witnessed the accident. Now, he can summon Rika's Cursed Spirit form, which is powerful enough to be classified as a Special-Grade Curse.

Itadori and Yuta also come into their Jujutsu journeys at the same point as 1st-year students at Jujutsu Tech. Unlike characters like Megumi Fushiguro, who was introduced to Curses at a young age, Itadori and Yuta have virtually no experience when they join the school. These fresh starts give audiences a relatable conduit, learning about the world through their perspective.

Key Differences in the Jujutsu Kaisen Duo

Despite those initial similarities, Itadori and Yuta's adventures lead down two distinctly different paths. Not to mention their powers are mostly different too. Aside from Yuta's immense Cursed Energy, he also can copy Cursed Techniques like Toge Inumaki's Cursed Speech. Following the events of Volume 0 and Geto's "Night Parade of a Hundred Demons," Yuta also learns that he's a distant relative of a famous sorcerer named Michizane Sugawara, making him related to Gojo. However, not much is known about Yuta after this point as he leaves to study abroad -- clearing the way for Itadori to enter the picture and keep them from meeting sooner.

Itadori is incredibly strong with supernatural physical prowess and combat sense. He's also one of the few Jujutsu Sorcerers ever to land multiple Black Flash hits consecutively. Gojo has even hinted that in the future, Itadori will learn how to use Sukuna's Cursed Techniques -- including Dismantle & Cleave. Itadori's execution was put off until he consumed the rest of Sukuna's fingers, a task he took on because he was the only person who could and wants to save people from unnatural deaths if possible.

The two Jujutsu Sorcerers are each kindhearted, but they carry themselves very differently -- Itadori is outgoing, where Yuta is more reserved. Still, they both care for their friends profoundly and are willing to do anything to protect them. Unfortunately, now that Gojo is trapped in the Prison Realm and Sukuna's rampage in Itadori's body cut off one of Inumaki's arms, Yuta is in no mood to become friends. The Jujutsu elders reinstated Itadori's execution and assigned Yuta as his executioner. The two will need to quickly clear the air if they hope to free Gojo and counter both the Curses and the sinister side of Jujutsu Tech.

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