WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Episode 16 of Jujutsu Kaisen, "Kyoto Sister School Exchange Event - Group Battle 2," now streaming on Crunchyroll.
Animosity fills the air as Jujutsu Kaisen's two Jujutsu Tech branches -- Tokyo & Kyoto -- faceoff in their Exchange Event. As newly dubbed best friends Itadori and Toudou continue lifting each other to new heights with endless punches, Panda clashes with Kyoto's Mechamaru and reveals new levels of power. As it turns out, there's a lot more to Panda than it seemed -- namely the fact that he's not actually a panda at all.
The Secret Behind Mechamaru's Robotic Appearance
As Itadori and Toudou continue their bonding brawl, Panda and Nobara have cornered Nishimiya in a tree. However, before they can do anything, Mechamaru fires a stealthy shot on Panda. As Nobara prepares to fight Nishimiya, Panda and Mechamaru are immediately at each other. Though Panda comments comparing himself with Mechamaru, the Kyoto sorcerer takes offense because he doesn't see the similarities. Mechamaru sees Panda as nothing more than a Cursed Corpse, which is generally an inanimate object that houses a Curse and can operate independently.
Mechamaru, on the other hand, reveals that he is a human Jujutsu Sorcerer but manipulates a puppet to fight in his stead due to his deteriorating body. Born with a "Heavenly Pact" that granted him immense power at birth but also left him missing limbs and skin so fragile "even moonlight burns it." Angered by Panda's freedom to exist in the world while he suffers a fate he'd trade anything to change, Mechamaru unleashes his ultimate attack.
"Panda... Is Not a Panda"
Despite being blasted by Mechamaru's cannon, Panda reveals that he not only survived the attack but changed his form as well. Unlike any Cursed Corpse, Panda was born with emotions and multiple cores. Described as the "ultimate masterpiece" by Yaga Masamichi (who raised Panda), his three cores include his older brother and sister. Though we don't see his sister, by borrowing strength from his brother Panda takes a hybrid gorilla form. As Panda reveals his transformation, he declares that "Panda... is not a panda."
With no other Cursed Corpse like him, Panda is unique. In flashbacks, we see Masamichi raising and training Panda -- who grows from a baby to his current adult build. While a typical, man-made Cursed Corpse has a single core, which acts as their heart -- and ostensibly a weak point for enemies to target when trying to defeat them.
Panda's Cores & Different Abilities
Panda describes his "Panda core" as focused on balance, while his brother's gorilla core offers short bursts of power and a special move called Drumming Beat that causes strikes to resonate throughout the target's body. The third core -- his sister's -- is only explained as bashful and leaves the door open for an additional transformation in the future. The combination of these three cores, Panda's one-of-a-kind consciousness as a Cursed Corpse and his transformative capabilities all prove he's more than what he appears.
Although Mechamaru successfully damaged two of Panda's cores, the immensely entertaining fight ends up feeling somewhat one-sided. As Panda triumphantly strikes Mechamaru down, he also extends an offer to help the pained Jujutsu Sorcerer in his journey to one day be around his friends in person -- instead of alone in a strange chamber. With another battle seemingly settling in mutual respect, the Kyoto Sister School Exchange Event continues to excite with stunning Jujutsu action.