Mangaka Gege Akutami of Jujutsu Kaisen has finally created his own red line – and simultaneously crossed it, proving that he can overcomplicate his highly complex battle system too much to the detriment of the overall reader experience. One of Jujutsu Kaisen’s most impressive successes has always been Gege’s relentless focus on his battle sequences, including the complexity of and in-depth explanations behind each fighting style, most especially, the inner workings of Jujutsu Kaisen’s ultimate creative achievement, Domain Expansions. Gege’s obvious fascination with mathematics and physics plays a major role in why his battle systems are celebrated by so many even when they could be easily explained another way.
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But Gege finally went too far in chapter 183 when introducing Kinji Hakari’s Idle Death Gamble Domain Expansion. The major difference from Gege’s other techniques is that the complexity of his latest creation doesn’t stem from mathematics or physics. It’s basically an elaborate game that also utilizes scenes from a manga to further complicate the already convoluted rules. But the reader isn’t the only one who’s overwhelmed. Even his opponent, Jujutsu Kaisen’s author avatar Charles Bernard, makes a comment about how there’s just too much going on when he yells, “Don’t info dump me with all that garbage!!!” Already, readers who aren’t a fan of when manga randomly incorporate gaming elements into a story that doesn’t already revolve around them will feel alienated by this latest development. It’s even worse when the game itself is overly complex to the point where it’s impossible to grasp upon a first read. This experience is much different for fans who are already forced to reread certain sections involving battle sequences to gain a better understanding of what just happened. Fans of Jujutsu Kaisen came to read the manga knowing that it was an action/adventure title, so it’s not a surprise that they would enjoy battle systems, especially elaborate ones that require more attention than most. But the same can’t be said of Hakari’s ridiculous pachinko Domain Expansion powers since it relies on subject matters that have nothing to do with fighting.
It also doesn’t help things that the manga the game incorporates is a random love comedy that only exists in the Jujutsu Kaisen universe. Gege has already referenced actual shonen like D. Gray-Man and has even incorporated the Shueisha publishing company into his story. So why not borrow elements from a well-known shonen that fans of Jujutsu Kaisen would understand and enjoy? Gege’s choice not to do this is particularly perplexing because Charles Bernard is aware of the random manga. Gege had already connected readers to Charles Bernard by making them feel overwhelmed by Hakari’s rules, so if Gege wanted Charles to recognize the manga that Hakari chose for his Domain Expansion, shouldn’t the reader also be able to recognize it as well? Regardless, it’s a shame that this latest chapter has the potential of alienating readers especially since the complexity and convoluted nature of Domain Expansions is classic Gege. It just goes too far – in the wrong direction.