The following article contains spoilers for Jujutsu Kaisen Chapter 79, “A Taste of Things to Come” onwards by Gege Akutami, John Werry, and Snir Aharon, available in English from Viz Media.
Jujutsu Kaisen‘s Culling Game arc is full of brutality and loss, adding to the trauma of many characters, but each fight also highlights the themes and philosophy behind a sorcerer’s drive. Yuji Itadori’s fight revolves around crime and punishment because his main reason for joining the game is to atone for unleashing Sukuna in Shibuya. Similarly, Megumi Fushiguro is pushing his limits and become stronger as an individual, but not because he wants to be a hero, he needs the power to save his sister.
However, Jujutsu Kaisen 0‘s Yuta Okkotsu’s battle is vastly different from Fushiguro and Itadori’s, and it illustrates how Yuta is so unique in comparison to other sorcerers. The other two do care about saving the lives of others, but they’re such individualists that their reasons for being sorcerers revolve around growing stronger, so they can pursue their own ideals. Whereas Yuta is a collectivist who seems to take action for the sake of others.
Yuta Is Characterized by His Connections to Others
Through Jujutsu Kaisen 0, Yuta developed from wishing to die alone to protect others from himself, to finding a reason to live by using his power to protect those he loves instead of fearing it. If Fushiguro’s character revolves around saving people he deems worthy and Itadori’s around saving everyone he possibly can, Yuta’s character revolves around the connections he makes to people around him and finding strength from these connections. Of the three, Yuta most resembles a shonen protagonist with the power of Nakama.
The reason Yuta fights is for the betterment of others, never himself, and he is made stronger through this. In Jujutsu Kaisen 0, he even uses the power he was still so afraid of to fight Geto Suguru in order to protect his classmates and peers. However, as Geto points out in this battle, there is a self-centered element to how Yuta views the Jujutsu world. Essentially, Okkotsu wants to be surrounded by people he loves to get validation for his power, and if he didn’t receive this he likely wouldn’t have the strength to continue. Yuta sees the world through the lens of his relationships with others, only believing he deserves to continue living if his friends see him this way too.
Yuta Okkotsu Is Still Growing Emotionally
When he is reintroduced into Jujutsu Kaisen in the Shibuya arc, it is clear Yuta’s mindset has changed since his face-off with Geto. When he is sent to exterminate Yuji Itadori he refuses to do so. While he doesn’t know the boy personally, because Itadori is important to his classmates the sorcerer fights to defend him and comforts Itadori instead. However, because of his collectivist views, Yuta misunderstands Itadori and struggles to comprehend the way he thinks. He doesn’t understand Yuji as himself, only as someone important to those important to him. That’s why he treats him this way and refuses to kill him.
Yuta is still developing a sense of empathy, even as a hugely empathetic character, as his moral code is skewed by his current worldview. This can be seen in the way he approaches his Jujutsu battles, as there are a few things Yuta does that Fushiguro and Itadori can’t due to being so focused on themselves and their self-improvement. For example, he is the only one who attempts to figure out why his opponents are in the Culling Game or what they’re fighting for and is shocked when they say they aren’t fighting for a lover or friends.
Yuta Has Different Priorities
Okkotsu is also the only one of the three that is shown actively protecting innocent people from the fallout of Jujutsu. In one instance, he even gives up on using Rika against opponents who overpower him in order to protect a stadium full of powerless people. This forces him to fight in a significantly weakened state just to protect bystanders, something very rare for a Jujutsu sorcerer to do.
This also makes Yuta’s development run in direct contrast to practically every other character. Gojo Satoru for example left behind all earthly attachments, including Geto, to grow stronger individually. Similarly, Maki Zenin reaches her potential not with the cooperation of her sister, but following her death when she was able to let go of everything. The people sorcerers are tethered to, those who humanize them, tend to be what holds them back from reaching their full potential. Yuta however directly opposes this. Instead of choosing to become a singularly strong sorcerer, he continues time and time again to hold on to the attachments of his peers.
As a sorcerer fighting in a way that challenges the incredibly individualistic mindset of Jujutsu society, Yuta will definitely continue to have his ideals challenged. Despite the difficulty of walking this path as a sorcerer, Yuta Okkotsu maintains his humanity despite everything in Jujutsu society encouraging him to destroy any vulnerability he may have.