Warning! Spoilers ahead for Jujutsu Kaisen chapter 178 and Jujutsu Kaisen 0!
When Jujutsu Kaisen released Chapter 0 in 2017, fans pretty much understood the situation between Yuta Okkotsu and his childhood friend Rika Orimoto. It was unfortunate and depressing, but there was no questioning what really happened. But when Yuta returned to regular manga much later in 2020, fans were suddenly confused because Rika was with him, and based on what happened in Chapter 0, she shouldn’t be there at all. . Now, two years later, mangaka Gege Akutami has finally explained everything.
In Chapter 0, Rika tragically dies in a car accident, but Yuta, unable to accept her death, unknowingly curses her spirit into his sword. There, she haunts him for six years until he inadvertently affects the way she manifests herself in the real world again by freeing her mind. Then, much later in the manga during the Shibuya Incident, Yuta manages to conjure Rika’s cursed spirit again to aid him in battle. How could she still be cursed in Yuta’s sword if he had freed her? Yuta responds to this in his fight during the Culling game in chapter 178 when he reveals that Rika and Rika Orimoto are two different beings. Rika is now his cursed technique which can store cursed energy for him while Orimoto left him and died.
It’s partly a pretty happy development not only for Yuta but also for the fans. Ever since Yuta appeared in the Culling game, Rika protects civilians and other unwitting participants in the game as he fights against three dangerous enemies, which means he can’t take advantage of his incredible powers. Ironically, the most interesting moment of these three confrontations occurred during a fight against his first opponent – Kurourushi. Without Rika, Yuta had to rely on repurposing his Reverse Curse Technique’s healing ability into a crude weapon to defeat the strange bug creature. After revealing this hidden tactic, Yuta could no longer trick his two remaining opponents – Takako Uro and Ryu Ishigori – in the same way, forcing him to fight with only his fists while going back and forth between them. While this resulted in Yuta adopting innovative alternatives to stay alive, all of these tactics pale in comparison to how he harnesses Rika’s power. In other words, these final chapters gave readers a glimpse into a boring alternate universe where Orimoto’s passing led to Yuta losing Rika as a cursed technique.
However, this revelation exposes a bigger problem. While Jujutsu Kaisen 0 is a touching story, Yuta’s depiction as a boy cursed to live with a terrifying version of his dead friend made his character incredibly intriguing for obvious reasons. This is especially the case when readers later learn that his and Rika’s continued suffering is the result of his own selfishness, however inadvertently. Freeing Yuta and Rika might have given them the peace both characters deserved, but it made Yuta’s character less compelling because he no longer had to deal with such a horrific curse and conscience. In other words, the difference of Jujutsu Kaisen 0 and the manga’s main timeline originally hinted that Rika’s lingering presence might mean that she might not have truly died as originally believed, meaning that Yuta might still be struggling in another way. But Chapter 178 eliminated that possibility.
Either way, this final chapter finally answered one of the Jujutsu KaisenRika’s greatest mysteries, while allowing Yuta to continue to take advantage of Rika’s incredible powers, which make her fights as engaging and dynamic as possible.
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