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Jujutsu Kaisen is officially the world's most popular anime, and I can't think of a series that deserves it more

Yes, I know you think your favourite series should be the most popular, but it isn't so pipe down.

On the left, Megumi and Yuji from Jujutsu Kaisen are sat on a train, Yuji is smiling and waving into the camera. On the right, Gojo and Geto are smiling and laughing as they're strutting along.
Image credit: MAPPA/ Gege Akutami

This might come as a bit of a surprise to some of you, but Jujutsu Kaisen is the most popular anime in the world. I'm not being hyperbolic, I'm not just being biassed and pulling out of my ass: the actual Guinness World Records said so. The organisation shared last week that a data-science firm found that the series has a "global demand rating 71.2 times greater than that of the average TV show." This demand is based on things like "how much attention, engagement, desire, and viewership is expressed by consumers for content."

Yes, that means it's more popular than heavy hitters like Attack on Titan, and long-running series like One Piece. In fact, up until about July last year, One Piece was the more popular show - of course, that's just before season 2 kicked off with the immensely popular Hidden Inventory arc. Since then, we saw an entire season of impeccable animation, more than one cosplay from Megan Thee Stallion, and an entire meme culture born from intense weekly chapters on Twitter and TikTok. It's been a good time for Jujutsu Kaisen, a series that is close to joining the likes of My Hero Academia, Demon Slayer, and Attack on Titan on the 100 million+ manga volumes sold club. And quite honestly? I can't think of a series more deserving of its popularity.

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I do understand that Jujutsu Kaisen isn't for everything. It has several upsetting character deaths, it feels like any actual wins the characters have don't last long, and some don't even like Yuji Itadori as a protagonist, finding him to be a bit plain. But for those that it clicks with, like myself, it really hits. In particular, I think Yuji is one of the best shonen protagonists around, and maybe one of my favourites ever.

A touchstone of shonen protagonists is that they're strong, joyful, won't be ashamed to cry over their friends, and always manage to find a way to come out on top. Yuji is certainly the first three things, but he's not really managed that last one, and I think he's a lot more than the archetypical shonen protagonist anyway.

There's a scene that took place after Hidden Inventory in the anime, where Yuji runs into an old classmate of his. Notably, said classmate used to be fat, ostracised because of her weight, but when asked about who Yuji would date in the class (even though he wasn't very interested in dating), he picked her. Not as a joke, not with any malicious intent, simply because he sees people as they are, not as some kind of label the world might have placed upon them.

Later on, post him becoming a sorcerer, he runs into the classmate again, though she's since lost the weight and looks completely different. Yuji recognises her instantly though, because again, he sees her very soul, and it's a genuinely thoughtful moment, and a thousand times better than the ways that many shonen before it have handled fatness.

I think that quite deeply ties into the themes of the show, where the characters are frequently risking their own lives for the sake of other people, simply because they care about the quality of everyone's lives. There's a recurring idea of changing the status quo, something that hot boy Gojo Satoru repeatedly tries to impress upon his students, in a way that will benefit everyone, including those on the fringe of society, the rejected, the marginalised.

While I'd like to go further into how those themes are explored, I'd be veering into manga spoiler territory, so for the sake of anime-onlys I won't do so, but despite many people's impression that Jujutsu Kaisen is just a depressing battle shonen, it's actually quite a subtly but powerfully anti-conservative text in ways I've not seen much in mainstream manga. So yes, I know that One Piece fans will be miffed that their favourite series that they swear gets worth it after the first 300 episodes isn't on top right now, but personally, I'm quite pleased that position belongs to Jujutsu Kaisen. Let's just hope it can keep it up.

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