The main antagonist of this popular anime series is none other than the King of Curses, Ryomen Sukuna. He was described as a two-faced and four-armed cursed spirit in his past, Sukuna quickly gained notoriety as one of the most iconic antagonists in the history of anime. In fact, at the 2021 Crunchyroll Anime Awards, Ryomen Sukuna was honored with the title of Best Antagonist of the Year during its fifth edition.
Warning: if you wish to uncover the mysterious identity of Ryomen Sukuna, be prepared, as the following information will reveal it!
The Origin of Sukuna
In the anime, Ryomen Sukuna was introduced as the King of Curses. According to legend, people believed that he was an imaginary demon or god. However, the truth behind his story is way more interesting than a belief passed down from generation to generation.
The real story of Sukuna can be traced back to 1000 years ago when he was still a human. During this time, Sukuna was believed to be one of the enemies of sorcerers during the Golden Age of Jujutsu. And even just as a human, Sukuna was already compared to a monster as he displayed unbelievable strength and a complex personality.
Countless Jujutsu sorcerers have tried and failed to vanquish Sukuna, who has ruthlessly annihilated anyone who dared to challenge him. It is said that Sukuna consumed the numerous individuals he slaughtered, absorbing their cursed energy. His insatiable desire to plunge people into despair continued even after his demise. While the specifics of his death remain undisclosed, we know that he was eventually reborn as a cursed spirit, earning him the moniker, King of Curses.
The infamous King of Curses, Sukuna, was well-recognized by both Jujutsu sorcerers and cursed spirits alike. His very existence struck terror in countless hearts, instilling dread in those who encountered him. Sukuna’s immense power meant that, even after his defeat, no one could dispose of his remains. Consequently, Jujutsu sorcerers opted to dismember Sukuna’s body, severing it into finger pieces and scattering them throughout Japan to minimize the likelihood of his resurrection.
On record, there were a total of 20 fingers that were scattered, and every single piece contained immense power. Sukuna’s finger is classified as a special-grade cursed object, meaning that if someone consumes a single piece of it, whether humans or cursed spirits, it will be regarded as a special-grade curse that should be eliminated immediately. Overall, Sukuna was viewed as a calamity that should not be revived at any cost.
In the anime’s initial episode, the Jujutsu sorcerers’ worst fears came true. Megumi Fushiguro, assigned to retrieve a special-grade cursed object from an instrument storage area near a school, was horrified to discover it missing. Aware that such an object must not fall into the hands of an ordinary person, Megumi found himself compelled to recover the item.
On the following day, Megumi sensed the cursed object’s presence emanating from Yuji Itadori, who happened to walk past him. Megumi then decided to trail Yuji, only to find out that the occult club possessed the cursed object. Recognizing the peril associated with the object, both Yuji and Megumi rushed to the school to reclaim it. However, upon their arrival, they discovered that cursed spirits had already been unleashed and were attacking the two occult club members.
Confronted with this situation, the duo chose to battle the cursed spirits. Regrettably, the cursed spirit proved too powerful for them, pushing them to the verge of defeat and potential death. In a desperate move, Yuji consumed the cursed object, later revealed to be one of Sukuna’s fingers. This act turned Yuji into a vessel for Sukuna’s soul, inadvertently resurrecting the King of Curses.
When Sukuna took over the body of Yuji, he easily defeated the cursed spirit in the school with a single slash. Megumi was saved. However, this development alarmed the Jujutsu sorcerers‘ higher-ups.
In the second episode, it is revealed that Yuji was condemned to death, as the sorcerers could not risk a complete resurrection of Sukuna. With Gojo Satoru’s intervention, Yuji’s execution was postponed under the condition that he would collect all of Sukuna’s fingers and be executed after completing this task, in the hopes of eternally eliminating the monstrous King of Curses.
The Inspiration Behind Sukuna
In the official Jujutsu Kaisen fan book, the anime’s creator, Akatami Gege, disclosed that the King of Curses, Ryomen Sukuna, was in fact inspired by Japanese mythology. Akatami Gege drew upon the Nihon Shoki, a historical Japanese chronicle, as a source of inspiration for crafting the anime’s primary antagonist.
The Nihon Shoki Chronicle is a Japanese history book that was created during the Nara Period of Japan. It is the oldest existing history book in Japan and contains the oldest information about Sukuna. Here, it was described that Ryomen Sukuna, otherwise known as Two-Faced Spector, was one of the most mysterious mythological deities of Japan.
In Chapter 117 of the manga, it is clear that Sukuna’s design is heavily influenced by the Sukuna statue found in Japanese mythology. Both share striking resemblances in their physical attributes, including having two faces and wielding a weapon. Moreover, the Nihon Shoki describes Sukuna as being clever and possessing immense strength, traits that closely parallel the Sukuna character in Jujutsu Kaisen.
Furthermore, it was also stated in Nihon Shoki that Sukuna was the head of the Hida province during the reign of Emperor Nin-toku until the year 377. Sukuna of ancient Japan lost his reign when the Emperor sent his greatest general to expel him from the land. If we were to take a closer look, the great General Shogun that was sent by the Emperor to expel Sukuna can be represented by Gojo Satorou from Jujutsu Kaisen, as this man was recognized as the greatest sorcerer in history. According to Akatami Gegeg himself in the interview, Gojo was both the pinnacle of power and its ceiling. Gojo was actually feared more than Sukuna when he was still alive in his Golden Age era.
Going back to ancient Japan, Sukuna was also known as the Benefactor of the Hida Province and was worshiped by the people. Despite being described as an evil being and an enemy of the emperor in some parts of the Nihon Shoki, Sukuna was recognized as a savior by the people of the Hida province. Specifically, the people regarded him as a “Kaiki” or patron of a temple. According to the rumor, one of the temples that Sukuna founded was the Senko-ji Temple, which is located in Kyoto City, Japan. This may explain why Sukuna’s Domain Expansion summons a divine shrine and a temple.
Sukuna as the King of Curses
Sukuna’s ability to annihilate anything coupled with his quintessential villainous demeanor solidifies his reputation as the King of Curses.
Within the realm of Jujutsu, Sukuna is regarded as the strongest special-grade cursed spirit in the series. His immense reservoir of cursed energy is so potent that upon his resurrection, various human sorcerers and cursed spirits sensed his presence. In terms of combat, Sukuna stands out as a formidable force among even the most fearsome beings.
Initially, even in an incomplete form, Sukuna demonstrates remarkable strength, enabling him to destroy a large cursed spirit with a single stroke. His extraordinary speed often leaves opponents unable to track his movements. Furthermore, Sukuna exhibits exceptional reflexes, resilience, and strategic acumen, which he employs to outmaneuver and defeat adversaries.
Adept in hand-to-hand combat, Sukuna can secure victories without relying on his cursed energy. This power is evident in the fifth episode when Sukuna faces Megumi; he effortlessly defeats him without resorting to seriousness or utilizing his cursed technique.
In terms of utilizing cursed energy, Sukuna is highly skilled in this domain as well. He can wield the reverse cursed technique to regenerate lost limbs in an instant, as demonstrated during a battle with a special-grade cursed spirit.
Sukuna also employs two slashing attacks called Dismantle and Cleave. By default, he uses Dismantle as a cutting technique that damages cursed spirits and inanimate objects. Conversely, Cleave is a slicing strike that adapts based on the target’s resilience and cursed energy level, aiming to eliminate them in a single blow.
Additionally, Sukuna possesses a domain expansion ability called Malevolent Shrine, which allows him to summon a skull-adorned shrine that grants him a power boost and ensures that all targets within its 200-meter effective range will be hit.