Contains spoilers for Hidden Inventory 3 and Gege Akutami’s manga series, ‘Jujutsu Kaisen’.
Season 3’s Hidden Inventory arc has already presented its key players: the undefeatable Gojo Satoru and the unpredictable Geto Suguru make a formidable team together, believing that as long as they fight side by side, they are the strongest. This has less to do with their collective fighting capabilities and attack flourishes, as this belief hinges more on their friendship, which often feels more akin to love. Their dynamic remains as playful as ever, slightly shifting to more serious tones when they are on deadly missions, and The Star Plasma Vessel extraction mission is no different. Taking on the responsibility to guard Riko, the duo fight off several opposing forces and help the girl achieve her purpose: the negation of herself to merge with the immortal Master Tengen.
This arc’s wild card, however, is the Sorcerer Killer Toji Fushiguro. Fushiguro knows that Gojo is near-unbeatable with his Six Eyes and Infinity activated, and hatches a dastardly plan to weaken the sorcerer. Episode 3 finally reveals the true potential of this otherwise laidback assassin who gambles his money away and lazes around like a deadbeat jerk — now, it is time for Fushiguro to jump into action when Gojo and Geto least expect him to. His machinations, unfortunately, work a little too well.
Jujutsu Kaisen (Season 2), Episode 3 Recap:
Riko Amanai, The One Whose Life Never Belonged To Herself
Episode 2 of Hidden Inventory ended with Riko panicking when she realized that her caretaker, Kuroi, has been kidnapped by the Time Vessel Association. Episode 3 does not waste any time delving into the nitty-gritties, as a brief flashback establishes how easy it was for the duo to rescue Kuroi and bring her back to safety. This allows us to focus on the present, which is precious, as these are the final moments Riko gets to spend in the world before she willingly merges with Tengen. Gojo, Geto, Kuroi, and Riko spend some time in a resort in Okinawa, as it is a temporary refuge for the group before they escort Riko to Jujutsu High.
The extended beach sequence truly highlights MAPPA’s ability to flesh out already-competent source material and add more nuance to little moments to underline the emotional gravity of the situation. Gojo, while still a little immature in relation to his future self, expresses his compassion for Riko in the only way he can: by providing her a chance to be a kid, careless and free, as they engage in silly shenanigans together. Gojo has always been a silly guy™, providing hilarious breathing moments in a tale so entrenched in loss and tragedy, and the Okinawa sequence only serves to underline how Gojo utilizes this character aspect to make others feel at ease. Whether this silliness is a mask to bury deep-seated trauma or a macabre darkness within demands a more in-depth deep dive, but it is clear that Gojo’s means of expressing love is intimately tied to bringing out everyone’s inner child when they need it the most.
This brings us to Riko, the girl willing to sacrifice herself for a greater cause. Deemed special and different all her life, Riko has always been aware of her true purpose, and lived life accordingly, while never losing her free spirit. Here, at Okinawa, she can be a child again, and momentarily forget what the near future holds when Gojo dunks hot sauce in her ramen or inspects a weird sea creature with her with childlike glee.
Gojo Satoru, Six Eyes, Is Dead
Toji’s plan to tire Gojo out does not appear as effective at first. However, at Okinawa, Geto pulls Gojo aside and states that it is apparent how tired and worn out he looks, having fought so many over the last two days and barely having slept to keep Riko happy. While Gojo shrugs his concern off, his laidback attitude only blinds him to a potential ploy to deliberately weaken him when he least expects it. After the four of them reach the barrier inside the school safely, Gojo relaxes, turning off his Infinity. However, this lapse comes at a heavy price: Gojo’s torso is suddenly pierced with a katana from behind, and the wielder of this surprise attack is none other than Toji Fushiguro.
What happens next is perhaps one of the most thrilling action showdowns in the manga, barring the Shibuya arc, of course: Gojo and Toji face off in a fight that is absolutely impossible to predict. Geto, who is shocked when Gojo is stabbed, makes a tough decision: while he wants to stay back and help his friend, his job as a sorcerer demands his prioritizing of Riko and her safety, and he decides to escort them into the building. Gojo, declaring that his wounds are shallow, fights Toji but is unable to anticipate his movements, as he does not use any Cursed Energy. Toji’s movements are also inhumanely fast and unpredictable, leaving the great Gojo Satoru puzzled and frustrated, leading him to unleash Cursed Technique Lapse: Blue!
There are two things to take into account here. First, Toji, after bursting out of the curse Geto hurls at him, emerges with a cursed spirit wrapped around his neck. Second, the only trace of Cursed Energy around him is the cursed blade he uses, known as the Inverted Spear of Heaven. As Gojo relies on his Six Eyes to detect Cursed Energy in opponents, Toji’s lack of Cursed Energy makes this ability redundant during the fight, forcing Gojo to follow up with Cursed Technique Lapse Maximum Cursed Energy Output: Blue! This backfires, as Toji blurs Gojo’s vision with Fly Heads, and slashes him with the Inverted Spear of Heaven, which blocks any Cursed Techniques, including Limitless.
Manga fans will expect Gojo’s death at this juncture, but the manner in which MAPPA animates this sequence is quick, brutal, and breathlessly unpredictable. To see Gojo, who is feared by Cursed Spirits of all grades, be demolished by Toji while he hacks into him aggressively, to the point that he creates a deep, gaping rift across his torso is downright unsettling. Gojo drowns in a pool of his own blood, the Fly Heads already descending on his body, as if to devour him even before his body grows cold. To witness Gojo die in such a brutal fashion is deeply disorienting — however, this is where the trauma merely begins.
Jujutsu Kaisen (Season 2), Episode 3 Ending, Explained:
Does Toji Succeed In Killing Riko?
MAPPA seems to have mastered the art of heightening the manga’s tragedies and effectively twisting the knife. I mean, one only has to look at the Junpei arc in Season 1, and the infuriatingly deceptive opening credits that show him happily alive, and well. The animation studio one-ups its own game when it comes to bringing Riko’s last moments to life: here, the girl says a teary goodbye to Kuroi, and hesitates in front of Tengen’s staircase, weeping that she’s always known that she needs to die. However, this does not mean her choice is any simpler, as she also yearns to live life and spend more moments with the people she loves. Geto listens compassionately, stating that the choice is hers: if she wants to live, all she has to do is take his hand and return to Kuroi.
Geto’s statement obviously factors in the conviction and he and Gojo are the strongest, as they previously mused that they would even take on Master Tengen together if the vessel refused to merge. Unbeknownst to him, his best friend now lies in a pool of blood, and a deadly assassin is making his way down to where he stands with Riko. Just as Riko is about to take his hand, a gunshot reverberates, and the next second, she’s dead on the floor, her skull oozing blood. The moment is jarring, no matter how one chooses to process it. This is a young girl who dared to hope at the final juncture, offered compassion by someone who protected her with his life. To have those dreams tread on and crushed so callously even leaves Geto shellshocked, as he looks at Toji, frozen with grief.
When Geto asks Toji what brings him here, referring to his fight with Gojo when Geto left with the girl, the sorcerer killer smirks and utters the horrible words, ‘I killed Gojo Satoru, and he’s dead.’ Geto does not react with words — he immediately draws numerous Cursed Spirits, his face contorted into anguished menace. The only words he utters to Toji is a declaration: DIE. This is when the screen cuts to black, harkening to the beginning of the end, as the worst is not over, but has merely reared its ugly hydra head.