Jujutsu Kaisen has become one of the most popular manga and anime series in recent times. The story follows the life of a high school student, Yūji Itadori, who becomes involved in a world of sorcery after swallowing a cursed object. The manga delves deep into themes like friendship, sacrifice, power, and more, making it much more than just a battle shonen.
Interestingly enough, Yūji is named after the Japanese knotweed, itadori in Japanese. To a Western audience, the fact that the hero of the tale has the same name as the Japanese knotweed may appear bizarre, as the plant gets generally labeled with adjectives such as “threatening”, “alien”, “evil”, “catastrophic”, “destructive”, “hostile”, etc. However, the plant has a completely different reputation in Japan, where it is revered for its amazing adaptability to survive even in the most impervious environments.
In Japanese culture, it is not uncommon to find people named after plants or flowers, symptom of a high susceptibility to the flora’s intrinsic qualities. These names may be given for various reasons, including cultural and religious significance, aesthetic appeal, and personal preference. In any case, there is generally the implicit belief that the chosen name will contribute to instill certain values and qualities in the child. Quite literally departing from this, Akutami Gege, the author of the manga, did not chose Yūji’s name randomly.
The itadori plant presents impressive survival skills. It is incredibly adaptable, growing in almost any type of soil and withstanding harsh environmental circumstances such as droughts, floods, and extreme temperatures. Its deep and branched roots allow it to survive even the harshest winters, and to quickly spread underground, creating dense patches of vegetation that are almost impossible to eradicate.
Similarly, Itadori Yūji is a survivor. He was born with an extremely rare condition that allows him to withstand massive physical trauma without dying. This makes him a valuable asset to the Jujutsu Sorcerers, who often find themselves facing off against powerful curses and demons. Yūji's incredible determination has helped him survive battles against some of the strongest enemies in the manga, proving that he is truly a force to be reckoned with. Just like itadori’s obstinacy, Yūji’s willpower sets him apart from other characters in the series, helping him overcome seemingly impossible obstacles.
The two Itadoris, may at first seem as unlikely counterparts, yet they share a common thread of strength and resilience, the same unyielding fortitude to survive and thrive. Itadori Yuji exemplifies how one can utilize their strength for good and justice, but what can be said of its vegetal equivalent? Are there lessons to be learned from the Japanese Knotweed? Well, actually there are! Scientists have been studying Japanese Knotweed in order to learn from its unique properties. For instance, its extensive root system allows the plant to absorb pollutants from the soil, whereas its leaves and stem contain therapeutical compounds that could be used to treat cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative disorders and even cancer. Just as its manga incarnation, the plant also reminds us of the power of adaptation in the face of adversity and the importance of persistence and determination.
Beyond any negative reputation, the Japanese Knotweed's impressive stubbornness serves as a valuable case study for scientists and a source of inspiration for those seeking resilience.