Why is Sukuna the King of Curses? Exploring the Folklore

Despite being the primary antagonist, Ryomen Sukuna is one of the most popular and intriguing characters in Jujutsu Kaisen. Feared by humans and cursed spirits alike, he has acquired the title “King of Curses” over the years. But why is Sukuna the King of Curses? If you’re also wondering about this, you should read this article to find out.

Who is Ryomen Sukuna?

Thousands of years ago, Sukuna was a vicious human sorcerer who killed many other sorcerers during the golden age of jujutsu. He is inherently selfish, ruthless, and manipulative and can be best described as a “natural calamity,” according to the author, Gege Akutami.

Who is Ryomen Sukuna?

Sukuna’s “real form” is described as a fearsome creature with four arms and two faces. But currently, he appears identical to Yuji Itadori, the series’ main protagonist, with unique markings on his body and a pair of extra eyes under the normal ones.

The author has yet to reveal the truth behind Sukuna’s death and sealing, so for now we can only theorize about what happened. Most fans assume that Sukuna was killed by other sorcerers, while others believe that he died of natural causes. What we know for sure is that after his death, Sukuna’s immense power and spirit were sealed within his 20 fingers, and eventually reincarnated as a cursed spirit.

Sukuna’s Abilities

Hand-to-Hand Combat

Sukuna's abilties

Sukuna is a highly skilled and powerful close-combat fighter. During his fight with Megumi at the detention center, he was able to overwhelm Megumi completely with strong physical attacks. Combining his cursed techniques and expertise in hand-to-hand combat, Sukuna is definitely a difficult opponent to face in battle.

Immense Physical Strength

Sukuna's abilities manga panel jogo building

Despite being in an incomplete form during his first appearance, Sukuna was able to demonstrate immense physical strength. He can easily destroy a massive cursed spirit with a single blow, and during his fight with Gojo, he punched the school’s roof so hard that it ruptured and cracked. He can also effortlessly outclass a special grade finger bearer which only proves that Sukuna remains the undisputed King of Curses.

Tremendous Speed and Reflexes

Sukuna's abilities

Sukuna can effortlessly counter and evade any attack from his opponents, thanks to his superhuman speed and reflexes. His attacks are so quick that his opponent won’t even realize right away that their limb has already been severed. More impressively, he was able to keep up with Mahoraga during their fight, consistently evading and deflecting the strongest shikigami’s attacks. He also managed to dodge Jogo’s Maximum: Meteor, an extremely destructive technique that could annihilate a massive portion of Shibuya.

Immense Tactical Intellect

Sukuna smiling anime screenshot Yuji Itadori

Sukuna possesses great tactical intellect, which makes him such a formidable opponent in battles. He fully understands the nature of cursed techniques, including cursed energy and reverse cursed energy in general. He can easily grasp the inner workings of cursed techniques after only seeing them once or twice, and formulate appropriate counters to such techniques.

Why is Sukuna the King of Curses?

Why is Sukuna the King of Curses, sukuna, robe, red, malevolent shrine

Sukuna is known as the King of Curses mainly because of his undisputed power. He was feared by everyone, even as a human sorcerer. According to the Official Fanbook, he was always known as the King of Curses even before and after becoming a cursed spirit.

He is the most powerful cursed spirit in the entire series, possessing an enormous amount of cursed energy and tremendous physical strength. He has great control of his cursed energy and can continuously use cursed techniques without even a hint of exhaustion. This alone cements his title as the King of Curses.

The Origin of Ryomen Sukuna: Myth vs. History

The entirety of Jujutsu Kaisen, including Sukuna’s character, is highly based on Japanese mythology, history, and folklore. More specifically, the first arc was based on a 2005 myth that was popular in the region where the author grew up in.

Ryomen Sukuna: In Mythology

According to the myth, a mysterious ancient box was found on a construction site. It was nailed shut and wrapped with talismans, and it was believed that Ryomen Sukuna was sealed inside. The workers informed the priest about it and they were told not to open the box until he gets there. Coincidentally, some students walking around the area stumbled upon the box and opened it out of curiosity. Sounds familiar?

Sukuna four arms four eyes fire

When the students opened the box, some workers also got a glimpse of what was inside, and they were so frightened and shocked at what they saw. Apparently, inside the box was a body containing two heads, four arms, and four legs. Two of the students who opened the box ended up dying while the other one was confined in a mental institution.

Ryomen Sukuna: In History

Aside from the myth, did you know that Ryomen Sukuna was an actual person who existed in Japan? Well, he was later on mythified, but the actual Ryomen Sukuna was once a leader. The Yamato Family plotted to overthrow him through a hostile attempt, and to justify all of the Yamato Family’s atrocities, they spread propaganda painting Sukuna as the evil one.

Sukuna anime screenshot Yuji Itadori

In addition, the Yamato Family conjured up a narrative that Sukuna disrespected the Imperial Family. They also spread the rumor that he killed hundreds of people with only a bow and arrow combined with his superhuman strength. Over time, this nearly demon-like image of Sukuna spread and became widely known among the citizens.

However, Ryomen Sukuna has an entirely different reputation among the people in the Hida region. They view him as a protector and even a benevolent figure in their history. They believe that Sukuna was the reincarnation of mercy, the one who introduced Buddhism to the area, and established the Senko-ji temple. While doing so, he also exorcised an evil dragon.

Do Sukuna's tattoos relate to his power?

As you can see, Sukuna appears to be the embodiment of two completely opposing personas, both connected to demons (either being one or exorcising one), since his name “Ryomen” can be translated as “two-faced” while Sukuna means “to exorcise”.