Jujutsu Kaisen: "We are the exception" Aoi Todo's inspirational quote to Yuji in Shibuya, explained
The Jujutsu Kaisen Shibuya Incident arc is nearing its end in the anime. The final conflict is closing in as Aoi Todo comes to Yuji Itadori's aid against Mahito.
With a thunderous hammering of Mahito and an inspirational speech, Aoi Todo made his presence known and felt. The speech, in particular, struck quite a few chords and may be somewhat hard to decipher. Alongside the fact that Nobara was taken away for healing and at least having some chance of survival, the words shocked Yuji out of his catatonic state and motivated him to keep going.
However, many fans may be wondering what Aoi Todo meant by:
"We are the exception."
Disclaimer: This article contains spoilers from Jujutsu Kaisen's latest release anime episode and manga likewise. All opinions are exclusive to the author.
What does Aoi Todo's "We are the exception" speech refer to in Jujutsu Kaisen?
Aoi Todo's arrival
To put Yuji Itadori's situation into words by the current timeline of Jujutsu Kaisen's Shibuya Incident arc: he was rendered near catatonic at Sukuna's swath of destruction, Nanami's passing, and the possible death of Nobara.
When Mahito began beating him senselessly after blowing one of Nobara's eyes out, Yuji didn't even react. He just let himself get beat even with a Black Flash from Mahito.
Todo then arrived and saved his life with a big speech:
"The bells of the Gion monastery in India echo with the warning that all things are impermenant. The blossoms of the sala trees teach us through their hues that what flourishes must fade. However! We are the exception!"
With those words, he started the fight against Mahito while likewise saying that the battle had only just begun. Yuji responded by spiraling further, continuing to blame himself and spinning into a bawling and bleeding mess. It took a moment before the words sunk in. Todo had to fight Mahito, while Yuji picked himself off the floor.
What is Aoi referring to?
The first and obvious thing the statement refers to is the concept of entropy: the idea that all things die eventually and will do so. Luster fades, fame spoils, bodies decay, etc. Aoi Todo is rejecting that notion outright for him and Yuji to shake him out of his stupor.
It's not arrogance that this Jujutsu Kaisen sorcerer is spouting. It's more optimism and a fiery shout against Mahito's nihilistic and selfish evil.
Todo is trying to get through to Yuji in a way that fits, with him seeing the young sorcerer as his brother and best friend.
It's not difficult to figure out the words and their effects on Yuji. Todo even expands by saying as long as they're alive, their comrades are never truly gone. This is what Yuji takes from Todo's speech and how he recovers.
Todo asks a very simple question: what have Yuji's allies entrusted him with, and can he keep moving forward? Yuji Itadori gets stabilized by Arata, and hope glimmers in his eyes when he says that Nobara has a chance at survival. Yuji even chastises himself for taking the easy way out and for just wanting to die instead of keeping going.
Todo's words and Arata's healing awaken something in Yuji: that seemingly long-lost drive to live. He bounces back up, despite only 10% of his soul remaining, and starts driving Mahito back with Aoi Todo. Though the episode ends as their fight starts getting heated, it marks a turning point.
Yuji had been completely dead inside for the past few episodes. The combination of Sukuna's mass murder, losing hard to Choso, Gojo being sealed, Nanami's death, and Nobara's seemingly mortal injury all deadened Yuji's resolve. Is it any wonder he took a while to get back on his feet?
Aoi Todo's words in Jujutsu Kaisen's Shibuya Incident are not empty platitudes. They are a powerful blow being struck against the hopelessness and despair that threatened to overwhelm Yuji after everything. That's exactly what Mahito wanted: Yuji broke and despaired so that he's an easier target.
With Yuji back on his feet and his resolve hardened, Mahito finds himself fighting two opponents that are practically his equal, with Nobara's wounds to his soul still hurting him. In other words, despite going all out now, the tide is turning against him.
All because Aoi Todo refused to give up on Yuji and refused to let him give up on himself.