The Culling Game in Jujutsu Kaisen is the next deadly event after the chaos that was the Shibuya Incident.
The Culling Game is Gege Akutami’s twisted version of a battle royale. It began with what’s being referred to as the Culling Game Saga, starting with the 10th arc – the Perfect Preparation arc, and continuing into the Tokyo No. 1 Colony, Sendai Colony, and Tokyo No. 2 Colony arcs.
The newest arc of the Culling Game Saga, the Sakurajima Colony arc, premiered on July 18, after which the series went on break. The next chapter, chapter 192 is set to release on August 2.
In the meantime, I want to break down the Culling Game in its entirety since a lot of people still seem to be confused about it. I’ll go over everything as simplistically as possible, what the game is, how it works, its timeline, and how it connects to the events of the past, present, and future canon.
Here is everything you need to know about the Culling Game in Jujutsu Kaisen.
1. What exactly is the Culling Game?
The Culling Game in Jujutsu Kaisen is basically a step towards “evolving” humanity into one omnipotent entity, through a game that hinges on the Darwinian “survival of the fittest.”
In this deathmatch, sorcerers and non-sorcerers all through Japan are forced to battle and kill each other to gain points and proceed in the game.
2. Who began the Culling Game? Why? Goal Explained
Kenjaku aka Pseudo Geto aka the Brain started the Culling Game as part of a ritual to begin a New Golden Age of Jujutsu, better than the one in the Heian era, and evolve sorcerers into something greater by helping them become one with the world.
Merging with the world will send them to “the other side”, i.e., reach nirvana. The first step to do this, is the Culling Game.
I. Optimizing Cursed Energy
Although the main goal of the Culling Game is still being explored in its entirety, we can deduce that Kenjaku’s primary motive is to achieve something unique and explore the next stage of humanity’s relationship with cursed energy.
Kenjaku, who is already thousands of years old, has been possessing several people throughout the years to achieve his targets. Among those inhabited, was the evil sorcerer, Noritoshi Kamo, the creator of the 9 Cursed Womb: Death Paintings.
In chapter 136, Kenjaku tells Yuki Tsukumo that his intention is to optimize cursed energy.
The Culling Game is basically a method to generate enough cursed energy to forcibly merge all humans within Japan with Master Tengen and consequently, the world.
To understand Kenjaku’s goal to merge humanity with Tengen/the world, we must first understand who Tengen is and how he is capable of merging with humanity in the first place.
Tengen is an immortal human who has become closer to a cursed spirit than a human. His immortality is his innate cursed technique, which grants the user the ability to prolong their life infinitely. The user, though, never stops physically aging.
Once the user reaches 500 years, they must “merge” with a capable body, called the Star Plasma Vessel, where the cursed technique will rewrite their body’s data – kind of like hitting refresh.
If this does not happen, the immortality cursed technique and the user that possesses it, undergoes an “evolution” which essentially causes the user to lose their self-awareness and become one with the world – i.e., into one consciousness.
This entity is the evolved form of a sorcerer, which is what Kenjaku wants for the world: stretching the limits – or barriers, if you will – of what it means to be a sorcerer, a human.
III. Infinite Evil
Since Geto and Gojo failed to merge Tengen with Riko Amanai, the chosen Vessel, back in 2006, Tengen has been evolving for the past 11 years. He’s reached a stage now where he is one with the world, but still retains some bit of himself.
Through the Culling Game, Kenjaku can prepare the whole of Japan to merge with Tengen, thereby merging with the world.
But just as Tengen and the world have no boundaries, if humanity merges with Tengen, it would mean there are no boundaries between individuals either. This is where Tengen’s larger plan comes in – possibly the theory Reggie was hinting at.
A single impure thought would amplify as the thought of the whole of humanity.
“There would be no boundaries between individuals, so evil would spread instantaneously. The impurity of a 100 million people would flood the world. What happened to Tokyo would happen to the entire world.”
3. How did Kenjaku initiate the Culling Game? Kenjaku’s Preparations
The Culling Game is a heinous act of terrorism orchestrated by Kenjaku, who seemed to have already been plotting it since the onset of the series.
I. The Awakening of Non-Sorcerers
At the end of the Shibuya incident, Kenjaku absorbs Mahito and his cursed technique.
He rebirths several ancient sorcerers and unlocks the barriers of the cursed objects he had placed around the new world.
He also casts Idle Transformation and activates marked non-sorcerers selected for the Culling Game.
(Note: The reason Kenjaku couldn’t use Idle Transformation to bring about evolution is because he lacked that amount of cursed energy.
Yes, he could probably reshape the soul of one person at a time, but changing the whole of humanity needs a much, much greater amount of cursed energy. This is why he needed the Culling Game, so he can use it to forcibly merge them with Tengen.)
The awakened non-sorcerers have had their brains adjusted with the Cursed Spirit Manipulation technique so they can use cursed techniques as sorcerers can, or become strong enough to be able to withstand ingested cursed objects and become vessels for ancient sorcerers.
The example of the latter is Megumi’s sister Tsumiki Fushiguro, who has been forced to participate in the Culling Game. This is why she wakes up from her “coma” when Kenjaku activates the technique.
II. The 10 Colonies
Kenjaku set up 10 barriers or colonies throughout Japan within key cities in which the majority of the population is located. The Culling Games take place within each of the 10 colonies, which form a line running west to east through Japan.
Other than Hokkaido, the colonies at different places run linearly through the country, which will collectively act as the gateway to “the other side.”
As the game continues within every colony, the cursed energy that is outputted through the battle causes the barrier to move eastward until it has covered the entirety of Japan.
This is the unprecedented chaos that Kenjaku talks about, which is required to create the amount of cursed energy required for the merging. The colonies effectually contain and transmit the energy, enveloping all humans that it passes to be prepped for the merger and then evolve.
In this way, as the game proceeds within the 10 colonies throughout Japan, all of its cursed population can then become ready for evolution.
4. Who can take part in the Culling Game?
Players of the Culling Game include:
- Current/modern sorcerers who already have cursed techniques
- Awakened non-sorcerers turned into sorcerers with cursed techniques
- Ancient sorcerers awakened in marked non-sorcerers
- Cursed spirits
- Civilians who re-entered the colonies after the barriers were put up
5. What are the rules of the Culling Game?
All games, no matter how hellish, have rules. The Culling Game’s original 8 rules were revealed in chapter 143, the last chapter of the Itadori’s Extermination arc. 2 new rules were added recently. Here they are:
I. 19 Days
After a player has awakened their cursed technique, they must declare their participation in the game at the colony of their choice within 19 days.
This is for the non-sorcerers who were marked and then awakened by Kenjaku during the Shibuya Incident at midnight after October 31.
An example again, would be Tsumiki Fushiguro, who has until November 19 to official declare her participation.
II. Cursed Technique Removal
Any player who breaks the previous rule will be subject to cursed technique removal.
This removal in essence means death for the awakened players. Since their brains were altered by Cursed Spirit Manipulation, removing the curse technique would kill their brain.
So, an awakened non-sorcerer cannot just refuse to take part. They either participate, or they die.
Players without cursed techniques aren’t at risk of dying from this rule, and sorcerers with cursed techniques simply are subject to having their techniques removed.
III. Willing Participation
Non-players who enter a colony become players at the moment of entry and will be considered to have declared participation in the Culling Game.
Civilians already inside a barrier at the start of the game will be given at least one chance to exit safely. If they re-enter however, they will be considered as players.
Remember that players need to be “willing” – Kenjaku has probably made a Binding Vow and without the players consent, Kenjaku can’t use their cursed energy.
IV. Kill to Score
Players score points by killing other players.
V. Gamemaster Decides
The point value of a player’s life is decided by the game master. As a general rule, sorcerers and cursed spirits are worth 5 points and non-sorcerers are worth 1 point.
VI. Players Can Add a Rule
Excluding the point value of the player’s own life, a player can exchange 100 points of their own for a rule to be added.
They must discuss this with the gamemaster and add a new rule to the game. One crucial point here is that players can’t ask for the removal of a pre-existing rule.
VII. The Rules Exist Above the Gamemaster
The gamemaster does not have the authority to decline a rule made up by a player who expends his 100 points. They must accept any proposed new rule as long as it doesn’t have a long-lasting effect on the game.
(Note: In case you’re wondering, Kenjaku is not the gamemaster for the game. He is a third-party – waiting for the game to play out so he can proceed with the merging ritual.)
VIII. Kill, or Die
The scariest rule is that if a player’s score remains the constant for 19 days, they will be subject to cursed technique removal, which means death for the awakened players.
This is why Megumi wants to find a way to save Tsumiki before her 19 days are up.
Additionally, remember that players can only score points by killing. So if you don’t kill anyone, your score remains constant, and you become evicted. This ensures the active participation of all players.
IX. Additional rules
As of now, 2 players have been able to make use of the aforementioned rule #6: Hajime Kashimo and Hiromi Higuruma. Here are their rules:
I. Player Visibility
Players gain access to information on other players, such as their name, number of points, number of rules added, and their current location in a colony.
Yep, this is going to make for a bloodbath indeed.
II. Score Transfer
Players may transfer any number of points between one another.
This one is cool, because this way players can choose to refrain from killing as long as someone with more kills/points gives them some points.
6. Chronological Timeline of the Culling Game Thus Far:
I. November 1: The Awakening
00:00: At midnight, Kenjaku awakened the cursed techniques slumbering within thousands of sorcerers and marked non-sorcerers.
06:02: The barriers are placed and Kenjaku marks the first colony – Sendai Colony as the location for the game. Civilians are removed from the inside.
II. November 3: Noritoshi Kamo Arrives
23:05: Kamo is the descendant of the evil sorcerer who went by the same name and was later possessed by Kenjaku.
He arrives at the Kamo Clan HQ to warn his people about what’s happening, but finds out that Kenjaku had already become the 25th head of the clan and was under his control.
III. November 3-8: Yaga Killed
Principal Yaga is executed by Principal Gakuganji after the former is made a scapegoat for the Shibya Incident.
IV. November 8: Yuta Returns
Yuta Okkotsu enters the scene. The authorities give Yuta the task of killing Sukuna, i.e., Yuji Itadori. The orders for executing Geto are also given, and the act of freeing Gojo is criminalized.
Megumi becomes the new head of the Zenins and he finds Yuji to help save his sister, Tsumiki, from the Culling Game.
Yuta has also found Yuji but instead of killing him, bonds with him over their similar circumstances. His execution is faked and they all group together to figure out what to do about the game.
Until this time, Gojo has been sealed inside the Prison Realm for 8 days.
V. November 9: Tengen Contacted
Yuji, Yuta, Megumi, Choso, Maki, and Yuki manage to get in contact with Master Tengen through the Tombs of the Star.
Tengen reveals the details of the Culling Game and tells them that the only way to free Gojo is through the back of the Prison Realm. They must use a cursed technique called Angel that has the power to negate any other cursed technique.
VI. November 10: Fight Club
Since Hakari and Kirara are strong players in the game, the gang tries to get them as allies in the game.
17:00: Itadori and Fushiguro persuade Hakari to let them join his Fight Club saying that they need money.
VII. November 11: Rule #9
00:58: Kashimo trades in his 100 points to add a rule to the game which lets information on all players become disclosed to others.
VIII. November 12: Death Gamble and Rule #10
11:28: In the Sendai Colony, Yuta defeats Dhruv.
12:00: Yuji and Megumi enter Tokyo Colony 1, and Hakari and Panda enter Tokyo Colony 2.
In Tokyo Colony 1, Yuji fights Hanyu and Haba and then Higuruma Hiromi.
Fushiguro fights Remi, then Reggie, Chizuru, Iori.
Higuruma, who becomes Yuji’s ally, adds another rule to the game where players can transfer their points to other players.
In Tokyo Colony 2, Panda goes up against Kashimo Hajime.
IX. November 12-14: Zenin Clan
Maki returns to the Zenin Clan to get her cursed tools, but kind of kills them all. Those who weren’t there would also soon die violent deaths – 6 members of the Hei and 21 members of the Kukuru unit.
X. November 14: Naoya, the Cursed Spirit
Maki, accompanied by the exiled Kamo, fight through the Sakurajima colony.
15:05: Maki’s cousin brother Naoya, who was killed during the Perfect Preparation arc, returns to face Maki as a Vengeful Cursed Spirit.
XI. November 14-19: The Big 3
The Gojo and Kamo clans discusses removing the Zenin clan from the Big 3 Jujutsu families, but HQ still has the verdict on hold.
Day 19 is the last day Megumi has of rescuing Tsumiki from the cursed technique removal – death – by possibly adding new rules.
With rule #10, maybe Megumi and Yuji can discuss a trade-off with other players and gain enough points to add a new rule!
After the hiatus, the story will continue where we left off. I will update this timeline as and when new information arises.
7. About Jujutsu Kaisen
Jujutsu Kaisen, also known as Sorcery Fight, is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by GegeAkutami, serialized in Weekly Shōnen Jump since March 2018.
An anime television series adaptation produced by MAPPA premiered in October 2020.
The story revolves around Yuuji Itadori, a high-school student who, despite hating athletics, is insanely fit. Yuuji gets involved in the world of sorcery when he swallows a powerful talisman to protect his friends from its curse.
On observing that Yuuji wasn’t affected much even when inflicted with this curse, Satoru decides to send Yuuji on a quest to save the world.
The second season is premiering in July 2023.