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While watching Jujutsu Kaisen, I noticed several references to Naruto. Some of them are:

  1. They referred to the martial arts as taijutsu. Regarding that, the Wikipedia article says (emphasis mine):

    Taijutsu is a synonym for Jujutsu (method of unarmed or with minor weapons close combat). The words jujutsu, taijutsu, and yawara can be used interchangeably. The term is commonly used when referring to a traditional Japanese martial art but has also been used in the naming of modern martial arts such as Gendai Goshin Jutsu, Yamabujin Goshin Jitsu and Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu.

  2. The characters can stand on water (is that a reference?).

  3. When confronted by Gojo Sensei that Itadori can't use cursed techniques, this is what the latter said:

    I want to pull off a Spirit Gun or Bankai, or Rasengan, or Dodon Ray.

  4. In episode 9, the villain mentions the Nine-Tailed Fox (Kyuubi).

  5. Many hand signs are similar to what was shown in Naruto.

So, why are the characters of Jujutsu Kaisen making references to the Naruto anime? Is it because, since both shows are in the shounen genre, making such references is easier and looks more impressive? Or is there any relation with the studios (though the studios are different), or illustrators, etc.?

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I'd argue that most of the supposed references to Naruto aren't specific to Naruto or are more general than they're portrayed.

1: Taijutsu (体術 literally body techniques) is a term that generally refers to martial arts which Naruto uses to draw the distinction from Ninjutsu (ninja techniques) which use chakra. Jujutsu (柔術) is a synonym for Taijutsu although there's special significance to the term in that Jujutsu serves as a basis for many modern martial arts (Judo, Brazilian Jujitsu, etc.). This is important because Jujutsu Kaisen's Jujutsu (呪術 literally curse techniques) is a homophone for the martial art Jujutsu (柔術 literally soft techniques). Which is to say they have as much to do with each other as roots and routes.

Another aspect of this is that Taijutsu is a general term for unarmed combat techniques (synonymous with the usage of the English term martial arts) in much the same way Kenjutsu is a general term for sword techniques and Bajutsu is a general term for horseriding techniques, here's a somewhat comprehensive list of jutsu.

2: Walking on water in Naruto is probably making reference to the belief that ninjas could walk on water, although it wasn't through chakra manipulation but using special shoes called Mizugumo (which themselves don't seem like they work unless running across marshy ground and rice paddies is considered the same as pulling a Jesus). Jujutsu Kaisen makes no such reference to ninjas but the act of walking on water is a lot older than ninjas, the main inspiration being Jesus.

3: Itadori does call out Rasengan by name which is a clear nod to Naruto but in the same sentence he also makes reference to many other famous techniques from other massively popular Shonen Jump works, these include:

  • Spirit Gun (aka Rei Gun): Yusuke Urameshi's signature move from Yu Yu Hakusho
  • Bankai: Powerful transformations that select Shinigami (soul reapers) in Bleach can perform
  • Dodon ray (aka Dodonpa): The signature move of the Tsuru-Sen style of martial arts practiced by characters like Tien and Chaozu from Dragonball

The point of Itadori's line is to get across he can't grasp the usage of cursed power and is relating it to the power systems of other manga he's read.

4: The Kyuubi (nine-tailed fox) is a relatively well known mythical being in East-Asian folklore, originating in China around 0 AD it was believed that when certain animals got old enough they gained mystical powers. Kitsune (the generic term for fox spirits as well as the actual animal) are very common yokai in Japanese media from the nearly millennium old tale of Tamamo-no-Mae to the Pokémon Ninetales whose first appearance predates Naruto's publication by 3 years. A mention of the Kyuubi is less likely a reference to Naruto in particular and more towards the traditional Japanese folklore in general (which Jujutsu Kaisen is deeply steeped in) in the same way a story with vampires isn't necessarily referencing the Twilight series as much as their progenitor, Bram Stoker's Dracula or the mythology about vampires in general.

5: Naruto's hand signs are not Kishimoto's creations, they are symbolic Hindu and Buddhist gestures called Mudras. Jujutsu Kaisen may be drawing from Naruto's use of the Mudras but it could just as easily be drawing from the source. Mudras relatively speaking are somewhat known in Japan given the prevalence and history of Buddhism in the country.

Is this to say Jujutsu Kaisen makes no reference to Naruto? Not at all, art influences art in ways big and small alike, One Piece's Eiichiro Oda and Fairy Tail's Hiro Mashima are both fans of Dragonball and have mentioned being inspired by it, which shows in their refinement of the battle Shonen formula codified by Dragonball. Yu Yu Hakusho's dark tournament gave us the template for the Shonen tournament arc which shows in everything from Naruto, to My Hero Academia and beyond. For a more recent example Tatsuki Fujimoto's Chainsaw man influences show front and center in more recent works such as Dandadan and Hunter's Guild: Red Hood.

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For what I have learnt from Jujutsu Kaisen is that it is taken into account that the Author was influenced to create these characters based on that of Naruto-verse because he was inspired by that series. To support the fact that the author mentioned this is shown in this link.

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