On more than one occasion, we have written about the numerous pop culture references in Jujutsu Kaisen, some of which are direct references to actual pop culture phenomena, while others are symbolic (re)interpretations that pay their respects to actual phenomena. The Human Earthworm series is one such example and in this article, we are going to bring you all the details related to the series that Yuji Itadori likes in Jujutsu Kaisen.
The Human Earthworm series is a series of, as of the time of the Shibuya Incident, four feature-length movies that Yuji Itadori likes. At the beginning of the Shibuya Incident Arc, the fourth movie has just come out, and Yuji takes Nobara and Megumi to watch it with him. The series itself is a reference to the real-life horror franchise Human Centipede, with which it shares a similar plot outline, several important plot details, and a similar title, although from what Yuji has told the readers/viewers, the Human Earthworm doesn’t seem to be as morbidly disgusting as the actual Human Centipede series. It doesn’t play a major role in the plot of Jujutsu Kaisen, but it is an interesting addition to the overall lore.
Pop culture references in Jujutsu Kaisen are nothing strange, and in this article, we will elaborate on a reference that has been featured earlier but has resurfaced once again in the most recent episode of the anime series. The Human Earthworm reference might look and sound familiar to a lot of fans of the series, but it might not be completely clear, which is why we have decided to fully clarify it and reveal all the details you need to know about the reference and the actual game behind it. Some spoilers will be present, so be careful how you approach the article.
The Human Earthworm series is a reference to the real-life Human Centipede series, but significantly less morbid
Now, fans of Jujutsu Kaisen will remember that the Human Earthworm (jap. Mimizu Ningen) series was mentioned before the most recent episode of the series, but that was just one reference; if you remember, the young Junpei, who later became Yuji’s friend (one of the things they actually bonded over is the series), skipped school to go watch the Human Earthworm 3 in the cinema and during the projection, a cursed spirit slaughtered the bullies from his school, who were also watching the movie at the time.
Now, at the beginning of the Shibuya Incident Arc, Megumi, Nobara, and Yuji are walking in the streets, and Yuji comments how he is going to see a movie, inviting the others with him. Megumi declines and goes home, while Nobara declines because she wants to go shopping. Yuji decided to see the Human Earthworm 4, the fourth installment of the popular franchise that has just come out. He once again asks Nobara if she wants to go see the movie with him and then explains the plot to her.
Roughly, the series tells the story of a mad scientist who uses some bizarre experiments to turn his test subjects into humanoid earthworms. From what we could see in the episode, the experiments result in the subjects retaining their human bodies (they’re bipedal creatures with two arms), but their head becomes like the head of an earthworm, although they do have eyes and a mouth, just like humans.
It is unknown what the goal of these experiments is, but Yuji has said that the fourth installment finally sees the return of the series’ main villain, the mad scientist Dr. Richter, who was present in the first installment; his return seems to make Yuji quite happy.
In the fourth installment, Dr. Richter has seemingly succeeded in creating an enhanced version of his Human Earthworm hybrid, but the poor, unsuspecting guy manages to escape and has to hide from the other humans who consider him to be a monster.
The hybrid seems to have human and earthworm features, as he can live underground and seemingly now eats like an earthworm, but he has retained many of his human traits. As per Yuji’s words, the story really kicks off when he hides in a campground full of college students.
Namely, while there, on the grounds, the Human Earthworm meets a young college student who is very nice and is also an animal rights advocate. While initially freaked out by him, they develop a connection, and he falls in love with her. A scene shows him crying over how he is no longer human, with the girl comforting him and telling him that he is more human than most people she knows.
At that moment, the girl’s friends burst in and want to kill the Human Earthworm because he is a freak of nature, but at that moment, a group of small humanoid earthworms appears; they keep calling the Human Earthworm “papa” and begin to attack the assaulting students. This suggests that the Human Earthworm also reproduces like regular earthworms. As the students attack the Human Earthworm with the intent to kill him, the babies surround them, and the trailer that Yuji showed Nobara is over.
Yuji seems to be quite excited about this movie, while Nobara is freaked out, both by Yuji’s enthusiasm as well as the plot; she also declined to see the movie on account that she had not seen the first three movies in the series, but Yuji commented how he thought that the fourth movie would be a great moment to jump into the series.
And while Nobara went shopping, at the end of the episode, Yuji managed to get both her and Megumi to go with him to see the movie, but we don’t really know what they thought of it, i.e., whether their opinion of the movie changed.
So, is the Human Centipede just another pop culture reference or something original? In terms of the plot and the ambiance, it definitely fits into the lore of Jujutsu Kaisen, without a doubt, but while it is an original work that does not really exist in the real world, it is an obvious reference to a real-life horror franchise called Human Centipede. We assume that a lot of you will know about it (yours truly hasn’t, luckily, seen it but likewise knows about the general idea behind it), but for those unfamiliar with it, we will just recap it quickly.
The Human Centipede is a horror franchise focusing on a mad scientist who makes morbid and sadistic experiments on people by connecting their digestive tracts and effectively turning them into “centipedes.” The experiments are all surgical, so there is no literal transformation like in the Human Earthworm, which makes the real-life inspiration behind the series much more sickening than the idea presented by Akutami. We don’t advise you to watch the Human Centipede, but we think it’s good that you can now understand the reference fully.