The leaks from Jujutsu Kaisen volume 23 that surfaced on twitter and other social media platforms contained an illustration from author Gege Akutami which revealed the human form of Tengen, and all but confirmed their gender.
Going by the illustration (the one you saw above), Tengen is confirmed to be a woman; or was actually a woman back in the day. You know, they are no longer human, thanks to whatever happened in the Hidden Inventory arc.
Surprisingly, a lot of Jujutsu Kaisen readers did not see this coming. But then, there have always been subtle hints at the possibility of Master Tengen originally being a woman.
The first hint was all the Star Plasma Vessels being women.
It might not have been very obvious at the beginning. But by the time Yuki had the conversation with Tengen in chapter 202, it was established that all of Tengen’s past vessels were all women.
Why was this a hint?
Look no further than the culling game and the reincarnated sorcerers for the answer. All the sorcerers from the Heian era, who made a contract with Kenjaku, were all reincarnated into the current day in a human vessel of their same gender.
In short, when it came to vessels, the genders matched the original sorcerer. So the same logic applied to Tengen too. Since all the Star Plasma Vessels were women, it hinted at Tengen also being a woman.
Once again, it might not have been obvious when Tengen was first name-dropped during the Kyoto Sister School event or even during the Hidden Inventory arc. However, in retrospect, it was a nice little foreshadowing by Akutami.
The second hint was a bit more obvious than the first, and it came from Tengen themselves.
While talking to Yuki, Tengen mentions that if they were human at this point, they’d technically be a grandma instead of an old geezer.
So basically, it shouldn’t have been a huge surprise to readers that Tengen was actually confirmed to be a woman.
Interestingly this reveal has also raised questions about the kind of relationship that Kenjaku and Sukuna might have had with her back in the heian era.
Once again, judging from the illustration, Tengen either is a total delinquent, or a very indifferent person, which is not how we know them.
Could the three of them have been a trio mirroring Itadori, Megumi and Nohara from the present? This theory seems like a stretch, but then, we never know what kind of surprise Gege will pull from the bag.
One thing we can be sure of is that Tengen and Kenjaku were on very good terms back in the day, or at least knew each other quite well. After all, we see Kenjaku call Tengen a friend at the end of chapter 209, right before he absorbed them.
Some fans have gone as far ahead to ship these two (well it’s technically not shipping).
On the other hand, there isn’t much to suggest what kind of relationship Sukuna and Tengen might have had. In the meagre flashbacks of the Heian era we got, Sukuna was still hanging out with Uraume.
I saw one particularly wild theory suggesting Uraume was Tengen’s daughter/son.
These two were never hinted to have been together, other than the fact that Tengen preserved Sukuna’s original body. The only time I remember Sukuna mentioning Tengen is also in relation to this in chapter 222.
Here too, Sukuna mentions Tengen along with Kenjaku, suggesting that these two could have been colluding since long back. Ship is sailing?
Was mummifying Sukuna’s body something Tengen did for her own selfish reasons? Or did Kenjaku ask her to do it back in the day?
While we keep getting crumbs from the Golden age of Jujutsu, there isn’t too much for us to go on about it for now.
What are your thoughts on Tengen’s gender reveal? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below (and also point out the amazing fanarts that people are making already)!