WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD
“Jujutsu Kaisen 0” provides newcomers to the genre a deeply enjoyable experience. This film will definitely teach you to love the anticipation of anime even more.
“JJK 0” is the movie adaptation of Gege Akutami’s single-volume manga by the same name. It received an international release on March 18.
The movie precedes the events of the main Jujutsu Kaisen franchise and follows Yuta Okkotsu, a boy haunted by the violent spirit of his childhood friend Rika Orimoto.
After being sentenced to execution by a hidden society of sorcerers, Yuta joins Tokyo’s Jujutsu High with the help of the strongest sorcerer Gojo Satoru. Throughout the film, Yuta learns what it takes to destroy curses—the spiritual manifestation of negative emotions – and what it truly means to be a sorcerer as he and his comrades battle curse user Geto Suguru.
The film serves two purposes: to excite current audiences for the anime’s second season and to gather a new audience—and it does both well.
Newer audiences can still understand the film without reading the manga or watching the anime because it is a prequel movie. Enough about the universe is explained for audiences to consume it as a one-shot or to entice them to watch the anime or read the manga.
While Jujutsu Kaisen is a fairly generic teen-boy comic world with magic, or shounen, exact details are hard for even seasoned fans to understand. The directors perfectly balanced what information they would deliver to the audience to avoid confusion without overwhelming them with years of lore. It’s a great movie to bring friends or family who are unfamiliar with the series to, especially if the goal is to convince them to watch the series in full.
The addition of scenes with familiar characters from the main series and flashbacks to Gojo’s Past Arc did not feel out of place. It felt right to see the Kyoto students fighting curses together. Their appearance was appropriately placed and provided levity to action-heavy sequences.
It was not odd seeing Nanami Kento in Kyoto as Yuta faced Geto. Fanservice scenes definitely served as padding to the runtime of, what would be, a short film — yet they didn’t feel like it because they served at least a small purpose. Too often do films fall into the trap of adding scenes without meaning, but “JJK 0” did not waste any time and used every minute to make things better for the franchise as a whole — even if they were obvious bits of fanservice.
The movie does a fairly good job of developing side characters, explaining plot holes and improving worldbuilding.
“The Night Parade of A Hundred Demons” is a key event only mentioned in passing during the main series. The movie provided an excellent opportunity to elaborate on the magnitude of such a historical attack on jujutsu society.
Two characters on the side of Geto Suguru, Mimiko and Nanako, would not have enough meaningful development before the Shibuya arc before the creation of “JJK 0.” The movie made the disconnect between the audience and these characters far less by showing how actively involved they were in executing Geto’s mission to kill all non-sorcerers to end the existence of curses.
It is not enough to make people deeply invested in the characters, but it is a step up from their places as characters who could have felt inconsequential.
The voice acting is consistently excellent in the Japanese dub of JJK 0. Mappa did not hold back on casting.
Yuichi Nakamura naturally falls into the role of the carefree teacher with a veiled seriousness, while Takahiro Sakurai feels like the only choice for the charismatic and spiteful cult leader Geto Suguru.
Most of the characters in JJK 0 were already part of the cast in the main series. Megumi Ogata as Yuta Okkotsu is the best new casting decision.
Ogata is well-known for her role as Shinji Ikari from the Neon Genesis Evangelion franchise, a character who shares a few parallels with Yuta. Her history in acting in the roles of deeply traumatized and timid teenage boys shines throughout the film.
As always, Mappa does not disappoint when it comes to animation. Every fight scene was stunningly choreographed and utilized interesting cinematography, whilst still adding to the sheer visual appeal of the film. The final fight between Yuta and Geto at the end of the film was nothing short of stunning in its execution.
“JJK 0” isn’t just pure eye candy.
Akutami explores interesting themes for the shounen genre and ensures the movie’s strong visuals are accompanied by an equally strong storyline. There are common shounen themes such as “the strong are meant to protect the weak,” but Akutami’s commentary on grief and love was meaningful and properly interwoven into Yuta’s arc.
Overall, “JJK 0” deserves the hype it received online. Beyond its goal to excite people for a new season of “Jujutsu Kaisen” and to pull in a new audience, “JJK 0” manages to be an outstanding movie, mesmerizing anyone interested in anime or manga.
Jessica Cabrera can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.