A review of “Jujutsu Kaisen 0”

On March 19, I had the opportunity to see the prequel to the extremely popular series Jujutsu Kaisen. Titled Jujutsu Kaisen 0, the film takes place a year before the series itself and is directed by Seong-Hu Park and produced by TOHO Animation. 

The story follows Yuuta Okkotsu, a cursed high school student who has a ‘tie’ to Rika – his childhood friend and sweetheart who turned into a powerful spirit after her untimely death. Teaming up with Satoru Gojou and the students at Jujutsu High School, Yuuta must learn how to control Rika and defend the world against those in the Jujutsu world who wish to harm all of humankind. 

It must be noted that Jujutsu Kaisen 0 is very violent and features quite a bit of stomach-churning gore and frightening images. While it is rated PG-13, it is FAR from Disney fare and is not appropriate for children. In my opinion, it suits those 14 and up best.

As someone who is not a fan of the Jujutsu Kaisen, I did not think that I would enjoy this film. However, as someone who is an anime fan in general, I knew I had to see it anyway. Walking out of the theater afterwards, I was surprised to find that I had really enjoyed myself. 

Animated by MAPPA (the studio responsible for animating the final season of Attack on Titan), Jujutsu Kaisen 0 looks gorgeous. The fluidity of the animation is masterful and this is a film that has to be seen in theaters in order to get the full effect and experience the animation as it should be seen. It is very clear that a lot of time and effort was taken to make the film a visual masterpiece – and they succeeded. 

One of my criticisms of Jujutsu Kaisen was that the plot felt extremely convoluted and the abilities of the characters were muddled and not explained well enough. None of these issues are present in Jujutsu Kaisen 0. If you have not seen the anime or read the manga, you would still be able to see this film and understand what is going on. It also works as an introduction to the series itself – if you wished to watch the anime afterwards, you would be well equipped to understand the goings on and who the major players in the series are. 

The strength of Jujutsu Kaisen 0 in comparison to Jujutsu Kaisen is that, as a film, it is forced to tell a cohesive and structured narrative. It has to have a clear beginning, middle and end – something that the anime does not have. To me, this is one of the reasons that I enjoyed Jujutsu Kaisen 0 more than the series. While Jujutsu Kaisen jumps around wildly with time skips, plot divergences and irrelevant scenes of dialogue Jujutsu Kaisen 0 stays on track and every scene works to paint a picture of the world the characters live in. Characters like Satoru Gojou who play a major role in the anime are at their best in this film, moving the plot along in comparison to the anime where they often disappear for episodes or do very little.

If you are an anime fan or curious at all about Jujutsu Kaisen, you must see Jujutsu Kaisen 0. Even though I am not a fan of the anime overall,  I liked it enough that I am considering going to see it  again before it leaves the cinema – a major compliment. 

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