You ever get a strange feeling like you’re being watched or something unseen caused something bad to happen to you? It may not just be fate, poor choices, or gremlins… it could be caused by a Curse. A malevolent spiritual entity created by a person’s negative energy coalescing that can attach itself to a person and ruin someone’s life or even kill them or those around them. This is the situation young Yuta Okkotsu finds himself in and needless to say, it is not a pleasant experience.
His childhood friend Rika died but came back as an absurdly powerful and overprotective curse that mangles some bullies who were trying to attack Yuta, leading to him being forcibly enrolled at Jujutsu High School. An academy for Jujutsu Sorcerers, exorcist martial artists who specialize in harnessing cursed energy in order to bind or destroy curses plaguing the living. But as Yuta begins to train and warm up to his classmates, he finds himself targeted by a sinister Jujutsu Sorcerer with his own plans for Japan…
Jujutsu Kaisen 0 is the feature adaptation of the prequel manga to the globally popular Jujutsu Kaisen manga and anime created by Gege Akutami and it is a hell of a way to bring the franchise to the big screen! While I’d heard of Jujutsu Kaisen as a series, this was my first time actually watching something from it and I a happy to say it’s a great way for first time viewers to jump onboard while serving as an entertaining extension of Jujutsu Kaisen that fans will also be able to enjoy. Being a prequel to the main series, it does an excellent job in setting up its world and the mechanics of its various Jujutsu Sorcerers and their various techniques and specialities.
Aside from Yuta and his cursed hanger-on Rika, there’s his classmates at Jujutsu High including the tough as nails Maki Zenin who wields cursed weapons (and says “D’oh!” like Homer Simpson when agitated), Toge Inumaki who speaks solely in rice ball ingrediants, and… Panda. Who is a talking panda. The trio make for an interesting dynamic with Yuta as he attempts to learn to control his powers while under the watchful blindfolded eyes of their instructor, Gojo Satoru. And of course, every great war story needs a great villain, and Jujutsu Kaisen 0 has that with Suguru Geto. While I want to keep his background and motives vague to experience it in the movie proper, he is a throughly entertaining and frightening antagonist. Eccentric, affable, but not any less murderous or threatening for it.
It creates a decent arc for Yuta and his friends even within the confines of a feature length movie. As Yuta learns to come out of his shell and deal with past trauma in order to overcome the horrors he faces in the present. And the dynamic between Yuta and his quirky Jujutsu Sorcerer classmates makes for a thoroughly entertaining thread as the plot line kicks in full gear. Making sure there is never a dull moment whether they’re fighting Curses or just goofing around on school grounds. I watched the dubbed version of the film and the english cast including Kayleigh McKee as Yuta Okkotsu, Allegra Clark as Maki Zen’in, and Kaiji Tang as Satoru Gojo among a superbly talented cast of voice actors. The translated dialogue and banter between characters worked well and either version is recommendable.
In terms of the animation, studio MAPPA has done a phenomenal job of bringing the numerous Curse monstrosities to life and the supernatural fights to their kinetic extremes. The Curse creatures are all finely detailed and memorable, each standing out on their own and usually unleashing grotesque horror on the Jujutsu Sorcerers and unsuspecting human civilians. Everything from a giant child eating ogre of a curse to a swarm of fast talking flying fish spirits, there is such a variety and ecosystem to these beasts. The battles themselves were quite stunning to behold and with the movie getting an IMAX release, I must recommend seeing it on the biggest screen available.
While Jujutsu Kaisen 0 did a good job of setting itself up without alienating new viewers, I did feel like I missed out on some details by not watching/reading the original series. Of course, take that as you will. If anything, it encouraged me to check out Jujutsu Kaisen as a whole.
So, if you’re in the market for an incredibly well animated action horror anime movie, Jujutsu Kaisen 0 is one school you do not want to be absent from!
Jujutsu Kaisen 0 will be released into IMAX and theaters Friday, March 18 in the US and Canada, and UK.