Jujutsu Kaisen 0 Review: A Solid Introduction to the Anime

Gege Akutami’s Jujutsu Kaisen manga might have enjoyed a modicum of success following its initial debut in the pages of Shueisha’s Weekly Shonen Jump magazine back in 2018, but it wasn’t until the anime premiered in Fall 2020 that the series exploded into a whole new realm of recognition. The first season of the series was such a success with fans it was no surprise to find out that, when the first season came to an end, there were already plans in place to continue the anime even further. What was a surprise, however, was finding out that the anime would be making its feature-film debut.

Taking that air of surprise to the next level, it was then revealed that the debut feature film for the franchise would be a full adaptation of Akutami’s first limited series, Tokyo Metropolitan Curse Technical School. Released a year before Jujutsu Kaisen’s official serialization, this four-chapter special series then became Jujutsu Kaisen 0 and was treated as a prequel to the events in the main series. It’s a start to the franchise in a number of ways, and thus makes it the perfect movie experience for both new and more experienced audiences to jump into.

Jujutsu Kaisen 0 follows a brand-new hero from the one seen in the first season, Yuta Okkotsu. When his childhood friend Rika Orimoto suddenly dies, she becomes a terrifying cursed spirit that forcibly attaches to him. It soon becomes such a powerful problem that he’s recruited to enroll in Jujutsu High School to help not only understand it, but somehow free himself from it. All the while he’s soon wrapped up in an increasingly tougher series of fights as he navigates his first year of training as a Jujutsu Sorcerer and growing as a person.

Because it’s the self-contained origin story of a character not previously seen in the TV anime, it’s not necessary to have any prior experience with the franchise. And if you have seen the TV anime, there’s a whole new layer to the experience as it fills in a lot of the gaps about all of those Yuta teases seen in the first season. The only drawback of previous experience, however, is that you are more likely to notice all of the structural and core story similarities between Yuta and Yuji Itadori’s beginnings since, Jujutsu Kaisen 0 was essentially a pilot in the first place.

It’s a straight adaptation of the four-chapter manga, and thus flows in the same way, too. There are ebbs and flows in an episodic fashion as Yuta takes on a few missions before the final battle begins. Given the already impressive production values of the TV series and flow of the story, there is an initial impression that this movie has not done enough to elevate it from that prior material. But closer inspections at the entire experience as it continues reveal that there’s so much more finer detail and attention paid into every single frame.

It’s an absolutely stunning work of animation that surpasses anything seen in the TV anime. It’s in everything from the lighting to the impressive fluidity in both the smallest character moments to the action sequences. Each of those sequences is different in its own way as well, and are a feast for the eyes and ears. Both the casts of the Japanese and English dubbed audio (both of which were viewed for the purposes of this review) knock it out of the park in this regard, with Megumi Ogata and Kayleigh McKee serving as major standouts of each cast respectively. It feels like an elevated experience, and that’s hard to do with a TV series that’s already highly praised for these aspects.

At its core, Jujutsu Kaisen 0 is admittedly a story action anime fans have seen before. What makes it different from the rest, however, is that it condenses the traditional Shonen journey into a theatrical experience that also provides an aesthetically pleasing viewing. It’s approachable for newcomers and has some extra bits of fan service for those coming in from the TV anime. That means pretty much everybody can expect to have a great time, really.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Jujutsu Kaisen 0 releases in theaters in North America on March 18th with both Japanese and English dub options.

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