Jujutsu Kaisen was the big breakout shonen anime hit a year or so ago, and much like Attack on Titan and Demon Slayer before it, it’s seen a massive increase in manga sales after the anime adaptation hit airwaves. This is what’s interesting with Jujutsu Kaisen though, because originally creator Gege Akutami wrote a manga called “Tokyo Metropolitan Curse Technical School” for Jump GIGA, a smaller publication, before getting the big push to Shonen Jump! itself. When he arrived on the main Jump! Magazine, he relaunched his old story with a brand new trio of protagonists and treated returning characters as new ones for the sake of those who hadn’t followed the previous story, but made sure those that did know that the story was very much a sequel. The increase in popularity led his original run to be retitled “Jujutsu Kaisen 0” and generally being promoted like a prequel to the main body of work, and that’s what has led us to this movie: It’s a near two-hour adaptation of the original short run story.
There are strong similarities with the start of 0 compared to its successor as our main “hero” of this story, Yuta Okkotsu, is introduced with a powerful spirit attached to him that can do serious harm to those around him so he is set to be executed by the higher ups in the Jujutsu Sorcerer world until he is saved and mentored by Satoru Gojo. Both series share that exact set-up but there are some key differences. Yuta is timid and shy and the spirit inhabiting him is an old childhood friend warped by a curse, where as the protagonist of Jujutsu Kaisen, Yuji Itadori, is very out-going and energetic and the evil curse inside him is an ancient spirit. It’s fun to compare the two, especially as they now inhabit the same world. Gojo introduces Yuta to his new classmates and they’re Maki Zenin, Toge Inumaki and Panda, the trio of second year students from Jujutsu Kaisen, so again their introduction in the main series was actually a return for them for those who read 0 beforehand but here it just re-establishes this as a prequel, happening roughly one year before the “main series”. This does end up covering old ground, including a look into Maki’s background that was similarly explored in Jujutsu Kaisen, but her relationship with Yuta is far more interesting than her understandably more distant one with Yuji.
As the film progresses, we’re introduced to the lead antagonist: Suguru Geto, the same central villain from Jujutsu Kaisen, though with one major difference which I can’t really talk about without going too far with spoilers. His backstory is further fleshed out here than it has been so far in the original series, though there is still plenty of Jujutsu Kaisen that has yet to be adapted so I’m sure it will come eventually. Yuta’s story, on the other hand, is neatly wrapped up by the end of the film and his inevitable appearance in the main show hinted at to end, so it works as a stand-alone film perfectly well but also connects to the TV series as a prequel well also.
As you’d expect with a big film animated by MAPPA, the animation is very good, especially during some of the crazy and over-the-top fight scenes that are nicely spread about the running time. Gege Akutami has admitted he created this original series purely to create “cool looking characters” and having them fight each other with no thought towards any kind of long-term narrative, so while a great narrative is retroactively added to it thanks to its new identity as a prequel it’s not hard to see the original idea break through via the frequent fight scenes. The score is perfectly fine, it’s also composed by Jujutsu Kaisen’s composer Hiroaki Tsutsumi so while the score uses different tracks it still feels “in universe”, likewise with the voice acting, which in both languages sees the returning cast voice their one-year-younger characters from the original anime and the voice for our new lead is perfectly fitting in both versions as well. Ichizu (“The Only Way”) by King Gnu is the film’s theme song, while Sakayume (“Contradictory Dream”) also by King Gnu acts as the ending.
Do I recommend you take the time to sit and watch Jujutsu Kaisen 0? Absolutely. Thanks to introducing all the returning characters like new and having a lead protagonist whose core journey is actually given a resolution at the end of the film, even if you’ve never watched the original series you’ll have no issue following the plot or be left on any real cliffhanger, and if you are a fan of Jujutsu Kaisen then you’ll get to see some of the regular characters on the big screen is some stunningly animated fight scenes as well as some fun backstory. Sounds like a win-win to me!
Jujutsu Kaisen 0 is in UK cinemas from 16th March; for full list of cinemas and to purchase tickets, click here.