The next big anime movie is here! If you’ve been paying any attention to anime over the past couple of years, you’ve heard of Jujutsu Kaisen. The horror-action-comedy series took hold of anime fans in 2020 and shows no signs of letting go. Its first theatrical release, Jujutsu Kaisen 0, hits movie theaters in the United States and Canada on March 18. Whether you’ve never heard of the series before, or you’ve been practicing cursed techniques in the mirror for months, you’ll be drawn into Jujutsu Kaisen 0. A compelling introduction to the sorcerers’ world and stunning action sequences round out this must-see movie for anime fans. Here’s our review of Jujutsu Kaisen 0.
Jujutsu Kaisen, literally “sorcery fight,” is based on a Japanese manga series by Gege Akutami. After a highly successful first season as an anime series, the prequel manga Jujutsu Kaisen 0 was adapted for film and released in Japan at the end of 2021. Unlike almost all other movies spun off from anime series, Jujutsu Kaisen 0 is a vital part of the overall story.
In the prequel film, set the year before the main series’ protagonist arrives on the scene, the audience meets young Yuta Okkotsu. Yuta is haunted by a childhood friend who was transformed into a monstrous cursed spirit upon her tragic death. Yuta meets Satoru Gojo, an unconventional teacher at Tokyo Jujutsu High School, who introduces the troubled teenager to the hidden world of curses and curse users. Exposition is expertly woven into the story as new fans learn alongside Yuta.
While the world is explained well, the quickly shifting moods of Jujutsu Kaisen can be jarring for new viewers. Like the series, horror and gore are often juxtaposed against cute facial expressions and over-the-top jokes. The changing tone instantly makes an impression that’s both endearing and stomach-turning at the same time, which is no easy feat for any media.
The biggest delights of Jujutsu Kaisen 0 are for the series’ longtime fans. Yuta’s name is uttered more than once in the TV series; he even makes a blink-and-miss-it appearance in the opening sequence in later episodes. So if you feel like you’ve been waiting forever to meet him, your patience absolutely pays off with this film. Even manga readers who think they know exactly what to expect should be pleasantly surprised at least once or twice. And there’s more Panda. (We all need more Panda.)
As you might imagine, punching pandas and curse techniques can result in some explosive action and gorgeously choreographed fight scenes. Jujutsu Kaisen 0 has an abundance of both. The other jujutsu students, including series regulars Maki Zenin and Inumaki Toge, each get their own time to shine as they face off against an unpredictable enemy. The visuals are simply dazzling without being flashy or overblown.
Jujutsu Kaisen 0 holds the second-highest opening for a film in Japan’s box office history. Its release is highly anticipated in the United States as well. Both English dub and subtitled versions arrive in more than 1500 theaters later this month. To summarize this review, if you’re already a fan of the show, go see Jujutsu Kaisen 0 ASAP. And don’t be shocked if you come home and immediately start a rewatch of the series! In fact, I recommend it. Now that you’re acquainted with him, you’ll notice how often Yuta is present in the anime without being there at all.
5 out of 5
Kelly Knox is a freelance entertainment writer in Seattle, WA, who writes for Star Wars, DC Comics, and more. Her next book, Be More Obi-Wan, is out this summer from DK Books. Follow her on Twitter for bad puns, pop culture coverage, and more.