New Release Birb: Jujutsu Kaisen 0

One of the highest-grossing anime films in Japan, Jujutsu Kaisen 0 gives enough for die-hard fans to attach to while not alienating those who love the genre that might not be familiar with the series.

By Sean Blanford

As someone who loves the anime genre, it is a good feeling when you can get recommended something great that you may not have been familiar with. I knew nothing about the Jujutsu Kaisen series before screening the latest film, Jujutsu Kaisen 0. Still, this prequel film is perfect for bringing together existing series fans while creating new fans with a palatable, entertaining entry into the franchise.

Based on the manga series by Gene Akutami, Jujutsu Kaisen 0 serves as the film introduction to the first season of the anime series. In the film, we follow Yuta Okkotsu, a sixteen-year-old high school student burdened with the cursed spirit of someone from his past. After an attack in his prior school that left four students with grace injuries, he is assigned to Jujutsu High School. In this place, under the watchful eye of his sensei and his classmates, he can learn to control his curse while also hunting down other evil curses that weigh down others.

Jujutsu Kaisen 0 is a tale of two movies that could have felt like separate entities but were held together seamlessly. The first half is spent introducing the audience to Yuta and his classmates, what Jujutsu is, and how his peers have special powers to combat evil curses. Then the second half, we are introduced to a rival school led by a former student of Jujutsu High who wants to Yuta’s powers for his gain, setting up a massive battle on the streets of Tokyo and Kyoto and the grounds of Jujutsu High. If you are a fan of the series going in, you will have a greater appreciation for who some of these characters are. Still, as someone new to the series, you can appreciate the animation style and incredible fight sequences and not feel lost in the weeds.

The goal for any franchise is to find a way to make new fans. Jujutsu Kaisen 0 accomplishes this by having an easy-to-follow story and an abbreviated cast of characters that you can latch on to. However, some tired anime tropes are featured in the film that some may find eye-rolling. One, in particular, featuring Yuta being questioned by one of his classmates as to his preference for women’s breast size seems exceptionally dated, especially given that there was no actual clear resolution as to why this question needed to be asked in the first place. Also, as a warning for those who are not initiated with the series, the anime’s first season is rated TV-14, and some of the images of violence may be a bit too scary for younger audiences.

Overall, Jujutsu Kaisen 0 serves as a top-notch gateway into the series for new fans while also servicing those who are die-hards of the series. The animation style is where its strengths lie, with cool demon animation and fun fight sequences to keep you interested all the way through. If you are in a city with the ability to screen the film in iMax, do yourself a favor and see it in the larger format. For this person, in particular, I am excited to break into the first season of the anime, which is currently available to stream in the United States on HBO Max. Also, stay through the film’s end credits, as there is a post-credits scene that fans will enjoy.

Grade: 4/5 (A-)

Jujutsu Kaisen 0 is in theaters on March 18th. The film is rated PG-13 for violent content, bloody images, language, thematic material, and suggestive references.

Author: Sean Blanford

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