Okay, so my love for manga and anime is fairly fanatical, so if you are reading this and it feels like I am speaking an entirely different language, I apologise. I will be honest; I have been like a kid counting down to Christmas ever since I heard that the Jujutsu Kaisen 0 (劇場版 呪術廻戦 0, Gekijōban Jujutsu Kaisen Zero) was being released on the big screen.
I thought I was a lucky puppy when it was first announced that this legendary manga series was becoming an anime. But back then, I could only dream that one day these characters that I love would make it to a big cinema screen. Of course, with that much excitement building inside me, there was also a pretty good chance that I was going to be disappointed at the result. Thankfully, I wasn’t.
For those that are unaware of Jujutsu Kaisen, it is a super-natural series that centres around a world where every living being has an energy called ‘Cursed Energy’. It is sent out into the world whenever somebody has negative emotions, and this fuels Curses – supernatural beings that are determined to bring pain, misery, and death to others. To combat Curses, you have people known as Jujutsu Sorcerers that have their own special abilities to defeat them.
In Jujutsu Kaisen 0, your main Jujutsu Sorcerers are the angry young Maki Zenin (voiced by Marina Inoue – Attack On Titan), Toge Inumaki (Koki Uchiyama – Tower Of God) who can only converse using food names, and an actual reanimated panda conveniently named Panda (Tomokazu Seki – Angelic Layer).
They are training under the watchful eye of their enigmatic sensei Satoru Gojo (Yuichi Nakamura – My Hero Academia) at a special school for Jujutsu Sorcerers. Their tight friendship group is challenged though, when Gojo brings a new student to the school – a loner student named Yuta Okkotsu (Megumi Ogata – Neon Genesis Evangelion) who was responsible for the death of the kids that bullied him at his last school.
Gojo brings Yuta to the school to not only train him but to get to the bottom of the curse ‘Rika’ (Kana Hanazawa – Tokyo Ghoul), that has attached itself to him.
Now you are probably thinking that there is no way you could go and understand this film if you haven’t read the manga or seen the anime series. But don’t fear! I did a little experiment and took along a friend who didn’t even know what Jujutsu Kaisen was – and he loved the film.
I found the reason why Jujustu Kaisen 0 is so accessible to new fans is because it is prequel to the original series. Director Seong-Hu Park (The God of High School) and first-time feature film screenwriter Gege Akutami make sure that the film is told through the eyes of Yuta. He is new to this world and because of that, the explanations given to him of what is going in is also a great introduction for any new fans in the audience. Likewise, the fact that they give us an insight with Yuta’s inner thoughts, sometimes spoken aloud, often mirrors what the audience are thinking as well, especially when it comes to the erratic behaviour of Gojo.
Having said that, I do need to stress that if you are a fan of the series or the books, you will get a lot of ‘special’ moments out of the film. Characters turn up at times that will certainly have you gasping in awe in your seat, and I found that there are just enough new characters and old favourites to keep everybody happy.
Plot-wise this film is sensational. Jujutsu Kaisen 0 captures the magic of the manga and the series remarkably well, and you can’t help but find yourself becoming emotionally attached to the characters on the screen, despite the fact they are animated. This is a story that will take you through an emotional wringer; you will feel the sadness of the characters at times, and at other times you will find yourself laughing, especially at Panda’s lines when he realises that perhaps a romance maybe developing between two characters.
The supernatural element is also shown well on-screen, and I must credit the team behind the film for being able to juggle a major battle that is taking place in three different locations without ever losing their audience. Something that even Marvel sometimes struggles with.
The power of this film though is its characterisation. I’m sure everyone will sympathize with Yutan, and some of the characters here are so well created that you can’t help but find yourself feeling for them, even if they are doing the wrong thing at times.
Jujutsu Kaisen 0 is one the best action-driven animes that we have seen on the big screen in a long time. With strong visuals and a deeply emotional and moving screenplay, this film ticks all the boxes for both long-time fans of the series and those exploring it for the first time. And if you are still not sure if this is something you will like or not, I will close with this – if you love Harry Potter and X-Men then you NEED to go and see this!
Jujutsu Kaisen 0 is playing in Australian cinemas now.