Our review of Jujutsu Kaisen 0: A treat for the senses and every Shonen anime fan out there that is a must-watch, especially on the big screen.
Jujutsu Kaisen was the standout anime series 2021 and last week, the highly anticipated prequel film, finally released in theaters in North America and the UK.
The movie, Jujutsu Kaisen 0, is now emulating its outstanding domestic success on the world stage, following a solid collection at the Japanese box office.
The movie is everything that anime fans can want in a theatrical film: gorgeous visuals, a captivating storyline and excellent characters.
As Jujutsu Kaisen 0 earns itself a nomination for Animation of the Year at the 45th Japan Academy Film Awards, we give our review for a movie that’s well worth a trip to the local theatre!
Another step towards anime immortalization
To get the obvious statement out the way; Jujutsu Kaisen 0 is a fantastic feature movie that can only be described as a sheer delight for every fan of Shonen anime.
The first television season was widely applauded by both fans and critics worldwide, winning the coveted Anime of the Year award at the 2021 Crunchyroll Anime Awards. Thankfully, the new Jujutsu Kaisen 0 movie has only added to the franchise’s initial success, earning over a whopping $150 million at the global box office!
The movie delivers on adapting the Cursed Child arc, a prequel story to the original series, adding both new characters and some much-needed context to the already-established, iconic personalities of Gojo, Maki, Toge and Panda.
While many anime fans may be irritated by the comparisons to Demon Slayer: Mugen Train, it’s important to draw parallels between the two mega-franchises’ recent mega-movies. Perhaps the reason why both Mugen Train and the new Jujutsu Kaisen 0 film are such successful productions is that they are, obviously, canon within the wider series.
Anime movies all too often feel out of place as the events and character growth depicted in films never really affect the main television series. However, we are happy to report that Jujutsu Kaisen 0 will play a pivotal role in the wider universe moving forward towards season 2.
For this reason, the film is a crucial first step for immortalizing Jujutsu Kaisen as one of the best Shonen anime franchises out there and is a must-watch for all members of the anime community.
“One of the things that I love about Jujutsu Kaisen, like why I was so happy to be a part of it, is because the whole thing is just dripping in style. You can see it, like I come from an art background and you can see the hand drawn effects of the curses all that type of stuff is so cool.” – Matthew David Rudd, press event.
MAPPA delivers another outstanding treat for the senses
MAPPA is widely considered as one of the three best production studios in the world for creating beautifully-animated content, alongside Ufotable and Ghibli.
Yet again, MAPPA has met the incredibly high fan expectations with Jujutsu Kaisen 0 being absolutely stunning from start to finish – every single frame has the quality to become your desktop or phone wallpaper.
Just as with the first Jujutsu Kaisen season, the talent of the production team shines brightest during the action sequences and moments of large-scale destruction. Without going into spoiler territory, the multiple battles that feature in Jujutsu Kaisen 0 truly demonstrate MAPPA’s abilities with cinematography and striking color schemes that embolden the visuals on all fronts.
Similarly, the score to Jujutsu Kaisen 0 is again outstanding. Unfortunately, fans won’t get to hear the iconic ‘Lost in Paradise’ track, but the quality of the soundtrack is yet another reason to go see this movie in cinemas. This is especially true for fans near an IMAX theater with bigger, more immersive sound systems.
“It’s gorgeous animation and the movie ups it to a whole new level. It’s beautiful, the action scenes are super fluid. And for Maki when she is doing her fighting and flipping, it’s all super smooth – it’s a very cinematic experience. That’s why you go see it in theaters and I’m so happy that it’s also in IMAX too like all of that on the huge screen is just amazing.” – Matthew David Rudd, press event.
Fantastic performances from the Jujutsu Kaisen 0 voice cast
One of the reasons why fans around the world fell in love with the characters from Jujutsu Kaisen was because of the fantastic job that both the Japanese and English voice cast brought.
Thankfully, the cast is able to maintain their excellent performances in Jujutsu Kaisen 0, bringing fan favorite characters to life once again and even introducing a fascinating new MC.
The comic relief is again provided by Toge, Panda and Maki; who are featured in Jujutsu Kaisen 0 as first-year students at Jujutsu High. As mentioned by the English voice cast in a recent press event with HITC, we finally see and understand why these characters are so grizzled in the television series.
The performances by every cast member in the film only serve to build and improve on the character growth we witnessed in season 1. However, special mention has to go to actors portraying Yuta and Rika; Kayleigh McKee and Anairis Quiñones in the English, Megumi Ogata and Kana Hanazawa in the Japanese versions.
All four of these voice actors had arguably the toughest job in Jujutsu Kaisen 0, especially as they are being introduced to a community who adores the likes of Yuji – big shoes to fill. However, each of them delivers an incredibly heartfelt performance, to the point where viewers feel a deep emotional connection to both characters by its conclusion – something extremely impressive in just 105 minutes of runtime.
“I don’t think I’ve ever played a character as young as Rika before which was exciting for me because its playing with my higher range. But also playing with the fact that she has this alter-ego, this cursed side which is so out there. And I play a lot of characters that keep things close to their chest. So, playing a character that’s so much more explosive and expressive was a fun challenge but I really did enjoy doing it. And now I want to do more of this like crazy more, it’s awesome.” – Anairis Quiñones, press event.
A solid introduction to the wonderful world of anime
With the Jujutsu Kaisen 0 movie being the second project for the wider Jujutsu Kaisen adaptation, new fans may have been expecting to do countless hours of homework in order to understand the characters, world and themes.
However, the movie does a remarkable job of introducing new fans to the Jujutsu Kaisen universe. Whilst there are obviously concessions needed if you have not watched the first TV season, the film feels like a stepping stone into the wonderful world of anime that any fan, new or old, can enjoy.
The basic building blocks for the world of Jujutsu sorcerers is calmly and easily explained within the opening 10 minutes in layman’s terms. The movie then builds on that basic summary to expand the viewers’ interest in the story; ie, it doesn’t give a simple introduction, but then backtracks to include important points from the series.
Accessibility is always going to be a crucial factor for the anime industry; however, Jujutsu Kaisen 0 is one of the best introductions to the wonderful world of animation in recent memory.
So, it doesn’t matter whether you have never watched an anime before, enjoyed season 1 of Jujutsu Kaisen or have the entire figurine collection: this film is made for all audiences, no matter their prior knowledge.
Final verdict on Jujutsu Kaisen 0
Jujutsu Kaisen 0 is a hugely enjoyable movie that only adds to the success of the television series, but fans should not discredit the film just because it is a prequel.
Events from the movie will be featured, talked about and poured over in all future seasons of the anime series; making it a vitally important film for fans of the wider Jujutsu Kaisen franchise.
Overall rating: 9/10.
By Tom Llewellyn – [email protected]