Gege Akutami’s original manga series has been one of the most successful releases of recent years, but it hasn’t always been that way. The series achieved a whole new acknowledgment thanks to the success of the official anime adaptation in the last two years, and after the debut of the first season it was officially announced that the anime would continue with a new release. But what surprised many fans was the fact that instead of a full second season, the anime would be releasing a new feature film set to debut in theaters worldwide.
Taking that surprise to the next level, it was later revealed that the debut feature film for the franchise would be a full adaptation of Akutami’s first limited series, Tokyo Metropolitan Curse Technical School. Released a year before the official serialization of Jujutsu Kaisen, this four-chapter special later became Jujutsu Kaisen 0 and is treated as a prequel to the events in the main series. This was the start of the franchise in a number of ways, and thus made it the perfect film experience for both new and more experienced audiences.
Jujutsu Kaisen 0 follows a new hero from the one seen in the first season, Yuta Okkotsu. When his childhood friend Rika Orimoto suddenly dies, he becomes a terrifying cursed spirit who forcibly clings to him. This soon became such a powerful problem that he was recruited to enroll in Jujutsu High School to help not only understand it, but somehow free himself from it. Meanwhile he soon becomes embroiled in a series of increasingly difficult fights as he navigates his first year of training as a Jujutsu Mage and grows as a person.
Since this is a standalone origin story of a character not previously seen in the TV anime, there is no need to have any prior experience with the franchise. And if you’ve seen the TV anime, there’s a whole new layer to the experience as it fills in many of the gaps about all of Yuta’s teasing seen in the first season. The only downside to previous experiences, however, is that you’re more likely to see all of the structural and core story similarities between Yuta and Yuji Itadori early on because, Jujutsu Kaisen 0 is basically pilot in the first place.
It is a direct adaptation of the four chapter manga, and thus flows in the same way as well. There are ups and downs in episodic mode as Yuta takes on several missions before the final battle begins. Given the already impressive production value of the TV series and storyline, there is an initial impression that this film has not quite lifted it from its previous material. But closer inspection throughout the experience as it progresses reveals that there is more detail and better attention paid to each frame.
This is a truly stunning animation masterpiece that surpasses anything seen in a TV anime. It’s in everything from lighting to impressive fluidity in both the smallest character moments to action sequences. Each sequence is different in its own way too, and is a feast for the eyes and ears. Both Japanese and English dubbed audio cast (both seen for the purposes of this review) in this regard, with Megumi Ogata and Kayleigh McKee each in the lead roles. It feels like an elevated experience, and that’s hard to do with a TV series that has been so highly praised for this aspect.
In essence, Jujutsu Kaisen 0 is indeed an action anime story that anime fans have seen before. What makes it different from the others, however, is that it condenses a traditional Shonen journey into a theatrical experience that also provides an aesthetic look. It’s approachable for newcomers and has some added fan service for those coming from the TV anime. That means almost anyone can look forward to having fun, really.