Ever since its Japan release in December 2021, Jujutsu Kaisen fans (myself included) have been chomping at the bit to watch Jujutsu Kaisen 0. And because I’m the luckiest girl in the world, Toho just so happened to set the GateCrashers team up with an early screener. I stay winning.
I originally approached Jujutsu Kaisen (affectionately dubbed JJK) in a rather unorthodox way. That is, I didn’t start watching it because I had read the manga and I certainly didn’t know a single thing about the story going into it. No, I started watching JJK because of its absolute banger of an outro theme: “Lost in Paradise feat AKLO” by ALI.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Amanda, did you really start an anime just because you liked the soundtrack?” And the answer is…yes. But I’ll have you know that what started as me simply vibing has turned into an all-out love affair for the franchise. For those unfamiliar with JJK, let me get you up to speed: Jujutsu Kaisen, created by Gege Akutami in March 2018, follows high school student Yuji Itadori, who accidentally becomes the host for an ancient and powerful Curse named Ryomen Sukuna after swallowing one of Sukuna’s fingers.
You read that right.
Yuji is eventually recruited to a secret organization of Jujutsu Sorcerers, where he’s given a choice: die now or help the Jujutsu Sorcerers collect the rest of Sukuna’s fingers…and die later.
But Jujutsu Kaisen 0 doesn’t star Yuji and Sukuna. In fact, the movie is based on the plot of the prequel volume of the same name, which was released in December 2018. Those familiar with the manga have been foaming at the mouth for the franchise to finally introduce Yuta Okkotsu, who’s set up to be a key player starting in season two (which was announced to air in 2023). Yuta is soft-spoken and sincere, has the dark undereye circles of a man who hasn’t slept in a year and is in desperate need of a hug. He also happens to be haunted by the cursed spirit Rika Orimoto, whose childlike voice lends an eerie layer to her ominous character. Similar to how Gojo simply plucked Yuji out of his relatively simple life, Yuta is whisked away to Jujutsu High with absolutely no idea why he’s there, but he’s in for the ride—and the fight—of his life.
While the quintessential disaster trio of the main series (Yuji, Megumi Fushiguro, and Nobara Kugisaki) aren’t key players in JJK0, fans will be delighted to watch new facets of Toge Inumaki, Maki Zenin, and Panda unfold. Toge—who speaks in rice ball ingredients because of his devastating Cursed Speech—features heavily early on in a pivotal scene; Maki—who can’t see Curses but uses Cursed Tools to do her dirty work—shines, her developing friendship with Yuta bringing her truest self to the surface; and Panda—who isn’t an actual panda but, instead, a Cursed Corpse—holds his own in a battle against the Big Bad, proving once again that he’s the absolute GOAT.
Of course, while I love the “no thoughts, head empty” energy of the main series’ trio, it’s such a wonderful experience to get to see more of the supporting characters as they step into the spotlight. Audiences will also be treated to an intriguing new look at Suguru Geto, who operates mostly in the shadows in the main series, and his mysterious relationship with Gojo. Suguru is bombastic and suave, a perfect complement to Gojo’s vivacious and chaotic personality, and it’s a pleasure to watch him thrive on the main stage.
There’s no lack of background for those unfamiliar with the world of JJK and since this is technically a prequel for the series, it’s an excellent place for anime lovers unfamiliar with the property and newcomers interested in an exciting, fast-paced, and predictably gruesome adventure to start.
And Yuta finally gets that hug he’s been so desperately needing.
Jujutsu Kaisen 0 is playing in select theaters starting March 18 and is available in both the original Japanese and the English dub. You can catch the main Jujutsu Kaisen series on Crunchyroll and find the manga wherever books are sold.