Set for release tomorrow, Jujutsu Kaisen 0 packs a punch, paying homage to the manga as much as the anime series.
While waiting for the release of season 2, Jujutsu Kaisen arrives in France this year, with the prequel Jujutsu Kaisen 0. Scheduled for March 16 at the cinema, the anime offers a new hero, but still poignant issues.
Between faithful adaptation and fan service
Released in December 2021 in Japan, Jujutsu Kaisen 0 is the animated adaptation of the prequel to the series imagined by Gege Akutami. Under its air of classic shonen, the manga published in 2017 in the Jump Giga traces the story of Yuta Okkotsu, a high school student possessed by the spirit of Rika, his girlfriend. Already traumatized by the death of the young girl when they were children, the character must now live with the plague of the latter. An S-class monster as terrifying as it is invasive, who has made it his mission to protect Yuta from all the dangers around him.
After yet another “accident” during which Rika seriously injured a group of bullies who attacked him, Yuta finally integrates the school of exorcism in Tokyo, where he meets the famous Satoru Gojo. Helped by his new friends, the teenager will try to get rid of his cursewhile becoming despite himself the symbol of the fight of good against evil.
Faithful to the prequel paper, this first feature film signed by the animation studio MAPPA cheerfully surfs on the success of an already cult license. Moreover, the director Sunghoo Park is not mistaken, by distilling here and there many references for fans. Between two mandalas, we thus find some characters normally absent from the prequel, starting with the brilliant Kento Nanami, who offers a small appearance for the occasion.
However, the film also relies on a potential new audience, and this is what makes it strong. In addition to rallying a community already firmly behind its cause, Jujutsu Kaisen 0 also takes the time to explain every aspect of the plot, to the point that even newbies shouldn’t feel left out. Obviously, knowing the characters that will later revolve around Gojo and Yuji Itadori is an undeniable advantage. However, it is far from essential. Yuta and Rika’s arc is intended to be a stand alone, it is clear that it works wonderfully, while bringing more depth to the main story.
Mirror and flip-flops
Just like in the animated series, one of the greatest strengths of Jujutsu Kaisen 0 lies in its animation. Exit fixed shots and static characters, it must be admitted that at this level, the work of the MAPPA studio is simply breathtaking. The movements are fluid, the character design lives up to our expectations, and the plagues that inhabit the world of Gege Akutami are simply terrifying. We expected no less from the studio, the latter having already proven itself, both on the first season of Jujutsu Kaisen, than on the anime series finale The attack of the Titans.
Especially in battles. director Sunghoo Park’s work is a success. Very present in the film, the scenes of confrontations between characters shine by the precision of their almost surgical choreographies. Finally nothing surprising when you know that the filmmaker was already in charge of the spectacular action scenes of the animated series The God of High School.
It is also in animation that the director manages brilliantly to support the existing duality between Yuta and his successor Yuji Itadori, the hero of the main series. If it is not present in Jujutsu Kaisen 0Sukuna’s receptacle casts its shadow over the film, which regularly plays with the existing dichotomy between the two characters.
It must be said that between Yuji and Yuta, it’s a bit like night and day. One is almost unbearably carefree, but can fortunately count on his extraordinary physical strength to overcome the most recalcitrant plagues. The other is weak, depressed and only agrees to become an exorcist to get rid of his own demons. Two opposite characters who will however end up taking the same path, for a mirror effect that will not escape fans of the series. From the first scene, Sunghoo Park’s feature film plays on an air of deja vu, and continues its game of imitation throughout the adventure, sometimes taking some discreet initiatives compared to the manga on paper.
Geto, the real hero?
A good hero is nothing without a good villain. MAPPA has understood this well, and the animation studio pays particular attention to Suguru Geto, the big bad guy in the story. If the animated series had been rather sparing of information on the character during the first season, the film allows him to gain in thickness, we will definitely not complain. Exit the role of Manichean antagonist, Geto is presented as an idealist ready to do anything to build the world he dreams of.even if it means making all the sacrifices, even the most ethical ones.
Not yet decked out with his scar on his forehead, the master of plagues is finally entitled to an intrigue at his height, with the attack of December 24, during the infamous parade of 100 demons. A bloody episode, which will be mentioned many times in the main manga to recall the atrocities committed by the character. Even more interesting, Jujutsu Kaisen 0 is also an opportunity to return to the bonds of friendship that once existed between Geto and Gojo. An aspect of the lore that is never mentioned in the animated series, and which allows fans and newcomers alike to better understand the issues of the film.