It’s definitely good to be in an age where all the big anime films get to go to theaters now. It’s nice having that complete experience there and the audience was pretty engaged throughout the experience. Seemed like a mix of people who knew the future events and anime onlies. There was certainly one guy the whole time who thought Maki was quite mean and well, she is rather aggressive with the main character for a while but she mellows out by the end. All in all Kaisen’s definitely a great film and I look forward to seeing how the next one stacks up.
The movie starts by introducing us to Yuta Okkotsu. If you saw season 1 of the show you’ll likely remember him getting a lot of hype throughout. He hasn’t gotten to appear yet but the others mention him as being a big threat so you get to see how he made it there. As a kid Yuta became engaged to his best friend Rika. Unfortunately she was hit by a car and died almost immediately afterwards but their connection was so strong that a curse came between them and now Rika lives on eternally as Yuta’s protector. Any who would dare stand in his way will get obliterated by her. This has depressed Yuta to the point of being suicidal but then he is contacted by Gojo, the strongest sorcerer of the human world.
He takes Yuta to Jujutsu High where he will become a sorcerer. He joins the first years Maki, Panda, and Toge. Yuta may not be strong on his own yet but his cursed spirit Rika is incredibly powerful to the point where Yuta is considered to be a special grade fighter. Unfortunately this has also caught the attention of the evil sorcerer Geto. Can Yuta stay alive long enough to master his abilities and free the curse on Rika so that she can be free or will he be defeated and the modern timeline isn’t what we think?
The movie moves at a fairly quick pace. Yuta appears and gets recruited within a few minutes. Then you have the origin story with Rika thrown in very quickly and more details are spread in throughout the movie. We get several missions so you could see as Yuta improves his abilities. There is a little time skip near the end so we don’t get to see the exact point Yuta goes from being a decent member of the team to a super powerful one but it helps make the final battle more intense. When Yuta suddenly shows up with all kinds of new abilities and techniques, you can tell that he’s been training very hard.
It’s also nice seeing Yuta in the younger days here. He almost feels like a completely different character from the Yuta I’m used to. He’s more like your classic Shonen lead here even if he might seem to have a bit more of a subtle edge than others. He was quick to volunteer to destroy Maki’s clan along with her and it shows how he values his friends above all else. I like Yuta in all of his appearances so far so he’s a character with a lot of range. He may start off as timid but ultimately he still steps up to do the right thing when it counts.
He is also a quick learner and doesn’t shrink away from combat. The way he handles Rika is also part of what makes him a great character. He never goes through a phase where he is afraid of Rika or blames her for everything. Even when he’s upset he just blames himself and never tries to make this appear to be her fault. It was a mature way of handling things since Rika was just doing her best to help him. Perhaps it was not in quite the way he was hoping since she could be quite violent but she is a cursed spirit at this point so it’s likely not easy to hold herself back.
While we don’t get to see the human Rika much, she was definitely a very solid character. She is extremely loyal as evidenced by her cursed spirit form and always had Yuta’s back. She really helped to make things as easy as possible on Yuta and I appreciate that she stood up to the bullies. Yeah it felt a little hard to believe that her first 3 victims survived the attack. I suspect this was a way to make sure that Rika never turned too close to the dark side but the way we saw their bodies mangled and the amount of blood that they lost….I don’t see how they could have possibly survived. Well, good on Rika I suppose.
As always Gojo is a very fun character here as well. When you have a character this powerful you do have to suspend a little disbelief for how he doesn’t just obliterate everyone. It feels like he could have dismantled his opponent and kept on going unless he has grown exponentially stronger in the year after this prequel takes place. You could say that he’s sandbagging a little as well but from how the movie’s story went you feel like he would want to be there in the climax.
Either way he’s definitely a fun character as always. I liked that he made it clear to the elders that he would protect Yuta if they tried to murder him. He’s always been the kind of guy who stands against corruption and that’s what I like to see. As you’d expect with a film like this there is a really big climax so you get a ton of guest stars and cameos from the rest of the Kaisen verse. It was nice seeing Todo and the crew as well as all of the pros. They may not get to be here a lot but they all get to use their signature attacks which is fun. I always enjoy seeing everyone come together for the climax for some action.
Of course the biggest roles go to Yuta’s teammates so lets talk about them. Maki gets a large role as she is teamed up with Yuta in the first mission and they get to hang out a bit. She has her own baggage which is touched upon in this film a little bit. As a result Maki’s gotten to be rather aggressive and always picking fights since she feels the need to prove herself. I tend to like this character type and Maki does well here. Ultimately her fighting style means the character would likely be limited against stronger opponents but she still does her best to fight back and also helps to improve Yuta’s close combat skills quite a lot.
Panda probably gets the smallest role out of the 3 but he gets to have the longest fight against Geto which helps to even that out. He really did well all things considered and was able to move quickly enough to hit Geto while also repelling the spirits. That’s not an easy thing to do. His fans should definitely pleased with his role. Then you have Toge who does his best to try and get Yuta to fit in. The fact that he can’t really talk at all for fear of using his abilities makes this a bit difficult though.
I’ve always had a major problem with Toge’s abilities before and the movie doesn’t change that. Just using a single word causes him to be in absolutely terrible condition. With the throat medicine he can do a little better but when your ability’s drawback is that huge it just doesn’t seem worth it. It’s a great ability but I think they should give him enough durability to be able to use it a few more times. It would definitely make his technique a lot more dangerous.
Then we have the main villain Geto. The villain has some depth to him as his goals are quite grand but in the meantime he keeps up a good front so he is able to earn a lot of money. A lot of the times it feels like the villain wouldn’t bother putting up a front even though it would cost him a lot in the long run. So it was a good way to show that Geto was quite smart and wouldn’t be falling for those kind of traps. It’s also impressive that he can fight from both long and short range. Not just any kind of opponent can do that.
So I liked him quite a bit. He makes for a memorable villain. He also has a whole team of villains with him for the attack but there isn’t enough time for any of them to get a lot to do. They seemed interesting enough and I’ll give the author credit for giving them all distinct designs and character designs. There’s just no way to give them enough to do to make them really memorable without stretching the film out another 30 minutes or so. Of course I would definitely be cool with that but I can see how it wouldn’t be needed.
The soundtrack is excellent as expected. You get a few new lyrical songs here and a lot of solid tunes. They really help to enhance the scenes and you can feel the danger in every moment. As I mentioned earlier, the pacing here is fairly quick and the music’s always moving quickly as a result too. It doesn’t mean there is a fight scene every moment of course and the big fights tend to be in the second half but there’s always something going on and any time you think it’s about time for another action scene to pop up, it does.
As always Mappa delivers with the animation as well. The action scenes are really good and the hand to hand (Or rather blade to blade) fights are extremely fast and savage. The choreography is excellent and you can feel the power behind the hits. These are the kinds of fights that you figure will age well forever. Even 20 years from now you won’t be able to deny that these are great fight scenes. Not surprisingly my favorite battle is the one between Geto and Yuta. It’s a fight that the film builds up for a while so you know it’ll be good but even with the time skip you may not be prepared for quite how good Yuta is.
The action can get intense but I wouldn’t say the film is too violent. The most disturbing scene is likely when one guy’s head is stretched apart by demons. That one was definitely a gruesome way to die but for the most part the attacks are limited to the combatants or aren’t too intense like that. So I wouldn’t say there’s anything extra to worry about beyond the usual action you would expect to see here.
The movie has its share of humor which lands well. The characters tend to have rather crazy facial expressions whenever Gojo mentions something out of the blue or is messing with them. The chibi effects are used well and since Yuta is out of the loop on everything, he tends to have some good reactions. It never gets excessive so it’s just enough to keep that nice balance. The writing is also really solid. Outside of the Gojo power level moment I wouldn’t say I had any other big items to mention. Even the romance here with Yuta and Rika was decent enough. I’m usually not all for the romances in films but this one was executed well. No drama, rebounds, or any crazyness here. Just two good friends who hit it off and their bond even surpassed death.
I guess on the power levels part I’d give a small mention to Gojo just letting Geto run out in the first place when he shows up with the crew. (All roads go through Gojo I suppose) I think with his speed and ability Gojo could have saved the hostages and stopped Geto. Again I guess that’s just what happens when you have someone as impressively powerful as Gojo. You expect him to solve everything when he’s around.
Now the film does have an after credits scene which is great since you should always have that. I think I would have picked something a little more exciting as the final scene to be honest but it’s nice enough. It’s more of a happy scene to confirm some characters in the present. Won’t say much more than that to keep you in the dark about it, but as always that means you should stay past the credits.
Finally the question you’ve been wondering. Would Yuta in this film be able to defeat Yuji from the TV Show? If you include Rika then I would say Yuta wins without question. It’s hard to see Yuji being able to defend himself from a two pronged attack like this. If Rika is out of the picture then Yuji wins because he’s just a better street brawler and has more control over his black flash techniques. Rika should always be counted in a Yuta battle though so as of now the original main character wins. That’s just how it goes.
Overall, Jujutsu Kaisen 0 was definitely a great film with a lot of replay value. The action was on point and it made for a very solid introduction to Yuta. I always like the idea of building up two main characters but not having them meet for a long time. The longer you wait, the bigger the payoff when it finally happens. It’s rare to see this though. Beyblade (Manga only), Seraph of the End, Fate/Zero, and a very few select others have done this but it’s very rare. After all, it’s tougher than it sounds to have two characters keep getting separate plots and adventures without having them tie in since you have to be careful that neither side feels rushed all the time. Kaisen’s a good example of a series doing this well as you are definitely ready for Yuta to meet Yuji. I’d definitely recommend checking this one out whether you have watched the anime or not. I would say it’s fairly friendly to newcomers as the TV show events are not really referenced so this can feel like more of a stand alone.