Sho HayamiTomokazu SekiMegumi OgataJujutsu Kaisen
Jujutsu Kaisen 0 Movie
Medium: film
Year: 2021
Director: Sung Hoo Park
Writer: Hiroshi Seko
Actor: Kana Hanazawa, Koichi Yamadera, Koki Uchiyama, Megumi Ogata, Mikako Komatsu, Risae Matsuda, Satsumi Matsuda, Shizuka Ito, Sho Hayami, Takahiro Sakurai, Tomokazu Seki, Yuichi Nakamura
Keywords: Jujutsu Kaisen, anime
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 105 minutes
Website category: Anime 2021
Review date: 13 March 2024
Jujutsu Kaisen 0
I watched this movie twice.
It was released between Season 1 and Season 2, so I watched it between them. It's adapting the first four chapters of the Jujutsu Kaisen 0 prequel manga and they'd originally been going to turn them into TV episodes. That's how it feels. It's okay. It's at "quite a good TV episode" level, if you cut it some slack for being a shounen anime franchise and driven by fight scenes.
Our hero is Yuuta Okkotsu, who'll go from milksop to badass. Initially, he's a nobody who doesn't want to associate with anyone. He has a dead girlfriend called Rika, you see. Dying turned her into a monster. She can manifest in his presence and squeeze four bullies into one school locker. (This involved broken bones and bloodshed, but Rika doesn't like anyone threatening her beloved Yuuta.)
Anyway, Satoru Gojou invites Yuuta to study at Tokyo Prefectural Jujutsu High School. (He doesn't mention that this is a training school for demon-hunters. He also doesn't tell Yuuta's new classmates that they might not survive doing anything that could be misinterpreted as a threat. Whoops. Satoru is a bad person to put in charge of youngsters and he only got this teaching position through being the world's most powerful demon hunter.)
There are two stories in this film. One is the personal journey of Yuuta and Rika. Plus, perhaps, to a small extent, Yuuta's classmate Maki, who's hot but has a dreadful personality. Great in a fight, needs help with personal interaction. Anyway, I liked Rika. She's an eldritch abomination, but she's in love with Yuuta and she'd be aghast if she hurt or upset him. (It's not her fault that her undead form seems bad at processing human reactions.) Besides, she's a little girl. She got killed. Her love for Yuuta is a childish sort of love that will never reach an adult level.
Yuuta and Rika are the film's emotional heart. They want to protect each other. I like where their story went. Without them, this film would have been nothing.
The other side of the film, though, is its baddie, Suguru Getou. He's fairly dull, but he's Satoru's best friend and they used to attend Tokyo Prefectural Jujutsu High School together until Getou made certain choices. (These included killing everyone in an entire village, i.e. 112 people.) When Satoru's around, it's possible to see more depth in Getou.
I then found a chronological watching order for Jujitsu Kaisen:
1. Jujutsu Kaisen season 2 (episodes 1-5) = Hidden Inventory/Premature Death arc
2. Jujutsu Kaisen 0 (movie)
3. Jujutsu Kaisen season 1 (episodes 1-24)
4. Jujutsu Kaisen season 2 (episodes 6-23) = Shibuya Incident arc
Thus, after watching the first five episodes of Season 2 (in which Satoru and Getou are best friends), I watched this film again.
Getou is the worst-executed aspect of any Jujutsu Kaisen anime I've seen so far.
I like the idea of the character. What we see of him in Season 2 is great, although personally I'd have given more screen time to exploring his descent. He goes from hero to mass murderer in one episode. Theoretically, though, it's a strong idea for a character. Crucially, his reasons for genocide are actually logical and there's a lot to explore in the concept of a good man who's chosen to set out to murder 6 billion people.
The movie takes all that potential and burns it in a bucket. The movie's Getou is EEEEEEEEEEEVIL and that's it, basically. He wants to kill ordinary people because he hates them. Complexity: zero. There's nothing conflicted about his motivations because he's a racist who actively likes the idea of murder. Oh, and calling him a show-off felt weird too.
Overall, I still quite like this film. Cartoonish villains are hardly new in action-adventure serials. Yuuta and Rika are just as likeable second time around, while I also appreciated Maki and her reaction to being accepted. Also, the production values are a step up not just on the parent TV series but on movie versions of anime TV shows in general, at least these days.
But it could have been so much better.