Jujutsu Kaisen 0 is a fascinating anime adaptation of the manga

Okkotsu Yuta holds a sword in front of Rika.

image: Studio MAPPA

I was originally on the fence about watching Jujutsu Kaisen 0the new anime film based on the manga of the same name, a prequel to the hugely popular Jujutsu Kaisen manga series. I have read Jujutsu Kaisen 0 and I’m totally tied Jujutsu Kaisen So I didn’t think the film had much to offer me. I was wrong. Jujutsu Kaisen 0 is one of those rare anime adaptations that offers a whole new perspective on a character while staying true to the source material. As someone who follows the manga, I’ve always associated Okkotsu Yuta – the protagonist of JK0 and a minor character in the ongoing series – with a monstrous, unnatural strength. In film, however, his best moments are filled with compassion and emotional vulnerability.

When we meet him, Okkotsu Yuta is a teenager haunted by the soul of his dead childhood sweetheart. Whenever someone tries to threaten him, “Rika” shows up to savagely murder them. Gojo Satoru, a teacher at Tokyo Jujutsu Technical High and a powerful magician himself, enrolls Yuta in the school so he can learn how to control the mind. Jujutsu Kaisen 0 is a coming-of-age story about overcoming guilt and finding acceptance among peers.

In the manga, Yuta can be moody and grumpy, and when he masters his powers, he’s downright terrifying. I liked it because it served a specific plot purpose for me: making fewer characters I care about die. Jujutsu Kaisen is full of genocidal villains. Whenever Yuta showed up, I knew he was powerful enough to fix the mess that was going on. In a series where minor characters tend to die at the whim of the writer, he was my pillar, a constant I could count on.

in the Jujutsu Kaisen 0we learn who Yuta was before he became the powerful wizard I knew him. I was immediately captivated by the melancholy shots of his everyday life that the film offers. While the manga tried tell I didn’t really get that impression of him starting out as a regular boy until I actually saw him on film preparing for his first day at a new school. He’s anxious, he’s awkward, and he’s chronic frightened from the supernatural happenings around him. When Yuta makes normcore jokes about how he meets his weird and magical classmates, I was a huge fan of how the film gives dramatic weight to each punch line. It was at that moment that I understood the film’s true strength: it took Yuta’s mental health issues seriously.

Rika smiles at the camera.

image: Studio MAPPA / Crunchyroll

Rika, the ghost that haunts him, can be read as a metaphor for what happens when your depression becomes ugly and destructive. It’s not your fault, but the monster came from you anyway. And it has a number of bodies. Yuta must take responsibility for his monster, and he can’t do that while struggling with self-loathing and learned helplessness. Luckily, at Tokyo Jujutsu Technical High School he finds the compassion and understanding he needs to move beyond his guilt and shame, a process beautifully portrayed in the film.

There were several moments in the film where I was reminded of my favorite line in the film Jujutsu Kaisen Anime: “Being a child is not a sin.” It is a line spoken to protagonist Itadori Yuji as he feels guilty for failing to prevent a violent tragedy. This is a massive subversion for the shounen manga, in which children regularly beat themselves up for failing to protect people from bloodthirsty killers. in the Jujutsu Kaisen 0, Yuta admits guilt for accidentally “cursing” Rika so that she would hold on to him after death, but both the story and characters treat him like a true high schooler in need of empathy and protection. He can later grow into an elite monster slayer. As Gojo Satoru says in the movie (I’m paraphrasing because I was too emotional to remember shit), kids deserve a place where they can be innocent.

The film also gives Yuta many moments to express his sadness, and in my favorite moments it even shows him crying. While he’s not the only shounen protagonist to cry, these tearful scenes are usually fleeting moments that the story tries to fly past as quickly as possible. After all, “real” men shouldn’t drown in their own sadness when the world is collapsing around them. Jujutsu Kaisen 0 shows that sadness is as important an emotion as anger, the “safe” emotion that shounen characters are usually set to default to.

Not everyone is a fan of his vulnerability, however. Sophomore Zenin Maki berates Yuta throughout the film for avoiding conflict and not doing his bit. Maki believes that social acceptance comes only after you have proven yourself to be strong. I understand where she’s from. We live in a capitalist society where people are defined by their achievements. But as certain tragic developments in the manga demonstrate, there are limits to performance-based acceptance.

The bane version of Rika leaps into the air.

screenshot: Studio MAPPA / Crunchyroll

Of course, she’s not entirely wrong either. Maki has no spiritual powers while Yuta is one of the most powerful beings in the series. And while it sucks that the plot draws a “secret bloodline” reason for his abilities, he doesn’t achieve mastery of his powers through genetics or training alone. All the skills in the world wouldn’t matter if he didn’t feel empowered to use them. Yuta only becomes one of the most powerful magicians in the world when he offers an olive branch to the spirit that almost ruined his life. By accepting the traumatized spirit of his childhood love, Yuta is able to love himself more unconditionally.

Jujutsu Kaisen 0 is also subversive in acknowledging that Yuta and Rika’s bond is romantic. In many shounen series, romantic affection is sidelined in favor of brotherly love. Or it is played for laughs or dismissed as something understandable when the protagonists are older. Not only does Yuta acknowledge his romantic love for Rika in front of the main villain, his engagement ring is a spiritual channel to gain access to Rika’s powers. And the show still allows him to be one of the coolest fighters around Jujutsu Kaiseninstead of being demoted to “husband”.

Not to mention the film’s great animation, including thrillingly visualized battle scenes that play out as single uninterrupted takes. Jujutsu Kaisen 0 supports all of its rich, moving themes with an amazing soundtrack and the incredibly dynamic animations Studio MAPPA is known for. Whether you’re already invested in the series or just want to see a well-made anime flick, don’t miss out Jujutsu Kaisen 0. Jujutsu Kaisen 0 is a fascinating anime adaptation of the manga

Curtis Crabtree

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