Jujutsu Kaisen 0

Jujutsu Kaisen 0 is based on a popular anime series, which was itself inspired by a best-selling manga. Even if you've never seen a single episode of the show – and I have not – you can still easily follow what happens in the movie. All that's required is an appreciation for stylish animation and well-executed fantasy. Hitting theaters in both subtitled and English-dubbed editions, the film offers tons of fun, while still maintaining a little bit of substance underneath. I screened the subtitled version for this review.

The story begins with high school student Yuta inadvertently harming some classmates. Recognizing that he has a “curse” attached to him, the great sorcerer Satoru Gojo brings Yuta to Jujutsu High, a special school for training in how to manage his power. There, he forms a tentative bond with three classmates – Maki Zen'in, Toge Inumaki, and Panda. (Yes, he's an actual panda.) More importantly, he works to understand how and why a childhood friend who died in a tragic accident has morphed into this curse that saddles him.

The training comes in handy when Suguru Geto shows up. He's a former Jujutsu High student who was expelled for slaughtering innocent people. Suguru is organizing the “Night Parade of a Hundred Demons” that will unleash havoc upon the citizenry. Yuta and pals are charged with stopping him.

Jujutsu Kaisen 0 mixes fantasy and human drama skillfully. It's filled with inventive action scenes, as when Satoru places a vail over a section of the city so that Yuta and friends can fight a demon-curse without the public seeing what's taking place. The curse promptly swallows them, and they must defeat the thing literally from the inside. The climactic battle between Jujustu High students and the parade demons is exciting, too. All sorts of fascinatingly designed creatures factor into the finale, each of them rendered with gorgeous animation.

Scenes like that benefit from the backstory the movie designs for Yuta. Through flashbacks, we learn about his tender childhood friendship with a little girl named Rika Orimoto. Her passing in a freak accident has impacted Yuta in ways he can't even begin to grasp. Jujutsu Kaisen 0 deals with how events from our past shape who we become in the future. The only way for Yuta to shed the curse is to come to terms with what happened to Rika. That plot strand pays off touchingly.

Anime movies tend to play to existing fans. Jujutsu Kaisen 0 will doubtlessly please viewers who have absorbed the series. I want to make a case for non-fans, though. If you've ever had even a remote curiosity about anime, this picture is a good place to start. It has memorable characters, a strong sense of humor, and a plot that doesn't require intimate knowledge of the source material to enjoy. The imagination on display here is more than sufficient to pull you in. Give it a try. I think you'll be glad you did.

For more information, including details on where you can see Jujutsu Kaisen 0, please visit https://www.crunchyrollmovienight.com/.

out of four

Jujutsu Kaisen 0 is rated PG-13 for violent content, bloody images, language, thematic material and some suggestive references. The running time is 1 hour and 45 minutes.