‘Jujutsu Kaisen’ introduces new character in prequel movie

%28Bottom+to+top%29+Yuta+Okkotsu%2C+Rika%2C+Maki+Zenin%2C+Panda%2C+Toge+Inumaki%2C+Suguru+Geto+and+Satoru+Gojo+on+a+promotional+poster+for+the+Jujutsu+Kaisen+0+movie.

Photo courtesy of Jujutsu Kaisen

(Bottom to top) Yuta Okkotsu, Rika, Maki Zen’in, Panda, Toge Inumaki, Suguru Geto and Satoru Gojo on a promotional poster for the “Jujutsu Kaisen 0” movie.

Grace Da Rocha, Senior Arts & Entertainment Editor

*This review will contain spoilers for the “Jujutsu Kaisen 0” movie and Volume 0 of the “Jujutsu Kaisen” manga.

Before the cursed fingers, a boy with a ring and low self-esteem battled his way to becoming one of the most powerful sorcerers in Japan.

Jujutsu Kaisen 0,” which premiered in the United States on March 18, serves as a prequel to manga author Gege Akutami’s popular shonen series “Jujutsu Kaisen.” The film follows 15-year-old Yuta Okkotsu after he is enrolled in the Tokyo Jujutsu Technical High. He and Rika, the highly-powerful spirit of his childhood friend who has turned into a curse that protects him, are supervised by the powerful sorcerer Satoru Gojo and paired up with fellow first-year high schoolers Maki Zen’in, Toge Inumaki and Panda — a literal talking panda.

The movie has received an overwhelmingly positive reception from audiences, with IMDb ranking it an 8.1 out of 10 stars and Rotten Tomatoes reporting a 98% audience score from over 2,500 verified ratings.

With Japanese animation studio MAPPA’s signature art style, dynamic fights and an emotional soundtrack carrying the viewers through each scene, it is not hard to see why viewers are so impressed by another one of MAPPA’s projects.

Having a star-studded cast that includes veteran figures also helps. Megumi Ogata, known for her performance as Shinji Ikari in the “Evangelion” series, lent her voice to Yuta. She is joined by actors such as Yuichi Nakamura, who plays Gojo. Nakamura gained popularity while playing characters like Gray Fullbuster in “Fairy Tail,” Tetsurou Kuroo in “Haikyuu!!,” and Shigure Sohma in “Fruits Basket.”

After meeting his fellow classmates, Yuta is immediately thrown into his training and must partner up with one of his classmates on two separate occasions to exorcize curses despite his inexperience. The fluid fight sequences are broken up solely by Yuta’s moments of personal growth, creating a pattern of fast-paced action and uplifting moments of growth that carries viewers into the emotional final fight.

Organizing the various curse exorcism events Yuta must face is Suguru Geto, the story’s main protagonist and a former student of Tokyo Jujutsu Technical High. Geto, after experiencing some traumatic events during his time in high school, later abandons his position as a sorcerer and begins to put in motion a plan to exterminate everyone who cannot see or exorcize curses.

This ideology causes him to clash with the jujutsu society at large and Gojo, who was once his best friend. In the movie’s last half, Geto distracts the experienced sorcerers with a parade of 100 curses that he refers to as the hyakki yagyo, a reference to Japanese mythology, and infiltrates the high school to steal Rika’s powers from Yuta so he may use them to kill non-sorcerers.

Empowered by Rika and the yearning to save his friends, Yuta overpowers Geto and ultimately releases Rika of her curse. The movie finishes with a teaser of what Yuta has been up to in the main timeline of the Jujutsu Kaisen series, leaving fans hopeful for the return of the anime series’ second season in 2023.

“Jujutsu Kaisen 0” has seen great success on its own within the three weeks it has been in theaters. The movie opened in the U.S. at $14.8 million dollars and has grossed over $27 million dollars since. Globally, it has amassed roughly $156 million and rose to become the 10th highest-grossing anime movie of all time, knocking out Hayao Miyazaki’s “Arrietty” and joining the likes of films such as “Spirited Away” and “Demon Slayer the Movie: Mugen Train.”

Viewers can see “Jujutsu Kaisen 0” in theaters and watch the first season of the “Jujutsu Kaisen” anime series on Crunchyroll or HBO Max.