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Review: ‘Jujutsu Kaisen 0: The Movie’ conjures up sorcery in animated film

“Jujutsu Kaisen 0: The Movie” is a 2021 Japanese dark fantasy anime film, based on the manga series “Jujutsu Kaisen 0,” a prequel to the “Jujutsu Kaisen” manga comic book series, created by Gege Akuta.

“Jujutsu Kaisen 0: The Movie” poster
“Jujutsu Kaisen 0: The Movie” is a Japanese animated film based on the popular comic book series of the same name. The dark fantasy is playing at the Lakes 12 Theatre in Baxter in both dubbed and subtitled versions for English-speaking audiences.
Frank Lee / Brainerd Dispatch
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BAXTER — Animation doesn’t have to be just for kids.

“Jujutsu Kaisen 0: The Movie” is yet another Japanese feature film that proves yet again it can be a rich storytelling medium for complex and mature audiences.

The new release at the Lakes 12 Theatre in Baxter is a movie based on the manga series “Jujutsu Kaisen 0,” a prequel to the “Jujutsu Kaisen” manga series, created by Gege Akuta.

MORE MOVIE COLUMNS BY FRANK LEE:
“DC League of Super-Pets” is a computer-animated movie about the superpowered pets of superheroes such as Batman and Superman. The new release features the voices of Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, John Krasinski, Kate McKinnon and Keanu Reeves, to name just a few.

It’s not anything as family-friendly as, perhaps, the syndicated comic strips “The Family Circus” or “Peanuts,” the latter of which was created by Minnesotan Charles M. Schulz.

The motion picture runs almost two hours long and is rated PG-13. Yuta Okkotsu is a nervous high school student who enrolls in the mysterious Tokyo Jujutsu school after being haunted by his late girlfriend's curse, according to the studio behind the foreign film.

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“Rika Orimoto dies in a car accident in front of her best friend, Yuta Okkotsu. Together, they had made a promise to get married when they grew up. Something that will not be possible because Rika became a ghost and Yuta came to wish for his own death after Rika's accident,” according to the movie’s website.

The dark fantasy features plenty of action, so moviegoers fearing the animated film will be too maudlin need not worry.

A magician by the name of Satoru Gojo recruits Yuta to be part of the Academy of Sorcery, where he meets Maki Zen'in, Toge Inumaki and Panda. But all is not well for an evil warlock by the name of Suguru Geto was expelled from the same academy for murdering innocent people.

Given it was not my first foray into the kinetic world of manga — having seen the seminal Japanese animated movie “Akira,” a 1988 dystopian movie with a cult following about a biker gang and telekinetic abilities — I knew what to expect in “Jujutsu Kaisen 0: The Movie.”

Frank Lee
Frank Lee

Epic gravity-defying battles between forces of good and evil, exaggerated and impassioned dialogue and movements that often venture into the melodramatic and a quirky-by-our-standards portrayal of heightened emotions are common in Japanese anime.

Those familiar only with traditional Disney animation or Western comics will be in for a surprise because anime such as “Jujutsu Kaisen 0: The Movie” involve conventions of the Japanese genre that may come across as odd or unfamiliar watching the violent dark fantasy.

Directed by Seong-Hu Park, the feature film adaption of the manga series of the same name brings to life vividly the images and words of the printed pages of the comic book, which was originally titled the handful-to-say “Tokyo Metropolitan Curse Technical School.”

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The four-chapter series "Tokyo Metropolitan Curse Technical School" was published in the Japanese magazine "Jump GIGA" from April 28 to July 28, 2017, before it was retitled.

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The Lakes 12 Theatre is showing both a dubbed version and a subtitled version of the Japanese animated movie, but I would recommend watching the subtitled version of the movie which allows the original Japanese cast to express themselves as the voice actors intended.

FRANK LEE may be reached at 218-855-5863 or at frank.lee@brainerddispatch.com . Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bdfilmforum .

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I cover arts and entertainment, and write feature stories, for the Brainerd Dispatch newspaper. As a professional journalist with years of experience, I have won awards for my fact-based reporting. And my articles have also appeared in other publications, including USA Today. 📰
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