Yuta Okkotsu has a hard time making friends—likely due to the constant presence of Rika, a murderous entity who haunts Yuta and slays anyone who attempts to hurt him.
That tends to make the whole friends thing significantly harder.
Rika’s a curse—one of a group of metaphysical monsters which are borne out of the cursed energy that seeps from all negative human emotion. She wasn’t always a curse: Rika was once Yuta’s childhood friend, and the two promised that they’d marry once they grew up. But then Rika was hit and killed by a car, and Yuta watched as she transformed into a grotesque monster, slithered her way to him and attached herself to him in undying love—because, after all, they agreed that they’d be together.
Because of that, Yuta was thrust into the world of curses and sorcerers—people who can see curses and harness cursed energy to give themselves powerful abilities. Seeking a way to break Rika’s curse, Yuta is thrown into Tokyo Jujutsu High School, a school dedicated to training young sorcerers in both using their abilities and killing curses to protect naive people who aren’t aware of the curses.
Yuta gets stronger in his abilities every day, and he’s starting to make friends who understand the debilitating condition of being cursed. Each day, the hope of breaking his curse seems more and more likely. But there are some sorcerers who don’t want Yuta to exorcise his curse. In fact, they’d rather take the power for themselves—and they’ll stop at nothing to get it.
Albeit in an action-packed way, Jujutsu Kaisen 0 reminds us that there is freedom for those who have experienced trauma. Even if they may have experienced life-changing curses, they don’t have to dwell on them. In fact, they can use their trauma as a way to help others.
For instance, Yuta has gone through many horrific experiences because of Rika, from the agony of watching her die to the horror she’s brought to him since. Yet, he’s taught an extremely important lesson: “The curse placed upon you is one that can save people, too, depending on how it’s used.” Yuta’s traumatic experiences are summarized in the manifestation of Rika, and he’s able to use that curse in order to help save others from having to endure what he went through.
Obviously, enduring trauma in the real world doesn’t result in gaining supernatural superpowers. But at the root of Jujutsu Kaisen 0 is an affirmation of two things: One, healing is possible for those who have experienced trauma; and two, we can use those hard parts of our lives to help mentor and protect others.
Jujutsu Kaisen 0 also reminds us to look past our initial judgments of people, most prominently examined through Yuta’s relationship with fellow cursed classmate Toge Inumaki. Toge has a technique called “Cursed Speech,” which allows him to speak a word and force others to comply with it—if he says explode, the target’s body explodes, for instance. However, because the technique is so volatile and dangerous, he only speaks in words that reference rice ball components, so he does not accidentally curse anyone with his words. Initially, Yuta finds him to be intimidating, but through getting to know him better, he realizes that Toge is extremely kind and selfless, opting to protect others rather than potentially risk hurting them by using more words.
Jujutsu Kaisen 0’s plot relies on the existence of monstrous sentient curses borne out of compilations of negative human emotions called “cursed energy.” Because they’re made up of cursed energy, their actions and thoughts are entirely based around whatever negative emotions conceived them. These curses are invisible to the majority of humanity (except in life-or-death situations), but they can still harm people regardless of their awareness.
The movie also introduces us to sorcerers—those who can see and (usually) manipulate cursed energy in order to use it to their advantage. Many of these sorcerers use their mystical abilities to exorcise curses and protect people who cannot see them, but some use them for their own gain.
A woman calls antagonist sorcerer Suguru “godly.” Suguru says that humanity imagined the existence of higher powers. Yuta’s teacher Satoru exclaims that “there’s no curse more twisted than love.” A man says “speak of the devil.” Sorcerers imbue objects with curses to make them stronger. A battle is called the “Night Parade of a Hundred Demons.”
[Spoiler Warning] Rika’s curse is broken, and she fades away into the afterlife in a display of glowing yellow bubbles.
While classmate Maki and Yuta train with fighting sticks, Maki wears a short skirt. The animation consistently narrowly avoids exposing her underwear via her fighting movements. Yuta’s classmate, Panda, asks what size of breasts Yuta prefers, and a caption over their head reads “sexy talk.” When Yuta answers, he tells Maki that she still has a chance.
A man is seen shirtless, and he has large hearts where his nipples should be. In a flashback, Rika and Yuta promise to marry each other when they grow up, and after Rika dies, her cursed form utters the same thing. Yuta offers to die to be with Rika forever if she offers him her full power, and he kisses her monster form offscreen.
As you might expect, exorcising curses can be quite violent, and countless liters of animated blood fly in this action-packed flick.
In a flashback, Yuta’s childhood friend Rika is hit and killed by a car, and we see her body in the street surrounded by copious amounts of blood. Her corpse transforms into a grotesque blob of skin with a massive mouth, which slithers over to Yuta and attaches itself to him.
As Yuta’s curse, Rika kills a bully and stuffs his body into a locker, which leaks blood. The locker opens up, and we see that the bully has been horrifically deskinned and deformed to fit inside. Rika bursts out of a curse’s stomach, destroying it with her sharp claws and causing purple blood to splatter everywhere.
Yuta and Maki are swallowed whole by a massive curse that also destroys an abandoned elementary school. They find two children in the creature’s stomach, and all four of them are injured, cursed and/or bleeding. The eyeball of one of the children has become purple from a curse, and Maki’s bloody thigh has a curse on it as well (which has created a large number of eyeballs in it). Maki briefly faints from her injuries. Yuta and Maki train with fighting sticks. Maki slams the blade of a glaive into the chalkboard next to Yuta.
Toge uses his Cursed Speech to dispatch many opponents. He explodes a swarm of curses, twists a curse’s arm off and crushes it and smashes Suguru through a building rooftop during a fight. In one scene, Toge suffers a broken finger, and we see the extent of the deformity. We also see Toge’s face caked in blood.
Satoru mentions that many people have gone missing or have been killed due to the curses. He also informs Yuta that they will both be killed if Yuta lets Rika out again. Satoru fights an enemy sorcerer named Miguel, and they throw punches, dodge electricity and shoot balls of energy.
Suguru is referenced to have cursed more than one hundred people to death, and he has a mission to kill all people who aren’t sorcerers, beginning with releasing curses on large city centers under the command “massacre.” Suguru murders two guards, and blood sprays from their bodies. Suguru fights Maki, Panda and Toge, and all three students are beaten, bloodied and knocked unconscious. In response, Yuta says he will murder Suguru. The two engage in an epic battle, and many curses are sliced through, and punches are thrown. Yuta mentions that he tried to commit suicide once, but his curse Rika stopped him.
Mysterious men mention that Yuta was supposed to be executed. A girl has a curse that makes her have dreams that she’s being raped—and the curse is seen wrapped suggestively around her backside. Curses pull a man apart by attaching their sticky lips to him, and blood splatters everywhere. Panda transforms into a gorilla form, and he sends debris flying. Panda is impaled by a glaive.
Massive fights occur in a couple city centers between sorcerers and curses, complete with axes, spears, firearms, explosions and more. Many men are seen having been hanged by two 15-year-old girls who side with Suguru, and a flashback shows that the girls had been beaten and locked in a cage. Many sorcerers are eaten or crushed by curses, and many curses are exploded and sliced in bloody fashion. One giant cyclops monster wears human heads as a necklace.
[Spoiler Warning] Yuta defeats Suguru, and Suguru is seen with his right arm missing and bloody. Then, Satoru kills Suguru during a black screen, and a sword slicing sound effect is heard.
[Plugged In Note] The following count is based on the Japanese with English subtitles version of Jujutsu Kaisen 0. The English dubbed version may differ with our count.
The s-word is captioned four times, and “d–n” appears eight times. “H—” is used once, and “b–tard,” “p-ss” and “crap” are also all seen captioned once. Additionally, we see two uses of “G–d–n,” and Jesus’ name is misused once.
Maki calls herself and Yuma an “idiot.” She also calls Yuma a “moron.”
Empty liquor bottles are seen in a back alley. Toge uses throat medication to soothe the pain of using his Cursed Speech ability.
There are countless different curses within Jujutsu Kaisen 0. Many of the curses are grotesque, deformed or generally creepy, and children may be frightened by the depictions. For instance, one group of curses look like a large eyeball resting atop a giant mouth that is stitched together with laces. Another is a massive cyclops who wears human heads as a necklace. Yuta’s curse appears as a massive white monster with sharp teeth and claws that vaguely resembles a mix between the alien from Alien and the predator from Predator (man, those movies were succinctly named).
A mother tells her daughter that she wishes she never had her. Suguru talks about evolution, and he refers to those who are not sorcerers as “monkeys.”
As anime continues to grow in popularity within the United States, expect to see more of these subbed or dubbed movies at your local theater.
Though Jujutsu Kaisen 0 arrives as a prequel to its popular TV series (which moviegoers will not need to see in order to understand the film), fans of that show hoping to see its protagonist make an entrance will be disappointed. Instead, the movie focuses on the cursed Yuta Okkotsu during his first year as a student at Tokyo Jujutsu High School, a school that teaches its curse-ridden students how to become sorcerers and exorcise monstrous curses.
Due to his fear of hurting others with his curse, Yuta has isolated himself from others for years. Yuta’s curse, Rika, has made his life a living nightmare. Yuta just wants her to finally be at rest.
And through his journey to accomplish that, Yuta doesn’t just grow in his power (although there’s plenty of that). He makes friends for the first time—cursed friends who understand his struggles and don’t think the boy with dark circles under his eyes is strange. And slowly but surely, he grows in his confidence, peeling away the layers of social anxiety and timidness that have so long plagued him as if they were a curse of their own.
As the students grapple with using their individual curses to the benefit of society, it reminds us that though we won’t be able to erase our past mistakes or traumatic moments from memory, we can use them in order to help, protect and guide others.
But in order to get that message across, Jujutsu Kaisen 0 has viewers wade through enough animated blood to put blood drives out of service. Additionally, the grotesque curse monsters will frighten many children, and many parents may be turned away by these sorcerers wielding “cursed energy,” even if they do use it to protect others.
Though he was born in Kansas, Kennedy Unthank studied journalism at the University of Missouri. He knew he wanted to write for a living when he won a contest for “best fantasy story” while in the 4th grade. What he didn’t know at the time, however, was that he was the only person to submit a story. Regardless, the seed was planted. Kennedy collects and plays board games in his free time, and he loves to talk about biblical apologetics and hermeneutics. His favorite movie is La La Land.