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Jujutsu Kaisen 0 Film English Dub Review

4 min read
© 芥見下々 / 集英社・呪術廻戦製作委員会

What They Say:
JUJUTSU KAISEN 0 follows Yuta Okkotsu, a nervous high school student, who enrolls in the mysterious Tokyo Jujutsu High School under the guidance of Satoru Gojo after being haunted by the curse of his childhood friend. The film is based on JUJUTSU KAISEN 0 (JUMP COMICS / Shueisha), a prequel manga to the smash hit supernatural adventure series from Gege Akutami.

The Review:
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
I will not lie, I love Jujutsu Kaisen. After I inhaled the first season of anime, a battle shonen with the depth of character and morality sorely lacking from its non-Fire Force peers, I read the manga starting with a little prequel manga called Jujutsu Kaisen 0. I fell in love even harder. That single volume of manga is a vertical slice of why I love not just Jujutsu Kaisen, but battle shonen in general.

Jujutsu Kaisen 0 is about a shy boy named Yuta Okkotsu learning to love himself. Yuta is haunted by the cursed spirit of his dead childhood friend, Rika. Because of this haunting, people have been hurt, and worse. The opening scene shows Rika killing some of Yuta’s classmates. Yuta is then scouted by a man named Gojo to enroll in Tokyo Jujutsu High, a school for people with “cursed” powers like his own. There he meets and befriends his fellow classmates and learns to overcome his insecurities, externalized through the physical advancement of his powers. Classic shonen progression.

Look, I know you’ve probably heard the premise before. I know! But there’s always more to a story than a premise. For JJK0 it’s about how it executes on the premise. As I read the manga, I was reminded heavily of how Evangelion tackles its themes of self-worth, and how it approaches character writing.

The movie adaptation of JJK0 takes those Eva comparisons and goes even further. At times the direction feels ripped almost directly from the last four or so episodes of the Evangelion TV series. It’s so on the nose that Yuta is voiced by Shinji in the Japanese dub.

But this review is about the English dub of the film, and I will say that it is a dub that is overall functional. The performances are mostly fine with one standout performance by Lex Lang as antagonist Suguru Geto. I really felt like he was having a great time with the role. Also, to continue the Evangelion parallels, Kayleigh McKee’s Yuta sounds almost one-for-one like Spike Spencer’s Shinji Ikari. Whether or not that’s a coincidence we’ll never know, but I will say that for a little bit I thought it WAS just Spike Spencer.

Other roles feel a little misguided. Any English dub besides the absolute greats will feel at least a little stilted, but Xander Mobus’ Toge Inumaki highlights just how poorly said character’s vocal quirk comes across to a non-Japanese speaker, and it took me a while to stop wincing when I heard him talk. I also found Kaji Tang’s Satoru Gojo to be a little more subdued than his Japanese counterpart, but that could be a good thing for some.

However, Jujutsu Kaisen 0 is still Jujutsu Kaisen 0, and the script shines through the serviceable dub. Studio MAPPA’s production values are also killer. The TV anime already looks and sounds incredible but the movie budget is on another level. I have always felt that Jujutsu Kaisen, as an anime adaptation, is one of those rare series that at times completely surpasses the source material, and nowhere is that more apparent than in JJK0.

© 芥見下々 / 集英社・呪術廻戦製作委員会

Jujutsu Kaisen 0 is a perfect adaptation of its source material, and then some. This perfect status is a blessing and a curse, however. The original manga was created a year or so before the series proper, and so the movie spends a lot of time retreading on ideas and concepts a fan of the TV anime will know already, such as how the power system works or what Curses are. The movie does not cut or alter these explanations in any way.

This lack of editing to the manga’s script, however, means that the film is a perfect jumping-on point for anyone who is interested in Jujutsu Kaisen, but who doesn’t want to commit to a TV series first.

On top of the perfect translation of the source material is a heap of added content. New scenes are added in the third act that will absolutely make the retreading of already known concepts more than worth it for series veterans.

So yeah, I liked this movie a lot. The production values are insane, I love the characters, and the story is engaging and fresh despite the deceptive simplicity of its premise.

In Summary:
Jujutsu Kaisen 0 is a perfect adaptation of its source material, and then some. It being a prequel that re-explains core series concepts also means that non-fans can jump on to see what all the fuss is about. Easily a must-watch for fans of battle series, or people who just like their anime a little edgier than not.

Grade: A

Streamed By:

Streaming provided courtesy of Sony and Crunchyroll Entertainment.