Jujutsu Kaisen had a big year in 2020. Not only did the manga hit sales records with more than 10 million copies in circulation worldwide, but it received an anime adaptation as well, which ended up becoming our favorite new series to release in the year. 2021 is looking like it’s going to be yet another strong year for the series with the anime entering its second arc, the Kyoto Goodwill Event Arc, and the release of Jujutsu Kaisen’s prequel, Jujutsu Kaisen 0, which just released with English translation on January 5th.
Jujutsu Kaisen is one of my favorite manga series with one of the best premises and some of the most interesting characters to release within quite some time, but how does its prequel hold up to the original series?
I do want to mention that the prequel was released first in Japan, and after its reception, Gege Akutami was asked to make it into a full series, which led to the creation of Jujutsu Kaisen. For many of us in the West, our first introduction to the series was Jujutsu Kaisen itself. Jujutsu Kaisen 0 offers newcomers a new starting point, but it’s also a great read for those of us who are already familiar with Jujutsu Kaisen and the chapters that have been released so far.
I, for one, am always excited to get more content from the series, and even though I was interested in it from the get-go as someone who already loves Jujutsu Kaisen, its prequel was able to stand apart on its own, while at the same time, adding even more insight into the characters and the series I’ve already grown to love.
The story of Jujutsu Kaisen 0 follows Yuta Okkotsu, a 16-year-old boy that is cursed by his childhood friend Rika. Satoru Gojo takes interest in his situation and gets him to join Jujutsu High. There he will work to harness the power of his curse to help others, but as mentioned by Gojo, he will have to sacrifice a lot along the way to do so, and most importantly, he will have to learn how to control it.
Aside from Yuta and Rika, most of the characters featured within the prequel are ones that fans of Jujutsu Kaisen have already met. Yuta has been mentioned here and there in the manga, but Jujutsu Kaisen 0 allows us to see him in action and get to know him for the first time. I really like Yuta as a character and I found his connection with Rika and their backstory to be interesting. He has similar issues to overcome as Yuji Itadori, but his curse and his situation are different from his. He’s also more apprehensive and less confident in himself than Yuji in the beginning, but their want to help others is very much the same.
In this story, the second years of Jujutsu Kaisen, Toge, Maki, and Panda, are first years and Satoru Gojo is their teacher. The way he teaches them is very reminiscent of how we see him teach Yuji, Megumi, and Nobura, so there’s some knowledge and content that may feel rehashed for those who are already familiar with this world and its nuances.
But given that this volume was written and released in Japan before Jujutsu Kaisen, it makes sense that all of this would be explained. Because of this, you can read this volume without knowing anything about Jujutsu Kaisen. What Jujutsu Kaisen 0 does offer fans of the series is a much-needed look into how these characters developed during their early school days.
It also gives us more insight into the "Shinjuku-to-Kyoto Night Line of 100 Demons" attack that was led by Geto. This is referenced in Jujutsu Kaisen’s manga, but Jujutsu Kaisen 0 takes place during this time and shows us some of the fights that occurred. The fights and the way in which things escalate in this volume makes it a thrilling read. One thing I’ve always enjoyed about Gege Akutami’s work are the fight scenes, which are easy to follow and exciting to witness, and this is no exception with Jujutsu Kaisen 0. Apart from the action, the story itself is really well told with dialogue and scenes that add weight to the story, but are also fun to experience as well.
Gege Akutami’s artwork and storytelling is as effective and powerful as usual in Jujutsu Kaisen 0. This volume is yet another successful addition to an already strong series, but it also sets things up in a way that gives you more context about the events and people mentioned in Jujutsu Kaisen. After reading it, I completely understand why publishers were asking Gege Akutami for more, because it features everything I’ve come to love about the series, while at the same time, giving me more to love.
Thank you to Netgalley, Viz, and Gege Akutami for a copy of Jujutsu Kaisen 0 in exchange for an honest review.