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The Best Part of ‘Jujutsu Kaisen 0: The Movie’ Isn’t Yuta…. It’s The Women

Jujutsu Kaisen 0 is not the first film to explore female empowerment, but it is absolutely a defining moment in animated fantasy adventure films.

jujutsu kaisen 0 rika

Jujutsu Kaisen 0 has hit theaters and with it brought massive attention to the franchise. On the surface, this animated film is another in the extensive line of adventure fantasy stories, however, this movie goes beyond what others have already established. In the sports world of jujutsu, achievements have often emphasized the accomplishments and strength of the men involved, this has frequently overlooked the women participants. Jujutsu Kaisen 0 further explores the world from the series and amplifies the characters with a richer backstory, while highlighting the women characters as unstoppable forces.

Director Song-Hu Park with an artistic vision in mind carefully crafts an artwork worthy of this generation’s time. By selecting the voice actors to play the most important roles in this film, he has single handedly given the lead to the voice actresses. Yuta, Maki, and Rika are all voiced by women and their performances are outstanding.

Jujutsu Kaisen 0 movie yuta rika

Jujutsu Kaisen 0 takes previous overused concepts and shifts the paradigm to explore new and more interesting themes. The dominant male storyline is subverted with an overtly more complex and fitting feminine narrative. With this slight change in point of view, Jujutsu Kaisen 0 is still firmly planted in the world that is established in the series and broadly speaking, most things won’t surprise the majority of audiences with the cursed spirits in the fictional world. The director, however, still achieves the goal of surprising the viewers in the final scenes with one final twist that could not have been possible without the help of his female characters. This alone proves how crucial the female perspective is in this film.

Jujutsu Kaisen 0 begins with Yuta Okkostu (Kayleigh McKee) who has a history of being bullied by four troublemakers. His abusers are stopped by a cursed spirit named Rika (Anairis Quinones). The Jujutsu Society wants to have Yuta slain for having a special grade spirit at his disposal. Teacher and master Satoru Gojo (Kaiji Tang), with his carefully crafted prose convincingly persuades them to forgo the attempt on Yuta’s life and instead have him transferred to Tokyo Jujutsu Technical High for training. This special grade is his childhood best friend who he was betrothed to before her unfortunate death as a child.

Defining relationships is hard enough, couple that with one dead and the other unaware of their own magical abilities and things get complicated. Rika cares so deeply for Yuta that she protects him from injury, however, he is unable to stop her actions when she goes too far. This unclear power dynamic is shown in the first few minutes of the film where after enduring verbal and physical harassment from his classmates, Rika brutally injures those who caused Yuta harm. This protection is even applied if Yuta attempts to take his own life. Unable to stop Rika from hurting anyone else, he believes isolation is the best cause of action, this however, would prove to be a lonely path for anyone to take.

Jujutsu Kaisen 0 movie review

Yuta reluctantly agrees to attend Jujutsu Technical High to understand his cursed spirit and to see if there is a way to help Rika. On this journey, he is introduced to our first female lead Maki Zenin (Allegra Clark), the strong and silent type Toge Inumaki (Xander Mobus), and the cute Panda (Mathew David Rudd). All three instantly feel the amazing power that Yuta poses and fear it as well. Maki, Toge and Panda all face off with Rika in a battle that leaves no question as to how powerful Rika really is.

The Women Who Made the Film a Spectacular Hit

Through a clear feminist lens, Maki not only dominates her male counterparts but does so by never allowing herself to be seen as less than anyone else. Not only is she a powerful sorcerer, but she does so on her own terms. Striving to be stronger, faster, smarter, and more agile she unknowingly becomes an inspiration for her classmates to overcome their own obstacles.

As he starts to gain a better understanding of cursed spirits, Yuta also gains an appreciation for the story’s underdog, Maki. Unfortunately for Maki, she was born without any special abilities. Her only connections are through her glasses which allows her to see cursed spirits. She was born to one of the strongest sorcerer clans, the Zenin clan. Women in such clans are already at a disadvantage and must do whatever is possible to stand out from the crowd, this coupled with her inability to see curses leads them to mistreat and abuse her. Impressively enough, even though she is at a clear disadvantage from her peers who have cursed power, she doesn’t back down or allow her flaw to prevent her from achieving greatness.

jujutsu kaisen 0 maki

Despite being unable to use cursed techniques or power, Maki is ranked as a top tier cursed tool user. This alone makes her a formidable adversary for anyone who dares get in her way. She is motivated to change how she is seen and regarded in her family. Her strong drive often translates into being seen as hard and callus, but her demeanor towards Yuta stems from her want to see her classmates become powerful enough to stand on their own against any enemy. Maki’s presence also assists with providing a much needed and distinct perspective on fighting in a male dominated fantasy adventure film.

This girl power energy doesn’t stop with Maki. Rika is by far the strongest cursed spirit they have encountered thus far, and as such, everyone wants her on their side, even if they have to take her by force. At this point, the narrative’s focus switches from Yuta, someone with a strong curse presence, to his cursed spirit. The level of attention given to Rika after finding out her power level is what drives the plot forward. Without her, Yuta’s introduction to the story might have been overlooked and regarded as lackluster. Having a being as powerful as Rika would be a game changer. So, it comes as no surprise that their enemies Suguru Geto (Lex Lang) would hatch out a plan to separate Rika from Yuta for good. However, underestimating Rika’s power and dutiful nature to Yuta, they soon find themselves in a situation outside of their control.

jujutsu kaisen 0 rika

While Rika, being a cursed spirit is tragic in and of itself, the really upsetting aspect of it is how she became that way. Rika embodies not solely strength but a deep bond to the person she loved while she was alive. With her connection that chains her to Yuta, she is unwilling to leave him and protects him to the end. Given that cursed spirits are created by negative emotions, Rika changes that narrative and instead protects her lover with her strongest emotion, love.

The Final Thought

Jujutsu Kaisen 0 is an extraordinary film with two passionate female characters. Each one of them is dedicated to proving themselves and protecting those they care for at any cost. This film is truly an empowering film for women of all ages. While this is not the first film to explore female empowerment, it is absolutely a defining moment in animated fantasy adventure films.

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JUJUTSU KAISEN 0 poster

About Jujutsu Kaisen 0

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.

Voice Cast

  • Yuta Okkotsu – Kayleigh McKee (English), Megumi Ogata (Japanese)
  • Rika Orimoto – Anairis Quiñones (English), Kana Hanazawa (Japanese)
  • Maki Zen’in- Allegra Clark (English), Mikako Komatsu (Japanese)
  • Toge Inumaki – Xander Mobus (English), Koki Uchiyama (Japanese)
  • Panda – Matthew David Rudd (English), Tomokazu Seki (Japanese)
  • Satoru Gojo – Kaiji Tang (English), Yuichi Nakamura (Japanese)
  • Suguru Geto – Lex Lang (English), Takahiro Sakurai (Japanese)

Jujutsu Kaisen 0 hits is in theaters now.