As far as 2021 anime movies are concerned, Jujutsu Kaisen 0 is without a doubt the biggest and most successful title. The prequel movie to the extremely popular anime series of the same name, Jujutsu Kaisen, came out in late December 2021 and became an absolute hit, conquering the Japanese box office and earning praise from both critics and fans. With rumors about the movie’s international release slowly piling up, we are going to tell you whether the Jujutsu Kaisen 0 movie is canon and how it ties into the main anime series.
Jujutsu Kaisen 0 is canon, as it is based on a 4-chapter manga written by Gege Akutami, which was the forerunner of the Jujutsu Kaisen series. Jujutsu Kaisen 0 is thus a prequel movie based on the prequel manga and it retells the events that happened before the main plot of the Jujutsu Kaisen manga and anime.
In the rest of this article, we are going to discuss the plot and the setting of Jujutsu Kaisen 0. The structure of the film (as well as the prequel manga) is quite easy and it will be easy for you to follow our text, as there is nothing overly complex in the structure of the series. We are going to bring you all the details you need to know about the connection between Jujutsu Kaisen 0 and Jujutsu Kaisen.
Is Jujutsu Kaisen 0 canon?
In the world of fiction, “canon is the material accepted as officially part of the story in an individual universe of that story. It is often contrasted with, or used as the basis for, works of fan fiction. Other times, the word can mean ‘to be acknowledged by the creator(s)’.” This is the best definition of a fictional canon we have for you; a canon is, thus, the body of work written and acknowledged by the original author as being official. This does not mean that the original author cannot write non-canon stories or that other authors cannot write canon stories, but that is not as common in practice.
As with all other forms of fiction, anime and manga are not exceptions in this case, and that means that a manga or anime canon is basically the same thing – the body of work that is officially part of the story, and is usually written by the original author. In the case of anime series based on a manga, it usually refers to anime material adapted directly from the manga, rather than original content written by other authors. This is most often the case with filler episodes of an anime series or anime movies, which aren’t fillers, but are usually non-canon.
So, does this mean that Jujutsu Kaisen 0 is non-canon? We have said that anime movies are usually non-canon, but that is not always the case and Jujutsu Kaisen 0 is the best example of that. Jujutsu Kaisen 0 is based on the manga series Jujutsu Kaisen 0, a prequel to the Jujutsu Kaisen manga series, both written by Gege Akutami.
The manga, which was originally titled Tokyo Metropolitan Curse Technical School, was serialized from April to July 2017. After Akutami started publishing Jujutsu Kaisen in 2018, the series was retroactively retitled Jujutsu Kaisen 0, thus making it a prequel. Akutami initially wrote the series with no themes to follow; he simply wanted to write and draw cool-looking characters, not knowing what his ideas would become. He was often supported by his two editors while writing the manga.
Is Jujutsu Kaisen 0 a prequel or a sequel?
As we have explained, Jujutsu Kaisen 0 is a prequel series, although it initially wasn’t conceived as such. Akutami simply had some ideas about some cool-looking characters and he decided to make a short manga out of it. The manga had a story but the characters were the focus. It wasn’t until later that Akutami actually decided to expand upon his idea, which is when Jujutsu Kaisen 0 retroactively became a prequel series.
This applies to both the manga and the anime movie as well; both are prequels to their respective sources.
How is Jujutsu Kaisen 0 connected to the rest of the anime?
In order to properly acknowledge the connection between Jujutsu Kaisen 0 and Jujutsu Kaisen, we have to see what the prequel story is all about, so we can actually connect it to the main narrative, which is what we are going to do here.
Yuta Okkotsu is haunted by the spirit of his childhood friend, Rika, who died in a car accident. Her spirit no longer appears as the sweet girl he used to call his beloved. Instead, his spirit has been cursed and manifests as a monstrous entity who protects him against his will. Unable to control Rika’s immense power, Yuta is powerless to stop the bloodshed caused by her curse.
As a result, Yuta is apprehended by the Jujutsu Sorcerers, the secret guardians of the world, who have trained to combat cursed spirits like Rika. Yuta wants to die alone so no one can get hurt, but Satoru Gojo offers him a different path. Gojo has Yuta join the Jujutsu College, where he will study with other magi, in order to control Rika and in hopes of helping other people. Now a first-year student, Yuta learns about Jujutsu and combat arts from his new classmates: Maki Zenin, a cursed weapon user, Toge Inumaki, a cursed speech user, and Panda, a talking bear.
Thanks to the connections made with his friends, and having finally found a place in the Jujutsu college, Yuta begins to gain confidence in being alive. He even begins to feel comfortable with his abilities, as the training progresses, Yuta learns that the risks of the world of Jujutsu go beyond evil spirits.
As you can see, the story of Jujutsu Kaisen 0 is set some time before Itadori’s story starts in the main Jujutsu Kaisen manga. Since this was only retroactively labeled as a prequel, there is no direct narrative connection, as Akutami never wrote Jujutsu Kaisen to be a direct follow-up of Jujutsu Kaisen 0. Still, you can see the obvious connections that exist.
First of all, the setting is identical and all the narrative concepts and elements present in Jujutsu Kaisen can also be found in Jujutsu Kaisen 0, which confirms a direct connection between these two stories. Secondly, there are the characters. Sure, some characters from Jujutsu Kaisen 0 don’t appear in Jujutsu Kaisen, but a lot of them (Gojo, Maki, Toge, Panda, etc.) do and most of these are actually essential characters that play a pivotal role in Jujutsu Kaisen. Itadori doesn’t appear in Jujutsu Kaisen 0, but this story is focused on Yuta Okkotsu, who is the prequel’s protagonist.
As you can see, Jujutsu Kaisen 0 is not a direct narrative prequel to Jujutsu Kaisen but a set-up type of prequel that uses its standalone story to set up the later main narrative. The setting is the same and there are several important characters that connect the two stories, which is more than enough to establish a firm connection and a stable narrative continuity between these two great stories, just like Akutami wanted.