“Jujutsu Kaisen 0” is a runaway success in theaters this week thanks to a strong fanbase and a great ghost story.
Those who are surprised to see Jujutsu Kaisen 0 familiar with the heights of the French and world box office have a short memory. Less than a year ago, when theaters reopened, the film that had boosted attendance was neither mandiblesnor Tom and Jerry corn Demon Slayer – Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Movie: The Infinity Train, the adaptation of a manga that no one expected at this level and which had achieved 350,000 entries during its first week of operation. The phenomenon is repeated here with Jujutsu Kaisen 0 from Sunghoo Park, prequel to the series Jujutsu Kaisenalready adapted into an animated series.
Notre Dame is burning but the public looks elsewhere. Jujutsu Kaisen 0 was a short head ahead of Jean-Jacques Annaud’s film, despite being distributed on twice as many prints (293,331 admissions against 267,924 after their first weekend). In the United States too, the film is a hit with 17 million dollars in receipts for its first weekend of exploitation. From there to think that the film will become the most viewed animated manga of all time? Internationally, possibly, since with half a billion dollars in revenue worldwide, Demon Slayer unbolted Spirited away from the first place it had occupied for more than twenty years. But in France, despite the huge fanbase manga enjoys in general, that seems unlikely.
A young and busy audience
Indeed, if these animated mangas start so strongly, it is because their fans are mobilizing quickly and en masse. But once this first wave has passed, the entries run out of steam. Thereby Demon Slayer had for example achieved almost half of its admissions during its first week of exploitation (the film had ended its career with 727,000 admissions). And yet, we bet that Jujutsu Kaisen 0 will do a little better (but not as well as the 1.1 million admissions of Miyazaki’s masterpiece), because the film is, from the point of view of an anime manga neophyte, more successful at all points of view.
Originally, Jujutsu Kaisen is a shōnen, that is to say a manga intended for a rather male and adolescent audience. The shōnen mostly tells of the learning of an anti-hero that nothing predestined to hold immense power that he must learn to control with the help of a master and comrades. We find this structure here since Jujutsu Kaisen 0 centers on Yuta, a teenager who is haunted by the powerful spirit of his childhood sweetheart, who tragically died before his eyes. In order to learn to tame the immense power of destruction conferred on him by this curse, he joins a school of exorcists who drive out evil spirits. Jujutsu Kaisen 0so it is a bit like Ghostbusters (1994) had been crossed with Ghost (1990).
A great ghost story
At the maneuver of this anime, we find MAPPA studios and screenwriter Hiroshi Seko, already responsible for the last seasons of the brilliant series. The attack of the Titans. It’s a guarantee of quality that is felt in an animation that manages in its narration shots of pure atmospheric poetry. If the fight sequences are very successful, the film deviates from the tradition of the anime by not stretching them. On the contrary, he makes an economy of it which leaves room for the most fascinating part of the film: that of the quasi-psychoanalytical exploration of the trauma of love.
Yuta’s master teaches him that among the plagues that can possibly haunt the living, whether ghosts or pure malevolent spirits, “love is the most twisted”. Jujutsu Kaisen 0 is the story of an impossible loving healing. His problem is the curse of the heart, the ghosts that haunt him. Its trajectory aims for an impossible living-spirit union. And his final answer is quite beautiful. When Yuta offers himself as a sacrifice to the ghost of his childhood love, he understands that he was the one who kept her prisoner and not the other way around. Jujutsu Kaisen 0 only says that, learning to negotiate with its ghosts, rather than believing that it unilaterally possesses them.