‘Jujutsu Kaisen 0’ voice actors discuss magic of new film

© 2021 JUJUTSU KAISEN ZERO The Movie Project © Gege Akutami/Shueisha
Yuta Okkotsu

The animated film “Jujutsu Kaisen 0” has proved to be a huge hit since its theatrical release late last year. The prequel to the popular manga and anime series “Jujutsu Kaisen,” the film is adapted from the manga of the same title by Gege Akutami.

One of the main characters of the film becomes a sorcerer of jujutsu, meaning the art of spells or magic, and tries to free his childhood friend from a curse that turned her into an evil spirit.

In the second installment covering the film, three voice actors playing the main characters discuss what makes “Jujutsu Kaisen 0” so exciting.

A pure friendship

Emi Ogata, the voice of protagonist Yuta Okkotsu, said she read the manga “Jujutsu Kaisen 0.”

“It’s a solid, well-structured story that follows various characters,” she said. “I really enjoyed its dark approach with no soft points.”

However, all the details of the character are not described in the manga.

“I thought it would be difficult for me to naturally inhabit the character in every scene because he’s kind of clumsy and doesn’t have any kind of special ability,” Ogata said. “I thought a lot about how he would be able to say important lines naturally — without it sounding forced — once he grew up.”

Ogata met with director Park Sunghoo and the voice director before recording, and then made adjustments regarding the character’s personality.

The story revolves around Okkotsu and his relationship with Rika Orimoto, a childhood friend who has become an evil spirit. As Okkotsu continues to fight as a jujutsu sorcerer, he begins to use some of Orimoto’s power, something he previously refused to do.

Ogata recorded with Kana Hanazawa, who plays Orimoto, and the two were able to clearly express the connection between the characters.

“I think Rika is a really important friend [to Okkotsu],” Ogata said. “He tries to free her from the curse but never tries to exorcise the evil spirit. I don’t think there’s any doubt that their relationship is very pure.”

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Emi Ogata / Yuta Okkotsu: Ogata comes from Tokyo and is known for her voice acting as Kurama in “Yu Yu Hakusho” and as Shinji in “Neon Genesis Evangelion.”

Okkotsu strives to become stronger to convince himself that it’s OK for him to be alive.

Ogata said: “He grows up while constantly being reminded of the fact that he needs to change on his own and can’t wait for anyone to help him. Even while coughing up blood, he painstakingly works to change himself one step at a time, and as a result, he gains trustworthy friends. The film depicts the struggles he goes through to change, as well as the exhilaration he feels after he does.”

Easygoing yet powerful

Satoru Gojo, voiced by Yuichi Nakamura, was born with special eyes that allow him to see cursed energy in detail and is believed to be the strongest sorcerer in the jujutsu world. Gojo is also a teacher at Jujutsu High School and is usually pretty easygoing as he watches over Okkotsu and the other students.

“I’ve consciously differentiated his [voice] for when he has to appear strong and his normal, everyday [voice],” Nakamura said. “Funny scenes are really difficult. It’s always challenging when comedy scenes are inserted in the middle of serious scenes and having to transition between the two.”

© 2021 JUJUTSU KAISEN ZERO The Movie Project © Gege Akutami/Shueisha
Satoru Gojo

“Gojo is very powerful and is considered an elite jujutsu sorcerer, so he doesn’t actually understand the feelings of those who aren’t powerful, even though he may appear that he does. I think he can be cold as well and treats life differently from others. He looks at the bigger picture.”

“Because of Gojo’s strength, he can take down an opponent with a single hit,” Nakamura added. “So, he has never had to fight for a long period of time. This time, however, there is a fight scene in which he gets a bit emotional. I had fun performing the scene with some ad-libbed breathing. Some battles are created and designed for the big screen. I hope [everyone] will enjoy watching the movie.”

Nakamura has voiced various characters in the past, but Gojo is unlike any character he has played before, the voice actor said.

“It’s nice playing Gojo because I can create a character who is laid-back but also incredibly powerful,” he said.

Nakamura said he also enjoys analyzing the story of “Jujutsu Kaisen” in-depth.

© 2021 JUJUTSU KAISEN ZERO The Movie Project © Gege Akutami/Shueisha

“Curses are something people think they understand, but they really don’t,” he said. “What is a curse? What happens to someone after they’ve been cursed? What binds them?”

The film goes deeper into examining these questions.

“By depicting the relationship between Okkotsu and Rika, it clearly shows that curses come from humans,” Nakamura said.

Complicated villain

Suguru Geto plots to destroy everyone who doesn’t possess cursed energy and create a world only for those who have that power. He plans to commit genocide by using Cursed Spirits in Tokyo and Kyoto, leading to a confrontation with Okkotsu and others. The genocide is referred to as Hyakkiyako (The Night Parade of a Hundred Demons).

Takahiro Sakurai, who voices Geto, said he wanted to make him seem eerie and someone that people couldn’t quite read, so he portrayed Geto as sarcastic, yet lighthearted.

“I guess he’s a bit murky,” he said. “I tried to make his personality go against his priest-like attire and his villainous face. I wanted to make the audience a bit confused.”

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Left: Yuichi Nakamura / Satoru Gojo: Nakamura comes from Kagawa Prefecture as has played such roles as Hawks in “My Hero Academia” and Yuichi Jin in “World Trigger.” Right: Takahiro Sakurai / Suguru Geto: Sakurai comes from Aichi Prefecture. He has appeared in “JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Diamond wa Kudakenai” and as Giyu in “Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba.”

Geto appears in the TV anime series as well, but Sakurai slightly changed his approach toward the character, who is an elitist, dangerous person.

“I guess there was a terrible incident that led him to think the way he does,” Sakurai said.

Sakurai has provided the voice for various villains, but he still finds Geto difficult to portray.

“The character makes me wonder whether my acting choices were correct,” he said. “I don’t even know if he was saying what he was actually thinking. I guess you could say that I was also under his spell.”

Regarding the film’s story, Sakurai said: “Geto also refers to his associates as his family, so to put it simply, I think it’s a story about love. Geto makes declarations about committing genocide. He fights Okkotsu. He gets a bit emotional.

“There are so many must-see moments in the film. Even just his scenes alone are worth seeing. A highlight in the film is the conversation between him and his former classmate Gojo. I also really enjoyed the battle between Panda and [Geto].”