The hotly anticipated Jujutsu Kaisen 0, a prequel movie for the monstrously popular shounen anime Jujutsu Kaisen, is finally releasing in U.S. theaters this week! We sat down with the English voice cast – including newcomers Kayleigh McKee and Anairis Quiñones, as well as returning members Kaiji Tang, Lex Lang, Allegra Clark, Xander Mobus, and Matthew David Rudd – to chat about how they approached their roles for this particular film and what they think makes their characters tick on the inside. Let’s get started!
Jujutsu Kaisen 0, a film from TOHO Animation, will be available in both English dub and subtitled Japanese and will arrive in more than 1500 theaters nationwide starting on March 18, 2022. The film will also be released in select U.S. based IMAX® theaters. For more information, visit https://www.crunchyrollmovienight.com/.
Interview with Kayleigh McKee (Yuta Okkotsu) and Anairis Quiñones (Rika Orimoto)
Kayleigh, Yuta goes through a pretty big personality transformation over the course of the movie as he gains confidence. How did you express this change through your performance?
So, a big thing that I did that I really wanted to make sure I included was that at first, he was crying a lot and he was unsure, so I had some wavering to his tone and a little bit more nasality. And then as he gets more confident, his eyes become clearer, his face becomes more set, and he looks more put together. And so, I lowered that wavering, I projected the tone a bit more, and I made his resonance more clear. I had a lot of fun going through that, because it’s not a perfect slide in across the movie, right? There are ups and downs. I had a lot of fun figuring out what elements I wanted to put in at what places.
And for Anairis, one of your lines that really sent a chill down my spine was monster Rika’s “We’re gonna get married!” when her body is bleeding out. Do you think Rika’s love for Yuta after she dies is truly genuine, or has it been perverted by the curse?
I think both, you know? It’s genuine, and then the curse itself has made it almost this weird obsession. But it comes from a genuine place that I think both of them share with each other. And now that Rika has passed on... or become a curse... and Yuta is dealing with her being attached to him, their genuine love for each other has kind of mutated into this weird, perverse, very supernatural thing that is very interesting to play with.
Interview with Kaiji Tang (Satoru Gojo) and Lex Lang (Suguru Geto)
Kaiji, Gojo is a very over-the-top sort of guy, and yet he can still be serious and parental when he wants to be. Is his goofy side a façade, or do you think he means 100% of what he says?
Well, I could never tell anyone 100% because I didn’t create the character, but as the actor portraying the character, so far what I’ve noticed is... yeah, I feel like a lot of that silly, goofy stuff comes from the fact that he’s kind of a lonely guy, you know? I know it sounds sad, but when you grow up with that much power disparity between yourself and other people, it’s very difficult with others. It’s very clear as you watch this film - you see this character Gojo and you think, “Wow, he really has a difficult time connecting on a human level with anyone because of his place in this jujutsu world.” So yeah, a lot of times I end up feeling really sorry for the guy. I think it’s a defensive thing he does to make himself feel better, to make life a bit more bearable... I don’t know. But I hope for more friends for him in the future.
I hadn’t thought about it that way before, but that’s very true, actually. Poor guy...
And then for Lex, Geto seems to truly care about jujutsu sorcerers as people, even his enemies and lowliest underlings, but despises normal humans. Do you view him as a good person with bad ideas holding him back, or as a villain who can’t be redeemed?
He really operates off of his ideology. Initially, I think it was rooted in goodness and in hope for everybody. And through the course of several events, which the movie actually touches upon very briefly, his ideology changed completely. And because he’s committed to that and he’s very idealistic, he’s committed to a path that isn’t a good one. He’s committed to what you might call a “villainous” path perhaps, but it’s just “less than honorable”, let’s put it that way.
It’s not that he fell into madness – his belief structure changed so much, and he’s so committed to that that he took on a different path. Madness is sort of a piece of it, maybe a characteristic of it, because to follow that path and to believe so deeply that sorcerers will become the superior race and humanity’s next stage of evolution, you have to be a little bit crazy.
He went through his one “really bad day”, as it were.
Mmhm. And that changed life for him forever, moving forward.
I see. So he’s very, “My ideals, right or wrong – cognitive dissonance be damned.”
I mean, he put up a wall, too. Once he changed his path, I think he put up a wall and he became very tactical in his ideas. He was always thinking a step ahead about the next evolution of humanity and what his part in it was. Deep down, he does have a heart. He does care, he has had deep friendships in his lifetime, and his heart might just be broken at this point.
Oh... I feel so sorry for these two guys.
They’re lonely and brokenhearted.
They just need friends...
Interview with Allegra Clark (Maki Zen’in), Xander Mobus (Toge Inumaki), and Matthew David Rudd (Panda)
For everyone, since these three characters are at an earlier point in their lives in this movie, what nuances did you use in your performances to differentiate them from their modern versions? Maki in particular seems a bit more aggressive than normal.
Yeah, I just had to kind of lean into that surliness in a way. She’s not as relaxed, she’s not as at ease, she’s not as comfortable riffing off of Panda and Toge yet. She hasn’t quite hit that level – this movie is really where she starts to learn that she can feel comfortable in a space and that people will accept her for who she is instead of her family, who... suck.
It was all in the writing too, which was really great. Not just how aggressive she gets, but how genuinely aggressive she gets as opposed to playfully aggressive. You see the playful aggression towards the end, but at the beginning, she’s just kind of mean. So, playing the intent behind that versus the sort of wry smile you get in the series where she’s like, “I’m going to be kind of a jerk, but you know I’m kidding. I’m going to be hard on you, but it’s out of affection.” That was an interesting sort of regression to play, in a way. And then once we start season 2, it’ll be great to go back to who she was at the end of the series and be like, “I have friends now! That’s fun, having friends.”
Here’s what I realized is the key differentiating feature between first years and second years at Jujutsu Tech: the first years are still starting to figure out what a jackass Gojo is, and by the second year they have fully figured that out.
They’ve gone like, “This guy is brilliant and also an idiot.”
Right! So, the key difference between [Panda] in the movie versus season 1 is that there’s still an air of majesty about Gojo that they are all kind of smitten with.
And it’s also about the process – it’s just like, “We’re going to be jujutsu sorcerers!” And then in year two, it’s like... a long drag on a cigarette and, “We’ve seen some things...”
So it’s like 80% less shtick, is how we played it, honestly.
And yet so much more shtick at the same time! It’s different shtick, though.
We are paradoxical beings... complex... nuanced, like fine whiskey.
It’s going to be interesting transcribing this interview...
All of these voice actors are clearly passionate about what they do and are proud of their work on the movie, so be sure to get your tickets for Jujutsu Kaisen 0 and check it out for yourself! Are you excited to see Yuta’s story up on the big screen? Were you surprised by anything the cast talked about? Let us know in the comments, and thanks so much for reading!