Jujutsu Kaisen 0 is out March 18 in theaters via Crunchyroll and serves as a prequel to the wildly popular anime series, Jujutsu Kaisen. It introduces Yuta Okkotsu, a new student at Tokyo Jujutsu High School as he struggles with his curse, and sees many regulars from the anime show as well.
RELATED: Jujutsu Kaisen 0 Interview: Kaiji Tang and Lex Lang Discuss Satoru Gojo & Suguru Geto
“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,” says the synopsis. The film is based on Jujutsu Kaisen 0 (Jump Comics/Shueisha), a prequel manga to the smash hit supernatural adventure series from Gege Akutami.”
ComingSoon Editor-in-Chief Tyler Treese spoke with Jujutsu Kaisen 0 voice actors Xander Mobus, Allegra Clark, and Matthew David Rudd about their roles as Toge Inumaki, Maki Zen’in, and Panda in the film.
Tyler Treese: Matthew, Panda is always a blast to see, and he has to be a blast to play too. So what about Jujutsu Kaisen 0 really stood out for you regarding Panda? He really has some great humorous moments in this film.
Matthew David Rudd: I liked that you got to see more of his jokey side and more of his big heart in the movie. There were definitely some callback jokes to the series that I loved. If you think of 0 as kind of the prequel, which it is, he was the originator of that kind of humor, and Yuji kind of takes over that kind of humor in the series.
We’ve been talking about it all day, just kind of realizing this as a group, that Panda kind of offers this emotional support to everyone in the movie. I love seeing that you got hints of it in the show, when he would step in front of a blast to save Nobara and things like that. He’s really helping to translate for Toge because he can’t do that himself. He’s really helping to calm Maki down when she needs it, and I loved it. I loved seeing that, and seeing what a strong character he is.
We definitely see it with Toge so much. Xander, with Toga so many of your lines are just saying rice ball ingredients. That seems like an interesting challenge because it kind of lets you focus purely on the inflections and tone rather than the words. How do you approach that?
Xander Mobus: It really comes down to strong direction, right? Like, our director needs to know the story well enough and know the dynamic well enough to communicate where we can figure out, okay, this is the intention of what you say. Yeah, it’s a surreal experience trying to communicate meaning while still only saying salmon [everyone laughs], but it’s a fun challenge. I really enjoy doing it.
Allegra, Maki kind of steals the film in a lot of regards. You get such a great backstory for her. Can you speak to diving into her past here, and showing a much more vulnerable side of the character?
Allegra Clark: She’s vulnerable and she’s angry at the same time in a really great way. She settled into herself so much by the series and you actually see it in the way that she talks about her goals and what she wants. In the series, she tells Nobara, “I’m going to be a big shot sorcerer, and I’m going to show everyone that I can do it even though my abilities are what they are.” But then, when she’s speaking to Yuta about it, she’s like “I’m gonna kill everyone.”
So it’s like her anger, the rage that she felt in the film where she’s younger, she’s still finding acceptance, and she hasn’t quite settled into herself yet. [The anger] definitely cooled and tempers a bit into a more genuine confidence as opposed to something that she’s kind of just projecting and building walls trying to keep people out and act like she’s more together than she is.
But it was really fun to play. She’s got such a rich arc. We’ve seen bits of her past in both the series and in the movie, the backstory with the Zenin clan, and how much they absolutely suck. They’re the worst. I think every single chip that’s on her shoulder is so earned.
But yeah, it’s delightful to see the way that she smiles more over the course of the movie. And then certainly by the series, she’s…I don’t want to even say a happier character because that makes her sound perky because she’s not, but she’s more at ease with her surroundings with herself, with her peers, than she is at this point in her personal arc. And then in the manga, there’s so much more to come and I really hope we get to work on it all the way through to there. Because there’s some good stuff.
RELATED: Jujutsu Kaisen 0 Interview: Kayleigh McKee & Anairis Quiñones Talk Yuta and Rika
Matthew, going back to Season 1 here, I just have to know what your reaction was when you saw the line, “I merely Panda, no understand human speech?”
Rudd: I love it. This character is so much like me. I just love seeing every little bit that gets revealed because I assume things about him because I do feel like we’re very similar. Then every time something gets revealed, the kind of humor that he has, his “mother bearness” about everyone else, I just love it. I loved that line. I loved him trying to hook up Maki and Yuta in the movie.
It’s hilarious. I loved…and what’s so funny is art imitates life, life imitates art or whatever. The fandom of Jujutsu Kaisen is so rabid about Yuji and Nobarra and Megumi, that all of the Juju Strolls stuff, where Panda’s like, “Nobody likes me.” It’s so fun to see that happen in real life. When I go to cons with like Adam McArthur and everything, he’s got lines all the way around the block and I’m like, “Panda’s over here. Obviously, Panda’s better.”
Clark: [Laughing] Oh my god.
Xander, we get a great look at Toge’s kindness in this film. And Yuta has a really great revelation after initially not knowing what to make of him. And as you talked about earlier Matthew, Panda kind of has that talk with him and kind of helps them see each other eye-to-eye a bit more. Can you speak to just Toge’s role in the film and his kind of arc here?
Mobus: Yeah, I…oh boy, I’m not sure what I’m allowed to say without spoiling things. I think that he is put in a position where he has to take care of this other person while they’re figuring out, “Oh my God, they’ve had a huge life-changing event happen to them,” but again, I’m not sure what exactly I’m allowed to say with Yuta. So he has to make sure this guy doesn’t die and I don’t think that’s necessarily a position he’s used to being in. Matthew’s talked about at the end, when it’s time to throw down, it’s very satisfying seeing how much they’re just ready to rock and roll and ready to do it. And I think that dovetails nicely to where they’re at in, uh, Season 1. Why did I blank on the word season? [everyone laughs] Where you know, they have to take up a little bit more of that mentor role to the main trio.
Clark: Now that I think about it, I don’t think any of the main trio really question Toge in terms of, you know, not understanding his deal necessarily. Where Yuta is actually, actively anxious around him because he is like, “I don’t know what’s going on. I can’t understand him. I don’t know what to do.” So, it’s interesting seeing the contrasts there and actually having someone react almost more organically to the confusion of like “What? I don’t know. I do not understand what this person is saying,” right? What does salmon mean other than we have confirmed affirmative? [everyone laughs] We know one thing, at least, salmon more or less means yes. More or less.
Allegra, Maki’s really become a fan-favorite. What has really stood out the most about this community and the support they’ve given you?
Clark: Yeah, I think the creator has done such a wonderful job of creating really nuanced, incredible female characters. And you see it, especially in the series in episode 17, when all of the women are fighting each other, in the school versus school battle, I’m blanking on the name of the arc. But you see their different perspectives, you see who they are and where they are. And I think that as a result, it’s very easy for fans, especially women, femme presenting people to really latch onto those characters and latch onto the women of the show and be like, they’re so rich.
Someone asked me recently, someone who knew really nothing about JJK was like, “Oh, are you the main character’s love interest in this movie?” And I was like, “No.” No, because Maki’s got her own stuff going on. Maki has her own life. Maki has her own goals and her own ideals. And I think that that’s the case for Nobara, too. Nobara isn’t Yuji’s or Megumi’s love interest. She is her own character, and I think it’s so easy for the fandom to be like, “Heck yeah,” rather than thinking, “Oh, what’s the love triangle between the main three going to be,” you know? It’s, it’s refreshing in that regard. And I think the writing of those, of all the characters, Nobara, Maki, Miwa, who I voice in the show, Mai, Momo, it’s all very rich and really wonderful across the board. So it’s easy.
Rudd: Something we’ve all talked about as a cast is how proud we can be of the female characters in this show. It’s not often that in TV-14 anime that you don’t see very scantily clad women talking like babies, and this show is not that whatsoever. The women are just as developed, character-wise, as the main characters, and they are the main characters. It’s wonderful.
Clark: I would say that they’re all largely very attractive characters, but they’re not hypersexualized in any way. They’re so much more than just, what would’ve been maybe 20 years ago, the pretty girl sidekicks. Just because Maki is the only prominent female character other than obviously Rika in JJK 0, doesn’t mean that she is or should be, despite Panda’s insistence, anyone’s love interest. That’s not who she is. She’s got so much going for her.
Rudd: In fact, the characters wearing the least clothes in the show are Panda and Todo, right?
Clark: Yeah. Right.
Rudd: Our two boys.
Mobus: I’m the eye candy this time.
Clark: It’s true.
Panda’s definitely pretty lewd. Thank you for the time. The film turned out great.