Jujutsu Kaisen Animation Director Discusses The Series’ Iconic Opening Sequences

The animation director for both of Jujutsu Kaisen's opening sequences discussed his process for creating the anime's distinctive intros.

Crunchyroll Extra, one of Crunchyroll's official YouTube channels, uploaded an edited interview covering animation director Shingo Yamashita's composition for both of the Jujutsu Kaisen anime's opening title sequences. The video covers Yamashita's first meeting with series creator Gege Akutami and the themes that the animation director wanted to incorporate into each piece. He also discussed the complex animation techniques employed for a number of shots, including the application of 3D modeling used throughout the show.

The first opening was meant to revolve largely around protagonist Yuji Itadori's introduction into the world of sorcerers. "I focused on the main character, Itadori, and wanted to express the world as he sees it, along with his circumstances," Yamashita said. He believes that his favorite scene, wherein Itadori finds himself sitting in a dark tunnel with a mirror image of Sukuna opposite of him, would specifically inspire the feeling that the opening was aiming for. The veteran animator also clarified that the similarities between the first and last cut of the opening were entirely intentional, playing on the show's title. "Well, the "Kai" in Jujutsu Kaisen means "cycling" or "coming back around," and those effects were added with that in mind," he explained.

The second opening's theme purposefully leaned further towards more abstractive imagery than its predecessor. Accompanying the show's action-focused "Kyoto Goodwill Event" arc, the director wanted this sequence to add subtler elements in order to incorporate future story elements, squeezing small details in alongside the exciting battles and characters. Yamashita also stressed the importance of the second opening's darker ambiance, something that he believed was a major sentiment and the main theme of the title itself. "But that feeling of mourning I felt was a pretty big element," the director said.

Yamashita also went into detail about the creative process involved in the production of both openings. He covered the first opening's extensive use of camera mapping, as well as emphasized the painstaking process of creating 3D base models for every scene. "We have to make the models from the artwork for that, and it takes an exhausting amount of effort. It's probably what took the most work," he said.

Jujutsu Kaisen is an ongoing manga series written and illustrated by Gege Akutami for Shueisha's Weekly Shonen Jump. A 24 episode anime adaptation by animation studio MAPPA premiered in 2020 and went on to become one of the biggest releases of the year. Jujutsu Kaisen became the second most-watched anime series on Crunchyroll in 2020, second only to Black Clover, and is 2021's second most discussed TV show on Twitter. The overwhelming popularity of the anime also boosted sales for its source material, pushing it to become Japan's best-selling manga series in 2021.

Jujutsu Kaisen is available for streaming on Netflix, Crunchyroll and Funimation. A prequel film titled Jujutsu Kaisen 0: The Movie is scheduled to premiere in Japan on Dec. 24, 2021. An international release date for the film has yet to be announced.

Source: YouTube

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