Satoru and Suguru arguing during their high school days in Tokyo Jujutsu High in Jujutsu Kaisen.

‘I Almost Didn’t Voice Gojo’: ‘Jujutsu Kaisen’s Kaiji Tang Told Us All About His Voice Work

(Thank you, Kaiji, for voicing Gojo.)

Voice actor Kaiji Tang’s Satoru Gojo has become synonymous with Jujutsu Kaisen as a whole. While there’s distinction that comes along with voicing the Honored One, Tang has fleshed out an impressive portfolio, and was celebrated as a Guest of Honor at Anime Central 2024.

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At ACen, Tang delved into the details of his early years as a performer: “When I was young and moved to America, the first thing I watched on television was the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon. Back then, I had no concept of what voice over was. I was like, ‘Oh, man, I want to be that turtle. That turtle looks like he’s having a great time.’ I didn’t realize there was a human behind that turtle.” He thinks back to that moment, noting it as the inspiration for his foray into voice acting. Tang said that his exposure to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles made him realize that acting could be pursued as a career. The animated series was what pushed Tang to participate in high school theater, and then later on in college. “It was probably Raphael from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that I have to thank [for my career now].”

Tang said that he was afraid to delve into heavier, more dramatic pieces that relied on emotionally charged performances. When he was a younger actor, Tang would shy away from more intense roles out of fear that he was “faking” his way through his performance. “I didn’t doubt that I had the emotional capacity, but I didn’t think I had the lived-in experience to fully embody more demanding emotional experiences. It wasn’t until years and years down the line that I dipped my toe into dramatic acting. It was challenging, but letting yourself feel everything is freeing.” Tang explained that in dramatic roles, he’s allowed himself to feel emotions that “most people try to keep close to their heart.” He defines his relationship with drama as a singular experience when sharing that across a screen and to “lend out his heart.” Tang embraces the idea of letting someone “into his heart” while sharing the same emotions at once. When he shed the fear of dramatic performances, it became a favorite acting style.

Tang’s acting background has a foundation in theater, and he wholeheartedly recommends theater to any actor, regardless of the performance art style they wish to fall into as their niche. He said he approaches any voiceover job with the same mindset that he would approach any job in theater. Tang starts with the core foundation of self, and expresses that it’s hard to gain empathy from others if he’s trying to completely be a different person. “We don’t know what it’s like to be a completely separate person,” Tang said when breaking down the idea of using the “core foundation of self.” He then assumes aspects of the character he’s portraying, and likens them to putting them on “like a costume.” At the same time, Tang reminds himself that it’s important that he keeps a few pieces of himself in any character, as long as he can recognize them. Regardless of what the role is, he spots at least two shared traits that he can sympathize with. Tang’s overall goal, as a performer, is to come off as a real person and escape the idea of being a caricature.

“I’ve been fortunate to be a part of most of what I’ve wanted to work on,” he said when thinking on what roles he’s not yet accepted, but would like to portray in the future. “There are a couple of things I really, really want to do, but they’re kind of dumb,” Tang joked. “Child’s Play Chucky. I love that little jerk. He’s my favorite horror movie monster just because his personality is so abrasive, and audiences love to hate him. I would love a shot at Chucky, but with that aside, I happen to think Roombas, the little vacuums, are cute. I think they’re super cute and I think it’s time that Roombas have a voice.” Tang then continued on about his vision for how exactly the Roomba role would look like. “Could you imagine them running into a corner and being like, ‘Ow, damn?’’” He then elaborated on what the Roombas would sound like to him, once again reiterating that the automated vacuum robot would be a “dream role” for him. “Imagine your Roomba is coming across the room, you spilled some Cheetos, right? It comes across and you just hear it say ‘damn, you live like this?’’

Tang’s most celebrated role, Saturo Gojo from Jujutsu Kaisen, has resulted in unfathomably passionate fanbase dedicated to the character himself. “Why do people like Gojo? Oh, man. He’s rich!” Tang teased. “Gojo is a silly dude. It’s like giving the Superman powers to the funny kid in class.” He then broke down how in anime, the overpowered trope is often given to a male character that is incredibly stoic or physically hulking in size. “Gojo is a silly guy. He’s a silly guy, and I think that attracts a large audience. We like dudes that we feel like we can just hang out with and laugh. Gojo captures that.” Tang believes that Gojo perfectly packages the overpowered trope with a light, airy sense of humor. “On a purely technical level Gojo is really easy to draw,” he added, taking a playful jab at the character himself.

“As an actor, we’re always chasing that one role, our Luke Skywalkers,” Tang said. “I’ve Tweeted this several times: I can’t believe Saturo Gojo changed my life.” When finding Gojo’s voice, Tang looked into the character’s personality and finds traits that they have in common. “I really latched on to that funny little aspect of Gojo’s personality. I love his sense of humor, the way he comes across to people, and that most people in his life can’t tolerate him.” He then pinpointed Gojo’s relationship with Kento Nanami. “His relationship with Nanami is probably one of my favorite things in Jujutsu Kaisen. The begrudging respect that Nanami maybe has for him, and the fact that Gojo loves Nanami for some reason, is so silly.” Tang said he had many opportunities for Gojo’s humor to sit at the forefront of his personality, and he believes he’s accomplished that.

Tang didn’t know anything about Jujutsu Kaisen prior to “diving into” Gojo. During the week that he received the audition, Tang said that he was also working on fighting games pretty routinely, and was exhausted from those roles. The audition for the part of Gojo was Tang’s fourth of the day, and reading the script, he thought, “Do I really want to do this audition? I really want to take a nap.” He said he was close to passing the role up altogether, demonstrating the just how close he was by pinching his thumb and pointer finger together. “I was this close to just not doing the audition, but I powered through and I did it anyways.” After the English voice cast began to record the first episode, Tang started to research what exactly Jujutsu Kaisen is, and once he realized how intensely the anime was enjoyed, he said that he made the right decision. “I almost passed Gojo up just because I was tired.”

In the first two seasons of Jujutsu Kaisen, the Hidden Inventory Arc struck Tang as a powerful aspect of storytelling. He said that it resonated because he was able to explore the relationship between Gojo and Suguru Geto, and how the show has spun out from them. “The entire scope of the story changed because Toji Fuhisguro had beef with a teenager? It’s crazy! That foundational aspects of the entire manga are because this grown man couldn’t leave two teenagers alone was just wild to me.” In a tongue-in-cheek way, Tang said that the “insane drama” in the Hidden Inventory Arc will stick with him as the cause of Jujutsu Kaisen.

“For me, I wouldn’t change Gojo’s arc. Narratively, Gojo has hit the beats that he needed to hit in the story,” he said when looking back at the trajectory of Gojo’s prominence within Jujutsu Kaisen. “Gojo’s not the main character of the story. I think he’s handled in such a way where all other characters are getting their chance to shine in an organic way. How do you have any stakes when you have a character this powerful in your story? Gege did what they could when writing Gojo, and they did it really well. He has this character living alongside the actual main characters in a way where it’s still spotlights the main cast, while giving this ‘crazy little gremlin’ a life to live of his own.” Tang said that Gojo can have his own arc and still not be the main character, calling it an impressive feat of writing.

“There is a character that I would have loved to voice, who will be featured in the Culling Game Arc. I’m not going to get too far into him, but he is a funny dude,” Tang said when hypothetically recasting himself in the Jujutsu Kaisen universe. “He’s a professional funny dude. I love him, he’s my second-favorite character in the entire series. But, if I could recast myself as anyone, I would recast myself as my favorite character in the show: Nanami.” He praised David Vincent, the English voice actor, and doubled down that he wouldn’t change anything about his performance as Nanami. “If David wasn’t available, yeah, Nanami. I love Nanami.”

Bouncing back to Gojo, Tang personally believes that he’s voicing the loneliest person in Jujutsu Kaisen. He empathizes with that aspect from his own experience of being an immigrant, and cited his own loneliness. “I have core memories of years of my life that I didn’t have anyone to hang out with, and Gojo, when says that Geto was his best friend, his ‘one and only,’ I believe that.”

Tang said that for Gojo, a person so powerful that his birth unbalanced the nature of the world, it was destined for him to be lonely. He knows that there would be nobody for him to “hang out” and “talk” with. “Geto came closest to that, and that’s why they were such fearsome friends. When Geto was removed from Gojo’s life, I can’t even imagine how isolating that must have been for him. For me, it was really easy to read that Gojo and Geto were involved on a deep level. No matter what their actual relationship was, they are the most important people in each others’ lives. Whether they are in love, whether they are best friends, they will always be that person for each other.”

Tang can be can be heard in Physical 100 Season 2, Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, Kengan Ashura, and Demon Slayer. He can be found on Twitter, where he promises that “things will be Tweeted.”

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Annie Banks
Annie Banks is a professional entertainment journalist from Chicago, Illinois. She holds degrees in journalism and marketing, and has been incredibly fortunate to watch her career path collide with her passions. Throughout her six years of entertainment journalism experience, Annie has fervently written about movies, television shows, anime, manga, K-Pop, comics and video games. To this day, she still proudly retains her title as a Rotten Tomatoes-approved Tomatometer critic.