On 26 March at AnimeJapan 2017, there was a talk event about the upcoming TV anime Juuni Taisen. At Avex Pictures’ special booth, Nobuhiko Okamoto, who portrays Usagi (the rabbit), Shueisha’s Takanori Asada, who is the editor-in-chief at j BOOKS, and Kazuto Matsumura, who is a producer from Avex Pictures, took to the stage. Juuni Taisen is a battle royale style novel written by NisiOisiN, based on characters designed by manga author Hikaru Nakamura.
The event started with the screening of the promotional video. The anime features a dark world where 12 characters will have to kill each other. Matsumura confidently said, ‘It is a trailer that implicates the path the story will take.’ Asada released the rough character designs drawn by Nakamura. The twelve characters are based on the Chinese zodiac, but the most distinctive among them was the character Usagi, played by Nobuhiko Okamoto. When the image of a muscular man in a pair of underwear, suspenders, and a pair of high heels was displayed on the screen, the venue overflowed with craziness and gasps of surprise could be heard from the audience. Usagi is supposed to be the worst and most disastrous character that you certainly wouldn’t want to approach if you saw him from a distance. Okamoto said that if he met that character in the middle of the night, he would certainly run away.
It seems that when Okamoto auditioned, Usagi’s slogan of ‘killing abnormally’ was what he latched on to. To describe that slogan in acting, he said it was equal to ‘being able to do whatever you want’ and revealed that he thought it seemed rather fun. About Usagi’s personality, he said, ’if I had to describe him with one emotion, I would probably say his emotion is “delight.” Usagi is a character that pursues his own pleasure. I think he wants people to look at his appearance. He wants to draw other people’s attention so he builds muscle. In short, he gets lonely a lot.’ His theory does make sense if we think that rabbits are supposed to die when they get too lonely.
Asada and Matsumura, who heard Okamoto’s audition tape, said, ‘He was always half-laughing.’ It was revealed that due to the enthusiastic performance that conveyed complicated feelings, the casting was a unanimous decision. Okamoto responded with, ‘Really!?’
Okamoto, taking the other characters into consideration, strongly declared, ‘I don’t want to lose when it comes to abnormality. I want to be the most abnormal.’
Business area: Thursday 23 March 2017 – Friday 24 March 2017
Main area: Saturday 25 March 2017 Sunday 26 March 2017
Venue: Tokyo Big Sight