Anime characters often look like some of their counterparts from the same story, so fans tend to connect in a way, mostly by suggesting that they are related. And while Jujutsu Kaisen doesn’t have many such characters, two female ones have been central to some recent discussions. This is why we have decided to compose this article for you, in which you will find out why Shoko Ieiri and Nobara Kugisaki looked alike when they were younger and whether that means they are related.
Shoko Ieiri and Nobara Kugisaki are not related, as far as it is known now. Akutami probably would have hinted at them being family, but that hasn’t happened. They looked alike when they were younger, but this is probably because Akutami changed his original idea for the story after Jujutsu Kaisen 0, but he decided to keep a short-haired female protagonist, so he just changed Ieiri’s original design a bit and created Nobara. This is the most likely explanation for why they are so similar, as no in-universe explanation could be applied to this case.
The rest of this article will explore the relationship between Shoko Ieiri and Nobara Kugisaki while focusing, in particular, on their physical likeness and whether they are related by blood or not, which is also the main and principal question of this article. If you’re not fully up-to-date with the events of Jujutsu Kaisen, this article might contain some important spoilers, but we have to state that no new information will be presented here, as we will focus on old and well-known facts about the two of them.
No, Nobara and Ieiri are not related, and their likeness is probably a consequence of the fact that Akutami simply kept the original design from Jujutsu Kaisen 0
Now, before we actually explain everything, let us see who the two ladies are and what they actually look like, as their physical likeness is the main focus of this article.
Nobara Kugisaki is a first-year witch studying at the Tokyo Metropolitan Curse Technical College under the tutelage of Gojo. She transferred to the school to be able to live in Tokyo free of charge, despite her grandmother’s opposition. She meets Itadori and Megumi during her first official mission as a jujutsu sorcerer.
Nobara is a vivacious woman with great confidence in herself and in her ability to overcome any situation. Though she’s not nearly on the same level as Yuji, Nobara proves she can be arrogant or hasty on several occasions. She uses a hammer and nails infused with her cursed energy as a weapon to exorcise curses, similar to voodoo.
As for her appearance, Nobara is a slim young woman of average height, reaching 160 centimeters. In the manga, both her eyes and hair are orange, and it is revealed that her hair was dyed when she lived in her town, while in the anime, both her eyes and hair are light brown.
Her signature clothing consists of her own version of the Tokyo Metropolitan Curse Technical College uniform, consisting of a low-collared black jacket with a long black skirt and black tights; In the anime, her outfit is depicted in navy blue. She also uses a light-colored belt to hold her hammer, nails, and her straw doll; in the anime, her belt is depicted as brown.
While training, she wears a light-colored hoodie with a dark flower pattern around her shoulders, black pants, and white shoes. Her casual outfit usually ranges from dresses and sweatshirts to black pants and white shoes.
On the other hand, Shoko Ieiri is a doctor and pathologist at the Tokyo Metropolitan Curse Technical College and a former classmate of Gojo and Geto. Shoko is a rather serious and gloomy person; she has shown that she wants nothing more than to get her job done and tends to avoid direct confrontation in most situations. She has proven to be quite an asset to sorcerers, being one of the few people who can heal others with the Cursed Reverse Healing Technique.
Shoko is a tall, slim woman. In the manga, her hair is black, while in the anime, it is brown, and it extends to just below her shoulders. She was seen with her hair tied up in a ponytail on a few occasions. She has triangular eyebrows, and her eyes look downcast and surrounded by dark circles; under her right eye, she has a mole. Her signature outfit comprises a light-colored shirt, black pants, and cleated shoes.
Over the shirt, she wears a white lab coat. During her days as a student, she used to have short hair that extended to the bottom of her head. Her eyes looked more energetic, and she had no dark circles under her eyes. She was wearing her version of the Tokyo Metropolitan Magic Technical College uniform, consisting of a high-collared black jacket and black skirt. She wears long-sleeved shirts, shorts, and black shoes during her downtime. On some occasions, she would wear Satoru Gojo’s sunglasses.
So, now that we have done this part, we can actually conclude that a young Shoko Ieiri looked a lot like Nobara does now. Of course, the current Ieiri looks nothing like Nobara, but they were very much alike when they were of the same age, as you can see in the pictures we have provided above. They were not identical, but they were alike.
This prompted fans to deduce that the two of them might be related, but we can deny that, as there is no basis for it. We assume that Akutami would have, by now, at least hinted at this, and since he hasn’t, there is no basis for such a claim. They couldn’t be mother and daughter because there’s only a 12-year difference between them, and their being distant cousins would really make much sense, so we’re ruling that out. But this doesn’t answer our question, so why do the two look so much alike?
Well, the reason might be an out-of-universe one, and a rather simple one at that. Namely, if you know that Akutami initially launched the series using the story of Jujutsu Kaisen 0 and then decided to revamp it a bit into the current Jujutsu Kaisen, the similarity makes a bit more sense.
Namely, after the success of Jujutsu Kaisen, Akutami decided to “retcon” 0 into a prequel series, keeping most characters and adapting the current story based on the main template he used in 0; this is why there are a lot of narrative similarities there. So, if you consider the fact that Ieiri was a protagonist back then and that she was “replaced” by Nobara in the main series as a female protagonist, it could be that Akutami simply modified Ieiri’s original design a little, and that would explain why the two of them are so alike.