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‘Jujutsu Kaisen’ review: “Evening Festival” delivers dizzying action

By September 8, 2023September 10th, 2023No Comments4 min read
Jujutsu Kaisen Season 2 Episode 7

Acting as both a prelude and an official closer to last week’s episode, “It’s Like That,” Jujutsu Kaisen Season 2 Episode 7, “Evening Festival,” hints at future devastation as the episode draws to an ominous close. Before that setup though which will lead directly into the Shibuya Incident arc, the “Evening Festival” must close out the fight scene between Muta and Mahito, a battle that was doomed before it even began.

Kudos though to the series for managing still to instill the face-off with such tension-fueled misery, even in the face of the inevitable. Muta, despite his power, is a clearly dead man walking, facing off against one of the series more unpredictable, deplorable villains in Mahito whose character designs find increasingly repulsive ways to render him, from mid shape-shifting to the way his arm bubbles and bulges before exploding from impact. The thrill of the chase remains, as Muta utilizes his life’s worth of stocked-up cursed energy to engage in battle, building on the existing source material panels for an elongated fight. 

The action draws on inspiration from Gurren Lagann and Evangelion in clear distinctions yet never feels like they’re trying to simply copy. Muta’s character design and facial expressions become raw and roughly drawn, emulating Gurren Lagann, while the mecha designs deliver a similar sort of cadence and imposing, otherworldly silhouettes as an Eva. It’s a standout piece of choreography, as the brutality of the moment is uninhibited by Muta’s realization that if he doesn’t put every ounce of power into this fight, it will be for naught. 

Still, he never stood a chance. Mahito using his domain expansion might not be the death knell but it signifies it, the animation fully encompassing his transformative, deadly power. The fight sequence could seem ancillary, unnecessary, even, in regards to the rest of the story if not for the thematic questions it plays in on and the way in which it drafts the tone for the rest of the episode. As Muta utilizes the years of his life and its stock-piled cursed energy, there’s no triumph at the moment, just a realization of how young he is. 

Gojo seeks to protect young sorcerers and it’s shown to be a failing plan. No matter what he does and no matter his tremendous power, these wanted days of youthful naïveté are long behind those like Yuji, Nobara, and Megumi. Muta’s main goal, beyond somehow defeating Mahito and Geto, is to get in contact with Gojo. Gojo is hope at the moment, but the type that ultimately he can’t reach, making Gojo’s wish to create a society in which youthfulness might flourish all the more tragic. Muta’s last visage before death is the image of Miwa, and the flash to her solidifies how bleak Muta’s death and the ensuing action are. She talks about getting closer to the other sorcerers, and her wanting to know and see the boy behind Mechamaru. Just another wish lost to the ceaseless violence of this world. 

The rest of the episode is heavy in tone as the stage is set for something sinister. “Evening Festival” is in regards to the Halloween celebration taking place in Shibuya, where people have gathered for raucous fun until a veil is thrown over the city, trapping all of the civilians in it. In a sequence that is terrifying in all, it doesn’t show with hints of horror that recall 2022’s Nope, a group of these would-be partners are sucked into the train station. It’s a haunting sequence that once again suggests greater mayhem to come while keeping a restrained hand guiding the plot. The timestamps and dividing of groups where we see which characters have arrived on the scene add to that sense of looming dread, with so many unanswered questions keeping the threat all the more powerful as our heroes try and grasp what’s happening. 

Gojo arrives, entering through the veil, and for the first time in the series, his arrival doesn’t bring with it the feeling of triumph. With the night just beginning, and the previous “Hidden Inventory” arc that humanized the character — ironically, during an arc that also demonstrated his god-like powers — the world of these characters is destabilized. Yet, Gojo’s power is immense, but there are too many unknown factors, and too many lives at stake, to feel at ease at his arrival. If anything, he brings with him a greater sense of doom. Jujutsu Kaisen can often be incomprehensible when it comes to the detailing of the world and the power structures it overexplains, but at its best moments it’s a transfixing, deeply stressful watch, and “Evening Festival” engages with an atmosphere that’s foreboding. This is the start of a horror movie. 

Jujutsu Kaisen Season 2 is available now on Crunchyroll

Featured Image Courtesy of MAPPA/Crunchyroll

  • Rating - 8/10
Allyson Johnson

Based in New England, Allyson is co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of InBetweenDrafts. Former Editor-in-Chief at TheYoungFolks, she is a member of the Boston Society of Film Critics and the Boston Online Film Critics Association. Her writing has also appeared at CambridgeDay, ThePlaylist, Pajiba, VagueVisages, RogerEbert, TheBostonGlobe, Inverse, Bustle, her Substack, and every scrap of paper within her reach.

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