I think this is the first time when I genuinely preferred
how the episode was handled in the older anime compared to this one. While this
anime has taken a slightly different approach, for the most part I’ve found the
changes are in the story’s favour however this week I found the episode
somewhat lacking and I can’t even really figure out what was really missing.
Shigure decides they should go on a trip for Golden Week and
cons Tohru into agreeing so naturally Kyo and Yuki are coming along. Hattori is
coming as the driver and they are all off to the lake. While it might seem like
Shigure is being nefarious, and he does kill several birds with one stone here
as he’s messing with his editor and manipulating the younger generation but he’s
also demonstrating that he does genuinely look out for Hattori.
Affiliate Link – Manga
The return of Hattori’s situation with Kana is quite welcome
and by far the strongest part of this episode as with Aya’s arrival at the
cabin we see the three old friends together and both Aya and Shigure support
Hattori as best they can. There’s a nice contrast of the old generation and the
new and the hopes they have that Kyo and Yuki won’t end up emotionally broken
however what Hattori has taken out of all of this is hope and trust in Tohru.
The less interesting parts involve Kyo and Yuki as they walk
Tohru to the lake and bicker. Something felt lacking from these scenes and
overall nothing really came from the situation. After the emotionally wrenching
episode last week this one really lacked punch and while in a binge watch it
will certainly serve as a nice breather, as a stand alone episode it just doesn’t
have the strength of other episodes Fruits Basket has delivered.
We begin the second cour of this series with a new OP and a
fresh reminder of the tragedy at the heart of the story with reminders of Tohru’s
grief as well as the pain inside each of the Somas. It is an episode that isn’t
letting up to lighten the mood as it wants the melancholy to sink deep and for
the most part it hits the mark.
Which is what makes the new OP even less welcome. The
original anime series had an OP that was so incredibly languid and heartfelt.
The first OP of this reboot I initially had reservations about but a few
episodes in and I realised how well it fit the tone of the show. This new OP is
way too upbeat and when you couple it
with the content we got this episode it just feels plain out of place.
Still, once that was out of the way, this episode gave us a
glimpse at Momiji contrasting his antics at school where he plays and runs
around with the deep pain he carries after his mother chose to forget him. She
couldn’t cope with having given birth to a member of the zodiac and was
resorting to self harm but there’s something really cold about a father asking
a child to let his mother forget him for her own good. The scars that must
leave will run deep.
Not content with one tear fest within the episode we then
jump to a grave visit for the first anniversary of Kyoko’s death. Tohru, Hana
and Arisa are there as are Kyo and Yuki. We learn a little bit more about Kyoko
but more we learn about how each of the four characters accompanying her view
Tohru. She remains the beating heart of Fruits Basket and this episode shows
Affiliate Link – Manga
The final few minutes of the episode do give us some
indication of future developments with Yuki seeing the hat in Tohru’s room and
Kyo getting quite close to Tohru while she was sleeping with his actions left
deliberately ambiguous and him whispering an apology in her ear.
Fruits Basket continues to be a pleasant and emotional watch each week and it remains one of the most consistent anime in terms of quality that I’ve seen in a while.
The introductions are coming thick and fast with Ayame, Yuki’s
older brother showing up this week in Fruits Basket. Much like the original
anime, Ayame is a larger than life character who certainly takes a bit of
getting used to. His incessant prattle fills a lot of the episode but in-between
the absurd stories and recollections there’s a genuine attempt at an older
brother trying to make a connection.
It is characters like Ayame that prevent Fruits Basket from
feeling too trite. As much as he wants a relationship with his younger brother,
Ayame is who he is, and his personality is pretty much incompatible with Yuki
regardless of his desire. Even when he’s trying to bridge the gap he manages to
unintentionally dig a deeper hole between them.
Fortunately, it isn’t game over. This is a starting point
where Tohru meets him and sees the current state of the relationship. Ayame is
reflecting on it and by the end of the episode Yuki has also begun to move.
While they aren’t exactly building a bridge and getting over all their baggage,
there’s at least the first stage of planning being put in place for future
Affiliate Link – Figure
Another positive is the way this scenario helped to
reinforce Haru’s relationship with Yuki. While he only appears in two short
scenes, his actions off screen play a significant role in how the episode plays
out and Yuki thanking Haru at the end and Haru’s genuine delight is a heart-warming
sight to see. The episode also establishes the relationship that exists between
Ayame, Shigure and Hatori fairly solidly even though we only see all three
characters together very briefly toward the end of the episode.
There’s a lot of set up here for future developments and so as an episode, this one felt somewhat lacking, and yet it has given us so much room for growth. I really enjoyed seeing how this played out in this version of the story.
Now we’re kicking things into gear with the first clear
appearance of Akito in Fruits Basket. A new school year has begun with Momiji
and Haru joining the others at school and the opening ceremony brings a less
than welcome visitor to the school and into contact with Tohru. Given Tohru
gets on with pretty much everyone it seems Akito’s vibe is bad enough that it
sets her on edge and once she realises the impact Akito’s visit is having on
Yuki she moves to take action.
I must say though that for an anime that does emotional impacts as solidly as Fruits Basket usually does, Akito’s arrival here was somewhat less than moving. They got the point across through the reactions of the other characters but to be honest, Akito was not actually all that impressive. That said, Kyo and Yuki’s reactions more than made up for it in getting the point across and Honda’s out of character response certainly sealed it.
However, prior to the arrival of Akito we have some
silliness in the school with the Soma’s and the current student council
president. Amazingly enough he doesn’t think Momiji should be wearing the girl’s
school uniform and doesn’t believe Haru’s hair is actually naturally white and
black. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, his carry on calls out Black Haru
who swiftly brings the discussion to a close.
Well, maybe not so swiftly, but we do get some amusing
moments as Haru paints a mental image of Momiji grown up and Yuki wearing the
girl’s school uniform. He then settles the argument about his natural hair
colour with the president before he pushes his luck by accosting Tohru and both
Yuki and Kyo put him down hard.
The contrasting nature of the early silliness and the quiet and sinister calm of Akito’s visit, followed by the lightness as Tohru organises a game between friends to release the tension all work beautifully well and the episode as a whole fits very nicely together. While I may have wanted just a little bit more from Akito, everything else worked supremely well so yet another fine episode of Fruits Basket.
After a Valentine’s episode tinged with a lot more darkness
than I expected we jump a month to White Day and Momiji pops up again with the
gift of a hot springs trip for Tohru. It is more or less impossible not to
enjoy scenes with Momiji in them. Usually the exuberant younger character would
annoy me; however in Momiji’s case it is just impossible. I find him utterly
adorable and really just want to give him a hug because all of the Soma’s
really need a hung.
The episode isn’t all sunshine and rainbows though as Tohru
is in a little bit of financial trouble due to missing a payment for a school
trip. Now don’t get me wrong, I like Tohru as a character and the fact that she’s
a little bit of an air-head actually works for her, but mismanaging her money
and spending so much on Valentine’s chocolates that she couldn’t make a known
payment just strikes me as particularly silly and also out of character. Tohru
doesn’t like causing trouble for others and missing a payment and having her
grandfather notified who in turn notified Shigure is causing all kinds of
Despite my misgivings about that plot device, now and in the
original anime, I loved Kyo’s reaction and seeing how far he’s come in at least
an attempt to monitor his own temper where Tohru is concerned. It is one of
those brief but truly brilliant character moments that just make you smile
because while it doesn’t seem like much, Kyo holding in his temper and telling
Tohru to go take a bath rather than unloading on her is a huge step forward.
Speaking of huge character steps, Yuki was also showing us
his softer side this week. The usually expressionless character had more than a
few moments of smiling and laughter and they were pure joy to watch even we
wonder when things are going to fall apart again for these boys.
Fruits Basket continues to hit us hard in the feels each and every week, playing emotional notes well and rising to the occasion. While the plot and motivations may at times be questionable, this really doesn’t matter to the overall experience of watching Fruits Basket.
Something a little bit different this week as instead of looking at one character from a series I wanted to look at the range of facial expressions used by members of the Soma family in Fruits Basket. For an anime that deals heavily with the emotions of its characters it really manages to convey a lot through their expressions and for me it is one of my favourite parts of the episodes. Okay, I might just enjoy seeing Kyo’s face twist and distort as he goes from sulking, pensive, into a mad rage, and then back to contemplative. It is kind of fun.
On that note, let’s begin with Kyo.
I think you’ll agree, Kyo’s expressions are the best. What I like about Kyo as a character and the way he’s being depicted in this 2019 anime adaptation is that he wears his heart on his sleeve. Whatever emotion he is feeling he is feeling it 100%. There’s no inbetween for him and there’s no attempt at building a wall or a facade between what he is feeling right in the here and now and how he reacts.
Now the cause of his emotionally tumultulous nature is something he does not speak about or allow others to speak about, so he does have his secrets. But even then, it is no secret that he is badly scarred by the experience and that scarring is there for all to see even if they aren’t aware of the cause.
However, despite being a volatile bundle of violence and raw emotions, Kyo’s lack of walls and boundaries make him approachable and even when he’s flying off the handle he does draw others to him. He puts himself out into the world and while he might get burned he isn’t backing down.
Gotta love that fiery spirit even if it doesn’t get him very far most episodes.
Let’s next look at Hattori.
Hattori is a bit more of an enigma. He’s older and had loner to pile up secrets than Kyo, and he’s also the living embodiment of the expression ‘still waters run deep’. He’s also had a lot less screen time and focus, though I would still argue that his story has been one of the best so far.
We first meet Hattori at school and Yuki warns Tohru not to be alone with him. His expression is hard and cold and it is almost as though he is sizing up Tohru with his eyes and has found her wanting. It is soon revealed that this is very much a facade he’s built and that he’s pushing Tohru away for what he believes is her own benefit. However, as Hattori himself says, Tohru has a way of softening people and the effect Tohru has had on Hattori in her brief meetings with him is clearly visible in his expressions and manners.
Finally this week I’ll look at Yuki’s expressions. I would like to get to all of the characters in Fruits Basket eventually but some have had very limited screen time yet.
Yuki is the polar opposite of Kyo. Where Kyo wears his every emotion on his face, Yuki seems to have spent a life-time cultivating a manner that doesn’t reveal his true self and feelings to the outside world. In the beginning we see him being cool and detached, a little bit condescending, and when it came to his manner with Shigure, quite arrogant. However, since meeting Tohru we’ve seen crack after crack in his armour and in episode 11 we are finally rewarded with a true and beautiful smile.
What makes Yuki so hard to figure out is that he’s always thinking about how others will see and action and reacts accordingly. Even when he was complimenting Tohru on the roof of the festival and telling her she would be much cuter in the dress, his expression and words seemed artificial and calculated rather than genuine. As a result, there’s a gulf between Yuki and others that he’s built and maintained as a means of protecting himself. The problem is, it has been there so long he’s more or less forgotten how to close the gap even when he wants to.
Still, when it comes to Tohru, Yuki’s facade has fallen a number of times. She’s genuinely surprised him with her words or actions, or he’s felt genuine alarm for her safety. It is almost sweet watching Yuki and Kyo wearing matched expressions of concern on their faces as they sprint back to Tohru deciding they don’t want to leave her alone for the holiday.
I really love how each of these characters are being portrayed in this adaptation and I really hope that the quality of the series continues. I’d also like to look at more of the characters in a little bit of depth as the series unfolds. I did skim read the manga after watching the original anime to find answers to a few questions I had when I realised there would be no second season, but I didn’t read it all and I didn’t read it deeply so I’m looking forward to learning more about each of these characters as we go.
However, I’d love to know what your favourite expression has been so far in Fruits Basket or who your favourite character is of the new anime series so leave a comment and tell me your thoughts below.
Wow, Shigure is a much greyer character in the 2019 Fruits
Basket than in the older version, and I think I love it. He was always a little
morally ambiguous and his motives were never overly clear but he seemed more
playful than manipulative in the older anime. However, this episode brings his
personality to the forefront for the viewer and it leaves me wanting more.
Underpinning Shigure’s expansion as a character is the
silliness of Valentine’s Day and Kagura seeking out Kyo, but as has
consistently been the case with this adaptation the humour is down played to
allow the drama come through. Kyo’s genuine pain and fear, Yuki’s hesitation,
Tohru’s desire to help but not knowing how all get moments to shine. Even
Kagura seemed more solid in this episode than in her introduction even though
we still had one sequence where she pursued Kyo at the school.
The real victory of the episode is the ground work it is
laying down for the future. The Soma curse sits behind everything playing out
here including Shigure’s duplicitous nature and the vague threats to Tohru’s
future happiness. While nothing specific is revealed yet there is a definite
heavy atmosphere hovering over every line of dialogue, every look, and every
pause as the Soma’s keep their silence.
The double date between Kagura, Kyo, Yuki and Tohru was
suitably cute and Tohru’s enthusiasm for the idea was adorable to see. I loved
the scene at the cinema where the girls got very caught up in the movie
meanwhile Kyo and Yuki looked like they’d rather be anywhere else.
But the scene that will really stick with me, and probably most viewers, is Shigure speaking with Akito. They are really building tension beautifully around Akito and I can’t wait to see where they take it.