Let Honda’s healing charm flow over you.
When I first said I was going to catch up on the second season of Fruits Basket a number of voices cautioned me against being too optimistic going into it. However, while there are a couple of points that didn’t really click with me in the series mostly I found the experience of binge watching chunks of this anime after work each day to be a genuinely pleasant experience. There were some smiles and laughs, a few tears (okay a lot of tears), and the genuine happiness that came from finally seeing the next part of this story in anime form given the original Fruits Basket anime never got a sequel and the story just stopped forcing me at the time to track down and skim through the manga to answer some burning questions.
Season two picks up more or less where season one leaves off with Honda still living with Kyo, Yuki and Shigure and becoming more entwined with the other members of the zodiac. There’s a Summer trip, a school festival, and a lot of personal drama and baggage dropped in this season and for the characters you love this will be an absolute treat. For me, any moment with Kyo and Honda together is gold. Absolute gold even if the two of them are completely clueless at times.
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While Honda confronted Kyo’s true form in season one, season two is more about confronting Kyo as a person and Kyo actually confronting himself. There’s a very touching sequence between Kagura and Kyo that almost makes up for all the times Kagura annoyed me during season one with her exuberant displays of affection.
There’s also a lot more information about the Souma family themselves and particularly the one at the head of the family, Akito. The complex relationships between the different members are on full display throughout this season as we see backstory of prior meetings as well as the wedges Akito has driven between them at times. The overall narrative of Honda learning about the Zodiac curse and wanting to help these characters remains incredibly strong throughout this season which makes it a very satisfying continuation and definitely left me asking if another season had been announced to bring this story to a close (and satisfyingly I’ve been told yes and there’s already some information on MAL about it though not a confirmed release date).
The tone established in season one is also carried into this second offering, though the balance has shifted more toward those darker notes that were more punctuation points in season one. Season two still has moments of joy, levity and just chilling out, but Honda’s understanding of the darker undercurrents means that those have now become the punctuation points to off-set the more serious subject matter presented. Yuki’s childhood trauma is no longer just brief flashes quickly brushed aside but is laid bare (probably more laboriously and repeatedly than needed however it gets the point across) and the future planned out for Kyo is no longer an abstract concern but one that is looming as the kids move closer to graduation.
Other members of the zodiac also get some significant moments this season with Isuzu and her story threading its way through multiple episodes and Kureno making quite the impact in this season. This does come at the expense of a reduced presence of some of the already established characters and Honda’s human friends barely getting screen time outside of the festival preparations and performance. This isn’t terrible however I love Saki and Arisa and while they both remain critical to Honda and do get some shining moments in Fruits Basket season 2, they definitely have less screen time.
About my only real complaint, and it a personal preference rather than an actual failing of the anime, however there’s a lot of time given to Yuki and the introduced members of the student council. While ultimately this plot line and Yuki working with the members of the council is important to his growth as a character, it really felt like it ate a lot of screen time. Given I wasn’t particularly fond of any of the council members and Yuki isn’t exactly my favourite core cast member in the first place, I kind of felt that this detracted from what was otherwise a wonderful viewing experience. One or two episodes seemed to exclusively focus on this particular group and I often found myself just kind of waiting for the story to move on. Again, there’s a point to it, and from a character development point of view it works and there is a nice moment for Yuki toward the end of it all, but I would have preferred them to have maybe not made it quite so prominent a feature of this season.
My other issue with Yuki is he tends to narrate his entire thought process and at times I wonder if anyone would actually sit and listen as he works his way through the whole thing before getting to a point. As I said though, that’s a personal preference and some people are probably thrilled with the screen time Yuki’s narrative gets this season.
Fruits Basket season two remains a beautiful anime to watch with some scenes being bright and soothing and others really embracing a darker colour palette to reflect the tone of the story. So much emotion is conveyed through the use of colour and light in this anime. Music also remains on point and seriously works at hitting just the right notes (pun intended) to really move the audience with the characters.
There’s little more one could ask from a sequel season other than continuing the story, growing the characters, and not messing with the aesthetics, and Fruits Basket Season 2 has delivered. The charm of season one is here but we are now plunged into the mystery around the Souma’s and the end result is a darker and at times more confronting story. Still, Honda’s charm is absolutely infectious and while normally characters who are constantly positive come across to me as a little lacking, she shows time and again that she is a nuanced character who understands things aren’t all sunshine and rainbows but also knows dwelling on the negative won’t change anything.
This was a solid season for me and I’m eagerly awaiting the Final season to watch how this all plays out.
Images used for review from: Fruits Basket 2nd Season. Dir. Y Ibata. TMS Entertainment. 2020.
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