AnimeLab released episode 1 of Fruits Basket: The Final a little bit early so while I know the Spring anime season has not yet started, let’s jump on into it.
This final season of Fruits Basket is not pulling any punches as episode 1 drops us straight into revelations and a whole lot of tears. In my review of season 2 one of the slightly negative points I came across while watching was the absence of Honda’s core support team, Arisa and Hanajima. Well, this first episode returning goes out of its way to rectify that situation bringing the three together beautifully and reminding us just how strong their bonds and friendship really are.
Watching this episode was one of those near perfect experiences. It continued on immediately from the conclusion of the previous season, dropping us straight into Kureno’s explanation to Honda of the situation. Seeing Honda freeze and then break down as the full weight of the Soma’s situation hit her was intense and the episode let it play out beautifully.
While some moments in Fruits Basket waver a little awkwardly between the more comical moments and the more serious drama, this episode solidly manages to restrain itself from throwing in the usual slapstick or loud humour until after the tension has already played itself out. It was an impressive feat and if it is a sign of what is going to come later in this series I am really going to be satisfied with this conclusion.
The other strength of this episode was that it managed to revise our knowledge of most of the Soma’s and their relationships, as well as reconnect Honda with her school friends and yet it didn’t feel like it was an information dump. Sure, Kureno’s explanation of his relationship with Akito probably went on a little too long, but every single second of it gave the scene weight and I can’t even begin to think of what could have been cut without destroying the emotional tension.
If I was going to pick a negative point out of this episode it was in the portrayal of Akito. Certainly we all kind of new that they were a tragic figure at the centre of this family. We also knew they must have gone through some truly awful things to behave the way they did. But a lot of the potential empathy we might have felt for this character is crushed by the sheer extremes of their behaviour in this episode.
Prior acts of violence have been distanced by time, but watching them assault their own mother and threaten them with death (even with said mother being a truly horrendous person and clearly a large part of the problem) made it hard to feel anything for Akito other than disdain. It felt like the camera angels and distance were trying to make me feel pity for them and without the explosive outbursts I may have gotten there, however this was one part of the episode where they didn’t quite nail the nuance I felt the sequence really.
Overall though, this episode was beautifully done and as I’ve come to expect from Fruits Basket I wanted to cry, I wanted to smile and laugh, and mostly I just wanted to spend more time with these characters and give them all hugs. While this season seems to be shaping up to be a little more serious and a little bit darker than where the story began, that’s only to be expected as the truth is brought into the light.
I am definitely looking forward to more from Fruits Basket: The Final Season.
Images used for review from: Fruits Basket: The Final. Dir. Y Ibata. TMS Entertainment. 2021.
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