Yuki does it again in Fruits Basket.
I think if I was the kind of person to numerically score anime or anime episodes and I was to look back at the entirety of Fruits Basket, all 53 episodes so far, I would probably find a direct correlation between my emotional investment in the episode and the screen time given to Yuki.
That probably isn’t fair to Yuki because he’s just as well written a character as any of the other Soma’s and when he’s with Tohru he works quite well. Season one had some delightful moments where the two saved the vegetable patch together or involved themselves in similar situations.
Of all the Soma’s we’ve met, Yuki isn’t the most obnoxious or the one I like the least. He’s a sweet boy who was traumatised and has issues that he’s tried to quietly deal with. However, he is the least interesting given his quiet nature and the fact that he’s always trying to match the mood around him.
This episode actually gives Yuki a lovely continuation of his arc as we see him actually emphasising with others and expressing it as well as reaching out to those in need, all big steps for him as a character, but because of the quiet way he goes about it, compared to the emotional explosions of episode 1 and 2 this one passes almost unremarkably.
I mentioned it during season 2 of Fruits Basket but the introduction of the student council members that Yuki is now working with ate up screen time that I would have preferred was spent on the Soma’s. I’ll echo that now. Machi’s story is every bit as tragic as the Soma’s and she’s every bit as interesting as any one of the Zodiac characters. We just don’t need yet another character and her introduction came so late in the piece, and she’s disconnected from the central drama, and so I’ve never become in any way emotionally invested in her situation.
Honestly, this same storyline playing out for one of the Zodiac characters would have been pretty heart-breaking, but here it just feels like it is holding us back from progressing Tohru’s current emotional turmoil, which is left completely untouched all episode. The only scene Tohru even gets is one helping Kyo hang flowers and that’s a blink and you’ll miss it kind of moment. We don’t get to see how she’s progressed after feeling unable to speak to anyone in the last episode and after being unsuccessful in finding Rin.
It is almost as though all of those plot lines have had the pause pressed on them so we can see the graduation of the president of Yuki’s fan club and see Yuki rescue a newly introduced damsel in distress largely so that we can see that Yuki has grown as a character (something we kind of already knew).
I will emphasise though, nothing here is bad. Yuki has been a main character since the beginning and seeing the continuation of his character journey is something that is needed. It feels like it could have been more integrated in with the main plot line, but I guess given his ambition was to leave the Soma’s seeing him making all these connections away from the family is actually a really good thing for him. The only down side is that it takes a whole episode and we only get a tiny bit at the very end of the episode that feels like it is addressing the actual ongoing plot.
It is however hard to argue with the chemistry between Machi and Yuki. While I might have preferred that they hadn’t introduced yet more characters into a story that already felt like it had a few too many, considering the emotional depth to which it tries to explore them, Machi is the perfect character for Yuki to encounter and to reach out to. Their connection feels genuine and despite her few appearances in the overall scheme of the series, it is really hard not to want Machi to be helped.
So this episode didn’t take me to the emotional highs and lows of the previous two, but if I were binge watching this would be a good thing. A quiet reprieve, tying up the loose ends of the graduating class, and a chance to pull myself emotionally together before we plunge on. Where this might be a negative is if it takes us a couple of episodes to get back up to full steam, however Fruits Basket seldom gives us much emotional down-time.
Visually, this episode was as strong as ever and the snow-scenes are lovely. I am however going to say that I didn’t even make it all the way through the OP this week because I just don’t like it so I’ll be skipping it from here forward. Normally I’d make it to episode 5 or 6 before choosing to skip over an OP but this one really just doesn’t click for me and for the tone I want when entering a Fruits Basket episode.
I’d love to know your thoughts on the episode this week so leave me a comment below.
Images used for review from: Fruits Basket: The Final Season. Dir. Y Ibata. TMS Entertainment. 2021.
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