My prediction last week that it would all end in tears proved far too true.
Fruits Basket is one of those anime that time after time reduces me to tears. The thing is, not all of those tears are sad tears. Some of them are as we learn about the tragedies in each of the characters’ back stories. However a lot of the tears I’ve shed for this anime have simply been overwhelming emotion or warm tears of joy and relief. Episode 9 of the final season of Fruits Basket manages to make you cry every kind of tears for and with the characters and while the end result of the episode might seem a little on the trite side given how dire things seemed to get, you can’t fault the journey we took to get here.
Absolutely spoilers below.
So much of this final season has been around the various members of the Zodiac finding themselves and in the process moving away from the eternity Akito longed for. Tohru, on finally realising that at heart Akito is just lonely and pathetic, did the usual Tohru thing and reached out to hug the knife wielding maniac. There’s nothing out of character in her actions and while the same action by another protagonist might have me rolling my eyes toward the heavens, it was so expected of this character and so established that this is exactly what she would do that all I could do was hope she didn’t end up eating the knife.
Fortunately, Akito had clearly had their fill of stabbings and after being loved past the point of tolerance she ran away. Now if only Tohru had let her go things may have played out quite differently but I’m not sure we’d ever get to the ending we need. Instead we have a confrontation of Akito’s rejection of kindness versus Tohru’s absolute conviction that she can reach anyone if she just tries hard enough playing out on the dirt cliff that collapsed back in episode 1, all those years ago, burying Tohru’s tent and current home. Knowing the cliff collapsed under rain then more or less sets up where this scene is going to go but there’s still tension as Tohru has her back to the edge and there’s a genuine question of whether Akito will snap again and give her the little push that would send her over.
One thing that was certain though, Tohru was always going over that cliff. It was basic Chekov in action. Here’s a crumbling cliff known for landslides in rain back in episode one and here we have two main characters have an emotional outpouring at the top of that same cliff. Once again, Fruits Basket isn’t reinventing the wheel or doing anything revolutionary with its narrative. But it has solid fundamentals in character and narrative structure and there’s an absolute certainty in where it is headed. While some might argue this makes it a little predictable, I’m fine with that as I watch the scenes play out because while it isn’t trying to do anything new it is ensuring that each scene strikes the exact emotional chord they are aiming for.
I don’t feel sorry for Akito but the face they make after Tohru goes over is probably the best moment of character redemption ever. For the first time Akito is made human through their horror over what has just happened and we see as the episode plays out that the weight of all their actions are settling upon them. They still don’t fully own these actions and are still calling those who forgive them idiots but its at least a first step. I don’t think the audience is supposed to forgive Akito (which is a good thing because I don’t think we ever could) and Momiji is the perfect vehicle to show this. Not vindictive in any way, Momiji merely pushes Akito to continue pursuing their current path without actually forgiving them for prior actions. I will admit, Momiji is definitely becoming one of my favourite characters as these final episodes play out.
But what of Tohru and Kyo and everyone else? Well… I guess we’ll wait and see what the outcome is next week.
Images used for review from: Fruits Basket: The Final Season. Dir. Y Ibata. TMS Entertainment. 2021.
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