This week 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. His relationship with the Soma family is a bit odd and definitely at the core of his problems.
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 Soma.
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.
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Finally this week I’ll look at Yuki Soma’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 Soma 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.
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