Posted by SuperWooper on 27 May 2019 with categories: Currently Watching:, Fruits Basket (2019)

Here’s the second of two substitute posts this week. I’m a lot less enthusiastic about Fruits Basket than I am about Carole & Tuesday, though, especially after the former’s most recent episode, which was repetitive and tedious. Flashbacks and recap segments shouldn’t be condemned automatically, as animation is time-consuming and expensive to produce, but a franchise like Fruits Basket should be handled less delicately than it has been thus far. This is its second TV incarnation, for crying out loud – even if the manga had this much hand-wringing from Yuki and Kyou in these chapters, they could have cut some of it in the transition to TV. Their unceasing fixation on Tohru might be romantic in the eyes of young Japanese girls, but I’d label it amateurish, especially when their inner thoughts are so similar across episodes. But I’m getting ahead of myself here. Hit the jump to read my take on these three installments of Fruits Basket (I sort of liked one of them!).

6: This might be the most overtly romantic episode of the bunch. Tohru’s admiration of Yuki in a dress isn’t the most traditional indicator of a crush, but when he insists that “you’d look even better in it,” the familiar background sparkles and doki-dokis emerge. The series has been pretty neutered thus far, with Tohru’s relentless optimism sweeping away every potentially impure thought in its path, but at least Yuki fans got something cute to cut their teeth on here. Not sure how good a line, “You’d look better in this dress than I do,” would be in real life, though.

Also somewhat lovey-dovey is Tohru’s story about the mysterious boy in the hat who led her home one afternoon when she’d gotten lost. As she’s telling this tale to her Best Friends at the Soma house, we get shots of both Kyou (who overhears) and Yuki (in his room, eyes obscured as though he may have forgotten this encounter), so it’s likely one of them. Speaking of the Best Friends, they’ve really underwhelmed me as a new viewer, since they exist just to prop up Tohru, even acting as her surrogate parents at one point near the episode’s end. When they come over to test Yuki and Kyou’s suitedness to be her roommates, it’s an accidental comedy of overlapping character motivations, since all four of them have nothing but Tohru on the brain.

7: This was the one I kinda enjoyed. Hatori’s backstory takes up roughly half of it, and the parallels between his former lover and Tohru are far too clean, but learning about Akito’s cruelty sets the stage for a story beyond “girl must choose attractive man from group of loosely-related attractive men.” The wound that Akito inflicts on Hatori is terrible, and the blame he obstinately places on Kana eventually drives her to mental instability. This is a boy whose position at the head of the family spells disaster for everyone whose lives he might touch (though I’m sure there’s a sob story behind his actions, as well). There’s a definite poetry to the scene where Hatori wipes Kana’s memory – as he removes the source of her anguish, she grasps the bandage covering his healed eye and tears it away, removing a reminder of his anguish. That they were able to cure each other in the last moments of their relationship only strengthens their connection, which in turn heightens the tragedy of their parting. The episode’s ending was far too saccharine for my taste, but on the whole I’d say this one was a success.

8: As the New Year approaches, Tohru tells her Best Friends and the Soma Bros to do their own thing, leaving her all alone. The rest of the episode labors to bring the boys back to her side, with some help from Wave Girl and a telephone check-in from Yankee Girl (who’s stuck minding her potentially alcoholic father). That’s the meat of the episode, despite the fact that a highly significant Soma banquet takes place while all of this goes on. It’s frustrating that the show acknowledges the mystery and importance of the Soma family, but keeps going back to the well of every character’s Tohru obsession. And does it ever go back to the well in this one. The repeated internal thoughts, the recycled scenes from past episodes, the constantly recurring scene of the sliding door closing with Tohru behind it… I struggled not to increase the playback speed here. This wasn’t a case of padded production from what I could tell, just an ineffectual sledgehammer to the “feels.” Maybe this chapter of the manga reused a handful of panels as a recap, and this was an attempt to mimic that choice? It’s not out of the question, since the title of this episode is “Ittarasshai,” signaling a closing of the prologue (which started with “Ittekimasu”). In any case, the scene where Yuki and Kyou sprint home and arrive just in time to wipe a single tear from Tohru’s eye had me crying as well, and not from appreciation.

That’s it for our obligatory Fruits Basket catch-up session. Mario will be back on duty soon, hopefully with a sunnier outlook to placate anyone I’ve managed to piss off. Mix will have to wait until next week, as I’ve got a zillion other things to watch in the meantime. Peace!

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