Tohru, stop. This is only the second episode.
I confess: I’m already getting pretty emotional with Fruits Basket. That whole conversation between Tohru and Yuki while Yuki is in his Rat form? Got me right in the damn heart. It’s not even just the events of Episode 2. The shot in the new OP where a young Tohru is embraced by her mother was enough to make me pause the episode and take a breather. That kind of emotional response is entirely due to hindsight. I know what happens in the story and having that level of context means I’m fully aware of how anything early on factors into the big picture. I’m not developing an emotional resonance with Fruits Basket; I already have it and now it’s on 24/7 as I re-experience the series from beginning to end. It’s only a bad thing because if I’m struggling to handle myself at Episode 2, at the stinking OP, how am I going to take witnessing what happens later?
I’m getting ahead of myself though. Let’s dial back to what actually happens in this episode. Now that Tohru knows about the Soma family secret, Shigure has to inform Akito (Maaya Sakamoto/Colleen Clickenbeard), the family head, of the incident. This worries Yuki as past incidents, including one where he transformed while playing with friends, results in witnesses getting their memories erased via some form of hypnosis. With Tohru likely to receive the same punishment, Yuki apologizes and assumes that his time with her is over. To his surprise however, Tohru not only accepts it but she also asks Yuki to befriend her again after her memories get erased.
To reiterate, this scene got to me emotionally. To me, this scene marks the first of many scene that show what kind of effect Tohru can have on the people around her. She’s obviously saddened by the possibility of her memories getting erased but she doesn’t see it as her problem alone and she takes Yuki’s own feelings on the matter into consideration. Thus, she puts on a smile so that Yuki can as well and her request is her way assuring him that they can still be friends despite the pain they’re about to face. Adding to the effectiveness of the scene is the fact that Yuki is in his rat form while Tohru talks to him. Technically, it’s an accident caused once again by Tohru but the scene’s tone, it really paints Yuki in a vulnerable light. His cursed form, which Akito said would give cause for rejection, is on full display but Tohru continues to talk to him like it’s normal. To Tohru, Yuki is just Yuki. Nothing has changed and that level of acceptance leaves Yuki stunned.
Ultimately, Shigure reveals that Tohru is allowed to stay with him, Yuki, and Kyo with memories intact. While this development has a risk of coming across as a cop out, it’s actually rather ominous about it. If Tohru is spared, what might the catch be? You really can’t blame Yuki for getting suspicious, even looking like he’ll protect Tohru with force if he must. Obviously, as a manga reader, I know what’s up but for that very reason, I’d rather not elaborate further in case you’re new to Fruits Basket. All I can say is that Shigure does mean it when he offers Tohru a place to stay but if you think there’s now an aura of mystery surrounding his character, you’re not mistaken. As for Akito…just keep an eye on that one.
Finally, I can comment on Kyo who is the opposite of Yuki in a couple of ways — brash, short-tempered, and impulsive. There’s a rivalry going on between these two as well in which Kyo challenges Yuki to a martial arts match only to constantly lose. This isn’t entirely for sport though. Based on some of Kyo’s lines in the B part of the episode, he wants to beat Yuki for recognition within the Sohma family. Presumably, this has something to do with him being the Cat and therefore, an outlier in his family. How fitting then that he goes after Yuki as, in the Zodiac legend, it was the Rat who tricked Cat into losing the race. In that sense, Kyo is seeking revenge for his “illegitimate” status and he hopes to regain what is “rightfully” his in the process.
Given his personality and motivation, Kyo becomes an interesting person for Tohru to interact with. On one end, you have an incredibly kind girl. On the other, you have a boy who looks about ready to explode. Case in point, Tohru keeps stumbling upon Kyo and Yuki about to fight and her efforts in mediating the conflict agitates Kyo and cause him to lash out at her by accident. Immediately after, Kyo wants to apologize but it takes a while for him to find the right words and at one point, he considers leaving Shigure’s house to run away from this problem. When he finally gets his opportunity, he fumbles still but it feels earnest that way and it still marks the first time he opens up to Tohru, allowing the girl to see what kind of heart he truly has.
Something that really caught my eye while watching Fruits Basket 2019 back to back with 2001 was that 2019’s second episode covers more ground than the latter’s. While this new episode covers all the way up to Kyo’s apology to Tohru, the 2001 equivalent ends earlier than that, at the part where Kyo runs off during his first day at Tohru and Yuki’s school. Pacing wise, there isn’t one version better than the other. The 2001 version didn’t felt too slow but the 2019 version didn’t feel too rushed either. From a characterization standpoint however, I really appreciate the reboot’s staff’s decision to cover more ground.
This change causes Episode 2 to be split into two distinguishable parts. Part A develops Tohru’s relationship with Yuki and Part B develops hers with Kyo. Both boys are characterized equally and that’s something that ought to be stressed given their importance in Fruits Basket‘s story. You even get a great parallel with the impression Tohru is laving on Yuki and Kyo. Yuki is amazed how Tohru accepts his secret for what it is. Kyo is stunned that Tohru appreciates the rejected Cat zodiac. The context is slightly different but both scenes involve Tohru not only accepting attributes Yuki and Kyo are ashamed of but also telling each boy that she wants to be their friend.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. This is starting to sound like a love triangle, isn’t it? You would be correct…and no, I won’t say whose side I picked. I’d give an answer but that seems rather unfair since I know who won and that winner was who I 100% sided with. That said, I’m curious to see any newcomers pick a side and
fight to the death have a civil argument over who deserves Tohru as their opinion develops along with the reboot. The trinity between Tohru, Yuki, and Kyo is a huge part of what makes Fruits Basket so compelling.
OP: “Again” by Beverly
It’s like Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood; the first OP had to be called “Again”. Nothing will top “For Fruits Basket” for me but damn does this song still strike a chord with me.
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