Last episode of Fruits Basket started to shed light on Yuki and Kyo’s beef with each other and by now, the bulk of their rivalry is made apparent. As the Rat, Yuki is a “legitimate” and respected member of the Soma family. Kyo doesn’t enjoy that kind of luxury on the basis that he’s possessed by the Cat’s spirit. Hence the martial art bouts that the two engage in. Kyo’s desire to be properly recognized in the family was brought up in Episode 2 and it’s fully confirmed in the beginning of Episode 3 that this is his motivation for fighting Yuki. What Tohru and, by extension, the audience learn, in this episode is that the envy actually runs both ways.
The truth is that Yuki wants to be a normal person. He doesn’t really enjoy the prestige he receives from his family; the pressure actually makes him feel caged in. He lives with Shigure and attends a coed school in an effort to better disassociate himself with the Soma family. The reason why he dislikes Kyo isn’t because Kyo keeps trying to get in a fight with him (thought that certainly doesn’t help) but rather, he just can’t see eye to eye with Kyo’s motivation. He struggles to see why someone would want his status when he doesn’t like it in the first place.
Another factor in the divide is the difference in how these two boys socialize. Even though Kyo panicked during his first day of school, he actually ends up adjusting to the new environment just fine. In fact, everyone has affectionately nicknamed him “Kyon-Kyon” (much to his chagrin) and after some nudging from Tohru and Arisa, he participates in some recreational activities. Conversely, Yuki doesn’t engage in that kind of thing. He clearly wants to join the fun but he struggles to bring himself in doing so, perhaps in fear of his secret coming out or how people will perceive him or both. As a result, he envies Kyo’s ability to fit in and feels that he’d rather have that attribute than be a popular student or some high ranking member of his family.
It’s a really interesting dichotomy if you ask me. On one end, you have the “prince”, popular but seemingly forced to stand on a step of the social ladder above the rest. On the other, you have the “common man” who can acclimate into a social circle. And naturally, each boy wishes they had each other’s “strength”. Kyo wants to be more like Yuki and vice versa. As Tohru realizes, this doesn’t make the two boys all that different from each other and if they were able to recognize that, they could probably start to be friends. Well, maybe not in the outrageous way Tohru pictures it in her head (God, that was so funny) but certainly on civil terms at least.
About midway through the episode, Tohru brings up Yuki’s courteous personality and how that appeals to a lot of their peers. Yuki attempts to downplay it as fake, something he expresses in order to be liked, but even if that is the case, Tohru isn’t convinced that Yuki is devoid of kindness. I’m fascinated yet surprised with how Tohru reasons here. Surprised in that someone so wholesome would actually say that people aren’t born with kindness. Fascinated because it’s still in character for Tohru to say. There’s truth to what Tohru says. Kindness isn’t innate; it grows. More importantly, it can take a number of forms, making it easy for it be misinterpreted. The easy thing for Tohru to do would be to agree with Yuki that his kindness is fake but for that very reason, she doesn’t want to. She instead wants to see the kindness Yuki truly has, whatever form that may take. And once again, Yuki is left stunned, amazed that this girl could be so accepting of him and only want to be his friend even more.
Do some of Tohru’s analogies err on the silly side of the spectrum? I suppose so. Even Tohru herself acknowledges that she has an odd way of expressing her views. I don’t mind that though as it actually makes it easier for me to buy into the character. The odd angles she creates fits her personality; anything more eloquent and she’d stop coming across as an actual person. There’s still a truth that rings loudly in her analogies too. Yuki’s kindness kind of is like a candle. It’s not overt but it is there and it’s lighting enough for Tohru to recognize. The plum on the back of a rice ball analogy is sillier sounding but I get what Tohru is going for. People do tend to take for granted what makes them who they are until someone else points it out for them. Kyo doesn’t think there’s anything special about him but Tohru does. She sees the “plum” on his back. The same can even be said about Tohru. A couple of times in this episode, she doesn’t recognize the sheer amount of kindness she has until Yuki or Kyo acknowledges it in front of her.
One last thing: a couple of new characters show up in this episode. No name drops just yet but needless to say, these people are going to be pretty important later on. The foreigner who shows up at Tohru’s workplace I’m excited to see again. The girl at the end though…well, let’s save my opinion for the next time I cover Fruits Basket.
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