What comes of this episode when it’s over? More tears. Seriously…
You’ll have to pardon me if any of the next three or so Fruits Basket write ups are brief (well, brief for me). I’m getting tired of staying behind and if I need to skim just a teensy bit in order to get out of this slump, so be it. I thought catching up would be a little easier thanks to the delay caused by the French Open…but apparently the delay is only by a few hours now so there goes that plan. So much for that…
Anyway, this episode has Tohru visiting the main Soma residence as per Hatori’s request. I don’t recall that place being heavily prominent in Fruits Basket‘s story but the way in which it’s set up does give you a glimpse at how the Soma family operates. The whole “inside” and “outside” cliques, the former of which include the twelve Zodiacs (poor Kyo), casts a pretty eerie and ominous light on the family and how they view their secret.
More importantly, this episode centers around Hatori and that has always struck out to me as a port of proving grounds for Fruits Basket. Unlike Episode 4 which introduced Kagura, Yuki and Kyo aren’t really present here and that is actually an important precedent to set. I love Yuki and Kyo as much as the next guy but they are just two of the thirteen individuals possessed by the Chinese zodiacs. There’s far more cogs in the machine and sooner or later, the story must branch out and prove that it can keep you engaged while doing so. I don’t know if I’d call this Hatori focused episode my favorite of the ones that formally introduce the other Somas (I’ll tell you what mine is when we get there) but it does set a pretty high standard for the ones that’ll follow it.
Honest confession: When I first read the manga, I really did assume Hatori was going to be an antagonistic character. He certainly had the makings of one — a serious face, professional attire, a cold personality, and the fact that he is the one who could erase Tohru’s memories if given a good reason to do so. For a little bit, it’d seemed like he’d act the part; issuing Tohru a stern warning to not be too close with Yuki, Kyo, and Shigure.
But as the episode unfolds, you come to understand where he’s coming from. He’s kind of already been through the motions already with his ex-girlfriend Kana. The two fell in love but after Akito rejected it and even injured Hatori as punishment, Kana spiraled into a depression. Left with no other choice, Hatori erased Kana’s memories of him and the two parted ways. It’s no wonder then that Hatori initially opposes Tohru’s situation. He sees a lot of parallels between her and Kana from how they react to Hatori’s “Dragon” form to what they think comes after snow, the latter being an expression of their optimism and belief that pleasant happenings are inevitable in life. Hatori warns Tohru because he’s afraid he’ll soon see history repeat itself.
Unsurprisingly, the takeaway Tohru makes isn’t dejection in regards to her current situation but rather, empathy for Hatori. She recognizes that Hatori chose to erase Kana’s memories because he loved her and didn’t want her to suffer any longer and that Hatori’s warning is out of concern, not hostility. Also to be expected is Hatori warming up to Tohru. At the end of the day, the similarities to Kana warm his heart than pain it. Even if he still thinks Tohru is better off without her relation with the Somas, he’s clearly backed off from actually warning her and wishes her the best.
There’s still a big question mark looming over whether or not Tohru will end up like Kana and the ending of the episode serves to remind you of that. Tohru asks Shigure what exactly makes the Zodiac members cursed and all Shigure says is that it’s something he’ll explain some other time. I look at that response in two ways. One is that Shigure is protecting Tohru from Akito. This episode makes it clear that Akito does not take kindly to people who try alleviate the curse in some way. The second is that Shigure is actually protecting Tohru from herself. Tohru wants to help the cursed members in any way she can, Shigure recognizes this and that’s what worries him.
- I remember being super disappointed that Hatori doesn’t actually transform into a dragon. Now, I recognize that his seahorse form is both a play on words and a visual metaphor denoting the character’s more vulnerable side…but I still want to see an actual Chinese dragon.
- The way Momiji asks Tohru if she’s glad to have met him along with all the other Somas. Obviously, Tohru would say “yes” but it’s like Momiji expected her to say “no”, as though he’s used to such a response…God, I really want to delve into spoilers.
- You know, I was wondering why the ED excluded Hatori’s zodiac form. Now I get why.
English Dub Comments
I wanted to saved this until I got to the episode prominently featuring Hatori but it really makes me happy to see Kent Williams back as Hatori. I remember liking his performance in the 2001 anime and watching the reboot, he still captures his character’s serious but subtly kind personality.
As for Momiji…the accent has taken some getting used to. It’s an odd change considering the 2001 anime had the boy speak normally (though I believe it did downplay his half-German heritage). To Mikaela Krantz’s credit, she sounds more comfortable speaking lines with the accent as time goes on and it didn’t distract from more dramatic scenes in this episode like I thought it would.
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