Shigure, you’re scaring me.
But first, it’s Valentine’s Day and naturally, Kagura stops by to say “hello”. Fantastic…
I know, haven’t I made enough pot shots at the poor girl? I swear, I don’t entirely hate her and some interesting stuff does happen with her later down the road…we just haven’t gotten to that point in the 2019 anime (the 2001 anime sure as hell never got to most of it) so for now, I’m just reminded how much I took issue with this character, especially early on.
If it’s any consolation, Kagura’s screen time is kept to a minimum in this episode. I mean, if it was up to me, I’d probably do what Akitarou Daichi did with the 2001 anime and just cut out the double date entirely. It’s not like we gained much out of it anyway; just another (admittedly charming) reminder that Yuki and Kyo will do just about anything if it makes Tohru happy. Still, less Kagura is still better than too much of her so thank you Natsuki Takaya and the reboot staff for keeping her screen time brief this time around.
There is also one original scene involving Kagura from the 2001 anime that I kind of wish was kept in the 2019 anime. In every version of Fruits Basket, Tohru makes and gives chocolate to everyone for Valentine’s Day (and I do mean, everyone). The 2001 anime follows up on this by having Kagura give Kyo chocolate. Naturally, Kyo impulsively says he hates chocolate and he immediately regrets after finding out Tohru made some for him. He even causes the poor girl to think she was being inconsiderate with her choice of gift. It’s a really charming scene that highlights the dynamic between Kyo and Tohru and it saddens me to see it “removed”.
Fortunately, you still get a scene fulfilling a similar task. While leaving Shigure’s house, Kagura expresses relief that Kyo is starting to tolerate Yuki and hopes the two will eventually become friends. Kyo of course denies this but, in a rather provocative move, Shigure tells him that he’s just making excuses to hate Yuki. This forces Kyo to run off and Tohru to chase after him.
Obviously, Tohru saves the day but it is surprising how she does it, telling Kyo that it’s okay if he and Yuki don’t get along. This moment reminds me of that time she told Yuki she doesn’t think people are innately kind a few episodes back. You wouldn’t think she’d readily say something like that and yet it feels in-character for her to do so. She might preach being kind to others but she’s not unrealistic about it. As much as she wants Yuki and Kyo to put their differences aside and will try to make the dream a reality, she knows she can’t force change. She also seems to understand and accept that Kyo must have his reasons for not wanting to befriend Yuki. All things considered, it’s impressive how she’s willing to accept the situation as is but it’s that level of tolerance that makes Kyo warm up to her even more, reassuring him that she won’t think any of less of him no matter what happens.
As implied by my little remark at the beginning of this post, the real focal point of this episode ends up being Shigure…and once again, I have to be careful about discussing this character. Thing is, I know exactly what he and Hatori are talking about but until the anime explicitly confirms it, I really don’t want to spill the beans for any newcomers experiencing Fruits Basket for the first time. At this point though, it can’t any be any more obvious that Shigure is scheming. He clearly wants something and it has to do with Akito (in what way I’ll leave up to you) and somehow, he needs Tohru to make it happen. It’s selfish, there’s no denying that.
There are only two positives to make out of all this. One is that Shigure is using Tohru to counter whatever plan Akito has for Tohru and given what we’ve seen of Akito, we can safely assume Shigure’s plan is far less malicious by comparison. The other is that as determined as he is to see results, he does feel about using Tohru as his pawn whenever he sees how happy she is. That’s the weird thing about Shigure’s relationship with Tohru. He’s clearly using Tohru for his own gain but he still values her company and it’s not like he thinks poorly of her at all.
Equally interesting is the fact that Hatori more or less knows what Shigure is up to and yet, he just lets it be. Sure, he’s not going to assist his friend but it’s not like he’s going to oppose him either. He simply warns Shigure to be prepared if Yuki, Kyo, or even Tohru ever find out what he’s up to. There’s two ways to look at Hatori’s decision to be complicit. Maybe he doesn’t completely disapprove because he himself has his hands dirtied (Lord knows how many memories he has had to erase). That or maybe the intended result in Shigure’s scheme is actually something he wouldn’t mind seeing.
One last thing: some new characters got introduced this episode. First is Tohru’s homeroom teacher, Mayuko Shiraki, who is actually making her first animated appearance in Fruits Basket history. I kind of get why the 2001 anime omitted her entirely as early on, it didn’t seem like she’d have much of a role. Now that it’s guaranteed that the whole manga will get adapted, it’s nice to see Shiraki-sensei (HItomi Nabatame/Anastasia Munoz) make an appearance. Her verbal bouts with Kyo were always a lot of fun, even if they are questionable conduct for a teacher to have. The other character introduced is Shigure’s editor, Mitsuru (Chinatsu Akasaki/Cynthia Cranz). The 2001 anime actually introduced her earlier in the canon and while I did like that scene a lot, her introduction here is pretty darn funny as well.
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