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Thoughts On The Latest Episode of Fruits Basket?


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On 4/20/2021 at 10:50 AM, Ohayotaku said:

Still hoping some of the members who posted previously will return or else offer their impressions when they get around to watching.

Sorry, I've been very busy. Trying to cram my last study module before June, anime has perhaps been the very last thing on my mind-- further, I didn't even realise the season was running. 🤦‍♀️ I'll try to find time to catch up this week and keep you company here! 

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I'm literally dying for Momiji to make his appearance.

 

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The cheerleading part of the first series got annoying after awhile, lol. It actually got to the point I cringed whenever I heard it.   

Guess I was wrong Though looking & acting younger let’s Momiji bypass the competition   

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@Wedgy much appreciated 🙏 Don’t let it interfere with the more important priorities of life, but it’s always more enjoyable when it feels like you’re not just talking to yourself & I do wonder where everyone has gone sometimes.  I truly am surprised by how emotionally powerful this series has been for me. Even when the specific circumstances haven’t been relatable,  the ideas & feelings expressed hit me right between the eyes on a consistent basis for going on 3 years now. And there’s no other series I have an emotional attachment to so many of the characters. Considering how long I’ve been watching anime, that really says something. 

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On 4/21/2021 at 6:57 PM, Ohayotaku said:

Even when the specific circumstances haven’t been relatable,  the ideas & feelings expressed hit me right between the eyes on a consistent basis for going on 3 years now. And there’s no other series I have an emotional attachment to so many of the characters. Considering how long I’ve been watching anime, that really says something. 

That's what I have always found so special about Fruits Basket. I found the manga originally in the midst of my own trauma and was not able to recognise the full scope of my situation, and I fell in love with it then because I could relate to a lot of characters and how they were acting outwardly. Now 20 years on and revisiting it I've found a brand new appreciation for it. I can see everything that's actually happening and it floors me that it had gone over my head before. I may have simply loved it then, but now I'm convinced this might be one of the best anime I have ever seen because I simply cannot identify another that touches on this subject quite so accurately. 

Anyway, I managed to catch up last night and I feel I called it when I said previously the season would start off with a bang. 

Warning: tons of spoilers up to s3e2, and my thoughts concerning Kureno, Shigure, Akito, and Ren

 

As of episode 2 I can now reveal why I actually hate Shigure and that Akito, while still very much guilty of how she perpetuates abuse in this family, is a victim herself. I feel the first two episodes revealed enough that you can get the picture of what's happening here.

Kureno explained how himself, Shigure, Hatori, and Ayame were the only ones who knew that Akito was female- but why was she raised as a boy? It all comes back to her mother who is the very textbook definition of a narcissist. Ren did not want a child- and giving birth to the 'God' of the zodiac wasn't helping things because everyone was compelled to love that child, paying no attention to Ren, and there's nothing else a narcissist hates more. Akira loved Akito, and this made Ren extremely jealous because she wanted the full attention from her husband. So she began raising Akito as a boy because in her mind it would ensure she remain the only desirable woman at the top of the Sohma clan. Flawed logic, but this is a narcissist we're talking about, so you have to apply their logic for it to make any sense.

Because of her mother's rejection and abuse, Akito latched onto the curse compelling the zodiacs to love her unconditionally. And because of her mother's example, the only perception she had of love was in fact ownership. She figured that was their only purpose, to love her. She never saw the curse as a curse, she saw it as her only shot at being loved, and ultimately this ended up completely warping the definition to her, making her blind to how it was affecting the zodiacs.

This is why when Kureno's curse lifted she completely lost it and held on tighter. She thought that meant he didn't love her anymore- to Akito, if you don't love her, you must hate her, and she sees no in-between. Kureno is old enough to see the dynamic between herself and her mother and the zodiacs, and he stays with her out of pity. You could say he's just enabling her, because he's clearly miserable, but you could also argue he's trying to show her that the curse isn't necessary for her to feel loved and needed. This is important for future plot points, and was alluded to heavily in s3e1, although I'll save my thoughts until it's officially discussed later. Just setting the reference point here because I'll likely come back to this post.

And that's where Shigure comes in and makes everything worse. I'm amazed they dropped this bombshell so bluntly right at the start, but, since it's out there I'll keep going.

Shigure loves Akito. He does. It's not even the curse saying that for him. He doesn't just love her, he wants her, and when Kureno's curse broke, Akito and Kureno were the only ones who knew it happened. All Shigure saw was that she suddenly wanted Kureno, and he felt betrayed (he did eventually figure it out on his own.) So, instead of simply leaving the Sohma house, he made sure to take revenge on her in the most nasty way he could imagine that would hurt her the most: by sleeping with Ren. And it worked. Akito slept with Kureno in response.

Their encounter at the dinner in episode two, knowing all this, demonstrates what a manipulative monster Shigure can be. He doesn't care what it does to Akito, he just wants what he wants, he feels entitled to Akito and her body. He pushes all the right buttons in this scene to back her into a corner, and he does it so well it makes me wonder if he groomed her and that's how she learned to do it to Yuki and the younger Sohmas. Funny how a character whose been relatively normal and low-key this whole time turns out to be one of the most toxic and so close to the root of the problems. It's disgusting, but, to credit of the writing, perfectly accurate to how abusers act in reality.

So, to reiterate, this doesn't excuse Akito's behaviour one bit, but it does explain it. Once again, it's all about cycles of abuse.

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My impressions of Shigure (please keep in mind all I have to base on is the series up to  ep 4 of the current season)

is that of a cynical, spiteful, self-loathing individual. I don’t recall seeing him genuinely smile even once, though he’s always smirking. Every character (with the exception of Tohru) recognizes he’s not someone to be trusted or relied on & he makes no attempt to hide it. Even so, they don’t realize how spiteful he is capable of being. He openly mocks Isuzu for thinking he would tell her how to break the curse, even if he knew. He made it clear to Tohru’s teacher when they started dating that he felt no affection for her & didn’t expect any from her as it was just a way to conceal her feelings for Hatori. And his first reaction on finding Tohru camped out in the rain is to laugh in her face.  On more than one occasion he acknowledges himself to be “the worst” and that he deserves to be hated. But it also seems he uses it as an excuse & that it’s less a matter of not being capable of trying to be a good person as feeling it’s not worth the hassle.  The age gap between him & Akito is an obvious dysfunction in their relationship, but even assuming their “first time” was after she was of legal age, even now Akito is very immature emotionally & psychologically (this really stood out in recent episodes & I will touch on more later) whereas Shigure comes across as “worldly wise” to the point of cynicism. But I think one of the reasons his resentment runs so deep is that as long as Akito is the “god” of the zodiac, she will never see him as anything more than a pet or a plaything. Not even her favorite, let alone an equal which makes the exclusive relationship he desires an impossibility


I haven’t even addressed my thoughts on the latest ep, but will have to save that for a little later I think :P 

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Season 3, episode 4

 

Actually caught me by surprise that it was Akito holding Isuzu captive instead of her mom based on the last time we saw her, though it was Ren’s scheming that caused it. While I suppose it’s possible that the contents of the box are some sort of memento, more likely to be the actual remains of Akito’s father (I just hope it’s ashes, not the Pamela Vorhees treatment (Friday the 13th reference 😱). Based on her reaction, I’d say Ren fully expected Isuzu to get caught and that Akito’s response would drive another wedge between her & the zodiac members. Hatsuharu’s response was totally expected, but even Kureno & Hatori felt she went to far & are beginning to realize there are limits to their sympathy for her. And of course Shigure just twists the knife in the wound (more comments on him when I post my thoughts on episode 5). Once again Akito tried to shift the blame for her actions onto others her outbursts reflect just how childish she remains psychologically & emotionally. But again it’s more than a little understandable as the conversation with the one servant makes it clear they feel no respect or affection for her, just fear & resignation that she is the lesser evil compared to her mother. And that it is the obligation of the zodiac members to make her “happy” so they don’t have to deal with her. Hatsuhara carrying off Isuzu was really cute & seems like they probably won’t play much of a role going forward until the happily ever after moments at the end (fingers crossed)

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Season 3, episode 5

 

It already felt like a bit of a time skip seeing Hiro & Kisa looking so much older, but Momiji, geez that is one heck of a growth spurt. And what a heartbreaker. Pretty sure he knows Tohru will never see him “that way”, but joining Yuki in giving Kyo a kick in the rear about being honest in about his feelings for Tohru while there’s still time. It was really cute seeing Kisa & Tohru just hugging on each other after not each other in awhile. Momiji’s revelation that he is no longer afraid of Akito and now sees her as small & petty had to come as a huge blow to her ego. And her insistence that he will be miserable & have no purpose without her shows just how desperate she is becoming as her hold over the zodiac continues to unravel. It does make me worry more about what she may wind up doing though as she has less & less to lose. On that note, as much as Ren & Shigure contribute to how she is, her father filling her head with the idea that she was entitled to absolute & unconditional love didn’t do her any favors. While it may have been equal parts curse & being a doting father, it unfortunately put her in the position to be both spoiled & neglected once he died.


And… Shigure.  His conversation with Hatori pretty much confirms that the primary reason he does such horrible things is because he feels it’s not worth the effort to try to be “good”.  As Hatori points out, he’s actually one of the older members of the zodiac & even if he doesn’t have Hatori’s tendency for empathy, he could at least be better than he is if he tried. Even Ayame feels regret about not being a better big brother to Yuki and wants to do better (he & his assistant had a cute moment together too). But the scene with Shigure suggesting he might be willing to try harder if he fell in love with Tohru instead of Akito just felt creepy. I actually hope we ser at least a little bit more to him before it’s all over because it’s important to remember as despicable as Shigure, Akito & Ren’s actions are, they are still human. Anyone could become like them if their baser instincts are allowed to have control

Apologies if this came out as too much of a ramble.

Edited by Ohayotaku
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Due to formatting snafu this will cover episode 4 and 5;

 

Episode 4,

Holy shit where to even begin. This episode was huge.

Hiro's confessions to Kisa and Haru were simply put heartbreaking. No, no sweet baby, it's nobody's fault here. It isn't Kisa's fault, it isn't Hiro's fault, and then to see Haru blaming himself for what happened to Rin was not all unexpected. But his reaction was nonetheless satisfying, good for him for standing up to her!

We're back to reinforcing the fact that despite Akito being a victim herself it does not at all excuse her from her vile actions. What stood out to me was her denying she knew anything about pushing Rin, then shifting gears and accusing Haru of trying to hurt her when he calls her out on her bs. Classic manipulation. I'm glad Kureno stepped up as well and reprimanded her. Kureno and Haru really came through and did the right thing.

Poor Rin.

Poor Haru. 

I love them both to bits. That last scene just made me ugly cry.

Episode 5, 

 

The opening scenes with Ayame and Mine, Hatori and Mayu, and finally Yuki and Machi, were simple but powerful. If we look at it as the metaphor it is-- they're all addressing the fact you can't reverse the damage done to you but you can still have a future in spite of it. Which is what this whole episode is about, as the curse continues to break.

Aya is having a moment of insecurity, and asks what Mine would think if he remained cursed for the rest of his life. Mine reassures him that she loves him regardless and will endure with him no matter what. (So sweet!)

Hatori is also having a moment of insecurity. He does want to travel with Mayu- in fact the idea gives him a smile. But because his curse hasn't broken, he still has a fear of leaving Akito. He lies to Mayu about not wanting to go anywhere, but you can tell even he doesn't understand why he feels that fear. 

Yuki is on the verge of opening up to Machi, but can't seem to find the right way to breach the subject. Yuki very clearly has feelings for Machi and is showing a lot of bravery by admitting to himself that in order to have a relationship, he needs to be honest with her. But we still sense the fear that gives him of rejection. This anime is way too real, guys.

Ok, and Momiji. I've been waiting for this since season one. Our boy has finally grown up! Sweet, innocent cinnamon roll. Momiji has always had a good sense for relationships, and he definitely sees how Kyo feels about Tohru. Even though Momiji might have a little crush on her himself, he is able to shelve his agenda and give Kyo some real talk about telling Tohru how he feels before it's too late -(which Kyo struggles with for his own reasons I expect the anime will address very, very soon.)

Speaking of him growing up, this is integral. He feels grown, independent, finally bigger than Akito. He's ready to move forward from the family that rejected him and choose his own family, make his own happiness. The breaking of his curse, and him tying up loose ends, is both tragic and refreshing. Momiji is doing the best he can and I'm going to have another ugly cry because this episode just resonated way too closely.

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I've been gone for the entire month of April so I am almost caught up on season 3. 

Is it bad that I'm starting to feel a little bad for Akito and what she has been through?

Also after more and more is being revealed I'm almost afraid to continue to like Shigure (I even have a plush of him). 

Hatsuharu and Momiji are my other 2 favorites. 

 

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@Wedgy Reading your posts actually reminded me of some things I actually forgot to touch on for episode 5 (believe it or not :P )

 

Kimi is well on her way to being my most disliked character from this series after interrupting Yuki & Machi’s “moment” 😂

43 minutes ago, Wedgy said:

he is able to shelve his agenda and give Kyo some real talk about telling Tohru how he feels before it's too late -(which Kyo struggles with for his own reasons I expect the anime will address very, very soon.)

I’ve been waiting since that episode where they visit Tohru’s mom’s grave way back in season 1. Hanajima’s comment to Kyo about his waves being in turmoil coupled with his apology to a sleeping Tohru leads me to suspect SOMETHING happened where he blames himself for her death and keeping it a secret is one of the last things making him feel like he doesn’t deserve Tohru & can’t make her happy.

Finally, I assume the blonde woman Momiji is talking to at the end is his mom. She remembers his name & that he’s a member of the Sohma family but Hatori erased her memories of him being her child because it was so tramatic for her. It’s sad, but still seems to offer some hope of some sort of relationship anyway

Edited by Ohayotaku
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@EnviousEnvy the thing about Shigure is at first it was easy to just consider him irresponsible & irreverent. A trickster & a rogue. I think it was some of his conversations with Isuzu that you start to realize there was something darker beneath the surface. And not until we see his relationship with Akito that you appreciate how cynical & spiteful he is. At the core of it seems to be be his belief that he is irredeemably rotten to the core & that he’s fine with it (why try to be sonething you’re not?) The one comment he makes about his parents maybe partly to blame, but as Akito demonstrates, you can only shift so much of the blame for your own actions onto others. To be clear, Akito is much more a victim of circumstance whereas he wallows in his perceived skeevyness. His reaction to Hatori’s lecture makes me think his claims of not caring if he’s hated is disingenuous & just an excuse not to try. My hope is that by the end he will realize that there actually is something (or someone) he cares enough about to start trying to be a better man. Regardless of what happens, I doubt I will feel the same sort of compassion for Shigure & Akito that I feel for the others. But given the series’ themes, I would be very surprised if they’re not acknowledged as still human no matter how damaged & twisted who are capable of changing for the better.

Edited by Ohayotaku
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Finally, I assume the blonde woman Momiji is talking to at the end is his mom. She remembers his name & that he’s a member of the Sohma family but Hatori erased her memories of him being her child because it was so tramatic for her. It’s sad, but still seems to offer some hope of some sort of relationship anyway

That is his mom, yeah. You have it correct, I know the episode with Momiji in season one he explained the situation to Tohru. His mother attempted suicide because she couldn't hold her son (Kyo's mother succeeded + the family shamed her over being mother to the cat spirit.) So Hatori did his thing to make the disconnect and make her believe he's just an employee of her husband's company. Although it is strongly implied that Momo knows Momiji is her brother.

You might be thinking then, shouldn't she be questioning it? This child looks almost exactly like her and conveniently seems very interested in her and her daughter's lives. I think it might be impossible for his mother to make the connection due to Hatori's tampering. 

One detail I also noticed by watching this in the English dub (I can't say how it presents in the Japanese verson,) but Momiji normally has an unmissable accent. In this scene where he speaks to his mother, he's hiding it. So, perhaps he is actively adding to that disconnect with an understanding its for his mother's benefit.

Yes, very sad. But it fills my heart to see Momiji able to accept what he can't change and see a path forward in which he can begin to find his own happiness. He deserves it. Poor child.

 

@Ohayotaku

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