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EP. REVIEW: Fruits Basket the Final


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KitKat1721



Joined: 03 Feb 2015
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 10, 2021 12:38 am Reply with quote
We're continuing the confrontation trend with two of my favorites this week: Yuki & Kyo's + Kyo vs his biological father. As for the former, it's just a really satisfying scene, and I can attest to what Lauren said about how highly-anticipated it was for many. There's not too much to say here, its just so cathartic to see Yuki just completely fed up and lose his cool. We haven't seen him act that way towards anyone (except Kakeru), much less Kyo since his anger was always more distant and cold, as if he couldn't be bothered to stoop to his level. I also don't think anyone else could have given Kyo such a wake-up call. Even the closest runner-up, Momiji, probably would have been too obtuse. And for Yuki, I'm glad he finally knows more of the full picture and that they actually had a lot more in common than they ever realized. Really makes you wonder what their friendship could have been if not for those outside circumstances building such a strong foundation of animosity that they never had the tools to break down themselves.

As for the latter - I think its easy to read as just "oh Kyo's father is just crazy lol," but there's so much to that scene that I love, and I think Lauren hit most of it on the head (particularly how "running away to protect Tohru would just become a fulfilling prophecy of his worst fears"). It's a fair assumption that Kyo probably hasn't seen much of his father at all since his mother's funeral. Seeing him for the first time clearly as a directionless alcoholic that desperately holds onto hate (hate that no one in the Family would blink at) to feel the least bit less guilty for exacerbating his wife's depression and driving her to suicide... is the best thing for him. Both as a reminder of what could have been and to help ease his own burden of guilt.

Tohru told Kyo back in S1 that if he really needed to hold onto his hate for Yuki to get through the day, that its okay. And that's true to a limit. But seeing his father is a stark reminder that this is what clinging to irrational hatred too long can do, and just how close he came to going down that path. And while it doesn't take long for Kyo to paint a fuller picture of what actually drove his mother to suicide, it still can't automatically fix everything. He's never going to know exactly what was going through her mind and just because you understand more about whatever happened in your past doesn't make the trauma you've felt for years disappear overnight. But him facing that trauma, attempting to recognize it outside of his internal bubble of self-punishment, and choosing to move forward instead of running away are huge steps. Looking back, its going to be a blessing for him on that road to recovery and self-improvement.

I've also seen people refer to the Cat's House (from Kyo's perspective, not so much the Family's) as more of a symbol of suicidal ideation, and I don't think its ever more clear than in this moment. Accepting that fate would be giving in to something he believes is destined for him, and essentially giving up on the outside world. Refusing it is going against his self-hatred and even the notion that he doesn't deserve happiness.
Oggers wrote:
One thing I actually didn't mind being cut from this episode was Uotani and Hanajima acting all hostile towards Kyo when he arrives at the hospital to see Tohru.

Completely agreed. It always came off like going for the obvious joke (protective bffs and all), but sort of out-of-character given the seriousness of the situation (I could understand it easily if Tohru actually told her friends she didn't want to see him).
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Then Haru pops up with a bunch of off-color jokes that make me wonder, not for the first time, about why he's a fan favorite. (Remember when he totally trashed his classroom and it was never discussed again?)

...Lauren, why you have to slander my boy like that Laughing He's had so many great moments and the best joke of the episode was him casually asking to order pizza and chicken nuggets while Yuki and Kyo's long-awaited fight was in full swing.
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Alexis.Anagram



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PostPosted: Thu Jun 10, 2021 6:04 pm Reply with quote
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And he really doesn't, though not for the reason he thinks. Aside from that 10-year age gap that hits differently in 2021 than it did in the '90s, there's the fact that they're betting their lives on one chance meeting. It'll work out for sure of course, but only because this is fiction.

It's unfortunate to me that the criticisms of Arisa's dynamic with Kureno tend to fall back on pretty reductionist interpretations like this that, ironically, erase and diminish Uo's agency within the narrative in an effort to impose some sort of moral clause on fiction-- which also has the side effect of undermining the importance of fantasy in engaging and examining romantic constructs and how feminine socialization often intersects with that. Arisa is more than her relationship with Kureno (and it's also unfortunate to me that the series has been so abridged at this point her other and more important role in this arc was completely cut), but even in the context of that relationship her entire interior conceptualization of it is that she wants to be a *participant* and have as much power in determining their future happiness as he does. That is specifically meaningful and vindicating because of the age gap between them, and in the manga that's made explicit: she knows he has a whole host life experiences over her and so she resolves to impose her knowledge of her own value that much more strongly and affirmatively to be sure he knows it too. A similar tact is taken (indeed, mirrored) in the romance between Kyoko and Katsuya (RIP...literally haha), in which Kyoko's narrative is deliberately centered and Katsuya is molded into it as a subversive element intended to underscore and contextualize Kyoko's lived reality as a young woman and the sort of adolescent power fantasy of overcoming those seemingly impossible hurdles many young women face which are specific to growing up as a girl. Obviously there's a lot more to unpack there and the series applies a ton of different feminine and masculine lenses to do so (the way that Akito's storyline silently intersects with Arisa's through that single hug is absolutely genius), but suffice to say that, yes, this is all possible specifically because this is a work of fiction, *and that's a good thing.* We need more stories that do this: it's not that the mode has aged poorly, it's that certain incentive structures have come to the fore which demand boring flavorless algorithmic girlboss plots in which feminine characters aren't allowed to be sexual, or vulnerable, or evil, or complicated, because that kind of thing forces an actual interrogation of how people are socialized and how our feelings and needs and wants are shaped accordingly. And in the age of corporate validation media, that's anathema. /rant

KitKat1721 wrote:
Completely agreed. It always came off like going for the obvious joke (protective bffs and all), but sort of out-of-character given the seriousness of the situation (I could understand it easily if Tohru actually told her friends she didn't want to see him).

The manga makes it clear that Tohru doesn't want to see him; given that it's Tohru, she's not able to communicate that directly with words, but she cries the minute Yuki brings Kyo up in conversation and immediately changes the subject. Hana and Arisa know exactly how hurt she is (Arisa correctly predicts Tohru booking it the second she sees him) and are trying to enforce a necessary distance so that she can heal physically and emotionally-- at the same time, it gets glossed over that they literally walk away immediately following their first confrontation with Kyo, and Haru even comments that Kyo could go in and see Tohru if he wanted. Kyo chooses not to because he knows he isn't ready either-- he *wants* to see Tohru, but wanting something is not the same as earning it, and he knows he has baggage to take care of.

db999 wrote:
On paper, this episode sounds like it should be rushed, but for some reason, it didn’t feel that way to me. In fact, as an anime-only fan, I don’t see how spending more time on any of these plot points would have improved the story. The entire episode from the moment Yuki and Kyo start fighting all the way to the end is perfectly paced. If the events in this episode had happened over the course of 2 or 3 episodes I wonder if it would have been too slow.

The reason this hospital arc is so valuable and why seeing it cut down this way sucks so hard is because it represents an emotional odyssey for several core characters (Kyo, Yuki and Akito chief among them) who basically have to find a way to recenter themselves in the vacuum left by Tohru's absence. Yuki develops tremendously through his relationships with Kakeru and Machi (nice to know these characters still exist I guess?), Akito begins to excavate the power structures of the Sohma compound and her part in them (adapting that conversation with the old maid the way they did was...bad, it was so bad, holy shit), and Kyo most of all goes through the literal archetypal folkloric journey; he confronts his monster (his father), resolves his central self-antagonism (choosing life over death-- Akito also plays a part in this in a scene that no longer exists yay!), and plays the Rule of Three to essentially have his wish to be with Tohru granted (denied twice by her "guardians" who finally relent after he has done the hard work necessary to pass). The fact that Tohru is missing from the action for so long is what enables this growth through meditation to occur, and as a consequence seeing her re-enter the narrative is *hugely* rewarding. When Kyo sees her the manga paneling makes it clear he's basically seeing her with new eyes-- that moment when he's doubting his feelings for her is color coded black to represent his old thoughts resurfacing, and the instant she steps into the sunlight all of those lingering fears vanish in wash of white that fills the entire page. It's absolutely gorgeous, and here it's just, "oh, yeah, it's Tohru and huh her face is pretty off model but anyway I love her, duh"-- we haven't spent the time with Kyo stewing in the frustration of battling out the contradictions between what he needs and what he desires, and finally pushing through all of it to be with her. We haven't spent the time with Yuki picking up all of the emotional resources Tohru left him and paying her kindness forward even when she isn't around. We haven't seen Akito struggle with her grief and her own feelings of bitterness and latent rage and consistently make the conscious *choice* to turn those emotions into constructive action that betters the lives of those she's hurt.

This third season does the big moments fine. I loved the Yuki/Kyo fight, I loved the Kyo/Dad confrontation. But it all rings hollow at the end when all these characters have done is yell at each other a bit and we lose those essential human moments of introspection and interpersonal bonding that are the fruits of their emotional labors. Yuki's rushing off to see Machi at the end of the episode...why? Are they in a relationship? What could she have possibly bought him as a gift, she knows next to nothing about him because the entire subplot which shows the progression of their feelings for each other was excised (Kakeru actually caring about Tohru being in the hospital is another casualty of this). It's a pretty slapdash adaptation at this point carried by a phenomenal soundtrack and strong voice performances and the good fortune of being Furuba so the core elements still hold up.
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Piglet the Grate



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PostPosted: Thu Jun 10, 2021 6:14 pm Reply with quote
KitKat1721 wrote:
You know how people say when a parent says they’re disappointed in you, it hurts worse than them actually being mad or upset?


I cannot find a reference, but there was actually a child rearing advice book in the 1960s that told parents to say that they are disappointed instead of being angry. Wonder how many children the author is responsible for damaging. Sad Sad Mad
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Piglet the Grate



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PostPosted: Thu Jun 10, 2021 7:42 pm Reply with quote
Alexis.Anagram wrote:
Quote:
And he really doesn't, though not for the reason he thinks. Aside from that 10-year age gap that hits differently in 2021 than it did in the '90s, there's the fact that they're betting their lives on one chance meeting. It'll work out for sure of course, but only because this is fiction.

It's unfortunate to me that the criticisms of Arisa's dynamic with Kureno tend to fall back on pretty reductionist interpretations like this that, ironically, erase and diminish Uo's agency within the narrative in an effort to impose some sort of moral clause on fiction-- which also has the side effect of undermining the importance of fantasy in engaging and examining romantic constructs and how feminine socialization often intersects with that.


Sorry, but it is insulting to 17-year old young women to regard them as small children who cannot make decisions for themselves - and not even the excuse of parents who are refusing to accept that their daughter has grown up in this case. Kureno and Arisa is not the middle-aged "bad pedo uncle" preying on the 5-year old niece by any stretch of the imagination - Arisa has much more real world experience than Kureno who knows little but the Soma inner compound, and seems more emotionally mature than him to boot. Anyone who has had the chance to observe young women in high school around men in their 20s should know it is more often the men being pursued than doing the pursuing.

Yes, there were lots of bad things in society in the past, but being "woke" is a ridiculous overreaction that is just as bad in its own way.

N.b. I am not criticizing Alexis.Anagram's post, but rather the many other comments I have seen about the Arisa-Kureno relationship.
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KitKat1721



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PostPosted: Fri Jun 11, 2021 12:49 am Reply with quote
Alexis.Anagram wrote:

The manga makes it clear that Tohru doesn't want to see him; given that it's Tohru, she's not able to communicate that directly with words, but she cries the minute Yuki brings Kyo up in conversation and immediately changes the subject. Hana and Arisa know exactly how hurt she is (Arisa correctly predicts Tohru booking it the second she sees him) and are trying to enforce a necessary distance so that she can heal physically and emotionally-- at the same time, it gets glossed over that they literally walk away immediately following their first confrontation with Kyo, and Haru even comments that Kyo could go in and see Tohru if he wanted. Kyo chooses not to because he knows he isn't ready either-- he *wants* to see Tohru, but wanting something is not the same as earning it, and he knows he has baggage to take care of.

I mean sure, I'm not saying there isn't a point to it, but it still doesn't change that to me, it mostly just comes off like an unfunny gag that goes on too long. I feel like they still could have shown that Arisa and Hana were skeptical about them meeting/allowing Tohru some alone time without just falling to the whole "over-the-top protective parent mode." Especially when the situation doesn't really call for it. Girl just fell off a cliff and he's obviously really concerned, so the way they sort of scoff at him even trying to see her always felt a little unnecessary. If Tohru actually told them "I don't want to see him," I think that would have been unusual enough behavior for her (because its not something Tohru would say) that I could believe her friends being so over the top about keeping him away without knowing the whole story. On the second point, I'd rather just have Kyo have doubts on his own from the start about whether or not he should see her, than making an attempt, being banned by her friends, and then realizing "oh wait maybe I shouldn't yet..."
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adapting that conversation with the old maid the way they did was...bad, it was so bad, holy shit

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Yuki's rushing off to see Machi at the end of the episode...why? Are they in a relationship? What could she have possibly bought him as a gift, she knows next to nothing about him because the entire subplot which shows the progression of their feelings for each other was excised

I do completely agree with these two things, although I honestly think the latter could have been helped out a lot by just simply giving those two characters even just one or two more scenes of screen time after their last big moment (when Yuki and the audience learn about Machi's past). Even if its not perfect, I think it would allow the moment feel way more earned. At this point, they're sort of just asking to audience to assume they got a lot closer after that breakthrough moment, even if we saw none of it.

The whole Akito scene with the maid though... oh boy. Confused I honestly don't understand why they would change that since it wouldn't take any more time than what they went with instead. I could maybe forgive it if Akito runs into her a second time next week and then decides to offer her a hand (but let's be honest, I doubt that's happening). Definitely one of the changes that confused me the most.
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Alexis.Anagram



Joined: 26 Jan 2011
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 11, 2021 1:34 am Reply with quote
Piglet the Grate wrote:
Sorry, but it is insulting to 17-year old young women to regard them as small children who cannot make decisions for themselves - and not even the excuse of parents who are refusing to accept that their daughter has grown up in this case. Kureno and Arisa is not the middle-aged "bad pedo uncle" preying on the 5-year old niece by any stretch of the imagination - Arisa has much more real world experience than Kureno who knows little but the Soma inner compound, and seems more emotionally mature than him to boot.

There's definitely a certain infantilizing quality to a lot of the discourse I've seen surrounding their relationship which basically casts Arisa as a victim being preyed upon and groomed by Kureno, which is an act of (somewhat ironic) projection that clearly doesn't analyze the material on its merits. Arisa works multiple jobs while balancing a school life, maintains a healthy and robust social support network, and from what we've seen apparently does the bulk of the homekeeping in the apartment she shares with her father; the idea that she couldn't manage an adult relationship with someone she's legally old enough to date by the end of the series anyways is a reading that doesn't hold up to even the most superficial scrutiny. But ultimately I'm less interested in whether people like or dislike the pairing itself, because that's a matter of personal taste: it's that inclination to qualify fiction as being somehow innately morally involved that I would challenge, because in my mind the best film & literature exists to push, prod, dissent and interrogate: not to condemn or condone, but to engage and inspire. The question of power, and who holds it and why, is one that is embedded in the foundations of any human relationship: Furuba is keenly interested in this question and tackles it from many different angles. Maybe the answers it settles on are unsatisfying to some (and maybe they aren't even meant to be definitive)-- that's an assertion that can bring about some really fruitful conversation. Like you said, though, it is something to be considered that Kureno is framed as the more naive between them: Arisa imagines that his age gives him a wide lead on life over her, but in many respects his circumstances have held him in a state of emotional suspension, always suppressing his own hopes and dreams and desires in service of another. She recognizes in him the same unguarded forthrightness that enabled Tohru to break through the barriers she had placed between herself and others in her youth and led to a lifelong friendship which she now cherishes, and he sees in her a form of freedom and redemption for a future he had nearly surrendered altogether. There's an understandable mutual attraction in that, a spark that could reasonably be believed to blossom into something lasting.

Piglet the Grate wrote:
Anyone who has had the chance to observe young women in high school around men in their 20s should know it is more often the men being pursued than doing the pursuing.

I dated older guys all through school because my "peers" were mostly a pain and frankly too low a bar. I mean, my friends were fine, but who wants to date inside their friend circle-- yuck! Razz

Piglet the Grate wrote:
Yes, there were lots of bad things in society in the past, but being "woke" is a ridiculous overreaction that is just as bad in its own way.

This might be getting pretty far afield of the topic but there is certainly an element of consumerist recuperation to woke signaling that speaks to that censorious inclination we ought to be cautious of. Like I don't for a minute believe the Kyoko and Katsuya plot line was scuttled because of concerns on the Japanese side over how it would be received by the target audience (and I'm still praying for that OVA), but the fact that there are folks out there who actually do believe in wielding that sort of cultural influence as a prescription towards setting the parameters of discourse definitely doesn't sit well with me. A story is an idea-- if you don't like an idea, contest it, don't revel in its erasure.

edit cause I missed this:

KitKat1721 wrote:

I mean sure, I'm not saying there isn't a point to it, but it still doesn't change that to me, it mostly just comes off like an unfunny gag that goes on too long. I feel like they still could have shown that Arisa and Hana were skeptical about them meeting/allowing Tohru some alone time without just falling to the whole "over-the-top protective parent mode." Especially when the situation doesn't really call for it. Girl just fell off a cliff and he's obviously really concerned, so the way they sort of scoff at him even trying to see her always felt a little unnecessary. If Tohru actually told them "I don't want to see him," I think that would have been unusual enough behavior for her (because its not something Tohru would say) that I could believe her friends being so over the top about keeping him away without knowing the whole story. On the second point, I'd rather just have Kyo have doubts on his own from the start about whether or not he should see her, than making an attempt, being banned by her friends, and then realizing "oh wait maybe I shouldn't yet..."

Oh I can definitely hear you about the tone of it, I personally find it a riot but that's Takaya's sense of humor for you-- just like with Lauren and Haru, it doesn't land for everyone. I've seen similar assertions from folks who make the case that it feels like Kyo is being needlessly dunked upon for the entire hospital arc; in my view, I think the juxtaposition between the hard line characters like Yuki, Arisa and Hana draw with him as a way of setting healthy and authentic boundaries, and the kind of genuinely emasculating and shaming conditioning he's received from figures like Akito and his father is deliberate. Ultimately the message that Tohru's friends are conveying to Kyo is that he's a better person than he believes himself to be, a better person than the reactionary guilt-ridden boy whose always on the defensive and holding people at an emotional arm's length. They show him their anger because he deserves to know that they're angry, not with him as a person but with his actions and behaviors, and that's always been a central aspect of Kyo's crisis of character-- he can't differentiate his behaviors from his own internal sense of himself because he's been so ruthlessly essentialized down to his worst instincts and defense mechanisms. The hospital arc is all about him overcoming that gulf in self-awareness so that when he's ready to approach Tohru, he can do it with a vision of who he wants to be for her in his own mind-- not stuck in the cycle of constant self-recrimination which would only lead him to offer her words of remorse she doesn't want to hear.

It feels to me like, as with most of Kyo's characterization, the adaptation really muddies this by having him all set to run away again (whereas in the manga, he's simply stuck in his uncertainties, not making any moves at all), only to whiplash around to being ready to confront his father after the Great Yuki-Sama's "pep talk." The anime basically regresses him all the way back to the impulses of season 1 Kyo and then expediently crams in all of the growth he actualizes by relying on the strides he's made over the course of the rest of the series up to this point, and it just doesn't seem like this adaptation team has a clear conception of Kyo as a person at all. They treat him as a dramatic love interest and well of endless pathos which can be used at a whim to up the ante and sharpen the stakes, but abandon a lot of the nuance of his personal narrative in the process.


KitKat1721 wrote:
I do completely agree with these two things, although I honestly think the latter could have been helped out a lot by just simply giving those two characters even just one or two more scenes of screen time after their last big moment (when Yuki and the audience learn about Machi's past). Even if its not perfect, I think it would allow the moment feel way more earned. At this point, they're sort of just asking to audience to assume they got a lot closer after that breakthrough moment, even if we saw none of it.

The whole Akito scene with the maid though... oh boy. Confused I honestly don't understand why they would change that since it wouldn't take any more time than what they went with instead. I could maybe forgive it if Akito runs into her a second time next week and then decides to offer her a hand (but let's be honest, I doubt that's happening). Definitely one of the changes that confused me the most.

Yeah, I mean obviously the bigger elephant in the room is that they've chosen to adapt this story in such a way that in the eleventh hour they're penny-pinching for time and making every condensation and cut they can to fit whatever I guess they randomly decide is the most pertinent material to the narrative. That's the bigger issue beyond just missing a lot of scenes I had hoped to see; I wouldn't mind so much if this "reimagining" of the story was superior or even interesting in its own right (like the 2001 show), but every change or rearrangement in this third season (and arguably earlier seasons as well, though they were less impactful by comparison) has been decidedly thoughtless in that they create significant internal contradictions in terms of both thematic and character continuity, and the adaptation never works its way around to accommodating and clarifying those moments of dissonance (yeah no, we all know we're not getting another scene with Akito and the maid haha, that would take two precious minutes they don't have). The littlest moments in a story often matter the most, because it's in the quiet denouements and subtler details that authors tend to reveal their intentions, and that's where this adaptation loses me. It's a passable Big Picture/Broad Strokes only read of the material. And it does pain me a bit to think that this is the best we're ever going to get, after decades of waiting haha. I guess as Shigure would say, que sera sera.
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Piglet the Grate



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PostPosted: Fri Jun 11, 2021 6:26 pm Reply with quote
Alexis.Anagram wrote:
There's definitely a certain infantilizing quality to a lot of the discourse I've seen surrounding their relationship which basically casts Arisa as a victim being preyed upon and groomed by Kureno, which is an act of (somewhat ironic) projection that clearly doesn't analyze the material on its merits. Arisa works multiple jobs while balancing a school life, maintains a healthy and robust social support network, and from what we've seen apparently does the bulk of the homekeeping in the apartment she shares with her father; the idea that she couldn't manage an adult relationship with someone she's legally old enough to date by the end of the series anyways is a reading that doesn't hold up to even the most superficial scrutiny.


Exactly, which is why just age is such a poor indicator. Arisa and Kureno dating is fine, but in a hypothetical example, Tohru and Shigure dating would really bother me as creepy since Tohru is more than a bit naive about the world while Shigure is a dog (both in the Zodiac and the Top Definition in Urban Dictionary of "a dog" senses).
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Alexis.Anagram



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PostPosted: Sat Jun 12, 2021 11:41 am Reply with quote
Piglet the Grate wrote:
Exactly, which is why just age is such a poor indicator. Arisa and Kureno dating is fine, but in a hypothetical example, Tohru and Shigure dating would really bother me as creepy since Tohru is more than a bit naive about the world while Shigure is a dog (both in the Zodiac and the Top Definition in Urban Dictionary of "a dog" senses).

Haha, even the other characters in Furuba condemn Shigure flirting with Tohru-- but that's because he's Shigure, so who can blame them! Ha.
But yeah, it's all about narrative context-- we should consider how and why characters are written a certain way, and what is being conveyed through the interpolation of their personal arcs to weave a broader dramatic picture. One aspect of Fruits Basket I've always loved is that it guides readers towards perspectives and conclusions about the characters, their actions and the consequences of them which many would never have expected to arrive at. The way it examines structures of accountability and retribution by declining to endorse or validate any particular mode of justice, and instead focus on the human-to-human dynamics of healing, allows us to expand and deepen our thoughts on a concept that often gets glossed over in fantasy media which aims to delineate a definite conceptualization of right and wrong as a means to justify power through moral hierarchy. Furuba exists in many ways as a response to that tendency in fiction, and a contention that nobody actually benefits from those ideals of social supremacy.
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Piglet the Grate



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PostPosted: Wed Jun 16, 2021 6:35 pm Reply with quote
We finally get to the most important point and lesson of the entire story - the cat is always right.
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KitKat1721



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PostPosted: Wed Jun 16, 2021 7:15 pm Reply with quote
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It's an adorable and revealing detail that Tohru practiced in the hospital so she could smile the next time she saw Kyo. She was psyching herself up for a lifetime without Kyo because, as mature and emotionally intelligent as Tohru may often be when helping out the Somas, she is still a dramatic teen.

Lol, I think we have slightly different ideas of adorable haha. My first thought went back to how she would practice her father's formal "welcome home" greetings after his death in order to make things easier for her mom. For all the steps she's made towards being more honest about her feelings, it really emphasized just how low she felt that she had to resort to that childhood practice again.
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Akito is handling her new loneliness well, which is supposed to redeem her, but I still can't forget all the people she has mentally and physically injured for years?

Its interesting because Fruits Basket essentially starts wrapping up right as Akito's making those first couple steps towards a better path, both for herself as a person and the betterment of the Soma estate itself that allowed familial abuse to flourish through the guise of "tradition." I don't think the story is even trying to say "Akito's now redeemed" by showing her regret and vulnerability. To me, the story always felt like it was only asking fans to recognize and understand how she got to that point, and that she wants (and fully intends) to change things with action, even if its an uphill battle. At the same time, Akito can completely turn over a new leaf, but at the end of the day, the only people that can offer forgiveness or redemption are the people she hurt, and that decision is completely up to them. [While we've already seen this with some characters like Yuki, Momiji, Kureno, etc... I'll keep the rest under a spoiler-cut since it might go more in depth next week] spoiler[I'm thankful Fruits Basket allows the different Zodiac Members to have different responses. Some choose to forgive, some seemingly allow themselves to move forward without maintaining any sort of future relationship, and others simply can't forgive what she's done. And I'm even more thankful that the story is really up front that not forgiving Akito does not make a victim a "bad person" or "less good" than someone who can.]

I don't think a series that wanted its audiences to suddenly feel like Akito was redeemed by simply regretting her actions and letting go would also allow for such mixed and complicated reactions from the people she hurt, spoiler[nor say that not forgiving her is a completely valid decision. Obviously we are naturally inclined to see things through Tohru's selfless POV, but I think Takaya respects the readers/viewers enough to let them come to their own conclusions even if that answer is "I don't know" because this is only the beginning of that new chapter.]

I think too often, redemption stories focus more on the actions of the abuser having to "earn their redemption," (which can be a mixed bag already) rather than the victim's feelings. The former can be carefully plotted out, and emotionally satisfying, while the latter is messy, complicated, and doesn't always end the way audiences might want it to. (Even recently, I've seen this audience pushback a lot in the Megalobox Nomad discussions regarding Sachio - that he was just "annoying" for lashing out and not recognizing everything Joe was dealing with). Something I appreciated much more as an adult was that Fruits Basket, while still very interested in exploring how Akito became the person she did as another cog in the Curse's machine + a personification of the whole "hurt people hurt people" idea, sort of cut things off before it got too deep into Akito's new future or "redemption." Because the story is mainly about these people finally being able to heal and move forward through their own strength (even if that means learning to rely on others) and begin healing. It's their own journey and it kicks off long before Akito has her change of heart. We can understand where Akito's coming from and feel glad that she's choosing to change, but still recognize that the relationships she'll have with everyone else are out of her hands and are entirely dependent on them. Its a nice change from the story saying "ok look at everything this person is doing, you have to forgive them now."
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We find out what Tohru and Akito were talking about in the hospital two episodes ago, and it's Tohru's very own Akito whitewashing campaign as the girls acknowledge, and then reject, their perceived roles as opposites. Tohru says it doesn't matter who's right or who's wrong, just that she feels bad for hurting Akito by trampling over her ideals. Uh, may I object? Akito has objectively hurt a lot of people with her worldview; it's not harmless! There seriously is a right side here, and it's Tohru's. It's so typical of her to see the good in everyone – even in the formerly villainous Akito – past the point of common sense.

I didn’t see this as Tohru being naive here or “whitewashing” Akito’s actions. I think by calling Tohru “so pure & pretty,” Akito is naturally defaulting to the same competition mindset that’s been ingrained since childhood (jealously with her parents, the Zodiac’s “love”, etc…). She can only see the best in Tohru specifically through two traits she does not have (“pure” is obvious, but the choice to add “pretty” is particularly telling towards how Akito probably wishes she could present herself and was never able to).

Tohru was able to show Akito how similar they were a couple episodes ago with their shared fears of change and moving forward, and I think with all her expertise in self-hatred spirals, Tohru is trying to remind Akito that in order to truly connect with people, you can’t always default to seeing the differences and how others measure past you. In order for Akito to truly connect with others past the “safety net” of the curse, without seeing them on a separate level - she needs to reject that mindset for Akito’s sake and emphasize how her fear and pain actually makes her similar to others. Whether its a fair comparison or totally uneven in our minds, Akito needed the reminder that she shares their humanity, and it connects them more than anything else could separate them. That feeling of “otherness” and isolation was the biggest problem from the start. She reframes “pure” in a way that Akito can actually recognize it in herself, in a manner I don’t think anyone else could. And we see Akito take those words to heart, considering how honest and open she is from that point forward. Or how when the curse is ending, she's desperately hoping that everyone else might feel the same way she does and cry alongside her.
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I'm actually a little upset that Tohru never got some Kyo kitty cuddles even once!

You know looking back, I kind of feel the same way, although I think poor Kyo would have rather not haha
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Piglet the Grate



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PostPosted: Wed Jun 16, 2021 11:10 pm Reply with quote
[quote="KitKat1721"]
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I'm actually a little upset that Tohru never got some Kyo kitty cuddles even once!

You know looking back, I kind of feel the same way, although I think poor Kyo would have rather not haha


Kyo does transform from his "true form" back to an orange house cat out in the forest and then Tohru carries him back to Shigure's place at the end of Episode 24.
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Piglet the Grate



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PostPosted: Wed Jun 23, 2021 6:01 pm Reply with quote
Any chance of Fruits Basket Another being made into a anime? I will go into withdrawal after the final episode streams on Monday. Crying or Very sad
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Maidenoftheredhand



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PostPosted: Wed Jun 23, 2021 6:13 pm Reply with quote
Well I didn’t realize there was one more episode so that was a nice surprise
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Alexis.Anagram



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PostPosted: Wed Jun 23, 2021 6:36 pm Reply with quote
KitKat1721 wrote:
I didn’t see this as Tohru being naive here or “whitewashing” Akito’s actions. I think by calling Tohru “so pure & pretty,” Akito is naturally defaulting to the same competition mindset that’s been ingrained since childhood (jealously with her parents, the Zodiac’s “love”, etc…). She can only see the best in Tohru specifically through two traits she does not have (“pure” is obvious, but the choice to add “pretty” is particularly telling towards how Akito probably wishes she could present herself and was never able to).

Quoting this part for convenience but I think your whole analysis of Akito is excellent: it's both salient and coheres with exactly what the series tries to express. The only thing I might add is that, in addition to misreading the reality of her own condition, Akito's dichotomous perception of Tohru as being somehow innately superior in her character or personhood is just as destructive to Tohru as Akito's initial binary assumption of Tohru's fragility and weakness of will. Both of these perspectives occupy the same emotional and psychological space for Akito, one in which she constantly compares herself to others and defines their faults and virtues according to a worldview that centers *her* values and beliefs, which in and of themselves have been molded around the fears and insecurities which she has accumulated throughout her life. By casting Tohru as some heavenly being who descended to show her the error of her ways, Akito is falling into the same pattern of removing the accountability for forming and pursuing a prosocial conception of the world from herself, instead enlisting Tohru as the agent of change on her behalf-- which is not and has never been Tohru's role. It's both poignant and telling that at the end of the story, Akito herself is the one who has to choose to release the bonds she holds with her family, and that Tohru ultimately does not achieve her stated goal of somehow "breaking" the curse. Tohru alludes to her own recognition of this in their conversation in the hospital: despite the fact that the original desire may have come from an authentic and well-meaning place (just like the "original promise," see how this cycle works), she should have never taken that burden upon herself-- the idea that it was her responsibility to position herself as some sort of heroic authority who imposes her own moral standing upon these autonomous "others" whose circumstances she doesn't and can't fully understand follows precisely the same logical throughline as Akito's own god complex.

And as a reflection on Tohru's character as a whole, understanding the conflict between her desire to do good and her capacity to be true to herself through that process is essential. It's an unconventional and supremely rewarding arc in that it fully inverts the typical adolescent power fantasy: Tohru's most impactful moment of self-acceptance occurs when she recognizes that she has to *let go* of her desires to maintain and actualize that perfect world she had idealized internally and allow herself and others to move on in whatever way will emotionally fulfill them. By accepting that she has outgrown her grief for her mother's death, by accepting that Kyo may not return her feelings despite how much she put on the line by expressing them, and by acknowledging that the way she framed Akito in her own mind was reflective of her own desire to avoid and suppress the anxiety brought on by these changes to her internal state, Tohru finally learns to see herself as clearly as she sees the people around her (and that's what enables her, finally, to see Akito as well).

When Akito posits Tohru's human qualities of compassion and empathy as saintly, she effectively obscures and erases that entire struggle which Tohru has undergone; moreover, what she is actually doing is mirroring one of Tohru's own strongest sources of insecurity and self-doubt-- that she won't be good enough for the people around her, and that they'll abandon her if she doesn't always force herself to smile. By calling her "pure," Akito is reinforcing the opinion Tohru is only just beginning to unlearn about herself, that she must excel in all things and be ten times the person she actually feels she is, or else she won't hold any worth for anyone. Tohru pushes back not just for Akito's sake, or to try and "see the good" in Akito: she does so as a display of emotional solidarity, because she knows they both deserve better than to be essentialized down to some impossible standard and to take the mantle of absolute good or evil upon their shoulders.

This is why Furuba as a text refuses to pin monikers of "right" or "wrong" upon any of its characters-- in the first place, there's no real lesson to be gained from thinking that way about people, and it's also a kind of cruelty to infer that within this unwinnable game of good and bad, some people will be expected to embody virtue, and some people will be resigned to being lesser and hated for it. All it results in are the exact "in group" "out group" dynamics the story goes to great effort to excavate: it's how a kid like Kyo gets crucified and scapegoated for no good reason until he starts to give himself reasons for it, and it's how a child like Yuki gets objectified into a symbol of something he isn't and never asked to be until even his ability to comprehend his own humanity and reason for being has been stripped away. Instead, Fruits Basket encourages us to examine and address behaviors with an understanding of the imperfect, uncategorizable human qualities embedded within each of us, and to be prepared to forgive more frequently than we are to condemn. It's certainly aspirational in that sense, there are lots of reasons people are driven towards binary impulses and everybody has a point where it becomes extremely challenging to go against that survival mechanism. But as a story which offers us all the tools of perspective and thematic expostulation we need, I think it makes about as persuasive a case as any.

And now to complain about this adaptation a bit, because it doesn't offer those tools nearly as well! Hahaha.

So as expected, the Yuki/Machi meeting was...less than effective, to say the least. The Yuki side of it was fine; in particular, the moment the curse breaks for him does feel like a culmination of every emotional beat the story has carried us through within his arc, and because the bulk of that was explored over Season 2 which was basically just The Yuki Show he has more than enough groundwork laid for him as an individual character to carry that climax. The Machi side of things is where this adaptation stumbles hard, and the moment he comes to the conclusion, "Oh, so it's you," just comes across as trite and unearned. Machi exists in this version of the story solely to add romantic punctuation to Yuki's internal narrative, and it was frankly awkward how much the writing had to skirt and skip around in just this one scene to try and make Machi's progression seem sensible. Even as a manga reader I couldn't decipher what Machi was trying to convey to Yuki at any given moment because the scene was so busy trying to insinuate some development in her interior conceptualization of her relationship with him rather than drawing on actual evidence of it. I understood Yuki's feelings for her, but Machi simply comes across as returning the main character's affections because she's obligated to as a secondary female cast member functioning in his general vicinity, and so the kiss felt decidedly one-sided (honestly, this version of the story would have been better off pairing him with Kakeru, since as far as we know he might as well have just been lying about having a gf).
(That said, I enjoy that in both the Tohru/Kyo and Yuki/Machi confessions, the hugs were conferred more emotional resonance than the kisses; it's a good choice that gives us the sense that *this* is what the characters have really been longing for, to be able to embrace those they love wholeheartedly without fear or consequence).

Once again Akito's role in the story and the nuance that accompanies it has been papered over with a sort of Fruits Basket Wiki synopsis version of events. Both her own intentions have been (yet again) muddied and made more vague here for reasons I can't comprehend, but also they've kindly elected to jettison all of the actual fallout over her meeting with the zodiacs so that's nice. I do think the romantic tension between her and Shigure is deeply compelling and it is powerful to finally hear her own internal attempts to reconcile the love and fear she feels for him, and contemplate how to position her attraction towards him in terms of her conception of her own gender. Maaya Sakamoto is phenomenal in this role.

Kyo and Tohru then apparently decide to elope together with absolutely no build-up so that was...a thing that happened. One would think Tohru might take some time to follow up with her friends whom she also left in the dust during her romantic panic attack but the adaptation decides to drive the conclusion that Kyo gives them more consideration than she does now. And why were they at Kyoko's grave anyway? The emotions in this scene were flattened by how carelessly and abruptly it was inserted. I did think the transition into Kyoko's bit was beautiful and they managed to land that, but then faceless Shadow Realm Kazuya completely broke the immersion-- I don't know what this adaptation thinks it's doing with this whole storyline but boy has it been botched. The ocean motif makes no sense to anyone who hasn't been on the Kyoko journey, same with the change in age for her, and Kazuya's final line is intended to read as a long-awaited reunion, not "the first time we've literally ever heard him speak," haha.
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Piglet the Grate



Joined: 25 May 2021
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 23, 2021 8:04 pm Reply with quote
Alexis.Anagram wrote:
[...]
And now to complain about this adaptation a bit, because it doesn't offer those tools nearly as well! Hahaha.[...]


Short version - as good as Fruits Basket the Final is, it would have been better with two cours (i.e., 78 instead of 63 episodes) instead of a single cour. Sad

Well, let us not let the perfect be the enemy of the excellent.
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