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EP. REVIEW: Fruits Basket


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Tanteikingdomkey
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 16, 2019 10:18 pm Reply with quote
As someone with autism and autistic friends I can say that most parents are actually well balanced and deal with it and are healthy. But then I have to remember also the extended family members who were abusive and horrible...to say nothing of the my one friend who absolutely is like kyos mother.

I hesitate to call it out right abusive, but at the same time it is just as destructive as outright abuse. it is literally robbing the target of any (if not most) social structure, confidence, and opportunities for their future. it also has very destructive to their personality and emotional health to say the least.
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KitKat1721



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PostPosted: Mon Sep 16, 2019 10:27 pm Reply with quote
thebond&thecurse wrote:
People are about as dense as they can get when it comes to understanding how messed up Kyo's mom's treatment of him was and why it was so profoundly damaging to Kyo. But considering the degree to which Furuba's story is a symbolic commentary in relationship to real world issues and disability experience in particular, it's not surprising that people are overbearingly sympathetic to the sickening form of "love" that this mother displayed towards her "monster" son.
Almost the entire chapter/second half of the episode is about Kyo reflecting on how his mother's treatment towards him messed him up, so I doubt people are "dense as they can get" understanding that. There's a middle ground between a character being outright abusive and being a decent parent, where Kyo's mother clearly falls.

I think the sympathy comes from 1) knowing in advance about her death and the tragedy that she couldn't overcome those issues and work towards being the parent she thought she was (but clearly wasn't) and 2) its obviously written to be a more complicated situation than many of the other Soma parents shown prior in comparison. You can't help but feel some empathy, despite knowing how terrible her actions are.
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thebond&thecurse



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PostPosted: Tue Sep 17, 2019 1:50 am Reply with quote
KitKat1721 wrote:
thebond&thecurse wrote:
People are about as dense as they can get when it comes to understanding how messed up Kyo's mom's treatment of him was and why it was so profoundly damaging to Kyo. But considering the degree to which Furuba's story is a symbolic commentary in relationship to real world issues and disability experience in particular, it's not surprising that people are overbearingly sympathetic to the sickening form of "love" that this mother displayed towards her "monster" son.
Almost the entire chapter/second half of the episode is about Kyo reflecting on how his mother's treatment towards him messed him up, so I doubt people are "dense as they can get" understanding that. There's a middle ground between a character being outright abusive and being a decent parent, where Kyo's mother clearly falls.


You know abuse doesn't have to be intentional to be abuse, right?

I have endless empathy for Kyo's mother as a woman who is a victim of the Sohma's family mentality and spoiler[her husband's abuse], but I'm never going to consider her an even halfway decent parent.
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KitKat1721



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PostPosted: Tue Sep 17, 2019 3:39 am Reply with quote
thebond&thecurse wrote:
KitKat1721 wrote:
thebond&thecurse wrote:
People are about as dense as they can get when it comes to understanding how messed up Kyo's mom's treatment of him was and why it was so profoundly damaging to Kyo. But considering the degree to which Furuba's story is a symbolic commentary in relationship to real world issues and disability experience in particular, it's not surprising that people are overbearingly sympathetic to the sickening form of "love" that this mother displayed towards her "monster" son.
Almost the entire chapter/second half of the episode is about Kyo reflecting on how his mother's treatment towards him messed him up, so I doubt people are "dense as they can get" understanding that. There's a middle ground between a character being outright abusive and being a decent parent, where Kyo's mother clearly falls.


You know abuse doesn't have to be intentional to be abuse, right?

I have endless empathy for Kyo's mother as a woman who is a victim of the Sohma's family mentality and spoiler[her husband's abuse], but I'm never going to consider her an even halfway decent parent.


Oh, that may be due to my confusing sentence - I said there's a middle ground between that and outright abusive where she does fall. I don't think she is a good parent, but I personally do hesitate on calling her abusive. I don't think the story really wants us to see her that way, at least given the way she's written.

I do think its a bit confusing to have endless empathy for a character, but complain how people are sympathetic towards her. That could just be more targeted towards fans who are 100% forgiving of Kyo's mother (viewpoints I don't really encounter that often, but of course that doesn't mean you haven't).

I guess I mostly just disagree on calling fans "dense," about this stuff. I can't call Fruits Basket fans dense for taking a slightly more forgiving view on a complicated character the same way I can't call them reactionary for criticizing characters I have no problems with. Complicated characters/situations tend to encourage it. Its clear her actions had a major negative effect on Kyo, the story doesn't overlook those emotions, and that's what's most important for me.

Btw, I only just now noticed your username, which makes me feel validated that I assumed earlier you were also a manga-reader Smile
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Tanteikingdomkey
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 17, 2019 4:38 pm Reply with quote
While I may not want to call kyos mom outright abusive, she is absolutely starving (him of emotional needs) and hurting him due to her "love"

It links back to whole thing with the prince yuki fan club actually I think. Since in many ways they are actually very similar in their form of love. the only difference is that kyos mom actually had power over him I think.

Now that I would consider emotional abuse which is a real form of abuse but I think that is not a universal thing
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KitKat1721



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PostPosted: Tue Sep 17, 2019 8:53 pm Reply with quote
I already wrote my thoughts on Ep. 24, but I just wanted to comment that Jacob's write-up was such a lovely read, once again. Despite some directorial/adaptive missteps, the emotional climax outweighed most of those for me. I've watched those last few minutes of the episode a number of times afterwards, and certain lines/reads still get me. Fruits Basket for me always felt like a story where you can get as much out of it as you put into it, and these deep dive reviews (plus additional posters on this forum) really exemplify that.

Also: Personally, I've always compared Kyo's true form to look like a digimon, so its definitely a shared sentiment haha
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MFrontier



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PostPosted: Tue Sep 17, 2019 10:43 pm Reply with quote
KitKat1721 wrote:
Regarding the dub specifically, I thought it played up the emotions so strongly, and I don't know if its nostalgia + the overall improved acting from 2001 or what, but I was so much more invested, and this was one of the few times this season where I watched the sub first. They completely made that moment at the end for me, and for that, I'm a pretty satisfied customer.

I haven't watched the dub yet (I haven't seen the original either) but I do want to say that I felt that Yuma Uchida really stole the show this episode on the sub side.

I've felt he was a perfect fit for Kyo from the start but he just absolutely nailed all the major emotional beats in this episode and all the different facets of Kyo we got to see. His finally uttering "Tohru" felt so perfect and heartfelt.
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Key
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 17, 2019 10:52 pm Reply with quote
Yeah, Jacob's write-up on 24 is definitely an insightful read, as it casts much of what's going on here in a different light. If that was what all this episode was trying to accomplish then I'll agree that this version suits the overall story better than the first version.

However, the problems cited in the review apparently bothered me more. In fact, looking back over the totality of the first two cours, I think my summation might be something like "it aims higher, but sometimes at the expense of fine story execution." The series still has enough high points this season that it'll probably rank in my top two or three titles for the season, but I can't shake the impression that the original creator being so deeply involved this time might be interfering with maximizing its presentation in anime form.

EDIT: As for Kyo's true appearance, yeah, I always thought he reminded me of something else, and the Pokemon comparison finally nailed it for me.
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Tanteikingdomkey
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 17, 2019 11:19 pm Reply with quote
I really love these reviews a lot but I feel like I missed something pretty big in either the manga or anime at this point. I know this is all written from the perspective of hind sight for the series but "fulfilled her promise to die for the sake of her son"

Did I miss some piece of back story where she told to die for kyo or something. I do agree she did commit suicide because of him more then likely but it's not fair to blame kyo for his moms ultimate rejection and not being able to accept him. the one line I actually have to give rezero a lot of credit for is "The version of me that lives within you must be amazing, she can understand everything even if you don't explain it to her. She can feel your pain, sadness, and anger as her own."

I feel like there is a fundamental disconnect between her actions and words constantly in everything we see from her, and that wasn't really addressed. I feel like she loved some Superior version of kyo that wasn't a zodiac spirit and that ultimately lead to her suicide.

I know that kyos mom is a tragic figure, and she was actively trying her best, but I still can't see her as anything but a negative influence on him that he would have been better not having in his life.
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Gina Szanboti



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PostPosted: Tue Sep 17, 2019 11:33 pm Reply with quote
While I agree that The Yeeting was ridiculous, it actually seemed less viscerally violent than Kyo's attack in the 2001 version, where he bashes her against the ground. I think it's just mud splatter (?) but it looks like blood when she hits the ground, since anime blood is often black for broadcast purposes.

I appreciate everyone's thorough analysis of this episode and understand why it's perceived this way, and in fact fully agree that it's the right take and consistent with the author's intended message. But I just can't love it the same way everyone else does.

In either version what I can't get past is that it's a typical story of domestic violence and abuse, where the woman's role is to not give up and to change/tame him with her love. "He's only like that when he's drunk, that's not his true self." "He's just upset about ____ but he doesn't know how else to express it." This is a great allegory about self-hate and love and unconditional acceptance, but trying to transfer it into the real world is a dangerous proposition. We know all of Kyo's traumas and reasons for being how he is, but if you knew someone like that in rl, who's always grumpy and insulting and, under "special" circumstances, turns to violence, you'd be telling his girlfriend to not walk but run as fast and far away as possible. He needs counseling, not a doormat for his abuse because she loves him too much to leave.

Of course that would make a lousy story in this universe, and I'm not actually suggesting they should've or even could've told such a story within it. I'm just saying that dynamic of women being expected to do all the emotional labor to save men from themselves, keeps me from fully embracing the story because I can't not see or ignore the toxic message underlying it. I think it's because of how physically violent it got in both versions, rather than just having him be ugly, smelly and verbally abusive. Perhaps I'll feel differently once I've seen the whole story. I hope so, because I really do like the message everyone else is getting from it. Smile
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JacobC
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 17, 2019 11:50 pm Reply with quote
Tanteikingdomkey wrote:
I really love these reviews a lot but I feel like I missed something pretty big in either the manga or anime at this point. I know this is all written from the perspective of hind sight for the series but "fulfilled her promise to die for the sake of her son"

Did I miss some piece of back story where she told to die for kyo or something.


Yeah, I'm not spoiling anything or jumping forward, it's a line in the episode. It goes by pretty quick with everything they gotta cram in, but Kyo's mom says "I love you so much I would die for you," and he retroactively thinks, "Why did you say that all the time?" She was overcompensating to try and make Kyo feel better, but it was unfortunately a harbinger of actual tragedies to come.

@Gina: I think I mentioned in Kagura's introduction episode (which was the first one to bother people with its depiction of violence) that this is a potential sticking point with Fruits Basket for some viewers. I don't think the story ever justifies any physical abuse that happens, but people are gonna hit each other pretty often in this story; lots of violence will be committed and forgiven (or not) between lots of parties going forward. There's always long-term consequences for it, and we'll see Tohru's injury at Kyo's claws addressed along with a myriad of other injuries that will affect various characters, but yeah, Trigger Warning for physical abuse in Furuba, because there's always going to be a lot of it.

My personal feelings on Kyo's act of violence in this episode is that I don't think it would be okay if it happened more than once. spoiler[Kyo does not ever physically hurt Tohru again. (Emotionally however, ha ha uh, stay tuned.)] As a defensive reflex he had to being touched at a time where he was deeply traumatized in a big weird body he's not used to controlling, I can forgive it. But yeah, if you like your romances thoroughly unproblematic, Fruits Basket is not that. It's a lot of screwed-up people making a lot of painful mistakes.
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KitKat1721



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PostPosted: Tue Sep 17, 2019 11:58 pm Reply with quote
MFrontier wrote:
I've felt he was a perfect fit for Kyo from the start but he just absolutely nailed all the major emotional beats in this episode and all the different facets of Kyo we got to see. His finally uttering "Tohru" felt so perfect and heartfelt.


Oh for sure, he's been fantastic all season, this episode included. He's probably one of my favorite casting choices on the Japanese side, next to Akito and Yuki.
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thebond&thecurse



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PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2019 12:20 am Reply with quote
Quote:
However, in the manga and 2001 anime adaptation, the creature was depicted mostly in shadow, always crumpled over on all fours, and the transformation process was left to our imagination. It's a good rule of thumb not to show your creature too much if what they represent is meant to be more frightening than how they look, but this remake vaults over these restraints with an extended transformation sequence and numerous well-lit full-body shots of monster-Kyo, who looks significantly less gruesome and tormented when standing on two legs.


Jacob gets me.

Of course, everyone has talked about The Yeet to death and most people agree, but I couldn't get any other fellow fans to understand why I was disappointed in them showing his transformation sequence, trying to put so much emphasis on the apparent gruesomeness of the monster's appearance or strange displays of strength, or the whole scene taking place in open, relatively well-lit space rather than the shadowy forest of the manga.

The point of Kyo's true form isn't the actual form. There's a reason we spoiler[never see it again]. And there's a reason why spoiler[the scene of Kyo finally confessing to his involvement in Kyoko's death replicates the setup, setting, and atmosphere of the true form chapters in the manga, with frequent panels focusing in on his prayer beads].

The thoughtfulness that Takaya puts into every aspect not just of the content of her story but how it is executed and presented is part of what makes Fruits Basket so brilliant. Of course, the content itself is brilliant enough to still draw in and impress new fans who are only seeing the anime, but that extra layer of brilliance being lost is really quite a shame.

Tanteikingdomkey wrote:
As someone with autism and autistic friends I can say that most parents are actually well balanced and deal with it and are healthy.


As someone also with autism who works in the community and knows the statistics of parental abuse, I'd have to disagree tbh.

And knowing the amount of sympathy and excuses these parents get for abusing their children is why this kind of topic is a particular thorn in my side.

KitKat1721 wrote:
I do think its a bit confusing to have endless empathy for a character, but complain how people are sympathetic towards her. That could just be more targeted towards fans who are 100% forgiving of Kyo's mother (viewpoints I don't really encounter that often, but of course that doesn't mean you haven't).


I should rephrase. I have empathy for Kyo's mother as a woman caught up in the Sohma family, spoiler[as a wife subjected to her husband's abuse] ... basically, as a person in situations where other people have power over her and abuse her with it. But I don't have empathy for her as a mother, a person in a situation where she has power over someone else and abuses him with it.

I also don't take such a sympathetic interpretation of her actions as I see other fans doing. I believe she was definitely a tormented and abused soul and that impacted her behavior, but I believe it impacted her beliefs about Kyo, not just her actions towards him. I think she believed some very damaging and uncharitable things about him, and Kyo could very well sense that under all the pretense of love. In the end, I just can't have that much sympathy for her position as a mother given the way she behaved, how wrong it was, and how it affected her son.

KitKat1721 wrote:
I guess I mostly just disagree on calling fans "dense," about this stuff. I can't call Fruits Basket fans dense for taking a slightly more forgiving view on a complicated character the same way I can't call them reactionary for criticizing characters I have no problems with. Complicated characters/situations tend to encourage it. Its clear her actions had a major negative effect on Kyo, the story doesn't overlook those emotions, and that's what's most important for me.


The fans that I've seen that I'm referring to as dense are ones who like to say "Kyo's mother really was a good mother deep down. She completely loved Kyo and she probably wouldn't have hurt him at all if not for spoiler[her husband's abuse]. She is one of the good parents in the series and was just in a bad circumstance. She was only ever trying to protect him." - a take I have seen often and which I do indeed believe is a "dense" perspective, or at least one lacking in nuance and a critical view, which is what thinking about characters in Fruits Basket should encourage.

I've also seen some people blame Kyo for not being able to accept his mother's love. An opinion I've seen far less but ... still out there ... infuriating me, lol.

This doesn't mean I hate Kyo's mother by any means. I think she's an interesting and sympathetic character in her many different dimensions, but the way people talk about her and empathize with her in a certain way as a mother really irks me. Which I will fully admit is due to particular biases I have from other experiences (the real world disability comparison I mentioned). It is a bias for sure, cause I get less up in arms about other characters who have certainly done worse, but that's just the way my feelings fall.

KitKat1721 wrote:
Btw, I only just now noticed your username, which makes me feel validated that I assumed earlier you were also a manga-reader Smile


Haha, yep, I'm definitely a manga-reader. My username is also the name of a little Fruits Basket related project I do: https://www.patreon.com/thebondandthecurse


Last edited by thebond&thecurse on Wed Sep 18, 2019 4:48 am; edited 5 times in total
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Gina Szanboti



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PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2019 12:43 am Reply with quote
JacobC wrote:
I don't think the story ever justifies any physical abuse that happens

What do you mean by "justify"? To make it the right thing to do? I don't see that it does that. But if you mean to excuse it because reasons, then it certainly does, as you did yourself in your next paragraph. Smile But most fiction does that with their main characters, giving us enough insight into what has shaped them to sympathize with or forgive their bad behavior, or at least understand its causes, while usually not affording that to the villains.

Anyway, I don't need thoroughly unproblematic. It just depends on how the problems and their resolutions are presented. And I'm all for redemption, as long as it's earned and not just granted out of compassion.
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a_Bear_in_Bearcave



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PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2019 2:23 am Reply with quote
OK, I'll disagree with thebond&thecurse and Tanteikingdomkey strongly when it comes to Kyo's mother.

Tanteikingdomkey wrote:

it would make no LOGICAL sense to do that even every day let alone multiple times a day. the only reason to do that would be irrational fear/paranoia.

Given that he can turn into monster if he doesn't wear this protection, this is hardly paranoia. She just cares for him.

thebond&thecurse wrote:

There is nothing wrong with you, it's evil magic, you turn back so this is your true form, it's ok, I'm not scared at all

It is true that this just an evil magic. It is Soma curse after all. It was a lie that she wasn't scared of him, but obviously she thought that telling him she is scared of him would hurt him, and she tought she can lie better then she could.

thebond&thecurse wrote:

KitKat1721 wrote:
I do think its a bit confusing to have endless empathy for a character, but complain how people are sympathetic towards her. That could just be more targeted towards fans who are 100% forgiving of Kyo's mother (viewpoints I don't really encounter that often, but of course that doesn't mean you haven't).


I should rephrase. I have empathy for Kyo's mother as a woman caught up in the Sohma family, spoiler[as a wife subjected to her husband's abuse] ... basically, as a person in situations where other people have power over her and abuse her with it. But I don't have empathy for her as a mother, a person in a situation where she has power over someone else and abuses him with it.

I also don't take such a sympathetic interpretation of her actions as I see other fans doing. I believe she was definitely a tormented and abused soul and that impacted her behavior, but I believe it impacted her beliefs about Kyo, not just her actions towards him. I think she believed some very damaging and uncharitable things about him, and Kyo could very well sense that under all the pretense of love. In the end, I just can't have that much sympathy for her position as a mother given the way she behaved, how wrong it was, and how it affected her son.

She was trying to protect him in a situation in which she was both bound by Soma secrecy (so no visit to psychologist etc.) and without any support at all from Soma family, leaving her alone to deal with him. I disagree that she believed damaging and uncharitable things about him.

thebond&thecurse wrote:

KitKat1721 wrote:
I guess I mostly just disagree on calling fans "dense," about this stuff. I can't call Fruits Basket fans dense for taking a slightly more forgiving view on a complicated character the same way I can't call them reactionary for criticizing characters I have no problems with. Complicated characters/situations tend to encourage it. Its clear her actions had a major negative effect on Kyo, the story doesn't overlook those emotions, and that's what's most important for me.


The fans that I've seen that I'm referring to as dense are ones who like to say "Kyo's mother really was a good mother deep down. She completely loved Kyo and she probably wouldn't have hurt him at all if not for spoiler[her husband's abuse]. She is one of the good parents in the series and was just in a bad circumstance. She was only ever trying to protect him." - a take I have seen often and which I do indeed believe is a "dense" perspective, or at least one lacking in nuance and a critical view, which is what thinking about characters in Fruits Basket should encourage.

I've also seen some people blame Kyo for not being able to accept his mother's love. An opinion I've seen far less but ... still out there ... infuriating me, lol.

This doesn't mean I hate Kyo's mother by any means. I think she's an interesting and sympathetic character in her many different dimensions, but the way people talk about her and empathize with her in a certain way as a mother really irks me. Which I will fully admit is due to particular biases I have from other experiences (the real world disability comparison I mentioned). It is a bias for sure, cause I get less up in arms about other characters who have certainly done worse, but that's just the way my feelings fall.

I will blame him a bit for not accepting her love, tough just like is mother he was just a victim of the Soma family and just a kid at that, so maybe blame is not right word - I think he couldn't appreciate her love fully because he noticed her insincerity and he was in situation where it was easy to him to disbelieve in anyone. He says that she never acknowledged the monster Cat side in him, but she just did that because she was scared and thought it would be harmful to him to tell him she doesn't love him unconditionally as all mothers should according to societal standards, especially since she was the only one on his side as the Soma general belief was the Cat deserves to be outcast.
She seemed like a very decent parent to me, she was just in circumstances where she had to deal with a very tough situation and couldn't count on any support from society, and she would need to be amasing parent, not just decent, to get her kid to be a happy adult through the Soma's rules and obstacles meant to ensure that every Cat was unhappy and alone in addition to the horrible curse.

thebond&thecurse wrote:

But considering the degree to which Furuba's story is a symbolic commentary in relationship to real world issues and disability experience in particular, it's not surprising that people are overbearingly sympathetic to the sickening form of "love" that this mother displayed towards her "monster" son

It's possible that this was meant as parallel to disability, but most of the disabled peapole don't turn into monstrosity that smells so horrible that it makes everyone puke, along with giving a kid dangerous body that could easily kill other. He wasn't a "monster", when he turned into his second form he was just a monster.
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