Fruits Basket the Final
by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 10 of
Fruits Basket the Final ?
The French Open is to blame for Fruits Basket the Final being delayed several hours this week, but tennis also makes an apt metaphor for the way “I Just Love Her” alternated abruptly between drama and comedy. In order to wrap up the story, this final season has had to heavily condense some of the manga's most heartbreaking scenes, segmenting them with humorous interludes in order to maintain a baseline of levity. The end result is an episode that feels like a tennis ball bouncing back and forth between two very different tones.
Although the news that Tohru is in the hospital and Kyo is MIA are both presented as side-notes in Kakeru and Kimi's comedy routine, the subsequent hospital scene is no joke. The conversation between Hana and Arisa, Tohru's biggest supporters, and Akito, who has historically been Tohru's biggest detractor, was one shock after another. Hana's scary-sharp senses help her instantly intuit Akito's gender when it passes over everyone else. And when Arisa is hit with a double whammy of painful truths—that Akito is the one who stabbed Kureno, and that Akito is also the one Kureno said he needed to be with instead of her—it's a surprise that Arisa decides to hug Akito instead of punch her in the face. Even Kureno is astonished that Arisa isn't mad, now that she's heard the truth from Akito. “I don't deserve you,” he tells her. 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.
Then it's back to jokes again, thanks to mood-makers Shigure and Haru. I'm no translator, but I like Shigure's subtitled line about being bad at “adulting” because this slang word is a good tonal fit for his character. 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?) Haru and Shigure continue their straight man act well into the meat of this episode, alternating with Yuki and Kyo's heart-to-heart/home demolition session. That part isn't supposed to be comedy, but you have to admit it's funny that the only way these two can talk about their feelings is by destroying the furniture.
How gratifying was it to see Yuki and Kyo finally put everything out there for one another? This is the conversation I've wanted them to have for at least 20 episodes! When Kyo tells Yuki, “It's better if you're with her,” it's obvious that this is total projection: he assumes that Yuki must want to date Tohru because Kyo himself wants that so much! I love the way this brawl turns into a frenzied exchange of compliments. “I wanted to be you!” Kyo snaps. “I admired you so much!” Yuki retorts with fury. Finally they're seeing what Tohru (and the audience) have known for ages! Their hatred of each other is actually self-hatred, and if you peel back the layers you'll find their relationship is really one of mutual admiration and not a little envy.
Then things get really heavy. Since Yuki told Kyo to get his act together, Kyo interprets that as getting his entire house in order, starting with the emotional baggage involving his parents. As a child, Kyo didn't understand his father's rejection; now, as a teenager, Kyo perceives his father as the frightened, damaged person that he is. This scene would have been scary when Kyo was a kid. But in this current confrontation, the more furious Kyo's father gets, the less afraid Kyo becomes, and the more crystalized his understanding of his mom's loneliness and eventual suicide becomes. Through suicide, his mom ran away permanently and was never able to protect Kyo again. By drawing this parallel, Kyo finally pieces together how running away because he can't protect Tohru turns his greatest fear into a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Faced with a glass-shattering screaming match between father and son (or for the Sohma family servants, a Tuesday), Akito is summoned to send Kyo away. But, in perhaps the most unintentionally funny moment of the episode, she takes the central premise of the entire Fruits Basket plot and goes lol whatevs. Tohru has worked her magic on Akito in just a few short hospital visits, and the newly reformed Sohma family head has decided to cancel Kyo's life imprisonment just like that. When the old servant lady asks if Kyo's father will be OK with this, Akito replies nah probably not, but what's he going to say to the head of the family? Then she gripes and moans about how easily Akito is changing their sacred way of life, like she will literally die if the cycle of violence is not perpetuated unto eternity. It has real “life should never get any better because when I was a kid I had to suffer” energy. Good riddance to her!
The episode ends with both Yuki and Kyo running towards the young women they love—in Kyo's case, sprinting. I don't know if this episode was supposed to be as funny as it was! It's definitely a result of the way the anime has condensed the manga's drama-packed final act into such a short space. I did not expect this tonal ping-ponging to work, but I can't deny that it usually does.
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