Fruits Basket the Final
Episode 3

by Lauren Orsini,

How would you rate episode 3 of
Fruits Basket the Final ?

“Always remember that being open about mental illness makes you brave but that displaying symptoms of mental illness makes you bad.”

After watching Machi's portion of today's Fruits Basket the Final episode, I was immediately reminded of this darkly comedic tweet. This episode delves into Machi's emotional volatility, which her classmates find unpredictable and scary, but which Yuki recognizes as the trauma response that it is. This episode's title is “I Hope It Snows Soon,” which is both a pun (Yuki can mean “snow” in Japanese) and a hint that the overarching theme of the episode is one of change—in seasons and life alike. There are big moments, like the seniors graduating high school and Hiro greeting his new baby sister, but also subtler ones as Machi, Yuki, Motoko, and Nao all forge new forms of relationships with one another. High drama is the name of the game for the always-emotive Fruits Basket, but this is a particularly thoughtful episode that sensitively addresses complex emotional topics.

Take Machi's behavior without factoring in her past, and her actions seem downright immature and even dangerous. Her classmates can't understand why she would pull a stunt like smashing a box of chalk, and speculate wildly that she may have even tried to kill a family member in the past. However, if you look at her impulse as a symptom (intrusive thoughts, perhaps), it's easier to understand what might be going on inside Machi's head. Yuki's interested in solving the mystery, and Kakeru is always down for a chance to push Yuki's buttons, so it doesn't take much prodding for him to act as wingman for both Yuki and his half-sister. They visit Machi at her apartment (damn bitch, you live like this? dot jpeg) and Kakeru takes a well-timed trip to take out the trash to offer up some convenient alone time. Just like Yuki, Machi turns out to have truly awful parents, because this is Fruits Basket and every mom is either the best or worst with no in-between. It's hard to mistake your daughter tucking your son in with a blanket for an attempt to suffocate him (!!!) unless you are intentionally looking for reasons to kick her out.

This episode really cinched the Machi/Yuki pairing for me. Some Fruits Basket relationships can feel a bit strained: Arisa and Kureno hardly know each other and have a huge age difference, while Shigure and Akito have a poisonous rapport. Conversely, it's easy to root for these two because Yuki and Machi have compatible weaknesses as well as strengths. They've both been taught to aim for perfection, and while Machi chafes at these expectations more visibly than Yuki does, we've spent the entire show up to this point exposing Yuki's hidden feelings of isolation. That's why he appreciates that Machi is the only person not to put him on his class president pedestal; he interprets her hot-and-cold nature as her way of perceiving the real him. It's the least he can do to return the favor. He gives her the praise that she never got from her parents: “You worked really hard to be the Machi that you are now, and I'm glad you're here.” The romantic tension is palpable here, but the emotional swell doubles in the following scene, when somebody shoves a box of pristine chalk in front of Machi, unaware that it's a trigger for her. Yuki casually breaks a piece of chalk—therefore breaking the spell—while speaking to the council without missing a beat. Caring for her comes so naturally that he can do it while multitasking.

In public, Yuki's princely facade never falters, and that includes during Motoko's pre-graduation confession to him. The president of the Yuki fanclub has been purely a comedic element in the series up to this point, but Natsuki Takaya has a knack for making us care about every side character's personal melodrama. This is Motoko at her most likeable, as she graduates from a bizarre parasocial relationship with an idealized Yuki to almost being able to speak to him as a fellow human being. Motoko has been childish, but her tearful confession shows that she's grown up quite a bit. When Nao (oh look, another side character whose happiness I'm suddenly invested in!) reaches for her hand, it feels like Motoko might be ready to close the door on her one-sided crush and try out a more balanced romantic relationship, one mere mortal to another. There's not much chemistry here, as the setup for this pairing was just now pulled out of thin air, but I admire Takaya's ambition in trying to give even these fringe characters a happy ending.

I don't want to skip over how funny this episode manages to be in between so many profound emotional revelations. The always-inappropriate Kakeru lets his phone ring at the least opportune moment. Kyo falls perilously off a ladder and Yuki, Arisa, and Hanajima all ignore his injuries while making sure that he didn't scratch Tohru on the way down. Kimi shares her impressive confidence in some truly questionable romantic ideals. In this final season, Fruits Basket is especially nailing these dips and rises between the comic and tragic, able to turn on a dime from one to the other. The episode deals with heavy topics, but the humor keeps them from becoming overwhelming. That is—until the end of the episode. Where's Rin, and what's Akito doing with those scissors? This episode's ups and downs are only a prelude to the emotional rollercoaster that still lies ahead.


Fruits Basket the Final is currently streaming on Crunchyroll (sub) and Funimation (dub).

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