Fruits Basket the Final
by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 4 of
Fruits Basket the Final ?
We're approaching a point in Fruits Basket the Final in which the characters are THIS close to breaking the curse, and the dysfunction that plagues the Sohma family is beginning to noticeably bubble to the surface. Now at least three Zodiac members (Kureno, Haru, and Rin) are working in active defiance of their god, and another (Hiro) has found new courage to combat her indirectly. Meanwhile, Akito is lashing out more erratically than ever, finally committing an atrocity so extreme that even the loyal Kureno can't ignore it. “I'm... Home” forgets about humor and its three main characters. Instead, it's a sometimes angsty, sometimes fluffy portrayal of Haru and Rin's love in defiance of the twisted family ties that would keep them apart.
Perhaps the most wholesome Sohma family interaction is right at the beginning of the episode. Hiro's baby sister inspires him to finally say something about the curse to his fellow Zodiacs. “[Hinata] just is the way she is… Whereas I'm always wrapped up [in] my vanity, my fear.” In other words, Hinata is just vibin' in the present while he's worrying about the past and future and never taking any action right now. That changes when he decides to open up to Kisa and Hatsuharu about what he saw Akito do to Rin. Even though this is indirect action, it's more than he's ever dared to oppose Akito in the past. Kisa's response directly afterward, acknowledging how he's suffered alone up until now, allows her to do the heavy lifting of expressing the normally-reserved Hiro's emotions. It's a cathartic moment to see Hiro break down after years of believing Kisa's suffering was his fault—to Kisa's immediate denial. We the audience realize that they're instead both victims of the same dysfunctional family.
Akito's time is almost up and she knows it. The Zodiacs are no longer as obedient as she would expect by her birthright. When she catches Rin snooping around her rooms, she enacts a truly nuclear punishment: secluding her in the Cat's cottage without adequate food, water, or medical care. Have you noticed that Rin's nickname and her long black hair bear an uncanny resemblance to another Sohma family member? Akito definitely is taking out her mommy issues with Ren on Rin, snipping off her lovely hair and belittling her the same way Ren has tortured Akito. While this episode's portrayal of Ren's cruelty is also quite damning, I don't think it's designed to humanize Akito; now that she's leaving Rin to die, that ship has sailed. Instead, it's more of a villain origin story, suggesting from where Akito formed some of her twisted morality. Akito hates Ren, but she's more like her self-interested, cruel mother than not.
Things really go to pieces for Akito when Haru shows up to confront her. When Haru is furious Akito is composed; at least that means his full attention is on her. She almost succeeds at making Haru blame himself for Rin's suffering, the same way Hiro blames himself for Kisa: “It's only because you chose that girl… You dug her grave.” But the balance of power shifts when Kureno shows up and notifies the two that Rin has been transferred to the hospital. After that, Haru decides not to waste his energy being mad at Akito. When he walks away, ignoring Akito's cries to return for probably the first time in his life, we see a braided rope starting to fray—a visual indication of the curse beginning to break. Akito doubling down on aggression seems to be having the opposite effect: the more severe she is, the more they are pulling away. Even Kureno, who has stood by her even without the bonds of the curse, is starting to lose patience with her increasingly dangerous tantrums.
After sitting through all this despair, we were rewarded with a happy ending. They have yet to create a hospital strong enough to hold Rin (perhaps they should try putting her room on the second floor?) so she once again ends up hoofing it to who knows where despite still being delirious. Love and plot lead Haru directly to her rescue, where he unceremoniously lifts her over his shoulder, much to the surprise of several nearby elementary-schoolers. To the emotional swell of the ending song, Rin tearfully realizes that even if she came from an abusive home, she can always come home to Haru instead. This episode's melodrama can be a bit over the top, but enduring that Sohma family angst to conclude at this fluffy ending feels a bit like a homecoming, too.
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