by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 39 of
Fruits Basket (TV 2/2019) ?
We've officially reached the second half of Fruits Basket's second season, as marked by a gorgeous new opening and ending sequence. The new OP was directed by Nobutaka Yoda, who is responsible for some of the your name. and Weathering With You trailers, plus some of my favorite recent OPs—O Maidens in Your Savage Season in particular. Just like these new sequences, “I Should Just Die…” features nearly every character in the cast and a lot of disparate story fragments. I found it more difficult than usual to find a common thread between so many different moving parts, but if I had to name the character who made the most lasting impression on me this week, it'd be Haru. Usually I don't like this character; I think the jokes about his dangerous mood swings fall flat. But the Zodiac Ox had a lot of zingers this week while exuding cool in his interactions with both Yuki and Rin. In an episode rife with so much angst that even Tohru faltered, Haru's low-key optimism gave everyone something to root for.
Haru calls Momiji an “air purifier” for his ability to instantly lighten the mood, but he should give himself more credit. The immature, unlikeable “Dark Haru” is nowhere to be found this week. His frequent deadpan non-sequiturs had the ability to transform any scene. “Maybe we were long lost sisters in our past lives,” he solemnly tells Yuki. Later, he dispels Rin's heightened emotional exit with a matter-of-fact: “Nope, I can't catch up if she goes all out. Because she's a horse.” On a more serious note, he's the crux of Yuki's realization that he's always had somebody looking out for him—that it was Haru who convinced Shigure to ask Akito to let Yuki move out. (When everyone makes an appearance in the same episode, every sentence can be a mouthful!) Even though Haru is suffering from the aftereffects of a breakup, he's putting on such a brave face that it doesn't interfere with his role as the moodmaker. “I should just die…” is a statement that can really transform depending on who says it. Haru milks it for shock value in order to snap Rin out of her fury; it's such an un-Haru-like statement that she can't help but be startled by it. We knew he didn't mean it long before he said so. Haru's kiss and Rin's slap both feel inevitable; with a pair that runs as hot and cold as Haru and Rin, to be this passionate is simply what's in character for them.
Even with Haru as the unifying factor, I found this episode to be a grab bag of sorts more than a standalone narrative. It's one of those weeks where it's apparent that multiple manga chapters got adapted into an episode together, and they don't quite mesh. The A part is consumed by Yuki's navel-gazing; in an anime full of tortured souls he might be the most tortured. Yuki is neurotic about everything, from his perceived dependence on others and the “weakness” that goes along with it to the stressful burden of the contrast between his true self and his Mr. Perfect image at school. Last week showed this struggle through the lens of his student council; this week it's through Yuki's interactions with other Zodiac members—and stronger for it. Even his offhand conversation with Kagura shows just how much depth the Zodiac characters have, giving a lot of significance to even brief interactions.
In the B part, Tohru leans on Kyo. It's a very humanizing episode for Tohru, who can sometimes be almost unnaturally optimistic. But after a visit to her ailing grandfather dredges up memories of her deceased parents, Tohru literally stumbles. Through her cooking and cleaning, her love language is clearly caring for others, but at times like this, she needs to learn to let people help her out, too. Enter Kyo in the right place at the right time, and the pair return home together closer than they were before. In the midst of all the angst, it's scenes like this one that offer hope that all of these good boys and girls will reach a happy ending, someday.
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