Fruits Basket
Episode 44

by Lauren Orsini,

How would you rate episode 44 of
Fruits Basket (TV 2/2019) ?

Tohru first met Isuzu “Rin” Sohma back in May, more than ten episodes ago. Now, Fruits Basket's resident ray of sunshine is finally getting through to the Zodiac Horse. The title of the episode, “There's Just No Way!” reads like Rin's final protest before giving in to the same comfort that Tohru has provided all of the other Sohmas. Rin slowly warms up to Tohru, seeing her first as a mother figure and then as an equal, in an episode that uses light and color like a painter to convey mood and tone.

When a still-sleepy Rin mistakes Tohru for her mother, the framing couldn't be more obvious. Though Rin is a few years older, she sees Tohru as maternal. Tohru does nothing to discourage this viewpoint; she is shown as a loving and thoughtful caretaker, providing home-cooked food and even giving up her own bed to make Rin more comfortable. At first, Rin is extremely reluctant to be cared for and even tries to jump out the window. (On the positive side, it looks like her run-in with Akito didn't give her a fear of heights.) But this strong resistance belies the intensity of Rin's feelings to the opposite: “I wanted to… surrender my heart to her.” Powerful words! Rin isn't able to verbally express this yearning, but actions speak louder than words. After a heated argument (in which Tohru unexpectedly stands her ground; she's always better at holding steady when it's in the name of kindness), Rin makes a break for it, sprinting so quickly she trips and falls. Tohru hesitates, unsure of whether Rin will allow her to assist, but before she can make a move, Rin surrenders and weeps in her arms the way she'd wanted to ever since she first saw Tohru. And that, as the equestrian saying goes, is how you break a horse. With the sun bursting symbolically through the clouds to the sound of gentle strings music, it's a cathartic moment witnessed by the entire household. It's the most vivid example of Tohru being represented by light and Rin by dark: you can see this in their clothing in every scene, too.

If the beginning of the episode is about portraying Rin's recovery, the ending is about conveying how much healing Tohru still has left to do. The episode concludes with Tohru's bad dream, almost a memory, of the apartment she shared with her mother. Her mother has just left for the last time (before her fatal accident, we realize) and Tohru is left forlorn and alone. It's a far cry from the Tohru of today, who is so thoughtful that when Rin grumbles that Tohru is probably only visiting her at the hospital to grill her about the curse, Tohru confesses that she'd completely forgotten about it! Rin admires Tohru's kindness, but she also suspects the pain behind it. “Someone who knows how scary it is to be alone… can't help but love others,” Rin thinks to herself. As this episode compares and contrasts these two women, it's clear that they're far more similar than their opposite white and black color schemes would have us believe. They both understand loneliness and have adapted self-sufficiency as a trauma response. They might be an odd couple, but in many ways, they're the perfect duo to try to break the curse.

“Do you hear it?... the sound of breaking.” Shigure, could you get any more ominous? Tohru and Rin are approaching the problem of the curse with youthful energy, but this conversation between two of the older Zodiac members has me wondering just what they've stepped into. There's an occult aspect to be sure—when Tohru tries to tell Rin just what is motivating her to break the curse, she envisions Akito's face and finds she cannot speak. So far Tohru has managed to solve the Sohmas' problems with her bottomless kindness, but this episode ends on an uncharacteristically uncertain note. I think only Rin sees it so far: to face the curse, Tohru will first have to give herself the same love and healing that she's offered everyone else.

Rating:

Fruits Basket is currently streaming on Crunchyroll and Funimation.

Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist and model kits at Gunpla 101.


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