by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 46 of
Fruits Basket (TV 2/2019) ?
Last week on Fruits Basket, we saw Yuki begin to have a panic attack over some black paint splattered in a dark closet. Now that this episode has so painfully illuminated the trauma behind his reaction, I'm surprised he was able to stay so composed. In earlier reviews I've given Yuki a hard time for being the anime's most theatrically tortured soul. But “There Was, Definitely” is such a powerful portrayal of the lifetime of pain Yuki has endured that it more than justifies his attitude. And not just him: through Yuki's eyes, we see Tohru, Kyo, and Akito as children in a context that intricately binds their past experiences with the way they experience the present. In a seamlessly woven narrative that feels far shorter than it is, Yuki's trip down memory lane is Fruits Basket at its best. It's an emotional journey that is difficult to watch because it so aptly expresses a universal aspect of the human condition: wanting to be loved but feeling uncertain that we are worthy of it.
It's lonely at the top. All of the other zodiac members think that Yuki, the esteemed Rat, has it better than themselves. But Yuki's retelling of his childhood portrays a youth so lonely and neglected that he even recalls being jealous of Kyo, the scorned Cat. Yuki never really had a positive moment in his childhood; as he recalls it, there was only the time before he was old enough to be aware of how bad things were. There's a particularly damning sequence in which Yuki exits a banquet at which everyone is talking and laughing except for him, is immediately accosted by Kyo outside, and finally slapped by his mother. He meets loneliness at every turn, and the moment when he eventually breaks down sobbing is almost a relief—for so long before that, we've seen him put on a brave face and pretend he was okay. Yuki's complete isolation without a single person he could turn to is even more dramatic than Kyo's because at least Kyo had a loving father figure. (And after a childhood-long rejection like this, it's no wonder that Ayame currently feels the need to make such overdramatic gestures of affection toward Yuki: with a track record like this, it's the least he can do.)
As Yuki narrates his past, petals symbolically fall off of a red camellia in Akito's darkened rooms. At the same time, Yuki himself is fading. Laid low with a serious cough and with only poison-tongued Akito for company, it's no wonder that Yuki appears to be losing the will to live. The one-two punch of his family refusing to come visit their sick child and Akito curiously, coldly wondering if Yuki will die would have anybody feeling hopeless. “If I go away, maybe it'll be the first time I'm ever useful,” Yuki considers. Conversely, it's his actions directly spanning from this thought that lead to something purposeful that only he could do. When he encounters a raging Mrs. Honda crying to the police to find her child (“I told you! She's a cute girl with a cute round hair tie, cute clothes, a cute voice, and a cute face!” was such a perfect beat of humor in this episode), he recalls a crying girl he ran past earlier and brings her, swiftly and silently, to safety. Finally the mystery of the hat is revealed. Both Yuki and Kyo recognized it, but who was the boy in Tohru's childhood memory? Now we know. This one faded cap held is imbued with emotional significance for all three of them, expertly weaving all three of their pasts together.
Yuki finally returns to the present where he drops the most impactful line of the episode, finally making good on last week's cliffhanger. To Yuki, Tohru is “like a mother.” Sorry to anyone who was hoping Yuki and Tohru would end up together: he just mom-zoned her. It's interesting that this memory, in which Yuki took care of Tohru in the past, gave way to Yuki's desire to be taken care of by Tohru in the present. Something about his memory of the little girl who had such a loving parent turned and twisted in his brain until Tohru was forever associated with maternal love and Yuki's deep-seated yearning for a family. Like a series of interlocking puzzle pieces, the complex emotional web of Fruits Basket relationships is finally starting to make sense.
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