Fruits Basket
Episode 6

by Jacob Chapman,

How would you rate episode 6 of
Fruits Basket (TV 2/2019) ?

As Fruits Basket's first arc wraps up and a new Zodiac banquet begins for the Soma family (plus one riceball), it's time for this anime to make like Tohru Honda and roll up its sleeves for a little house-cleaning. Episode 6 combines manga chapters 9 and 7 (in that order) to deliver a landslide combo of resolution and setup that leaves little breathing room for emotional release.

Overall, I've been happy with this remake's adaptation changes thus far, but the end result was never going to be without sacrifice. For reference, Fruits Basket's ultimate dramatic structure breaks into three big Acts that each contain several dramatic arcs and a smattering of side stories. (The 2001 anime adaptation ended at the climax of Act 1 but left out its denouement, replacing it with an anime-original conclusion.) The appearance of the Soma family's enforcer Hatori signals the start of the second arc, which means every smaller hanging thread from the first five episodes must be squished together expediently before Tohru's world gets much bigger, even if it squashes down their emotional impact to footnote size in the process. So it's a shame that the handful of sentimental moments in this episode weren't given room to breathe, but on the other hand, there's so much story left to convey in such a limited runtime that if we must rush through material, these more brass-tacks-and-foreshadowing chapters are the best place to pick up the pace.

The surprise appearance of more Soma cousins at his school brings Yuki's insecurities about his body into sharp relief. Not only does Dr. Hatori snap a photo of him in a dress to show Akito later, but he even conducts Yuki's skipped monthly checkup in front of the gawking class. It's obvious that Yuki never wanted Tohru to know that his health was unstable, and it's also relevant to note that children raised in traumatic environments often grow up with weakened immune systems due to stress, which makes getting distance from their abusive families even more difficult. Even if his Zodiac powers allow him to kick a man through a wall, Yuki's asthma flare-ups could send him kicking and screaming back to the Soma house if he's not careful, and going back every month just to keep tabs on his condition may be equally triggering, given that he keeps skipping appointments. Although we still know so little about him, it's possible that Akito has similar persistent health problems, since the only thing keeping the head of the family away from Yuki's school appears to be a high fever.

Anyway, that excitable rabbit Momiji is to blame for all this, and he only makes things worse when he embraces Tohru without a drop of shame, forcing Yuki to emasculate himself even further in front of his classmates. (And in case we weren't already aware of the Soma family's obscene wealth, Momiji's father is the CEO of the corporation that owns the building Tohru cleans. What a spoiled brat!) The whole debacle is played for laughs at first, but Yuki takes his perceived lack of masculinity very seriously, leading to another trademark pep talk from Tohru. (Yuki also had hangups with discussing his feelings around Tohru because "that's shameful for boys", whereas Kyo derides himself for going overboard with martial arts around her. This is another interesting reflection of their equal-yet-opposite fears, since Kyo is afraid of driving others away with his boisterous boyishness, while Yuki is afraid that other people will mock him for not being manly enough.)

Even though the episode sprints through it with fairly workmanlike direction, there's nothing missing from this little detour into Yuki's gender insecurities that won't be revisited more thoroughly later. He needs to learn how to be confident in his own skin and embrace his feminine traits as an equally powerful part of the Prince Yuki underneath that everyone else already sees, but this is something Tohru can't really help him with, because she's bowled over by the beauty of his feminine side herself! As a result, her therapy session in this episode is a little more watered-down than usual, but since Yuki's already started thinking about the many different ways in which people show kindness, he's able to accept that Tohru's right about the class trying to express their love for him rather than mocking him, and that's enough to quell his fears about looking "weak" for now. Maybe someday he'll realize that he's already cool and masculine in all the ways that matter.

After the dust settles, Tohru finally has to reckon with the enormous secret she's been keeping from her two best friends. In the manga, Tohru volunteered this information to Uo and Hana as soon as her living situation with the Somas became permanent, but due to the way the material was rearranged, this remake opts for an accidental airheaded blurt instead. While I think it's slightly out of character for Tohru to hide the truth from her friends even after she's chosen the Somas as her new home, it's also firmly in-character for Uo and Hana to detect something is up for themselves and coax it out of her, so that's probably a harmless nitpick overall. Uo and Hana are fiercely protective of Tohru as a pair of outcasts who found their first and dearest friend but felt helpless to support her after Kyoko's death. By that same token, they've also seen enough hardship and prejudice to be more sympathetic to fellow unpolished weirdos like Yuki, Kyo, and even Shigure. (While he is a published novelist, given that this horn-dog also writes smutty bodice-rippers under a pseudonym "for the lulz", it's possible his livelihood doesn't actually pay for the Soma cottage.)

Uo's won over by Yuki and Kyo's heartfelt assessment of Tohru's character, and Hana sums up their own appeal succinctly: "They have good waves, but they don't know it." While it's not great for their self-esteem long-term, the fact that Yuki and Kyo don't know how special they are probably makes things easier on a self-sacrificial busybody like Tohru. So the girls give the boys their blessing with minimal drama, freeing us to mix up the supporting cast more often going forward. They truly have an invincible friendship, even if I still think Tohru's candid speech about it is one of her most unconvincingly cheesy moments. I love these characters, but moments like that remind me why Tohru would get dismissed as a "Mary Sue" so often in the old days. Would that we all could be so beautifully humble around the people we love.

Then there's that baseball cap. This remake has gone overboard with pregnant shots of this plot device from the start, and this episode finally delivers all its built-up foreshadowing in the last five minutes by raising more questions than answers. It turns out that the hat belonged to Tohru's first crush, a little boy who brought her back home when she had lost her way, even if he kept his distance the whole time and vanished immediately afterwards. It doesn't take a detective to suss out that either Yuki or Kyo was the kid who rescued Tohru that day, but there seems to be equal evidence for both parties. Kyo's the one who overhears Tohru's story with some sense of recognition, but the child's silhouette is closer to Yuki's, and we get a shot of him reading in his room under Tohru's line about the boy likely having forgotten his act of kindness. Is Tohru fated to rekindle her first love once again, just like in a fairytale? Or is the truth behind this baseball cap much more complicated than a kind gesture from one mysterious boy?

Speaking of mirrored meanings, this episode gives us another glimpse of Shigure's dark side, as he leaves the teens behind to scheme alongside Akito once more. It seems like they have some kind of wager going over what will happen to Tohru in the Soma house, but we don't know what outcome either of them is betting on yet. Their rapport is frosty as they sit on opposite sides of the room, yet it's also strangely intimate, as Shigure's jab about Akito being a terrible person compared to Tohru is only met with an amused self-deprecating remark about "always wishing for the moon." So even if they appear to be at odds on the surface, Shigure is clearly acting as a double agent by reporting everyone's actions to Akito, and there's no way he could get away with insulting the head of the family so directly if they didn't share some kind of unique relationship. Just like their chronic illnesses, this "wishing for the moon" phrase is meant to tie Yuki and Akito together, as an abuser and victim who share a history we've only just begun to unravel. Yuki admires Tohru for being brave and strong enough to think of others' needs first, but this could make Akito especially dangerous to her as a person who knows that he makes unreasonably selfish demands but doesn't seem to care.

It seems like it's far too early in the story for these opposing forces to meet, but Hatori Soma has other ideas. Once again, there's a slight change in context for this scene due to reordering manga material, but the only thing we lost this time was the humorous juxtaposition of Tohru being called to the teacher's lounge to meet Hatori mere seconds after she was warned not to be caught alone with him. In this remake, their meeting happens over the phone instead (notably while Shigure isn't home to answer it), without the levity provided by Momiji hopping up to interrupt Hatori's mention of a meeting with Akito Sohma. With the Zodiac's memory-erasing giant and its malicious leader drawing Tohru away from the cottage next week, things look bad for our humble heroine. But then again, Hatori did try to protect Yuki in his own small way by taking Momiji to the culture festival in Akito's place, so perhaps he's got something more benevolent in mind for Tohru as well.

Stray Snippets Lost in Adaptation This Week: Kyo got slightly more lines and focus during the culture festival in the manga, following his embarrassing cat-astrophe during homeroom in episode 3. He puts his all into constructing festival stands after being inspired by Tohru's speech about pickled plums, and his classmates grow closer to him as a result, nicknaming him "cat lover" now that his magnetic effect on felines is common knowledge. Yuki kicks everyone's asses at Rich Man Poor Man to pay off his own confidence boost from episode 3, and most importantly, we learn that he struggles greatly with mornings compared to early-riser Kyo. When Tohru tries to compliment Kyo for not battling Yuki when he's groggy, Kyo begrudgingly reveals that he has tried to attack his rival early in the morning, but Yuki is actually stronger when he's sleepwalking because he isn't lucid enough to hold back. Rats!

Rating:

Fruits Basket is currently streaming on Crunchyroll and Funimation.

Jacob also enjoys yelling about anime on Twitter and YouTube. If you're thirsting for more Furuba content, he recently co-hosted a trio of podcasts that covers the entire manga.


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