This Week in Anime
Break Out the Big Box of Tissues for Fruits Basket

by Michelle Liu & Andy Pfeiffer,

The Fruits Basket remake continues its nostalgic trip down memory lane on a river of tears. This week, Micchy and Andy discuss the themes explored in this bittersweet character drama so far.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the participants in this chatlog are not the views of Anime News Network. Spoiler Warning for discussion of the series ahead.

@Lossthief @Liuwdere @A_Tasty_Sub @vestenet


You can read our weekly coverage of Fruits Basket here!

Andy
Hey Micchy! I know we usually talk about anime, but I've got a games-related question for you. They announced a new Pokémon generation, and I can't decide whether to go with Fiery Rage or Icy Fury. I figured if you choose one and I choose the other, we can collaborate to collect all the Legendary Zodiacs.
Micchy
In that case, I gotta go with
Although at the rate Tohru Honda's going, she's gonna be collecting the whole zodiac before next week! The rest of us don't stand a chance.
I don't know if it's been so long since I've seen the original and read the manga that my nostalgia for it recalled a much slower pace than this, but sure enough Tohru's filling that Pokedex quick, and some of the entries in there are pretty chilling.
I don't think it's entirely your imagination; this adaptation is moving along at a pretty brisk clip in order to cover nearly two dozen volumes of material in a reasonable time frame. This also means that the new adaptation is going hard on the heavy emotions even earlier, so basically I'm just like this half the time.
It's been weeks and I'm still yelling about Hatori's episode, which hurts just as bad in the year of our lord 2019.
That's the other thing I thought my nostalgia would blunt. Fruits Basket is pretty melodramatic and I figured hey, these emotional outbursts won't hit nearly as hard when I can see them coming, but after each one
I was just like:
No kidding! Since the last time Nick and I checked in with the good Froob kids, it's been an emotional ride. First there was Wacky Anime Hijinks Time with Kagura, Kyo's self-proclaimed fiancee; then there was the school festival episode with Yuki in a dress; and then there was Tragedy! Everything is fine!
Don't forget Tohru's two moms!
Four moms, actually.
 
 
But yeah, while there were hints of the Soma family's darker side early on, Hatori's episode is the first time the series fully addresses the implications of the zodiac curse - namely, that avoiding contact with other people to protect the secret makes it really hard to form intimate connections outside the family.
Also, Akito is a terrible person with a terrible
definition of love.

Akito is chilling.

This would be bad enough advice as-is, and the fact that Hatori's bride-to-be was actually suffering due to Akito's violent actions is the icing on the cake.
There Akito goes again, pushing the responsibility for the family's collective suffering onto somebody else and making up reasons they're not to blame for their actions. Classic Akito! And in case you were under the impression that Akito was the only one pulling the strings, don't worry, Shigure's fully aware of what's happening and using it all to his own ends too.
That's the true tragedy. Hatori is a kind and caring person who can't help but support Akito even when he hurts him, and Kana's mental breakdown came from realizing that there was no way she could stop that.

Also yeah, Shigure being an irresponsible creep hasn't aged well, and being a mysterious manipulator on top of that makes him a shitty BFF.
The curse was bad enough, but you're right that the real tragedy isn't that the zodiac members can't physically get close to others; it's that they've been raised to believe that nobody could possibly understand what they're going through, and even looking for their own happiness outside the Zodiac is a betrayal to Akito and the family name. The real curse is the abuse they suffer in the name of family and reverence to Akito. Kana falls victim to that, as do Hatori, Yuki, Kyo, and Kagura.
This certainly recolors all the character interactions we've seen before. Even the mostly comic relief of Kagura's violence makes more sense when viewed as the actions of someone desperate for support who's told they can't find it outside of their fellow Zodiacs. That Kagura picked the most unloved outcast of their number speaks volumes about her feelings, which are
great by the way.

I'm glad you understand that Kagura is the best, even if her slapstick violence shtick is super-dated and tonally at odds with the rest of the show.
I stan a queen.
(in all forms)

Boar!Kagura is the cutest lil' piggy, I'm gonna squish her cheeks and love her to bits (and hope she doesn't tear Kyo to bits first). But not even the cute pig girl who can kick your ass is able to escape the emotional cage of the Soma family. They're all stuck and everything is suffering.
Not that suffering is limited to the Soma family! Being Tohru is also suffering.
 
 
Seriously, these kids suck. Gimme the rice ball! But this is why Kagura's also probably the first of the Somas to understand Tohru on her level. Tohru admiring Kagura's ability to pursue her own feelings is something none of them truly understood. Yuki still assumes her sweet facade is the reality most of the time, while Kyo resonates with Tohru emotionally but doesn't understand his own feelings enough to realize it.
They mistake Tohru's ability to be optimistic no matter her situation as a type of simplicity, and not a product of the same fear of rejection they've tricked themselves into believing only they possess.
Tohru's so bad at loving herself. Bless her heart, but that self-loathing could destroy her someday. At least she has people who genuinely care about her in Kyo, Yuki, Arisa, and Saki.
I love her mom friends and their taste in fashion.

Mom friends they may be, but they're still only human and all too prone to taking Tohru at face value when she says she's fine. What counts is that they try to be there for her.
They respect her decisions even when they know she might be lying to herself, and that's a tough line to judge as friends. Do you help someone against their wishes and risk damaging their trust? Do you just hope things work out? Or do you act just enough to push things in the right direction?

Ultimately, love in Fruits Basket means doing your best to prioritize the needs of others in your life without stifling them or sacrificing yourself. It's sometimes hard to identify the line between caring for someone's needs and imposing what you think is right on them. But sometimes what's good for you is also good for them, and that's how you know you've found the right people.
It's about finding that sweet spot between selfishness and selflessness, being honest about who you're actually doing things for so you can truly accept yourself
and others.
That's what's held up about this story whether it's 1998, 2001, or even 2019. The thing that sure hasn't for me is those damn dorito chins.

There's just something about them...
Hey, they've been softened a fair bit, and I'll have you know the boys are still very cute when they're embarrassed.

None of them hold a candle to Tohru though.
I demand more Tohru holding small animals!

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