With her grandfather’s home renovations nearing completion, Tohru is called back. She leaves the Soma house without much drama, but it’s soon revealed that she’s just putting on a brave face and really wanted to stay. Team boy squad immediately misses her, and they set off on a ‘rescue’ mission that soon turns into just that, as it turns out Tohru’s family (in this case, her aunt and her children) are kinda jerks. Tohru is welcomed back into the Soma house on a much firmer footing to stay there long-term, with the blessing of her (pretty awesome) grandfather.
This latest episode puts the show’s strengths on good display.
It’s a foundational episode (“how are we going to justify Tohru continuing to live with the Somas in perpetuity?”) that still manages to pack in a lot of drama and emotion. That’s not easy, considering most such episodes of anime tend to be a little boring since they’re setting up for future plots, but the show pulls it off well. For one thing, right from the get-go, you’re frustrated that everyone is just going to let things move along until Tohru moves out without even discussing how they feel about it.
Then you meet Tohru’s family, who initially seem fine…
…but quickly show their jerkfaceful natures.
Pile on some insults about Tohru’s amazing mother, and you’re steaming mad and wishing Tohru would stand up for herself a bit.
And them boom! Team boy squad GRANDPA steps up to the plate and establishes his place as Best Minor Character.
Shortly thereafter, Yuki appears apropos of nothing in full Fancy Lad mode, alongside Kyo in Rage Mode (so, normal for him) to bring her back to the Soma household so we can get on with some budding romance.
So in an otherwise simple episode about why Tohru can stay at the Soma’s house now, we get drama, emotion, and learn some more about both Tohru and her love interests.
Now, thus far it’s all been praise, and rightly so, but boy, I just cannot get out of my head how weird the “rescue” scene played out. As a viewer, you know that 1) Tohru doesn’t want to be at her grandfather’s house, and wants to be with the Somas, 2) Kyo, Yuki, and Shigure want her to be with them too, 3) Tohru’s aunt and extended family don’t really want her there and are total jerks, and 4) her grandfather wants Tohru to be happy, so the boys showing up and getting her back is best for everyone.
But from an outsider’s perspective, like, say, any of the extended family in that house? Yuki appears out of friggin’ nowhere in the middle of their house, Kyo literally grabs Tohru by the face and drags her out the door, and then Yuki knocks one of the family clean on his rear before just walking out.
It’s basically two strong, violent men kidnapping a young woman in broad daylight from her home. And this is JUST AFTER everyone there has finished accusing Tohru of being a live-in girlfriend at a man’s house. It looks bad from almost any angle it’s viewed from. And while it’s played after the fact as sorta funny (the family sits around exhausted and wondering what kind of bishonen tornado just hit them), it still sits wrong. At least Shigure calls them out, in his own way.
Despite that scene, I enjoyed the episode a lot, and now that our foundation is built, we can get back to the zodiac shenanigans over at the Soma house.