Commencement brings Hatsuharu and Momiji to Kaibara High School, where their unusual styles disrupt the staid traditions of that storied institution (the joke here being that I had to look up the school’s name). An encounter between the four school-boy Somas and the megalomaniac student council president prompts antics to ensue, but things get really tense really quickly when Tohru happens across Akito on the way back to class.
Fruits Basket (2019) finally begins drawing back the curtain on the apparent villain of the story: the hierarchical structure of a Japanese clan that has largely become isolated from the outside world due to a magical secret. I don’t know how much older than Yuki Akito is, but there certainly appear to be older folks. The obvious conclusion that some combination of lineage and zodiac patron (and, if I had to guess now, I’d assume he is some manifestation of the banquet host) prevented anyone from stopping him from subjecting his relative to solitary confinement (and whatever else) only suggests to me that the family has been living in fear for a very long time.
If I may brag for a moment, this is the area where the show is not going to hit me as hard as it hits some other people, because I grew up in approximately the opposite of a large, abusive household. I’m terrible at reading subtext as it is, too; I may make out the broad strokes, but I have serious doubts about my ability to detect the subtleties of power struggles within manipulative familial relationships, even with the aid of overt hints about what’s been going on behind the scenes.
As an aside, if you’re going to make a story that is essentially based on betrayal, then I guess you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do. Perhaps the point of episode 10’s reveal is indeed that I be unhappy about having to filter everything Shigure now does through the question of how he intends to sow happiness amongst his young boarders to somehow reap it for himself in the foreseeable future.
Fortunately, the show still has plenty of levity and charm to balance its forays into the dark side of humanity. I don’t really have a position on most of the arguments that flared up during the encounter with the student council president, but most of the gags hit well and I thought it did well at rotating the focus around what was perhaps the largest number of interacting characters yet.
And afterwards was badminton with the best girls, which rivals the aforementioned scene for number of players if you consider the president’s lackeys as effectively being a single character.
Lastly, if anyone else was hoping that the show wouldn’t name-drop a real Japanese celebrity who only achieved widespread popularity after the spring of 2011, since doing so would further imply that this adaptation takes place in some alternate dimension where the Zodiac cycle is shifted by several years……I feel your pain.
Seeing Akito up close and personal is a turning point for the show, and some of Yuki’s mysterious past is revealed to be more than a little disturbing. This dramatic weight is kept afloat by virtue of being surrounded by an endearing and entertaining cast of weirdos.
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