Kureno is still on Uo’s mind, and she finally speaks his name aloud to Tohru, who wonders if it’s the same Kureno she knows. Emboldened by the call of friendship, she sneaks into the Soma compound. She comes across Momiji’s sister Momo, watching Momiji from afar and wishing she could be his brother (she doesn’t know they’re related). Tohru tells Momiji about this, and after some emotional moments, uses his help to finally locate Kureno and pass Uo’s contact information to him.
Suddenly, Fruits Basket became a whole different show – Love Ninja Tohru-chan. And it’s pretty great. Watching her sneak her way through the vase Soma grounds, stopping only to perform two powerful acts of friendship, was at times fun, harrowing, and emotional.
It’s hard to imagine a worse person for stealthy intrusion, but she pulls it off in true Tohru fashion, with friendship, dedication to her mission, and a ton of luck.
Despite her initial objective being to find Kureno, the emotional heart of the episode is her interactions with Momiji and Momo. Their situation (Momiji knows his sister but can’s reveal himself to her, Momo wants Momiji’s company and to have him as her brother, their father keeps them apart) is sad and a touch tragic. It’s also melodramatic, sure, but believable within the context of the show.
Also of great interest to me: Who is this lady?
She’s (barely) onscreen for a few seconds, but the framing of the scene suggests a menace on par or surpassing Akito, but with less insanity and more quiet power. I’m definitely keeping an eye out for her in the future.
Now, while I did enjoy the episode, it wasn’t without its flaws. As impactful as the scene with Momiji and Momo was, I can’t help but think it would have been even more so if we’d had more time with her before this (as in, more than the 10 seconds she’s been on screen before). The episode introduces her, lays out her emotional turmoil and longing, she runs off… and then Tohru walks up to Momiji and reveals everything to him. Much like Kureno’s introduction or Mayu’s backstory, it felt way too rushed and resolved way, way too quickly. Let us have a chance to learn about these characters before we immediately try and solve all their problems, show!
Another minor quibble was the very thin line between drama and over-the-top melodrama. As Tohru talks to Kureno about Uo, she says this:
If Kureno feels an unknown longing in his heart, and one day realizes he wants to talk to Uo, it would be quite romantic up to, let’s say (adding in Shoujou time distortion factor) a month or two from now. If he wakes up TEN YEARS from now and says “You know, I really need to call up that girl I talked to for 10 minutes at that udon shop a decade ago” I feel like that crosses some kind of creepy stalker line. It’s hard to fine-tune the kind of emotional plea Tohru is making so it has maximum feelings impact for the viewer, but maybe dial it back a bit.
Long story short, I liked this episode a lot, with some minor complaints. Here’s to more ninja adventures from Tohru. Just watch out for Inspector Akito!