Yuki muses about the story of his life. He talks about his childhood relationship with Akito, and why his mind is so twisted up with self hatred. What lead him to this mental state, and what is it that he’s truly seeking from his relationship with Tohru?
Scott?! Brendan?! Dan?! Can one of you bring a forklift in here? Because heaven help me this episode is so damn heavy.
Readers…let me have this. It’s the only fun I am going to get for this episode.
When learning about Yuki’s childhood in the Soma household, and his abuse at the hands of Akito, we have been given what I’ll call the “spotlight treatment”. The writers have shone a beam of light on a particular subject like, Yuki sitting by himself in a dark room, or young Yuki being abandoned by his mom. Yuki himself has given cryptic verbal cues when speaking about his life. So much so that I began to wonder if he was previously capable of formulating what he truly desires into full statements. Episode 21 turns on the floodlights and we’re able to see his whole story, tip to tail, in all its tragic glory.
I don’t want to give away everything that’s revealed because seriously…watch Fruits Basket. It is amazing. Instead, I want to praise the way in which this episode ties all the little pieces we’ve seen before together. The episode doesn’t dwell too long on scenes we’ve already watched, nor does it forget to remind us of these moments when presenting new information. It provides all the connective tissue in between, so Yuki’s statement at the end about what he truly wants from Tohru hits like a monster truck.
The expansion of Yuki’s relationship with Akito is definitely the winner of the “Most Tragic” Oscar. Yuki is effectively sold to Akito’s household to be his playmate. This is considered an honor, and Yuki in particular is picked because the rat ranks very high in this show’s zodiac pantheon.
The transition Yuki makes from gentle kid to abused high schooler with no sense of self is showcased slowly. Watching it makes you a little sick. Yuki is inundated with emotional manipulation, mental abuse, and loss. Hell, even Kyo is one of his aggressors here. Nobody supports this poor kid….
Rin still wins the award for “backstory that’s most likely to make me cry”, but Yuki’s life has a special place in my heart because I see elements of myself in it. If you stripped away the supernatural element of the zodiac transformation, Yuki has realistic and relatable pain. The pain that comes from being held to an impossible standard, and being blamed for things outside of your control. The pain that comes from being warped into having self-deprecating thoughts because everyone around you chooses to heap verbal abuse on you.
The story never forgets that a person doesn’t just recover from a lifetime of people ripping at your self-esteem. They spend an equivalent lifetime fighting themselves, because the habit of self-hate perpetuates in their minds.
Yuki’s struggles culminate in two hard hitting moments. The first, is the moment when he meets Tohru as a child. His elation at being useful for the first time in his life makes you tear up a bit. The second, I mentioned previously. We learn the secret to what he’s always sought out of Tohru. It’s a seemingly simple thing, but it’s poignant and heartbreaking that this is what he yearns for, and this is what he feels guilt for asking for.
This is a contender for best episode of Fruits Basket for me, due to its heavy hitting dramatic storytelling. I love the way we get a full look at Yuki’s life by pulling together the scattered jigsaw pieces from past episodes. It makes every step towards self-acceptance for him that much more beautiful.
Wow what an episode. Yuki’s heart is laid bare and we understand what he secretly yearns for. Good on Kakeru for being such a great wingman. I think he’s quietly providing a space for Yuki to spill out his thoughts and sort through them in earnest. I am so invested in this show it’s not even funny.
I’ll end with some quick side notes:
(1) There’s an important sequence of events that puts Akito in a new light. Even though he is a horrible person, you’re left to wonder if even he is a victim of the Zodiac Curse. (I still hate him though)
(2) Kyoko continues to be a treasure of a woman. In a flashback where she’s lost Tohru and is trying to describe her to the police, the entire scene is GOLD. Someone give this lady a medal.