Machi recounts her experiences with Yuki, leading up to a meeting with him where she comes out of her shell quite a bit. The Soma family New Year’s celebrations are underway. Tohru, Kyo, Rin, and Kazuma spend the time together. Yuki attends the Soma celebration, where he angers and is attacked by Akito.
I’m going to start with the second half of the episode, because it’s quite well told. We get to see Yuki changing…
…Akito reacting predictably as another Soma moves further from his control…
…and Ayame really doing an incredible job of defusing a very dangerous situation using his over-the-top persona.
It’s potent and well-paced and you should definitely go watch it.
With that done… it’s time to take a hard look at the first half of this episode.
Most of the first half is a very heavy introspection by Machi about her life, her self-identity, and her family. It is dark and sad and it’s clear that Machi has been troubled for a long time.
What gives the viewer a small hope for this poor depressed girl is her thoughts of Yuki – she feels the same loneliness in him as in herself, but doesn’t understand yet why he seems to be taking an interest in her.
There’s a sense that, given a lot of time and interactions with him, she might start to engage again with the world.
And then BAM! Yuki finds that she’s pressed the leaf he gave her into a bookmark!
BOOM! Machi is no longer a quiet Sad Girl in Snow™. No! Machi has changed classes to Tsundere!
Now she’s blushing and verbally sparring with Yuki and a bit clumsy and I didn’t make this for you, b-baka!
Fruits Basket, Fruits Basket, sit down so I can lean in real close. *breathes in*
WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!
Can you have a single secondary female character develop normally instead of in massive single episode bursts? This is like Uo/Kureno and Mayuko/Shigure all over again, how do I keep getting these episodes?! I thought they’d finally got it right with Machi. We met her, noted some difficulties she was having, and teased out the source of them and more of her personality over a few more episodes. It was going so well. And now it feels like she’s jumped 20 steps to the point where she’s basically ready for a tsundere rom-com with Yuki. I can’t stress how abrupt this is, so I went back to the episode to check. The following shot takes place at 8 minutes 47 seconds in:
And then this happens at 10:05, a mere 78 seconds later:
78 seconds is not long enough to overcome a lifetime of issues. Like, don’t get me wrong, it’s great that Machi and Yuki are being set up for each other.
But can we make it feel more natural than whiplash so intense a character changes genres?