Kureno reveals another Soma family secret about Akito and Ren, the matriarch of the clan. Unwilling to leave Akito’s side, even for his own happiness with Arisa, he leaves Tohru despondent over her inability to help her friends. Saki finds Tohru and takes her home, eventually working through Tohru’s pain along with Arisa.
Welcome back to Fruits Basket, everyone! It’s been two full years since this journey started, and it feels good to be back on a show that has been reliably strong throughout its run.
SUPER SPOILER ALERT – Unless you’re already familiar with the manga or have watched the first two seasons, we recommend you catch up before reading further.
We pick up precisely where we left off at the end of the second season, with Kureno explaining even more about the Somas’ troubling dynamics to Tohru. He explains that beyond the crippling dependency between Akito and the zodiac children, there’s another wrinkle to the family head’s background; Akito was born female but raised male on the orders of her mother, Ren. While he doesn’t state it explicitly, he implies that this has caused even more trauma for Akito and has contributed to her abusive personality.
Hoo-dang, now there is a lot to unpack here, and I’m curious about how this will play out going forward. So far, we have no idea of how Akito perceives herself sexually or romantically – I’m using ‘she’ in this case because that’s how Kureno refers to her. She’s violently misogynist and jealous around several of the Soma men, as well as emotionally and physically abusive towards anyone who questions her. Some of this seems to be learned from her mother, who is presented as vindictive and promiscuous in the brief scenes we see of her.
It feels like Ren is being set up as the ‘true’ antagonist behind the scenes, whose actions caused Akito’s behavior and in turn led to the suffering of all the zodiac children to different degrees. I’m not sure if I buy that personally, because while what happened to Akito is tragic and she’s just as trapped by the curse as the others, she’s gone out of her way for years to make the lives of everyone around her worse. Just because harmful behavior is a response to trauma doesn’t make it acceptable, and I wonder how the show will present Akito’s redemption or rejection for her actions. It’s an emotional minefield, and will definitely make for a fascinating finale.
The latter half of the episode moves on from the Somas and focusing on Tohru, Saki and Arisa. Proving once again to be THE BEST FRIEND, Saki brings Tohru home for a slumber party and a chance to work through her sadness and sense of powerlessness. She reiterates what others have been telling Tohru throughout the series; her taking all of these emotional burdens from those around her is crushing her, and she needs to trust that her friends can and will work through things. They love her and appreciate her help, but not at the expense of her health.
To me, this will always be the part of Fruits Basket that gets me the most. All of the supernatural zodiac nonsense and the never-ending trauma parade that is the Soma household can only work when contrasted with the love and friendship Tohru, Saki and Arisa share. The rest of the cast forms their own supportive networks, but these three always return as a safe space outside of the rest of the plot. It’s the grounding influence that keeps me coming back.
With Tohru now more aware of the Somas’ deep dysfunction and the workings of the curse, she’s poised to jump into the tensest moments of the series. Ren has now been brought into the story proper and is scheming something that will surely make things worse before the end. Meanwhile, Arisa and Saki are just doing their best to keep homegirl together, and the Soma dudes are proving to be kinda useless without them. All-in-all, a solid return for the series and an exciting place to dive into the final season.