WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD
Kyo has a harrowing dream in which his mother and Tohru’s mother torment him, causing him to once again give up on seeking Tohru’s love. Shigure confronts Ren, and we learn her backstory and understand her motivations. Ren, holding a knife, confronts Akito to get ahold of Akira’s box, gets the box and finds it empty. Akito gets the knife and makes to stab Ren, but is stopped by the breaking of his bond with Hiro. Kureno tries to comfort Akito and find a new path for her, and Akito finally uses Chekov’s knife.
Wow. There is a lot going on in this episode. So much so that describing it all would make this review much too long, and also have none of the impact of actually seeing it unfold. So if you passed by the spoiler warning but haven’t watched this episode yet, here’s a recommendation for doing that.
What I do want to talk about is something very impressive that Fruits Basket pulled off this episode, and which very, very few shows do successfully even in that small set where they try. Fruits Basket does not have a capital-V Villain. Sure, it has multiple people acting villainously. But none of them is the mastermind, the Big Boss pulling the strings, and that seems unlikely to change (unless the guy that created the curse somehow shows up as a ghost or something).
Instead, the problems with the Soma family are caused by multiple individual agendas that, taken together, have resulted in the sorry state of things. Akira wanted Akito to be loved by Ren, but in showering Akito with affection he instead caused resentment.
Ren was the only person in the Soma household to care for Akira, despite all of his attendants, and feels a keen sense of injustice loss now that she believes Akito is favored by him.
Akito, in turn, was told by Akira that he was special, yet is attacked by Ren, and responds with arrogance and spite.
The unnamed attendants of the Soma family believed they were helping their charges or preserving the honor of the family, but instead helped create and then exacerbated the new rift, dividing the family into camps depending on who they sided with.
Even Shigure, who comes off more than anyone else as stirring up trouble for its own sake, had his own selfish objective he was pursuing because he wanted something, not for cruelty’s sake.
This is excellent writing. Rather than someone being revealed at the end to just hate everyone and to want everything to collapse, the collective misery of the Somas is also their collective fault. While the specifics of their situation (namely the zodiac curse) are unique, the interpersonal relationships on display feel more believable, more real, than most dramas. Well done, Fruits Basket.