The second season of Fruits Basket continues with its second episode “Eat Somen with Your Friends,” and so does this weekly recap and analysis series. With anime production across the industry up in the air and more shows postponed due to COVID-19, it is unclear how long Fruits Basket season two will last. The first three episodes were completed back in March to run in US theaters, but the rest of production is unknown. For now, I plan to write these recaps as long as the show stays on streaming sites, but I understand if production will be suspended.
“Eat Somen with Your Friends” merges manga chapter 46, in which Tohru and Kyo discuss their futures with a career plan assignment in mind, and 52, in which Tohru and Kyo visit Kazuma’s house for lunch. Like “Hello Again,” the combination comes naturally through shared characters. Together, they underline the uncertainty Kyo and Tohru share over what lies ahead. While the last episode looked at Yuki’s character development, this time we marvel at how far our other leading man has come and where he will go with Tohru.
An announcement for parent-teacher meetings and career plan forms from Mayuko Shiraki, Tohru’s homeroom teacher, has everyone considering their lives after graduation. As fun as having all of Tohru’s friends together to discuss that can be, their lunchtime also upholds the heteronormativity of Fruits Basket. Tohru aims to support herself financially, but the conversation quickly turns to her someday getting married (literally “becoming a bride” in the Japanese version). Saki’s resolve to make Tohru her bride is only played as a joke. Arisa would never be attracted to Tohru, but can be into a guy who reminds her of Tohru. It just feels like salt in the wound for people, including myself, who already know female best friends will never be “canon.” Instead Arisa points to Yuki and Kyo as the likely candidates for Tohru’s hand in marriage, calling attention to the love triangle that still needs to be settled.
While “Hello Again” looks at Yuki away from Tohru as he makes connections, this episode showcases Tohru and Kyo spending time together and deepening their bond. Every character has the future on their mind, whether it be about high school or beyond. For Tohru and Kyo, their remaining biological family don’t support them, leaving them without a safety net. Tohru has committed to finding a job after graduation to support herself rather than go into higher education, while Kyo knows he must defeat Yuki to earn his place in the zodiac. Although only one has a supernatural situation, they both live as outcasts. If Kyo doesn’t win against Yuki in a fight within the year, not even his loving adoptive father can stop the Sohmas from locking him in the Cat’s solitary confinement.
Kyo’s biological father believes in the “efficient” solution of locking Kyo away for the rest of his life, rather than take responsibility. He meets Kazuma face-to-face to tell him so, where they sit across a table and literally parallel one another. They may both be father figures to Kyo, but they treat him completely differently. Kyo’s biological father dehumanizes Kyo by referring to him as “that” (as in “that thing”), while Kazuma sees him as his son despite not being directly related. When Kyo’s biological father thrashes and shouts about how Kyo caused his wife’s ostensible suicide, it becomes clear where Kyo learned to be aggressive. Kyo blames Yuki for his problems, just as his father blames Kyo, when the fault for everything truly lies in the Sohma family’s system.
Thankfully, as Kazuma points out, Kyo has evolved from being that kind of man. He still resents Yuki, but they can behave around each other. He doesn’t get along with everyone, but he softens and opens up around Tohru. Yuki and Kyo have changed and will continue to change, because the second season has only just begun. Like Yuki, Kyo owes his growth to his relationship with Tohru, demonstrated with a symbolic stain in Kazuma’s house.
Kunimitsu, an older student of Kazuma’s, points out a stain on the kitchen door frame that frightened Kyo as a child. The stain only appears indistinctly in one panel in the manga, while the anime shows the three round shapes multiple times. The stain’s resemblance to a face brings a person Kyo fears to mind, whether it be Akito or someone else. It symbolizes a fear for the future he’s had since childhood, which has been part of a Sohma house before his birth and has not faded over time. Before he would cry and thus not address the problem, like his biological father. Unable to erase it, Kyo instead approaches the stain by placing his hand over Tohru’s. He can face his fears with her intermediate. Together, they can walk through the door into the future. Indeed, Tohru admits she also cried when frightened as a child, reinforcing they have the same response to anxiety to grow out of.
Tohru puts on a brave face when discussing her life after high school, when in actuality she worries about being able to live independently. Even when honest about the uncertainties, her monologue and the details stay internal. While the manga portrays Tohru’s thoughts with a page of swirling black despair, the anime uses snapshots from throughout her life. The number of places Tohru has called home, including merely a tent in the woods, illustrate the instability she would have to overcome. Tohru and Kyo both cope by bottling up their worries, but they can see that and address the other’s feelings. She doesn’t even know about his confinement deadline (if I remember correctly?), but can tell something’s wrong. Tohru grasps Kyo’s bracelet that prevents transforming into his monstrous true form, placing herself between Kyo and his fears again. Kyo couldn’t return the gesture with a hug even if he wanted to, so he comforts her by holding her hand and sitting with her.
Shigure ruins the moment by barging in on them, but has good advice for once instead of sexually charged comments about high school girls. Pulling a touching metaphor out of nowhere about insurmountable piles of laundry and having to tackle them piece by piece reminds you that he may act like a bum, but he writes novels for a living. He joins Kyo and Tohru for their second communal meal of the episode, which Kyo will never experience again if he’s confined to the Cat’s cage. Parent-teacher meetings and more lie ahead, and the characters will have to do what they can now to prepare.
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