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Fruits Basket (2019) Key Visual

Source: CrunchyRoll

These two episodes are very similar but there are three key changes, one of which I liked a lot, the other two I was less comfortable with.

One structural note that I’ve observed with Fruits Basket Deen is that it tends not to use pre-credit tags to each episode[1]. Each episode tends to be OP – 1st half – 2nd Half – ED – Next Ep. Fruits Basket TMS does use tags before the OP, and seems to be doing so consistently.

Fruits Basket Deen: A Rice Ball in a Fruits Basket

The library scene that Fruits Basket TMS pulled forward into episode 4 shows up here in an expanded form – we actually see Tohru picking out the three books. This version also makes it clearer to the viewer what the 3rd book was: a cookbook for 100 recipes. I think this is significant – the first two books relate to getting to know Kyo and Yuko better, the last to making the Sohmas’ house her home[2].

She’s then called to the staff office and finds out that she should come “home” to her extended family.

As she’s packing Tohru remembers an incident from childhood of playing Fruit Basket Turnover but being assigned Onigiri[3], and never having her name called. Because an onigiri, whilst it might be delicious[4], is not a fruit. i.e. This was essentially teasing at best, outright bullying at worst. Tohru only now realises that it was teasing, and only now connects it to her inability to be part of the Sohma family.

The mechanics of the departure from the Sohmas’ seems straightforward enough but leaves a gaping hole in the household, and one that Shigure cheerfully trolls both Kyo and Yuki over. Meanwhile the atmosphere at Tohru’s new “home” is less than ideal.

Apparently the son of the household wants to become a police officer and the mother is suspicious enough of Kyoko’s reputation to have hired private detectives to shadow Tohru.

Ick.

The son then implies some unsavoury things about Tohru and gets slapped by Tohru’s grandfather.

Grandpa then has a speech about how, although the family here are nasty people, this is still his beloved home… but it doesn’t have to be Tohru’s home. If she would be happier somewhere else, then she should go there.

Tohru’s grandfather is, quite frankly, awesome.

Despite feeling that she has no right to be selfish or ungrateful, Tohru eventually admits in tears that she does want to go back to the Sohmas.

Which, naturally, is when Kyo and Yuki walk in. Kyo literally drags Tohru out of the house, whilst Yuki intimidates the son of the household and collects her stuff. There is one nice scene of Kyo not knowing why Tohru’s absence rattled him so much. It’s kind of adorable really. Kyo also makes the point here that whilst he’d be annoyed by someone who was constantly selfish, it’s OK for Tohru to say what she wants occasionally and to be selfish as well occasionally.

Cue musical interlude as they return home before the end credits roll.

Fruits Basket TMS: I’ve Been Fooling Myself

Generally speaking Fruits Basket TMS uses the extra time gained by moving the library scene to the previous episode to good effect. The tag starts with the discussion with the Sohmas’ about Tohru moving out but adds a flashback to when Kyoko was alive. It shows a sick Tohru cooking when Kyoko returns home from work, and Kyoko pointing out that it is OK to be selfish occasionally, especially when sick etc. This is a good foundation for the themes of the episode, and leads into the opening credits.

Much of the rest of the episode is quite similar in intent and general events. There are some key changes that should be pointed out.

First, Grandpa constantly refers to Tohru as Kyoko, with an implication that there’s some level of Alzheimer’s in play. I’m not entirely comfortable with this change; I much preferred Grandpa when he was addressing Tohru directly and inspiring her to be like Kyoko. Addressing what he thinks is Kyoko and telling her to be like herself doesn’t quite have the same impact.

Second, there’s an extended scene with Yuki and Kyo tracking down the Honda house. Of course they arrive as the big confrontation is going on inside, and shamelessly listen in from the window. One thing I really liked about this scene is Kyo wanting to just go in to drag Tohru out and being shut down, hard, by Yuki.

Yuki wants to find out what Tohru wants. That’s the important thing to Yuki, and needs to be respected. Even better is that Kyo stops fighting him once he says that.

Of course once Tohru makes her wishes known, we’re back to a very similar set of scenes as the Fruits Basket Deen version, but having that explicit respect for Tohru’s agency first changes the tone of the scene dramatically[5].

On the downside is the son’s interactions with Yuki. He initially thinks Yuki is a girl, is attracted to “her”, and then reacts poorly when he finds out the truth. This is borderline homophobic and I was a little uncomfortable watching it.

The scene with Kyo saying it’s OK to be selfish occasionally goes off more or less the same way, but resonates more with the earlier flashback to Kyoko. There’s also

Then another musical interlude as they return home with one short scene of Sohma family hijinks[6] before the end credits.

Commentary

I have to say I was amused that both episodes had an insert song in exactly the same place. This is also the episode in both versions that introduces the Fruits Basket game as the metaphor for fitting in socially, and for the fact that Tohru never really did.

I didn’t mention it in the synopses above but at the point of returning home there’s another scene from the game where Onigiri is finally called and kid-Tohru joins in. Fruits Basket TMS strongly implies that it never happened, and that it is the Sohmas who have finally called Onigiri for Tohru.

The changes to Fruits Basket TMS are a mixed bag this week. The changes to Grandpa and the son were somewhat disappointing.

Against that, explicitly calling out respect for Tohru’s desires was a very good moment for Yuki, and looked like a character development moment for Kyo as well. Overall, and despite the bits I’m uncomfortable with, this probably makes Fruits Basket TMS’ treatment of the core themes of the episode[7] superior.

Question of the post: Which version do you think better introduces the core themes of Fruits Basket?


[1] Noting that this may be due to how the episodes were packaged for DVD release rather than for original broadcast.

[2] IIRC the 3rd book is present in Fruits Basket TMS: What Year is She, but not identified in the subtitles. Given the themes at play, I think that was a mistake.

[3] Riceball

[4] Tohru’s reaction at the time

[5] And for the better IMO.

[6] Shigure trolling, Yuki and Kyo fighting (with Kyo losing). The usual. 🙂

[7] And the core themes of the series as a whole to be honest.