Warning: This feature contains spoilers for Fruits Basket Season 3, Episode 1.
A few years from now, when we’re all making our best of the decade lists, Fruits Basket is going to rank high on many of those lists. If I wasn’t convinced of that before, this last season is already gearing up to seal that vote just from the very first episode.
On the morning of Friday, March 19th, Funimation posted the first dubbed episode of the quite highly anticipated and hugely popular shojo anime Fruits Basket Season 3 a full two weeks before it is set to premiere in Japan. In this first episode of the conclusive season, multiple balls are sent rolling down a steep hill which will be filled with bumps and jagged edges waiting to do damage to the characters we’ve grown to love and even perhaps to a couple that we hate.
In episode 1 of Fruits Basket Season 3, we start with a few minutes of Kureno and Tohru standing together in a park as he shares Akito’s secret with her; the truth is that Akito was born as a girl but, because of a decision made by her mother, she was raised as a boy her entire life. This, among other things, has created an unhealable rift between mother and daughter. According to Kureno, Akito and Ren hate each other bitterly and this is apparent right away when, before they can even complete the first scene, we see Akito attack her mother and try to strangle her until someone else steps in to pull her off.
What makes this scene work so well is the tone and mood lighting used throughout it. While the act of Akito attacking her mother is enough in itself to establish the hatred between these two characters, the series emphasizes this point through the dark tones and deep, growly voices used by the actors as they speak to each other with such obvious contempt in their tones towards each other.
This leads into the second major story of the episode with Tohru spending the night with Saki and Arisa and having an important conversation with them. One thing that has always stuck out to me about Tohru is her willingness to take on everyone else’s problems and pretending like everything in her life is perfectly fine at all times. I can clearly recall in previous seasons when Tohru would cry because of how hard it was to keep pretending and then in this scene she is crying because she wanted to help Arisa out but she couldn’t and that makes her feel useless. What’s important about this scene, however, is moments later when her friends finally call her out on this habit and tell her she’s loved no matter what.
This is a big deal for Tohru, who cries some more at the words of her friends. It’s my sincere hope that this season will show some major growth for Tohru as a character who realizes that she doesn’t have to solve everyone else’s problems and that she can take some time for herself as well.
Easily the best part of the episode, however, comes in a short scene that bridges the two stories together. In the scene, Yuki is told over the phone that Tohru won’t be coming home that night. After hanging up the phone, Yuki wonders to himself if something happened to Tohru but stops thinking about it a few moments later. However, in what would initially appear to be a throwaway line, Shigure wonders in his mind if Tohru was truly shocked by what she heard to the point where she needed a night to process it. This is indicative that Shigure is, as suspected, in possession of much more knowledge than he’s letting on.
I’ve suspected from the beginning that Shigure has had a grand plan in mind since the very beginning and has secretly been pulling the puppet strings from behind the scenes the entire time. Shigure has always been my favorite character ever since I first saw the 2001 anime adaptation many years ago. Unfortunately, I can’t help but wonder if Shigure is actually the real villain of the series and if he’ll still be the likable character that I thought he was. Despite all of this, this short scene proved to be the highlight of the episode for me as it interjected some much needed comedy in between two emotionally heavy stories that needed to happen as soon as possible to establish the tone that the rest of the series is certain to follow.
Another great moment that I fear many fans will forget about much too quickly comes at the very end of the episode when Kyo literally rushes into a busy street because he sees what he thinks is Tohru’s scarf lying there getting run over. Not only does he retrieve it, but he also washes it for her, and makes sure to put it in a place where she’ll see it. He says that it’s not a big deal but the fact that someone who started the series so selfishly, it’s another great little moment of growth that continues to establish how he truly feels about Tohru.
Fruits Basket has been quite an amazing journey so far. As someone who never read the manga all the way to the end, I’m excited as a fan to see where this story goes in its final two cours. While I’m absolutely certain that I will need a few boxes of tissues to get through the episodes, I’m feeling confident that the final destination will be worth the emotional journey that this series has taken me on.