May
04
2021
0

Fruits Basket the Final ‒ Episode 5

It’s a new school year for the Fruits Basket the Final cast, and some characters have changed more than others. Momiji seems to have had a growth spurt overnight, and his newly mature physical appearance is only the half of it. This episode divides the Zodiac members into two groups: those who are looking ahead to the future, and those who are stuck in the past. These differing perspectives appear to hold a major clue to breaking the curse. “I Mean… You Know, Right?” is a wishy-washy title for an episode that has meticulously organized its thematic elements, skillfully using repetition in order to show how this week’s theme—acceptance of a changing world—affects each member of its large and diverse cast.

When Momiji breaks his curse, Akito senses it right away. It’s such a reversal of their former relationship with Momiji standing tall and confident, and Akito panicking and sniveling. Akito can’t handle the cold look in Momiji’s eyes because it shows a complete absence of emotion. Akito doesn’t mind if the Zodiacs love her or hate her, so long as they feel emotion toward her. What really sets her off is when they refuse to engage. When Haru walks away. When she tells Momiji he’ll be alone forever and he doesn’t take the bait. It’s the biggest clue we’ve received so far about how the curse works—the bond breaks when a Zodiac has no emotional reaction to Akito at all. While the broken curse would be cause for celebration for Kyo, for example, it’s just tragic for it to happen to Momiji. His mom, who tried to kill herself for giving birth to a Zodiac, isn’t going to magically welcome him into her family now—her memory is still erased. And the bonds that tied him unconditionally to everyone else are gone, too. “It’s too late,” he tells Akito. “I can’t go back to before everything was broken.”

Akito can’t go back to the past either, but it’s not from lack of trying. Even before Momiji broke his curse, she sulked in her dark room every day—so Shigure knew exactly where to find her and poke the proverbial bear. He ignores Kureno and Hatori when they tell him to stop because, as usual, he’s got a hidden motive. It seems that he’s trying to get Akito angry enough to take action instead of letting her Zodiac circle simply crumble around her. Because that’s exactly what’s happening in parallel: the Zodiacs are replacing their attachment to Akito with romantic bonds to other people. The episode began with three examples of this in a row: Ayame and Mine, Hatori and Mayuko, Yuki and Machi. “Time will move on, and leave you behind,” Shigure wants Akito to realize. “So will people and emotions.” Later, in what appears at first brush to be a creepy pass at Tohru, Shigure explains why he woke up crying in the flashback he explained to Hatori. “Maybe I should have dreamed of you,” he says to Tohru, and it’s pretty clear that he was actually dreaming about Akito that time. He wants the best for Akito, but he’s a trickster who only knows how to annoy people so it’s no wonder it isn’t going well.

This episode really is full of great parallels. Here’s another: Shigure’s poor attempt at motivating Akito compared to Momiji’s more successful attempt at inspiring Kyo. Does Momiji really want to get with Tohru, or does he just want Kyo to think so in order to help him finally accept his feelings towards her? It’s left unclear, but it presents an opportunity for stuck-in-the-past Kyo to consider a potential future. “Do you get that if you give up, something like that might happen?” Momiji says. (By the way, if you watch this episode dubbed, it’s almost comical for the normally ebullient Momiji to give this solemn speech in his exaggerated German accent.) Kyo is a textbook tsundere, but he needs to confront and act on his feelings if he’s going to both break the curse and confess to Tohru. Momiji’s tragedy is that he doesn’t see finding love or a family as a reality for himself, so he’s trying to help it happen to Tohru and Kyo.

Poor Momiji—he’s a side character in what could rightfully be called his episode. At school, Tohru holds his hand without a hint of romantic thought, oblivious to how Momiji feels about her. When Akito tells him he has no family, he simply agrees. But there is some hope that Momiji hasn’t completely given up when he gets furious at Akito for assuming that he’ll never be happy simply because he’s alone. “I feel vulnerable being free, but a happiness might exist for me!” Momiji shouts with renewed confidence. It makes the outsized joy he receives from a simple “take care” from a mother who doesn’t remember him even more bittersweet.

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Fruits Basket the Final is currently streaming on
Crunchyroll (sub) and Funimation (dub).


Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist and model kits at Gunpla 101.


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