It’s time to get SAD. Last week, Fruits Basket the Final threw so much mommy drama at us that I completely forgot about the pregnant pause we landed on at the end. Kyo says the words of the title, “I’m Disappointed in You,” quickly in response to what should have been a romantic moment between Tohru and himself. Against an evocative backdrop of rainy gloom, the majority of this episode is a flashback of Kyo’s most excruciating repressed memories. Though most of the events take place in his childhood, a tight thematic narrative and Kyo’s raw, expressive delivery make these long-ago bruises feel as tender as if they were made today.
Kyo’s always a little feral when it’s raining. It’s clear that he isn’t taking Tohru’s glad epiphany well when his pupils narrow into feline slits. It’s incredible how he manages to interpret the right answer—and get pissed off about it—before she even says a word. “I thought you loved your mom best,” he says, and it’s hard to imagine him finding anything worse to say at this moment. Because as we know from the last episode, she thought so too, jerk. It’s taken this long for Tohru to acknowledge that it’s actually Kyo she loves best, and he’s ready to ruin it. Like everything else in Kyo’s life, it’s self-sabotage summoned by his own guilt. Kyo doesn’t think he deserves to be happy and he’s determined to make that come true.
Apparently, all of Kyo’s memories came flooding back when he saw the baseball cap in Tohru’s room. It’s incredible how much narrative work that worn-out baseball cap is doing! It invites Kyo to clarify the themes he’s been wrestling with this entire series, like his hatred of Yuki, and melds them with some new discoveries, such as the revelation that Kyo wanted to meet Tohru years ago. It also explains how the heck Kyo managed to meet Tohru’s mom as a kid. Kyoko and Kyo’s meeting always seemed like such an unlikely chance encounter to me. Now that I have a kid and spend a lot of time on playgrounds, it is completely believable to me that a small child will tell a strange adult their entire life story with almost zero prompting. For me, a child’s uncomfortable personal confession will invariably lead to a, “Wow, um, where is your parent or guardian?” but Kyoko takes the time to comfort Kyo. This changes everything for him: “[I was] forgiven for existing by a total stranger.”
But cracks soon show in this short-lived happiness. Kyo feels outraged and helpless when it’s Yuki who saves Tohru (while wearing Kyo’s hat, to add insult to injury)! And just when it seems like Kyo might have a chance at closure, the next time he sees Kyoko is mere moments before her death. The death scene is extremely uncomfortable to watch because it makes Kyo’s regret palpable; we all have things we wish we could have done differently, and even though Kyo blames himself and the facts (through Kyo’s eyes) seem pretty damning, I don’t think any Fruits Basket viewer will watch this and blame Kyo. The animation speeds up and slows down to show us how the accident occurs in split seconds, even though it takes up so much time and space in Kyo’s brain. I love the editorial choice to hide Tohru’s face in this discussion. Even though we know she forgives Kyo, we still have to sweat alongside him, and it’s such a relief when we finally see the love still in her eyes.
As Kyo continues his confession, the camera pans to Yuki, waking up from an afternoon nap to see the pair standing out in the rain. When he gets close enough to overhear, Yuki becomes the audience stand-in: an unsuspecting witness to this intimate moment. Like the audience, Yuki is helpless to intervene since Kyo is still dead-set on sabotaging any chance of obtaining happiness. He chases after Kyo, who runs as he says he always does, while Akito looms. Let me see what you have, Akito. A knife? NO! Seriously, this cliffhanger should be illegal. It’s setting up a cruel lesson for Kyo and showing him that his decision to run out of fear that he won’t be able to protect Tohru, because he couldn’t protect her mom, is a self-fulfilling prophecy. From start to finish, this is an episode wrought with dramatic tension, determined to make us suffer as much as Kyo.