Shojo & Tell: A Manga Podcast

Fruits Basket Part 2 (with ANN’s Jacob Chapman)

Episode Summary

Covers volumes 9-16 of FRUITS BASKET by Natsuki Takaya Massive Furuba fan and Anime News Network editor Jacob Chapman is back to discuss the middle third of Takaya’s classic with Shojo & Tell host Ashley. Most of the dark, dark Sohma family secrets have been revealed this time around, and Tohru is in turmoil over Kyo’s fate. But we’re saving most of the Kyo talk for the third and final podcast! This time, Yuki’s struggles shine after his confrontation with Akito. The particular pains of motherhood — with Tohru’s mother complex and many of the Sohma’s crummy parents — are scrutinized at length. And Jacob explains how FRUITS BASKET accurately captures the cyclic nature of abuse. It’s a heavy episode, but then, there’s also talk about how the play “Sorta Cinderella” is very funny. Try not to cry too much, alright?

Episode Notes

Covers volumes 9-16 of Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya

Massive Furuba fan and Anime News Network editor Jacob Chapman is back to discuss the middle third of Takaya’s classic with Shojo & Tell host Ashley. Most of the dark, dark Sohma family secrets have been revealed this time around, and Tohru is in turmoil over Kyo’s fate. But we’re saving most of the Kyo talk for the third and final podcast! This time, Yuki’s struggles shine after his confrontation with Akito. The particular pains of motherhood — with Tohru’s mother complex and many of the Sohma’s crummy parents — are scrutinized at length. And Jacob explains how Fruits Basket accurately captures the cyclic nature of abuse. It’s a heavy episode, but then, there’s also talk about how the play “Sorta Cinderella” is very funny. Try not to cry too much, alright?

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Episode Transcription

ASHLEY: Welcome to Shojo & Tell, where we discuss shojo manga and tell who's hot and who's not, talk about themes, and just generally geek out. Today, September 9th, 2018, we'll be shojo and telling about volumes 9 through 16 of Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya. I'm your host Ashley McDonnell and I'm joined by Anime News Network editor Jacob Chapman. Welcome back, Jacob.

JACOB: Hey folks. Good to be back.

ASHLEY: Yes, about your favorite series Fruits Basket, as we established last time?

JACOB: Yes. My favorite manga. I'm going to just talk about it for even more hours, which is just fine by me.

ASHLEY: Yes. Everybody, if you only watched the anime of Fruits Basket [NOTE: the 2001 anime, not the 2019 reboot] we're going to spoil lots of things. If you only watched the anime...

JACOB: We are a way past the anime by this point.

ASHLEY: Way past the anime. You need to read these volumes. I'm not going to tell you how to live your life, but just be more...

JACOB: Right. It could be very confusing if you haven't.

ASHLEY: Yeah. Again, you can get... the manga is back in print. Thanks to Yen Press, so you can go buy all those. I checked them all out from the library. The library is cool, go do that.

JACOB: I purchased every single one. They're on my shelf next to the Tokyopop ones, two shelves.

ASHLEY: Yeah. If I had more shelves I would definitely do that, but I do not.

JACOB: I don't collect as much manga. I have the privilege of overdoing it...

ASHLEY: Shelves, yeah. That's fair. Now, just to jog people's memories in case you haven't read Fruits Basket in the hot second, volume nine starts with a lot of short stories about Hanajima and Uotani meeting Kureno.

JACOB: It's basically combo cleaning up any back stories that we didn't get in the first arc or so. Plus, setting up arcs for the big summer vacation trip, which is a huge turning point in the story. It's like a combination, like setup for what's to come and also, "well, we never really said what Hana's childhood was like and everybody loves her so here's what it was like," that kind of thing.

ASHLEY: Yeah. That chapter was also extra-long. Good job Hanajima, you got like extra character development there.

JACOB: It's real dense. Yeah. They pack in lots of dialogue in a small amount of space.

ASHLEY: Yeah. Then, this ends with Yuki and Machi are starting to become a thing. Yuki has declared to Akito that he's like, "whatever, like, I forgive you. We're done here."

JACOB: "I forgive you," which is like the worst thing you could probably say to Akito, which is "I forgive you. We can just let this go." He's like, "No, we can't let this go. How dare you say that you forgive me," that kind of thing.

ASHLEY: Yeah. "What do you have to forgive me for? I don't..."

JACOB: Yeah. "I didn't do anything wrong, you're the one who's inferior."

ASHLEY: Yeah. All that good stuff. There's a lot in between there that we'll get to. Just in case you are wondering. Jacob, do you have... we'll start real small, I guess.

JACOB: Oh, okay.

ASHLEY: Do you have a favorite scene or character arc that happens in these volumes?

JACOB: It's really difficult both because it's a lot of volumes, a lot of characters, and a lot of really strong moments. Weirdly, my favorite part of the manga when I was a teenager is perhaps its cheesiest moment, which is almost the entirety of volume 16, which is the love story between Tohru's mother and Tohru's dad.

JACOB: I really dug it when I was a teenager because it takes the emotions that are being dealt with in sort of smaller ways in the Sohma family and just blows them up to like large scale proportions and just directly states the themes. Because it's an origin story for Tohru, where you realize that this is the first glimpse we've gotten at Kyoko that isn't the perfect mother figure.

JACOB: For that, that blew my mind as a teenager when I was reading. I was like, "Oh, she wasn't this... Tohru isn't like so angelic and wonderful and loving because she had a perfect mom. She didn't had a perfect mom at all." I think that meant a lot to me when I first read the manga.

JACOB: Now, looking back I think for similar reasons, one of my favorite parts is—I don't remember which volume starts with this. Yuki's childhood story and leading up to the reveal that he is the boy in the hat that Tohru remembers from her childhood that saved her when she got lost in the neighborhood after bullies had been chasing her around the city.

JACOB: I think that on reflection, that whole arc with Yuki where he finally breaks through his fear of his mother and comes to terms with how he feels about Tohru, which is that Tohru is his mom for all intents and purposes. I think it's a really strong... it was really, really strongly written and paced out in the way that Yuki's... just tracking, reading these volumes by themselves, tracking Yuki's character growth from the bitter terrified boy that he is to the pretty strong man that he becomes is really impressive and developed really well. I think that's some of my favorite stuff now.

ASHLEY: Yeah. Definitely, these are the Yuki volumes.

JACOB: These are the Yuki volumes. He grows much quicker than Kyo both because... not because he's had it not as hard but because his issues are less, I don't know, large scale conflict-y, where he has to literally fight. Mostly, he's fighting himself, whereas Kyo has literal antagonists to fight a little more, so it's going to take him longer. Also, because Kyo getting over his issues is going to be the culmination of the whole story, because he's the romantic lead at this point.

JACOB: Yuki gets the middle arc. I think it's really strong for as low-key as it is because he doesn't have... he doesn't take anybody down or have a big dramatic confrontation where he's free from all his issues. In fact, he's not free from all his issues, it's just this very gradual realistic and heart-rending transformation.

ASHLEY: Oh, yes. Yuki, we will rant about Yuki a whole lot in a second. I would have to agree with you actually about Tohru and Tohru's mom and her dad's back story as well being one of my favorite moments. I shed some tears. Let's not lie.

JACOB: Definitely, yeah.

ASHLEY: I think also because—it made an impression on me being young, and now too, because it's also like, their age gap—

JACOB: Oh my god. Yeah, that's the awkward thing, right. It's because Takaya has said, I really dig... like there's commentary in the margins of the manga. "I really dig May-December romances. I'm sorry, there are going to be quite a few of them in my manga, I can't help it." And that's okay because I like May-December romances as well.

JACOB: My husband is 10 years older than me. I get it. I understand. The characterization is important and the manga never gets creepy or inappropriate. It's just like, you accept it and you accept that the subtext of it isn't like gross or creepy. It's age gap romance written by a lady. It's pretty well-considered and thoughtful and sweet and it's not like weird and creepy. So long as it doesn't totally squeak you out that it is a 16-year-old getting married to a 24-year-old because that is what happens.
ASHLEY: It's pretty sweet.
JACOB: He's a good husband.
ASHLEY: Yeah, no. I think that it is good at capturing—like because Kyoko has such extreme emotions, as you alluded to. She's just like, "I hate life. I hate you. I hate everybody. I hate the world." It's just like, that's so teenager. He's like a teacher in training. He's a little bit more wise, but not like super. He's still fairly—
JACOB: He's been through the ringer. He envies the... Weirdly, it's like, Kyoko is like Kyo. If you want to get BL-y about it, Kyoko is like Kyo and, uh, Kazuma? I forgot his name.
ASHLEY: Katsuya.
JACOB: Okay, Katsuya, because it starts with a K.
ASHLEY: Exactly.
JACOB: Katsuya is Kyo's dad—no. Katsuya is kinda like Yuki. It's funny to see, like they're polar opposites but they sort of both envy, you know—and these volumes firmly explore that Yuki and Kyo only ever wanted to be friends with one another. They envy and admire each other so much, but because of what abuse does to a child it turns family members against one another. They hate each other. It's funny if you look at Kyoko and Katsuya as a romance between Yuki and Kyo is even funnier. You know, "where is the lie?", that's the personality, so.
ASHLEY: It's true. Yeah. Katsuya is just like, "Don't worry, nobody is perfect, having a baby is scary but that's okay, we'll just say sorry and stuff." I'm like, "Oh, so cute."
JACOB: I love that the conversation they have where Kyoko was so scared to have a child because she remembers. She's now thinking, "Oh, if I'm a mother, how do I treat my own mother? What do I think of my own mother?" She hates her mom, for a good reason. Her mother is terrible. She told her mother like "I didn't want to be born. You didn't have to have me. I never asked you to have me." Because she hated herself so much, because she hated being alive. She's like, "Oh my god, what if I have a child that didn't want to be born?" It's absolutely just heartbreaking.
JACOB: I want to swear, it's heartbreaking. I want to use a bad word because it's so heartbreaking. Katsuya says, "You've already completed the first step of seeing this child before it's even born as a human being that is separate from you, you're fine." That is a huge thing for people who grew up in households—abusive households are difficult situations as the biggest... a common factor is usually that the parents do not see the child as an agent on their own. They see them as an extension of their own life and they try to control that extension rather than seeing them as a person with their own wants and needs and differences.
JACOB: Katsuya tells her, "Hey, you made the first step and beyond that now that you see this child as a person, we're just going to do the best to raise it together." Unfortunately, that doesn't go the way that either of them hoped.
ASHLEY: No, because he dies of something so normal like pneumonia. I'm like, oh.
JACOB: Pneumonia, yeah. It's a little bit of a Japanese thing because of the work culture over there where a minor illness can really ramp up and you can die from overwork. Katsuya was overworking himself because like Yuki, he sort of keeps all his feelings to himself and he's like, "I'm fine and everything is okay." He overdid it and it end up costing his life. It's very sad.
ASHLEY: So sad, so many tears. At least...
JACOB: These are rough volumes and Takaya was going through... this was when she was re-teaching herself how to draw because of the neurological problem she had that basically made her hands not work anymore. She goes into more detail in this in the collector's edition of Fruits Basket. It's like, "Oh yeah, I literally had to have brain surgery to be able to draw again." She had to re-teach herself how to draw. A lot of that pain and that angst and that fear goes right into the story. You can definitely feel it.
ASHLEY: Yeah. You can see it in the art too, which she also comments on in the back pages being like, "This wasn't quite yet when I had learned how to draw correctly again."
JACOB: Yeah. She apologizes for it, because I think it's beautiful which is... especially her staging, not even so much the illustrations of characters, which are also very pretty. But her sense of scale and proportion and everything like that. Knowing when to fill a frame and when to leave it empty. It's beautiful. But she apologizes for it because it was a hard time.
ASHLEY: I know. Don't apologize. It was great, Takaya.
JACOB: Yeah. It's beautiful. Yeah.
ASHLEY: I would say my other big favorite moment—or at least the one that made me cry—is the Momiji moment.
JACOB: Oh man, yeah.
ASHLEY: When Tohru sneaks in to try to find Kureno. Kureno, yes that's the right K name, sure.
JACOB: Their K's get shuffled around a lot, yeah.
ASHLEY: Their K's are too much. Yeah. She goes to try to find Kureno. She's like, "He might know something about breaking the curse or whatever." Then she runs into Momiji... Oh, no, she runs first into Momiji's sister, who doesn't know that he is her brother, Momo. She is like, "I really like Momiji. He's playing the violin. I play the violin because of him. I hope to play with him someday. Will you ask me if he'll be my big brother?" I'm just like, "Okay, that's sad."
ASHLEY: Then, Tohru crying for Momiji because he's just like so not over it but just like, "I've already shed all those tears. I have come to terms with it" and she was just like, "No, it's too sad." I'm like, "I am so sad too, Tohru."
JACOB: Yeah. Completely. I think that that is another place where Takaya's, I guess, deeper sadness than maybe she had when she first started the story kind of comes into play because what Momiji is practicing to play at the time is "When You Wish Upon a Star." It's just the most blatant. It sounds cheesy out of context. In context, it's just heartbreaking where Tohru is sad about this because she recognizes the impossibility of their situation.
JACOB: She says, "Some wishes don't come true." That's just in there in black over this picture of Momiji happily playing the violin with hope for the first time in a while. It's just says "some wishes don't come true." It's like, oh, Jesus, throw in the garbage. Throw me in the trash, I can't function anymore after reading that.
JACOB: I think these volumes are heavy. It's not even the heaviest that the story is going to get but it feels like the dark middle chapter of a trilogy, when you read them on their own as I did because the sun has not—the first several volumes, the first eight or so, are more sunny. Then, we get into the darker stuff where everybody knows everything about the curse now. All the veils have been lifted. Tohru is fully in on the secret.
JACOB: There are very few secrets left to be kept and all of them will be revealed in Volume 17, right, which we have not quite gotten to. That's the only secrets left at this point. There's no light at the end of the tunnel yet, so it's mostly just... I think the reason Yuki's arc is so rejuvenating is because it's some of the only hope that we get in these volumes is the assurance that Yuki, whatever happens, whether the curse breaks or not, is going to fight for his future. It's like, "Oh, jeez, please give me sunlight through the clouds."
ASHLEY: As soon as you got Tohru crying and being like "some wishes don't come true" you know you're in a bad place.
JACOB: It's bad, things have gotten sad.
ASHLEY: Things have gotten really sad.
JACOB: I guess the one—these volumes are so good. The one criticism I have, just while it's on my mind because I don't know where else it would fit in the discussion, is this is the point at which—perhaps because she was recovering and because she was trying to move these things so quickly, we talked about the setup chapters that are just to get everybody's back story out of the way.
JACOB: But like Kureno and Uo's romance is the most obvious example of this—the level of coincidence that propels Fruits Basket in some points. And it works because the story is not plot driven and all the characters psychology stuff is so good that who cares that it's absolutely a giant coincidence that these people would meet on this day and this place. It happens over and over.
JACOB: Fruits Basket's drama is to some extent largely driven by like "oh, and Rin just happens to be in this space where Tohru is so that she just happens to see. Then, Hiro just happened to be on the walkway when Akito pushed Rin out of the window. And that's why he knows about this." All this other stuff, where it's like there could have been a more graceful way to integrate these plot points. The story is so dense and there are so many characters that to a great extent, it just has to rely on convenience. That is definitely true of Kureno and Uo, where like male Tohru, for lack of a better word, because that's who Kureno is, an older male Tohru who's been through... he's more traumatized. He has a little like Katsuya in that regard, where he's not this overflowing fount of positivity that Tohru is even though he as the same perspective on life that she does. He's also ditzy and a klutz and that kind of thing.
JACOB: He runs into Uo and they basically fall in love on the spot. They meet in the convenience store where she's working. Then, she has a crush on him. Then, the next time she sees him walk by the conbini, she's like, "Let's go on a date." They do. She cries in front of him and they get real close real fast.
JACOB: It is maybe the clunkiest part of the story but, again, for character psychology reasons, both because he's like male Tohru and his arc is so important although we know nothing about it yet, that's for the future, and because the stuff that they're talking about is so powerful, you just go with it. The biggest criticism, I think, that could be made of Fruits Basket is that it does rely on plot convenience a good deal in order to get its characters in there in the right place.
ASHLEY: Okay. I mean, justsomenerd02 on Twitter had asked us what our favorite and least favorite thing is. I think we answered favorite thing before. Is that your least favorite thing about the series?
JACOB: No, my least favorite thing about the series, I think, is it's rare... not rare, but sort of background divulsions into shruggy mediocre catty shojo comedy—does that make sense? Stuff that's kind of dated now, stuff that's not... stuff where the joke is that this person is weird and/or shaking up the dynamic of the room. It's a little mean spirited, I mean, a little bit. Even that little bit is enough to where it's like, oh, this story is supposed to be about boundless empathy. Any kind of picking on somebody for being weird does feel a little out of place depending on the chapter.
JACOB: I guess that's my least favorite thing. I really don't mind the coincidences because I don't care that much about, you know, they're just funny to me honestly, it doesn't strike me as a problem. It's just like, this is transparent but whatever. I wanted these characters to see each other at this point too, so it's fine.
ASHLEY: That's fair. I think my biggest complaint would just be that there are so many K names. I'm like, "Who? Who's what now?"
JACOB: Yeah. That's a good complaint. Yeah.
ASHLEY: Kazuma sure, that's one Kazuma, that one is Kureno, that one's Katsuya, yeah I got it now, sure.
JACOB: That one's Kimi, that one's—yeah.
ASHLEY: At some point, I'm like is this Kureno or Kyo or like, they all have a little bit of same face too and I'm just like, all right.
JACOB: Yeah. That was a point at which her same face, I think ,had peaked in these volumes because she was relearning to draw. It's easier now and Yen Press's translation actually makes it a lot easier to tell who's saying what. There are some confusions certainly early on.
ASHLEY: Yeah. Or just like even with Manabe, who's one of the student council members. There was a panel where I was like, "Is that supposed to be Kyo or Manabe? I'm pretty sure it's him but like I don't know." @hoodlie on Twitter had asked us, "Which Sohma family member do you relate the most to?" And I do remember this coming up when we were discussing favorites last time because I believe you said your favorite was Shigure but you related the most to Momiji.
JACOB: I think I idolize Momiji the most. In terms of relating, I can't pick one. It is a different character literally every time. I have felt a great, I don't know, a great kinship with Ayame. I felt a great kinship with Yuki. I felt a great kinship with Kureno and Rin. It really just depends on when I'm reading it and what the moment is.
JACOB: There are characters that I don't relate to more, I guess. Kagura is a good example. For the most part, I can't just pick one. That's really, really difficult. I would say in these volumes that Yuki's story, at this point in my life, spoke the most to me, but that's hard to say.
ASHLEY: Okay. For me, it's a little easier because I just love Kyo. I love everything about Kyo. I relate to Kyo. I relate to Kyo on a silly level of like, I style myself as being a tsundere as well, which leads to being like, I just have a defense mechanism where I'm cold to you in the beginning because I'm scared of you. Then, maybe I say things that I didn't mean, sort of deal.
JACOB: Then, you get into martial arts fight with your cousin.
ASHLEY: Yeah. Then, that's how my life is, yeah.
JACOB: Totally.
ASHLEY: No, I think Kyo's struggle have also, like meeting Yuki and being like, "we have this whole legacy together. I'm inferior to you. That's what I've been told my whole life. I hate you even though I kind of want to be friends with you," like whatever sort of deal. What he realizes now is that he's like, "oh, I see now that Yuki's life is imperfect and everybody who's going to this banquet, all these other Sohmas who are accepted, like that doesn't mean that it's good. Maybe being accepted into this thing that I didn't fully understand is not actually what I want in my life" sort of deal.
ASHLEY: I really relate to that struggle with Kyo because I feel like I always played ice hockey with dudes. I was like, "I just want to be accepted into this league." Now, I play hockey with women. I'm like, "This is much more chill and not weird and crazy." I have had friends who I was always like a little bit slower than, all my really smart friends.
ASHLEY: I wanted to go to an Ivy League school. Literally, one of my friends said to me—we're still friends, but like, whatever that's cool—she was like, "You will never get in into an Ivy League school." I did. I was like, okay cool. That's just like, "oh, okay. I did the thing." Then, it kind of made me unhappy when I went there. I was like, "Yeah, I feel out of my league and I don't belong here. That's basically what people told me."
ASHLEY: It's kind of like this thing where you're like, "Oh, this game that I was playing and that I thought I wanted to be on an even playing field." Once I realized that I got into the game, you're like, "Oh, well, actually, maybe this is not what it was cracked up to be. Maybe I should be..."
JACOB: Yeah, completely. Yeah, Kyo comes to, I guess, we should talk about the beach house because the beach house is the crux of this—it is the turning point of this arc, I would say. It's like the big midpoint change for the protagonist and for Tohru especially. Yeah. That's the point at which Kyo realizes that he doesn't actually want to be part of the Sohma family anymore because... they all go to the beach house and Akito, goaded on by Shigure—originally he was not going to go but Shigure is like, "it could be fun!"
ASHLEY: "It could be fun!"
JACOB: Yeah. "You can drag Yuki back into your court..."
ASHLEY: "You can have everybody around you."
JACOB: Yeah, exactly. He's playing on that, even though that's the last that Shigure wants. It is exactly what he knows will possibly push the boys into the future that he wants for them, which is, we don't know a whole lot about that yet. We will find out in the last arc. Akito comes out there and because of the curse, everyone is compelled to see him. Even though they wanted to spend all the time with Tohru, she was is by herself sort of cooking dinner and waiting for them to come back for most of the days that they're at, or most of the last half of the month that they're at this beach house.
JACOB: And it's sad and everything, but Kyo is there. This is the big mistake that Akito makes, is that he sticks to tradition and doesn't invite the cat. Kyo's like, "This is better, just being here with you is much better. I don't care about being excluded because this is the only place I want to be."
JACOB: Of course, it's not long before Akito figures out that this is working against him and does decide to hold an audience with Kyo specifically to beat him down. Which leads to the biggest part of the summer camp arc which is Kyo finally confesses his feelings for Tohru to the villain.
ASHLEY: To the villain, bad move.
JACOB: Because Fruits Basket is really, really sad. We get that moment, we get that moment where he says, "I love Tohru." He has to take it back of course, because Akito holds it above him and he's like, "I'm going to use this to destroy both of you."
ASHLEY: It's like "you can't. You're both monsters, you can't. You can't love each other."
JACOB: Yeah. It's a big moment for him. It's also a big moment for the audience realizing for the first time that he has a year left before the family is going to lock him away in the cat's isolation chamber.
ASHLEY: Forever.
JACOB: Right, forever. That's one of the most heartbreaking scenes—I mean there's not one of the most—but there's a great slash terrible line where, after Tohru has learned all of this stuff, she's learned what's going to happen to Kyo, what's going to happen to Yuki, what the curse really is, and she asks Kazuma how to break it. He says, "I don't know." He doesn't say that but his response is basically like "if I knew, I would..."
ASHLEY: Yeah. He's like, "What do you think I would do if I knew that, Tohru? I would have done that by now."
JACOB: Yeah, yeah. He explains to her like, "I don't know but I can tell you that this isn't a bluff at all. This is definitely going to happen because"—and this is the sad part, he says—"My grandfather is on the outside now for the first time because he's dead, because they won't bury him with the Sohma family. His freedom came in death."
JACOB: He was only released from the Sohma family by being buried in a communal cemetery with other normal people. And it's like, "holy shit, that's what awaits Kyo if they don't do something to break the curse," which Tohru determines after learning everything. Which is why the beach house was such a big deal, is that Yuki confesses his feeling privately, Kyo confesses them unfortunately in front of Akito, Tohru learns that Akito is the god of the zodiac, the leader, basically, and that all of this terrible shit is going to happen in a year if they can't figure out some way to break the curse.
JACOB: Yeah. It's a lot. It's really emphasizing that we've like crossed the threshold now, where it's not really like a fun cute happy sitcom anymore. This is do or die for these people. They kind of have, at this point, have to love each other enough to make it through something really intense that's coming. It's about that. It's about how scary it is to trust somebody so completely and to love them enough to make it through something hard like that.
ASHLEY: Yeah. For me also like Kyo's struggle versus Yuki's struggle is interesting because—we can rant about Yuki now, sure why not. Yuki was always like, "I want a mother," and sure he found it somewhere that is not in his own mother. It's in Tohru. He never really let go of that thing that he always wanted. He just found it in Tohru instead of his own mom.
JACOB: It's not possible, I don't think, to let it go if you don't have... If you grew up without a loving family, I think, that's always going to happen as you found yourself attaching those feelings to other people in weird ways. You have to like, for your own mental health, recognize that these might be weird feelings. Then, deal with them in some way. I think it's really admirable how Yuki comes to terms with all that stuff because it's really difficult.
ASHLEY: Yeah. He's just like, "Oh, I still want to be playing," like he doesn't want to break the confines of the game that he was trying to get into. He's just like, "I mean I'm just going to bend the rules of this game so that it fits what I want in life."
ASHLEY: I know that you had been perhaps one of the few people, you mentioned in the last podcast, to be like, "I don't think Yuki is crushing on Tohru. I think that he wants some other figure." People were like, "That's weird and crazy." Do you want to elaborate on that in any way?
JACOB: I don't think there's a whole lot to elaborate on except to say that I don't know why I saw it coming. I think, weirdly as a teen, as a younger teen, I don't think I would have told you that I related to Yuki at all. I definitely understood Yuki on a deeper level than I was aware of at the time. Yuki explains himself, fortunately. He explains that "I can't see Tohru that way because she's so high above me," as the song from the '90s goes. If you remember.
ASHLEY: "High above me, she's so lovely." Yeah, that one?
JACOB: Yeah. I think there's probably several million Fruits Basket AMVs to that song actually because the tone is both very Fruits Basket and it is how Yuki saw Tohru. He acknowledges that in front of Kakeru, of all people. I think it is funny that Kakeru is half Kyo, half Ayame because it is like these connections that would have been really valuable in Yuki's life if they had not been within his family and therefore enemies because of how the curse works.
JACOB: He's able to confess those feelings to Kakeru, but he says like, "Of course, I'm not satisfied with that." It's miserably lonely to feel this way, and to feel like nobody would understand it. It's to Kakeru's credit that he listens and then hears him out. He teases him a little bit but like he accepts that about Yuki because I'm not sure anybody else knows—well I mean, maybe later in the story other people will learn about it. For the time being, certainly nobody else knows about how Yuki feels toward Tohru. I think, probably he would get bullied or treated very poorly, especially if Akito found out. The story throws them a bone and nobody bad finds out about it. He just says, "It's lonely. I want to find somebody that I feel like is on my level." The problem with being the way that Yuki is, is that he feels like nobody else would understand his childhood, would understand what he's been through, would understand the level of self-loathing that he's been through.
JACOB: That is the fear, is like "are you alone, if you're raised in an environment where you're not loved?" And I think that is a really, really hard thing, that people struggle to find connection when they aren't raised to find it by their family, which is why I think Yuki's arc is so meaningful to me, is because he does find that. He finds it of his own free will. It's not like Tohru saves him. Tohru just gives him the nudge that he needs to save himself, which is great and I like it a lot.
ASHLEY: Yeah. Tohru is just being Tohru, kind little Tohru. I really love the, I mean, knowing that Yuki was looking for a mom in Tohru the whole time, you can definitely read into scenes. You're like, "All right. Yeah. I see it now." I don't know. When they're at the beach house, Tohru's conflict is that she's like, "Oh, I've been talking about my mom but now I feel insensitive having done that because they all have terrible moms and my mom was... I really love my mom. My mom was great," or whatever.
ASHLEY: Then, there's the scene where Yuki is looking at her while she's putting a sheet over Kisa and Hiro and Momiji, the young children minus Momiji. It's just like, yeah, I could see in that scene that he's like, that longing is there for a mother and all these things. There's a moment where they're talking about whatever Yuki was looking for. It's like Tohru walks by, but also Machi does too. I'm like, "Ah, yes, they're both there. I see." Yeah, I get it.
JACOB: Yeah. Yeah. Thinking back to older volumes as well, the moment where Kisa stays with Tohru for the first time because her mother was having a little bit of a melt down and she sleeps on her lap. Yuki sleeps on Tohru's shoulder. It's like, clearly, in that moment, he wants to be the child in Tohru's lap. It's like, oh jeez, that's rough. That's rough. That's rough. It's rough man.
JACOB: Yeah. It's very, very carefully and thoughtfully written. It's not played for like shock value or it being weird or anything like that. It's a complex and heartfelt relationship.
ASHLEY: Yeah. And Yuki even acknowledges how weird it is, because he's like, "I knew that other people would think it was weird, so I tried to pretend like I was in love with her," basically.
JACOB: Yeah. He's like, "I try to act like a man around her. I tried to be like, you know, but it's just not happening. The chemistry is just not there." He's like, compared to Kyo, like no, just not. He's like, "I don't even want to be compared to Kyo." I think that's what makes him start crying. He's like, "I don't want to be compared to this other guy like I'm competing for this girl. I just want my feelings to be acceptable. To eventually find love on equal footing with someone else."
ASHLEY: Yeah. These volumes literally pass the princely torch that Yuki had been carrying to his fan club, to everybody at the school, to possibly people who wanted Yuki and Tohru to be a thing.
JACOB: Yeah. Yeah.
ASHLEY: Kyo is literally the prince now.
JACOB: Kyo is literally the prince. The extent that the class play casts him as the prince.
JACOB: Yuki is the fairy godmother, which is great. The class play is the peak, I think, of Fruits Basket's comedy. That is the funniest—in all this sad stuff that happens—the funniest thing in the entire manga is "Sort of Cinderella" or "Cinderella-ish," depending on which translation you go with.
ASHLEY: I see.
JACOB: I don't know. I thought it was really funny. What did you think of the school play?
ASHLEY: I thought it was pretty funny. I thought, I was like, "Wait, how quickly did this person re-write Cinderella?" Then, you don't even get the real thing that she wrote...
JACOB: You don't get whatever she wrote.
ASHLEY: Exactly. It's just them making up stuff as they go along on stage. You're like, "Y'all just didn't... you didn't try. Did you rehearse? I don't think you did. I think you just went up there and said some stuff." It gives great moments also because Momiji is filming it and it gives great outdated DVD comedy.
JACOB: He's filming it on a DVD-R camcorder from 2001 or whatever.
ASHLEY: They're all like, "What's a DVD like?"
JACOB: It's fantastic. The thing I really love about it is it brings all of the Sohmas—or all the non-villain Sohmas—together for something that is not related to the family, which is neat that they're all at this thing together and their feelings are spilling out in a comedic and fun way but it's also meaningful to the story. Uo was obviously tortured over her feelings for Kureno and that bleeds into her role.
JACOB: Kyo's fears about losing Tohru bleed over in his role. It's all kept light. It's still stuff that's important and meaningful as the story but you can laugh at it.
ASHLEY: Tohru's feelings for Kyo also bleed over into that play.
JACOB: Definitely.
ASHLEY: He's like, "No, that can't be real," like, "nuh-uh."
JACOB: No, that is the moment. Yeah, that's the most... not the most significant but one of the most significant parts of the play is like, for the first time, he senses like, "No, does she like me back? No, that can't be. It can't be."
ASHLEY: I know. I'm like, Kyo is at least perceptive enough to be like, "Oh yeah, Tohru actually has a crush on me." I still don't know that Tohru gets that Kyo has a crush on her, but whatever.
JACOB: Yeah. I don't think that Tohru has any idea that Kyo is in love with her. Kyo is beginning to get the inkling that Tohru likes him. He's like, "Fuck, what do I do with this?" Because he's like, he can't go through two emotional processes at once. When he was at the beach house, he went through this very difficult emotional process of, "I have one year to spend with this person and I am going to make the most out of that year." Now, he is having to go through the separate thing of what if they like me back and they want to fight for us? He can't deal with both of those at once. It's got to be one or the other or it's going to drive him nuts, right?
ASHLEY: Yeah. He has mental breakdowns now.
JACOB: Yeah. Everybody is having mental ... and so is Tohru. I guess, elephant in the room, these are also the volumes that, if you're only familiar with the anime, that address that Tohru is not perfect and in fact her selflessness can be a weakness, can be a problem for her. I think this is the first time that the story really, really addresses that. Once again, in the beach house, because everything happens at the beach house. It's two full volumes.
ASHLEY: You can't have fun in the sun at the beach house.
JACOB: You can't. It gets sad over there and rainy. What did you think of the chapters where Hiro calls out her mother complex? This gives her nightmares up into volume 16 actually.
ASHLEY: Yeah. The thing that struck me about what Hiro said was also that it was like, "Yeah, Tohru, you never talk about your dad." That's like maybe a little weird. I get it, he died when she was young. She never explains that to anybody. It's just like yeah, whatever.
JACOB: Right.
ASHLEY: Yeah. Tohru being like, yes... Part of it comes from, I think, it was also explained in the early volumes where she's like, "My mom came and said bye to me but for once I wasn't awake. I regret it all the time" and now she just lives her life being like "I can't let this happen again. Because if I do, something terrible could happen. I'll lose Kyo or whatever if I don't... if I'm not perfect or if I don't say bye, then I'll have regrets."
JACOB: Yeah. "I'm not perfect all the time." She's putting this responsibility for her mother's death on herself over and over. We're going to get into more into that in the last arc, but we get a hint when we finally see Kyoko's backstory and how she raised Tohru. Then we see like, oh, there was a moment where Kyoko completely gave up.
JACOB: After Katsuya died and the family very quickly blamed her for his death because she's basically a delinquent, right, she's still a teenager, I think, at this point she's probably like 19, maybe 20. She's blamed for this and shuts down completely. They make it pretty clear that Tohru remembers this and that she still has nightmares about her mother just shutting down not showing her love or affection or doing anything and then just leaving, we later learn in the flashback to go kill herself, to try and join her husband in death. And Tohru just waits at the house for her to come back. And that's something that is not as clear in the English transition and I don't want to get too, too into it because it's more important to last arc, but when Kyoko comes home, there is a consequence to what she has done because Tohru greets her not with like normal cute Tohru baby talk for a three-year-old but Tohru attempts to say, "welcome back" in a very polite way that mirrors how Katsuya spoke, extremely politely.
JACOB: And this is our first hint that "oh"—because throughout the rest of the manga, Tohru speaks really, really politely, like even from the very beginning. That's sort of the joke, is that she's like the most sweet and polite person ever. Then, we see the origin of that and it's like, "Oh, no." This isn't necessarily coming from a genuine place. This is coming from a place of desperate desire to be liked, to be accepted and to not be abandoned.
JACOB: And it's like, it's really, it's hard because it's like, "Oh, wait a minute, this thing that we thought all the time was easy for her was not easy for her." As like Kisa tells Hiro when Hiro makes fun of her for having a mom complex. Then he says, "What? She doesn't seem botheedr by it." Because she doesn't.
JACOB: Then Kisa says, "How do you know? You don't know what she's really feeling. You just know what she showed you," which is true because—beyond the summer vacation into future volumes all the way up into 16, and we're going to find out into the rest of the manga—this haunts Tohru, that she's worried that if she wasn't good enough and that's why her mother isn't here and that she is really, really nice and polite and accepting and loving to everyone because she's terrified of being alone.
JACOB: This is going to have negative consequences because it's like the foolish traveler. You can only do this so long before every single piece if your body gets pulled away by people who are trying to take advantage of your boundless kindness and desire to be loved. We get more into it in the last arc, but I thought it was a really, really important point to note because it's the first time that the manga really reveals this about Tohru. It's something that you never see in either the anime or most people's, I think, recollection of Fruits Basket when they think, just Tohru is a Mary Sue. It's like, no, there's a lot of complexity there. There's a pretty honest psychological exploration of what it does to a person and why a person would go out of their way to be so selfless and polite and kind all the time. Even to people who don't deserve it.
ASHLEY: Yeah. Tohru, not perfect.
JACOB: Yeah, Tohru, not perfect.
ASHLEY: Tragic reveal here.
JACOB: Yeah.
ASHLEY: Nothing is perfect.
JACOB: Important reveal.
ASHLEY: Yeah. What I've thought was interesting about that story also is that it's told from Kyo's perspective. He's the narrator of Tohru's mom's story, because of reasons that we definitely have not gotten to yet, but like they get into that a lot.
JACOB: Coincidence, they met.
ASHLEY: Coincidence, yeah.
JACOB: They met and she was like, "Your hair is orange. I used to have orange hair. I'm going to tell you my life story."
ASHLEY: Yeah. "Let me tell you my life story."
JACOB: I don't know.
ASHLEY: Fruits Basket.
JACOB: It will get clarified later that they hang out a lot before that happened, but we don't know that yet in volume 16, so it just feels like... it just seems like they just met and she just told them all this. I was like, "What the fuck." Anyway.
ASHLEY: No. She's just always like, "My child Tohru is so cute." He's just like, "Okay. Whatever. Weirdo." That part is weird, but good weird. Yeah. Kyo is actually very perceptive about Tohru. Tohru is actually far less perceptive about Kyo, I think.
JACOB: Yeah. Yeah. Totally.
ASHLEY: Because he also must realize, like he's like, "I know secrets about Tohru's mom, y'all, and let me tell you."
JACOB: Yeah. He has no desire to share them for reasons that have not yet been revealed but seem pretty morbid—it seems like straight up for some reason Kyo was present when Tohru's mom died, which is...
JACOB: It's like, what?
JACOB: I guess, we're going to find out more about that in the future. Yeah. What, Fruits Basket?
ASHLEY: I love the hat part too, because I was like, I remember, okay, yeah, Yuki is the boy but, right, it was Kyo's hat, totally. I had vague recollections of whatever the twists were with the hat. I'm like, all right, cool.
JACOB: Yeah. They try to connect everybody which is really nice.
ASHLEY: Through a hat.
JACOB: Yeah. Yuki. It didn't suit him. I like how he's like, "This hat doesn't suit me." It was very much Kyo's hat. It doesn't look right on Yuki's head.
ASHLEY: Take it off, Yuki.
JACOB: He does, he gives it to Tohru, which is nice.
ASHLEY: Doesn't look right on Tohru either.
JACOB: Now it has memories attached.
ASHLEY: Yeah. Yeah. Then, I guess, going back... okay, there are two threads I want to explore here, which is more Yuki and student council things but also I think we've... since we have sunken the ship that is Yuki and Tohru, we should acknowledge that Kagura and Kyo has also died as a ship.
JACOB: Time to play taps.
JACOB: Was Kagura and Kyo ever really a viable ship? That seems like it was always destined for—
ASHLEY: It was always destined for deadness.
JACOB: It was the Titanic from the moment that it started out in the ocean.
ASHLEY: I suppose. What if Yuki had gotten with Tohru, then it would have been like I don't know.
JACOB: I mean, I guess. The big thing about Kagura and Kyo that they emphasized is that Kagura is like, "Oh, we're going to get married some day. Oh, never leave my side. Oh, I love you." It's a less malicious version of what Akito and the other really bad Sohmas, the bad Sohma parents, which is that it's not really love, it's pity and desperation out of self loathing because Kagura, like all the Sohma kids, had a rough time of it. She didn't have the roughest time of it, by any means. Any zodiac kid is going to have a hard childhood even if their parents are accepting, which hers fortunately were. They still fought and there was still... She was still separated from other children and it was difficult. She met Kyo and she was like, "Nobody is worse off than this kid."
JACOB: "If I can make him love me, then that'll mean that I'm more something. I saved this person who is in a worse spot than me." It's entirely selfish. I think it's understandable. It's not anything she should be villainized for, she was just a child. She apologizes for it as a teenager, which is incredible. Usually, it would take somebody much longer, but we got a story to get through so she comes to terms with it when she's like 17 or whatever. Or is she older? She's 18 now, I think. Yeah. I don't know that the ship was ever viable because Kyo had no feelings for her and because her feelings for Kyo were just about saving herself mentally. Yeah. It's a little sad, but it doesn't mean they don't still care for each other. I think they still love each other as family, but it's not meant to be.
ASHLEY: It's not meant to be, yeah. Kyo is also very diplomatic about it. He was like, "I appreciate that you love me. That made me feel nice, to be honest, even if you did it for a selfish reason." Kagura sinks the ship permanently because she's like, "All right, Kyo definitely crushing on Tohru. I give up. It's fine."
JACOB: Yeah. "I give up but I can't live with this burden anymore so I'm going to..." It's also selfish of her to tell Kyo that because it's very... from his perspective, that would be extremely hurtful to hear. It's like, "oh I pursued you because I pitied you." She acknowledges that that's also... to tell somebody like that and burden them with that kind of, you know—but he accepts this really graciously because he's grown a lot as a person. He's like, "look, it doesn't matter. It meant the world to me that I had a playmate."
ASHLEY: Yeah. "Playing with you was fun. It was good times."
JACOB: Yeah. "You didn't have to draw fried eggs in the dirt."
ASHLEY: Yeah. Okay, Kyo, such a weirdo.
JACOB: Yeah. He's not allowed to watch TV. I guess, when you don't have television as a four-year-old, you just draw fried eggs in the dirt.
ASHLEY: Yeah. Because you haven't watched like "Land Before Time" or whatever.
JACOB: Yeah.
ASHLEY: The dinosaurs.
JACOB: "Doraemon" or "Detective Conan," you draw fried eggs.
ASHLEY: Yeah, right. All right. We've got off into Kyo then for a second here. We'll go back to Yuki, because it's really Yuki's arc. Kyo, stay, you're in the last third, you're going to go there, yeah. Yuki becomes the student council president with a bunch of weirdos.
JACOB: Yeah. He's got to steer the ship as it sails off into the vast cosmos of insanity as a student council.
ASHLEY: I don't understand the student council. I'm like, "Why did the previous guy pick these weirdos," but whatever, fine. I will accept it because it's Fruits Basket and everybody is a weirdo. That's the main thesis here. We have four weirdos, yes. Okay, we have Kimi and Nao. Kimi is—they're like not that important.
JACOB: Yeah. Takaya notes in one of the commentaries for the volume, she said, "Kimi and Nao exist because I needed somebody who didn't have some horrible dramatic problem." She's like, "These characters are the only two characters that are untouched by sadness."
JACOB: What's funny is I remember a lot of teenagers hated them and hated the student council stuff because they just wanted to roll around in the angst of the Sohma family all the time, I think. I really like them now as an adult. I'm like, "Oh, this stuff is really important and I dig it."
JACOB: These are two, or I guess three to some extent, like Kakeru's known some hardship, but apart from Machi, these are the three pretty well off ,nice, normal kids that are just being wacky teenagers and they don't have horrible sadness stalking them. They can just be funny and it's great. Kimi can just piss off the Yuki fan club because she just flirts with every boy.
JACOB: She's like, "I'm in love with every boy."
ASHLEY: Yeah. "Yuki shared sweets with me." Oh yeah.
JACOB: Nao is the straight man. He's like a really serious 15 year old and he doesn't like people making jokes. He's just there to be mad that everybody makes jokes. And you know, Kakeru's there to be Yuki's first non-Sohma, non-secret related friend. Then, Machi is there for other reasons, don't you think? Other reasons.
ASHLEY: Yeah. I think you need these characters to like, I don't want to say balance, but like there needs to be some normal levity in Fruits Basket, I feel. It can't just all be Sohma drama. It's like, yeah, other people have drama too outside of these weirdos who transform into animals and they have to interact with those weirdos who don't transform into animals. You need those people.
JACOB: Yeah. And it's also important for Yuki to have like—if this whole arc is about him starting his whole future and living outside the Sohma family, then he's developing leadership skills and developing social skills, because that's the thing he just did not have, was actual interpersonal and social skills and allowing himself to be open and all that other stuff.
JACOB: Now, he has these weirdos that he kind of has to do this with because he has to work with them to organize stuff for the school. Japanese student councils, they actually do work and shit like that. It's not a completely superficial pointless thing that it is in America.
JACOB: He basically is starting his life. He's starting in a leadership position at his school and he has to learn some skills. They're important for that reason, because it's like, this is Yuki living his life for the first time, because it's great. Being with Tohru is helpful and it helped him learn a lot of things, but that was a process of him having a mom for the first time and being raised and nurtured, and now, he's got to "fly free, little bird" and meet other people.
ASHLEY: Yeah. Meet his actual crush, Machi.
JACOB: Exactly. Yeah. Who doesn't think he's a prince.
ASHLEY: Yeah. Doesn't think he's a prince. She sees the real Yuki, not a prince.
JACOB: She sees the real him. It's cheesy but it's great.
ASHLEY: It's awesome.
JACOB: It's fantastic.
ASHLEY: Yeah. He has his best friend who is his brother and Kyo mashed together. He's like, "Oh, this is how it could have been, like whatever, cool, I'll be the the Red Ranger for you, you weirdo." It is really sweet.
JACOB: They aren't friends right away either because he is responding to those traits that he doesn't understand. He doesn't have baggage with Kakeru. It's just a matter of like, "Oh, this guy's personality is annoying. It's good though because it helps me. It helps loosen me up and puts me on my toes." It's like that but without the baggage of Ayame abandoning him as a child and all that shit that he has to get over.
ASHLEY: Kyo just walking up to him and being like, "I hate you, you little brat."
JACOB: "I hate you," yes.
ASHLEY: He's like a five year old, he's like, "Your hair is pretty." "I hate you."
ASHLEY: "I hate you."
JACOB: He's like, "I just said your hair was pretty." Poor Yuki. Anyway.
ASHLEY: "I just wanted to be friends right away."
JACOB: Yeah. Kyo, he had problems. Kyo was raised totally like, "oh, yeah, you're just there to make the numbers match up and everybody hates you. The person to blame for that is the rat."
JACOB: Of course he's going to say that. It's terrible, the Sohma family turns everyone on each other in order to keep its horrible co-dependency machine rolling. This idea that you're destined to be needed but not wanted. This is basically like, I guess, I really, really like the way of summing up that theme because I feel like that's the epitome of what an abusive family is, you are needed but not wanted.
ASHLEY: Yeah. You just blew my mind, I think. Such a good summation.
JACOB: Yeah. That was Takaya, she came up with it. It's great. It's like this idea of a bond—I think, that scene where Tohru asks Kazuma if it's okay for her to break the curse—and it's really good because it's a process that I see a lot of people go through in real life when dealing with people who are still entangled in abusive family relationships because... say you're the partner of somebody, this is hypothetical. I'm actually not speaking to my experience but to experiences of some other people I know.
JACOB: Say you're the partner of someone who is in an abusive family situation and hasn't left and hasn't really fully become independent from it. You feel this terrible pull of like, "of course, I want to save this person but is it wrong for me to step in because this bond of blood?" That Tohru talks about. She's like, "Hey, if the curse is a bond, it's like this hundreds of year-old-bond that was cemented by these people willfully at first, is it wrong of me, even if I think, oh, I should save this person, is it wrong of me to step in?"
JACOB: The answer is, no, it's not wrong, but it is really, really hard and complicated. The person is maybe not going to want to be saved at some points. You can't force that, either. It's this ugly sort of complicated situation. Yeah. That's the really tragic thing about the curse and about this metaphor of the Sohma family curse for being in a harmful and healthy family— family you wouldn't choose, as it were, is that you're needed—you need to make the numbers match up, as I think how Akita puts it to Rin. He says, "You're just here to make the numbers match up." Which is, I think, a line that always stuck with me. I don't know why. I think it's just a really strong line. It just says, "you are not wanted. We don't want you. We just need you in order for the banquet to be eternal."
JACOB: Also, in the case of the Sohma family, because they're very prestigious and very rich and very old, there's a Japanese element to it where it's like, your legacy, the family that you're tied to, that you're born into has built wealth and or prestige and connections for decades. If you reject that, you are harming them and yourself. There's no good reason to reject it. But if it's a terrible family, you should. There's just immense pressure not to.
JACOB: Yeah. It's just speaking to this very real societal problem of terrible families that make you feel indebted to them, but using a fantastical thing to make it, I guess, to make it more palatable to all audiences. Because you can just say, "That's a curse, that's how it works." People who have been in that life are like, "Oh no, I know this is a metaphor rather than just a fantasy element."
ASHLEY: Yeah. As you start the story with the fantastical element, you're like, "The curse is that they can't hug somebody of the opposite sex," that's it or whatever. Then, it becomes like, no, the curse is that they can't defy Akito's will and they're all matched up against each other. I think what Akito does that's so insidious is that even people in the Sohma family, like Haru and Rin like each other and go out together and all these things and are in love and everything—Akito is still like, "No, you can't do that. I won't allow it." It's just like this terrible thing that's like, "you're part of this family and you can't escape. Also, you are not allowed to bring anybody new into it. You can't expand it unless I tell you to. You can't make these other bonds on top of these existing bonds unless I want you to do it." I'm like, "Oh god, it's terrible."
JACOB: Yeah. It says, "Nobody leaves. Nobody joins and in there, we have this perfect"—it's basically trying to capture the perfection of what was a really strong family relationship hundreds of years ago or whatever and trying to make that eternal. It's not possible because everybody grows and changes and your bonds change over time.
JACOB: And the thing that Akito does—and there's a conversation Tohru has with Kazuma, he says, "Look, I don't think Akito is scary at all." I think this is conveyed really well by the manga. Akito is not a master manipulator. It's just a spoiled child. The stuff he says doesn't make sense. It's easy to refute. He's like an emotional mess. He's very petty and spiteful, but like abusive parents and guardians and caretakers and siblings and stuff like that aren't necessarily master manipulators or anything. It's just they could be very normal, petty, angry, even stupid people, but the way that they raise you and raise you to think about yourself forms in your brain. And it's very hard to break away from because it's just how you were raised. When Akito says something like, "Nobody can leave, nobody can be added, this is eternal," what he's really saying is like, "nobody else will love you, only I am allowed to love you. Everyone else hates you." It would be bad enough if that was the outside world, but because Akito is a special case in terms of gods for reasons that we won't find out until later, this is apparently one of the darkest times in the family in terms of the bond.
JACOB: Not only is Akito like, "only we love each other and nobody else will love you," it's "only I love each one of you and you aren't allowed to love each other," right? It's like an extra level of "everyone hates you, even the other animals hate you." Only god can love like each individual animal in their own way, which is horrifying and terrible and obviously a huge freaking lie.
ASHLEY: Yeah. Because looking at the—there's like the picture of, here's the circle of the bonds at the beach house, when she's talking—or when she's talking to Kazuma or something at some point. It's like, yeah, okay, why can't they love each other within that circle? That seems like it should be allowed. There would be a whole like incest is still bad, inbreeding, like all these things. It's just like, yeah, no, Akito is just crazy and gets to be in this god role and has the position of power.
ASHLEY: It's scary to think that he has the position of power, like when they're younger, we get those flashbacks of Yuki and then at the banquet. When Kyo yells, "I hate you," or whatever. It's scary to be like, oh, Akito wielded all that power as a child too, like...
JACOB: As a little four year old, yeah.
ASHLEY: Yeah, as a four year old. No wonder this didn't turn out well.
JACOB: Yeah. It's a bad situation all around, I think. We haven't really gotten into like, why is Akito such a monster? We're getting an inkling. We're getting an inkling because it's like, oh, he was told "you have to lead this family. You have to be... everyone loves you and if they don't love you, that's insubordination." All this screwed up stuff when he was just a little itty-bitty baby.
ASHLEY: Yeah. He was a little itty-bitty baby that then got power to be mean to all the other itty-bitty little babies.
JACOB: Yeah, or people who were older than him. He could say...
ASHLEY: That's true. I mean, stuff... are they older than him? Yeah.
JACOB: Yeah. He can say, "jump off the bridge," and this kid who's a teen when your child has to do it, has to follow your orders. Of course, it makes him a little tyrant. He's not happy. He's not like, "ah, I wield this power." He's terrified. He's obviously scared all the time. He's a mess. You're a mess, Akito.
ASHLEY: Akito is such a mess. Yeah. He's not happy about it. He's just like, "Oh my god, they're all going to leave me."
JACOB: "They're all going to leave me."
ASHLEY: Constantly.
JACOB: Yeah. It's really, really screwed up, but it's very, very true to abusive family dynamics. It's not an evil villain who has children and controls them and is like, cackling. It's usually very, very weak or hurt people or people who were then indoctrinated, or people who have been abused themselves. That's why it's called the cycle of abuse, is because if you're raised to hate one another as the Sohma family are, it's very hard for you to not carry that on to your children. That's what Kyoko was afraid of when she had Tohru is... She's like, "What if I'm just like my mom? What if I have a kid and they say, 'I didn't want to be born from you. You're terrible.'"
JACOB: That's why child abuse and difficult families are so... It's such a heinous dark thing, that people avoid talking about, because it's like you're handicapping somebody emotionally for life. It's not just like, "Oh, you went through a bad thing," and once you get... It's not like... There's a movie, everybody's seen "Tangled." It's not like Tangled where somebody raises you and you're like, "Oh, I found out you're evil so I'm just going to... You're going to fall out a window and I'll be sad for two seconds and then it's over."
ASHLEY: Then we'll be fine, yeah.
JACOB: It'll be fine. It's like, "Oh, this is the only way I know how to function. The way that I know how to express love is seen as harmful by the rest of the world and I have to fix that. I have to fix that and I can't..." The big scene at the end of Volume 16 is where Yuki goes to Akito to say "I forgive you" and also says like, "I can't blame you for all my problems."
JACOB: I disagree. I think he can blame Akito for a lot of his problem but—
ASHLEY: Most of them, yeah.
JACOB: Yeah, but the point that is being made and the thing that's so strong isn't that he's not blaming Akito enough, that he's saying like, "What you gave me, I'm going to live with and I have to fix. I can't be like, 'Oh, I'm just this way because I was raised by a monster.'" You can't do that. You have to be like, "I'm this way because I was raised by monster, but I have to own that and change it myself and I have to be strong enough to say like, 'Well, this is my problem now because I'm adult.'" Yuki's on... Yuki is still a child and he's dealing with this.
JACOB: It's amazing how quickly... It does feel like Takaya, who is an adult, is writing the stuff that she understands at her age into the mind of a 17-year-old but I'll take it, because it's very meaningful.
ASHLEY: It's fine, yeah.
JACOB: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
ASHLEY: Yeah, because the thing is, now Yuki and Kyo... I think that's also why I relate to Kyo, is that he and I have this abrasive thing that also did wear off of me in college once I like... I used to go around and just hit people, punch them and be like, "That's cute. We're bros. That's how you express love." Then people in college were like, "Why are you hitting me? This hurts." I stop hitting them because I'm like, "Okay. Yeah, that's not a thing that you should do to people."
ASHLEY: At some point, you have to be like... They got Tohru. She shows them some things, but then there has to be some personal responsibility. I could have kept hitting them, I guess.
JACOB: Yeah, I feel like, "Sorry, it's just how I was raised."
ASHLEY: Yeah, "That's just how I was raised. That's just how I was taught in hockey. That's what bros do." They're like, "No." It's like, "Okay. I'll just stop hitting people." It didn't happen immediately, but over several years, I was like, "All right. I don't hit people anymore. That's nice. Great."
JACOB: Yeah. It's funny thinking about that, I do relate to Yuki. Geez! That scene. There's so many scenes to talk about. I think I was like you as a child. How I acted outwardly wasn't... I felt like Yuki on the inside. I think I felt like I couldn't communicate with people and I was really terrified to express my true self but if you ask... But I think that came out more in adolescence.
JACOB: As a child, I acted like you. I do temper tantrums. I was mean and loud, and played with the boys and didn't like girls, and resented ever being told what to do. I was told perpetually—this is burned into my brain as a child—that I was told perpetually that I have a problem with authority, that I was insubordinate, because I remember a cop in the D.A.R.E. program, the Don't Do Drugs Program. It was like 6th Grade class and we were doing the D.A.R.E. program and somebody started crying, I think, because their father drank or something and you know... There's scare tactics of the D.A.R.E. program are—it had a pretty profound effect on them.
JACOB: And I wasn't even friends with this person. I don't think they even liked me, but I said—in the middle of class—I said, "They're just trying to scare you. This isn't..." I was just being very critical of it. I was a smart ass and a little... I was a very smart 6th grader and a little bit of an asshole.
JACOB: I was pulled aside by the cop and said, "I think you're insubordinate. Do you know what that means? I don't appreciate your insubordination," that kind of thing. That kind of thing happens to me routinely as a child and I think hitting puberty, rounding the bend on that, shut me up and may be more like Yuki made me, made me a little more traumatized, but as a child I remember definitely being like Kyo where it's like, "Oh, yeah? You don't like how I am? Well, screw you!" And being that way to my teachers, my parents and everything, anybody who tried to control me, because I didn't realize it at the time but I was being perpetually gas lit and told that I was the black sheep of the family. Of course, I reacted like Kyo to that. To be like, "Oh, if everybody hates me, fine, then I'll just be more hateful." You know what I mean?
ASHLEY: You're just living up to their expectations, right?
JACOB: Exactly, yeah. I definitely relate to lots of different characters of Fruits Basket at different points in life but if we're talking little baby me, definitely Kyo.
ASHLEY: Definitely Kyo. That's because he is a little baby. He knows it. He's like, "You treat me like a child, okay. I did react like a child, didn't I?"
JACOB: Yeah. He grows pretty fast for as much as he still has more to get through. He's calmed down a lot. He doesn't throw fits all time anymore.
ASHLEY: He's so calm now.
JACOB: Yeah.
ASHLEY: Comparatively.
JACOB: Tohru starts laughing at him and instead of throwing a fit or leaving, he grabs her head and says very sternly, "Stop laughing."
ASHLEY: "Stop laughing at me."
JACOB: Because it's so cute.
ASHLEY: Now, the point where she tries to take the script back from him. She's like, "Oh, we have to practice for this play," or whatever and he's like, "No, don't show this to Shigure. No, don't tell Kazuma," and all these things. She just like, "Now, give it back to me. I have to practice." Then he just holds it away from her and has this whole sequence and her just getting mad. I'm like, "Oh, that's cute." Then he just gives it to her.
JACOB: Yeah, they tease each other relentlessly. It's extremely cute.
ASHLEY: So cute. The one cute thing.
JACOB: I love the contrast with... At the beach house, there's a contrast between... He's building a sandcastle with Tohru and she reaches out and touches his beads and like wraps her finger fully around them in a position where she could take them off if she wanted to and he's okay with it and I think he even laughs because she's obviously very sad and worried for him. I remember that because when I reread it, I realized that's just a couple chapters—or that's a chapter before the scene with Akito where he is rebelling against him and he's saying, "Shut up! Don't talk about her that way," and Akito reaches out and does the same things, the exact same motion, one finger curled around the beads. I never noticed that before. Only this time it's a measure of control. He says, "You don't give me orders. I tell you what to do." It's this thing, this giant gap between trust and control in the same motion. I was like, "Oh, Takaya's a fantastic writer."
JACOB: It's real good. Yeah, it's lots of stuff going.
ASHLEY: Lots of stuff going on. Going back to sandcastles. I have been reading a book about sand, so I have sand on my mind a lot right now.
JACOB: But it's coarse and it's rough and it gets everywhere, or so I've heard.
ASHLEY: Yeah, but this book is particularly about how everything in the world is actually made out of sand, which you don't really think about. It's the third most naturally used resource besides air and water, I think. Yeah...
JACOB: That's interesting.
ASHLEY: ... because everything is built out of it but then I'm like, "Yeah, that sandcastle is supposed to be a castle." They keep joking that it doesn't look like a castle and it's not grand enough and all of these things and then he just get wash away by a wave. I'm like, "Yeah. That's a metaphor for Fruits Basket right here."
JACOB: It is. Yeah, it's like, "Oh, well..." Do you give up this... Because they compare... Geez! That never occurred to me before but you're right, that was an intentional metaphor because they compare the Sohma family estate to a castle constantly, over and over and over. It's a fantasy castle. Basically, it's their fantasy castle in a fairytale, right?
JACOB: So all the family having this gathering at the summer house away from Tohru and Kyo and they're there by themselves and they're building a shtty little sandcastle and it's not very good. It doesn't look like anything. That's the way their bond is, right? From an outside's perspective it's like, "Oh, this doesn't really worth anything. You have an orphan girl who has no connections, no fit..." Because they talked about... It's a very Japanese story in terms of talking about legacies and who should marry who for what reason and what the expectations are of a person and what grades they should make and how much money they should make.
JACOB: Here you have this girl who's bad in school and an orphan making a sandcastle on a beach with very much the black sheep of his family, the reject, who won't even be buried with the other family members when he dies, building this sandcastle. The water comes and washes it away and it's gone but it's a good memory and it was worthwhile. It's obviously means so much more than what the prestigious Sohma family is doing with Akito, which is just sitting in a circle while he tells them, "I love you and also you're the worst person who ever lived."
ASHLEY: Yeah. No, yeah. Kyo's... The sandcastle doesn't look like anything. It did eventually look like something. It looked like Tohru was doing [crosstalk 01:09:15].
JACOB: When more people came back, yeah.
ASHLEY: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
JACOB: Well, yeah. When everybody came back, they helped build it. Haru is like a little bit of a savant, I think, in terms of... I wonder if he would be a really, really good artist because I think he helps build a good sandcastle.
ASHLEY: Haru is a precious boy. I love him.
JACOB: Yes, he is. He's a good boy. I love the line... This is just a silly throwaway line but where he's talking about how much he cares for Yuki. That's the other thing, it's like Yuki thought nobody loved him as a child but Haru was secretly looking out for him the whole time.
ASHLEY: Then Rin was secretly looking out for Haru.
JACOB: Looking out for Haru, yeah.
ASHLEY: That was so, so good.
JACOB: They're trying to support each other but they have to do it in secret because if they support each other outwardly, they'll be punished because they're in this shtty, abusive environment. But it's like there are people who love... Ayame did love his brother. He was just... He found his way to escape the family and embrace it, so anything that reminded him of the family, he purposefully had to put behind him in order to stay mentally healthy and that had the consequence of him abandoning his brother, basically. He was a child. Ayame was also a child at the time. It's amazing that he got out and he should be happy about that but it was... It had bad consequences that he feels really bad about. It's a lot of complicated things.
JACOB: The point I was making is there's this really funny line where Haru and... Yuki tells Haru that he now understand that he protected him as a child and he's like, "It means a lot to me. Thank you." He's like, "It's okay. I love you," and Yuki, in his normal way is like, "Look, I don't want that kind of love. Just accept the thank you graciously." He says, "You're right." He's like, "You don't love me the same way that you love Rin," or whatever. He says, "I do but maybe it's different." He says, "Maybe we were sisters in a past life."
JACOB: It's just a really funny line. He's like, "Maybe the love I feel for you is that we were sisters," not like brothers. Specifically, sisters in a past life. I'm like, "This is a great line.".
ASHLEY: It's very Haru. It's like Haru is being nice but then half the time he like, "What is Haru trying to get at here? I'm not quite seeing..."
JACOB: He's poetic. I feel like I deeply understand the dumb nonsense stuff that Haru says. There's also a line where Haru is talking about going to middle school. He has the same rebellious thing as Kyo where it's like, "Oh, you hate me? I'll double down." He goes to middle school and he's talking with Rin about like, "Oh, yeah. They didn't like my white hair and my undone tie and stuff like that. They don't like me in middle school because this is the way I look." He says, "I'm going to get my ears pierced."
ASHLEY: Oh, yeah. That was—
JACOB: It's like, "Yeah! Double down." It's great.
ASHLEY: See, he's doing exactly what everybody else is doing. He's like, "People have these expectations of me so I go to meet them," but he does it in a funny way. He's just like, "Yeah. I'm going to get my ears pierced because they think I'm a delinquent anyway."
JACOB: Yeah, and they deal with the dramatic side of that in early volumes when we see the whole thing that he went through with Yuki and stuff like that, but he grew up a little faster, I think. I think Haru would be a greater force for good if he wasn't, A. Younger and B. Still part of the family.
JACOB: The biggest issue is that people who are part of this zodiac, no matter how hard they work, can't really fix it. That's the issue with Rin, right? Who we have yet to bring up but she's very important as well.
ASHLEY: Yeah, we should bring up Rin, and her and Tohru's goal of breaking the curse and how Rin may or may not want to work with Tohru.
JACOB: Right, yeah.
ASHLEY: I guess the hard part about Rin for me was that people... This is just a petty thing, I guess, but Rin is shown to be initially very callous and is cold and cutting to Tohru and even to Haru, because she's trying to cut off everybody, being like, "I've hurt them all in the past so I got to cut them off so they don't get hurt from my crazy delusions of trying to break this curse," or whatever.
ASHLEY: They talk about that like that is her default personality even though I'm like, "But in the past, she is nice to you." I don't know. It was just like, "I don't buy this characterization. This is supposed to be a turning point like, 'Sorry, Tohru. She got you with her cunningness.'" I'm like, "Is that how she was in the past? Because she seems like she was very nice in the past."
JACOB: Yeah. I think that the beginning they were setting Rin up to be more like a dark foreshadowing. We're introduced to her most formally. We see a little bit before then but we're mostly introduced to her in the scene where she is attempting to seduce Shigure for some reason.
JACOB: I think that that put... Yeah, it's right up the chapter ends with her coming on him. It's like, "What the hell? This is getting kind of gruesome." Although she's at least college age, right? I think... No, she's one older than... She's one or two years older than Haru. She's Kagura's age. It's not creepy. It's just of strange.
JACOB: I think that we're introduced to her being intimidating over and over in like little pockets leading up to this chapter. We think, also because of her long-black hair, we think like, "Oh, this person is allied with Akito in some way." Then it turns out just not at all, quite the opposite. It's just that she's trying to break the curse on her own without getting anyone involved because she doesn't want them to be hurt.
JACOB: I definitely relate to Rin in the whole like, "I'm determined to get things done but if anybody got too close to me, they would hate me or get hurt so I'm going to do it by myself." Overextending themselves to the point where you got sick, where you cause people trouble and that makes you feel even worse because, "No, I wasn't trying to rely on anybody. I have to leave." You know?
JACOB: It works really well with her animal too because she's got the flighty horse thing where she's like really just touchy and she's quick and elegant and moves very quickly out of situations where she feels like people are getting too close. She's like a wild stallion or something.
ASHLEY: Yeah, and she can kick you very hard.
JACOB: It's an evocative image. Yeah, she'd kick your head off, which is not great.
JACOB: I think it's a less... In terms of—just because the cast is so big and so complex—I think Rin is less unique than a lot of other characters. I feel like you've seen types of characters like Rin in more stories, does that make sense? She's a little more of an archetype. But she's a very striking image because of her hair and her clothes and just the way that she's framed a lot of the time.
ASHLEY: Yeah. I like her with Haru. They make a good couple. They look like a badass couple even though they're actually very silly.
JACOB: One of the few characters who actually bone in the story because it's not—
ASHLEY: Oh, yeah.
JACOB: Yeah! Somebody's getting smacked at least.
ASHLEY: I guess that is very like... Yeah. That's pretty explicit that normally doesn't go there.
JACOB: Yup. Bees to bird action, I guess.
ASHLEY: Rin is interesting. She also like... I don't know. I guess, again, it was just always me being like, "What are Rin's defaults?" Because we are introduced to her in such piecemeal ways and when she was getting sick, I was like, "Is this normal of Rin? Okay. Yes, it is normal of Rin," and all these things.
JACOB: Well, you see her as a little bitty girl. Before it's started out, you get the impression that she was very feminine and shy. She just seems like a really demure girly-girl, I guess? But the problem with trying to say who's the real Rin is that she was so deeply devastated by her parents at such a young age that it's really, really hard to... That the real her got buried. It's going to take her a long time to find the real her and we certainly don't get to it in this portion of the volume, because who she is right now, she's fully in, "I cannot trust anybody," or "If there is somebody who is nice enough to trust me, that means they're going to get taken advantage of."
JACOB: People like Haru and Tohru and stuff like that, she's like, "Well, I'm too much of a danger to be around someone who's that kind." She also resents them because she didn't have that kindness in her life and I think that's also very relatable, is when you see people who are like really blissfully happy, really blissfully happy and open with everybody and just do what they want freely, you get... If your childhood was not like that or if you're damaged enough that you don't feel you can be that way, you get bitter, I think. That's true of Rin because she says to Hiro, who is one of the most... May perhaps the most normally raised and healthfully raised zodiac kid is Hiro and she tell him... I'm trying to think if there's someone more than that, but I think it's Hiro and Kagura, right?
JACOB: She tells him like... He shows concern for her. He's like, "Are you okay, because you fell out of a fcking window."
ASHLEY: Yeah, and she's like, "Don't ask about that."
JACOB: She is like "go..." Yeah, and her rebuke to that is like, "Go spend some time with your loving mother and your little girlfriend."
ASHLEY: Yeah. She can't be bothered to explain it because he wouldn't understand how deep that went because he is so perfect or whatever.
JACOB: Yeah. It's a little like, "Oh, cry me a river." It's something that I think back in the 2000s would be made fun of for being emo. I remember a lot of fans of Fruits Basket not liking Rin cuz they thought she was "so emo," or whatever, and also misogyny. There's a lot of internalized misogyny in teen girls reading that. They're like, "Ugh! That girl." But it's perfectly understandable that someone in her position would be like, "Don't talk to me. You have a happy life. Don't get involved with me. You can't imagine that situation and so it's hurtful for you to express concern for me when you have a supportive people in your life and I do not," that kind of thing.
JACOB: As she finds out, sometimes there are supportive people in your life, you're just not capable of recognizing it because you have so much damage, like Haru and Tohru and even Shigure, to some extent, are there for her. Shigure doesn't take advantage of her and he does try to help or in so far as he says, "I don't know anything, but I encourage you to find out for my benefit."
ASHLEY: Yeah, he's like, "I'm being straight up with you. I'm a selfish person. I don't have the courage to really go explore what will break the curse, I guess, but I really look forward to benefiting from when you do." It's like, "All right."
JACOB: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. He's, thankfully, not like... Because you know. You look at Rin and he's like... You know that he would be like, "All right. I guess I won't turn this down," but he does because he's not a complete monster. He's like, "All right. No. We're not sleeping together. You go do your thing."
ASHLEY: Yeah. I guess I do appreciate Rin's wariness of kind people in a way that's even just like... "I just feel so bad for the kind people because the world is going to tear them down and I can't protect them" because there is a lot of plot points about like, what does it mean to protect somebody? And all these thing—and how do you have the courage and the strength to protect anybody in this cruel, cruel world when you always need somebody as well? How can you protect somebody if you can't stand up by yourself?
JACOB: The answer is not pushing people away. The answer is never, actually, in Fruits Basket is the answer to protecting someone to push them away. Sometimes it is to listen to their feelings and give them space, but not what Rin and Kyo and so many other characters do. The answer is not to go, "I can do this on my own," and like, "They'll appreciate it in the future that I protected them by putting them in a distance." That's never the answer.
ASHLEY: That never works out well.
JACOB: It's never a good idea. It's always like, "for the time you have, spend it with the people that you love," I think, which is something the Fruits Basket emphasizes over and over. It's not about needing somebody, it's about wanting to spend the time that you have with the people that you love regardless of whether or not you think you're being a burden on them or whatever. If it's love and you're listening to their needs, then you're not being a burden by opening up to somebody or asking for trust or anything like that. But the Sohma's of course think that way because they've been taught that everyone hates them and the world will never accept them so...
ASHLEY: Yeah. Coming back from the dark place of your existence as a human is a burden is always a deep struggle.
JACOB: Definitely, yeah.
ASHLEY: Yeah, then I guess before just touching on any side characters that we may or may have mentioned so far, the last theme was about the particular struggle of being a mother. Because I think there's a lot about just parenthood in this being terrible. There are a bunch of terrible dads. There are some good dads. Kazuma is good dad. Katsuya is a good dad. People with K names are good dads.
JACOB: That's the common denominator.
ASHLEY: That's the common denominator, yeah. But I think there is a particular struggle... I think it strikes me because there are fewer female members of the Zodiac.
JACOB: Yes, three.
ASHLEY: Yes, there are three. Just Tohru's mom talking about how she's like, "Bearing your child is fine, Katsuya, I kinda want to do that but also just like the thought of bringing a child into this world is so scary and maybe they'll say terrible things to me like I said a terrible thing to my mom." That was the most powerful thing to me was actually...
JACOB: Definitely, yeah.
ASHLEY: ... Tohru's mom not only being... She knows that her mom was terrible to her but then she's like, "I still said this really awful thing to my mom and wow, I can't take that back." Of course, she wouldn't respond well to that. Like I said, the worst thing possible to her as a mother.
JACOB: She deserved it. That was—
ASHLEY: She just—
JACOB: Well, Kyoko's mom—
ASHLEY: You're being insubordinate, Jacob.
JACOB: Kyoko's mom never supports her. Never in her whole life supports her. I think there is a common thing, this was my experience growing up as well, to blame the dad. It is true that in abusive family situations, the dad is often worse but that's not always true. I think there is an excuse to like... Kyoko's parents were like my parents but the dad is obviously the... He's like patient zero for the abuse in the family, but the mother is culpable and she uses her weakness and her, "Well, I just have to do things this way because I have to please your father. Look at the sacrifices I make." She uses her weaknesses as a crutch. To some extent, people can fall for that and say like, "Oh, well. See, she's a victim too."
JACOB: The thing is Kyoko's mother and mothers in that situation, they're not just victims, they are... This is a passive-aggressive method of making yourself the victim when you are in fact culpable in the abuse toward the child because Kyoko's mother never sticks up for her. She never supports her. She doesn't even let her back into the house after her husband passes away. She's raising Tohru by herself. She doesn't do anything to fight back she just says, "Oh, this is just the position I'm in." It's like "you're grown fcking woman. You can stand up for your kid. Blaming somebody else..."
JACOB: The father is terrible but at least he owns up to his actions and says like, "I'm doing this because I believe this shtty thing," or, "Because I think that this child has to act this way before they deserve my love." But the mother doesn't stand for anything. She just says, "I'm just doing this because it's my job to respect my husband and to maintain the façade of a happy family."
JACOB: Yeah, I think Kyoko is right and that she says, "Well, you shouldn't have had me if you weren't prepared to love me." I think that as hurtful as it is to her mom, like, her mom never learns from that and grows from that at all. She remains a terrible person until the end, so I think that Kyoko was justified in lashing out as a teen like that. Obviously she's haunted by it, but that's because Kyoko is a good person. It's not because she did something terrible, it's because she's really emphatic and she feels bad because she has a big heart. Obviously, she has a big heart because she imbues all this wisdom to Tohru that it gets passed to the Sohma family.
ASHLEY: Yeah. The Sohma family is full of... Whose moms do we really get to see? We have Kyo's mom, who he's blamed for killing, even though that's not true. We have Yuki's mom...
JACOB: Yuki's mom.
ASHLEY: ... who signs a contract for him to get a cellphone. That's nice, right?
JACOB: Oh God! Yeah. Yuki's mom sells him as a play thing, basically, literally sells him as a piece of property to the head of the family so she can live better. God damn woman. Just cold.
ASHLEY: So cold.
JACOB: Yuki's mom is a classic example of a thing that I talked about earlier of a parent who sees their child as an extension of her own life as a way to live longer, basically. That scene where they have parent-teacher conference in order to discuss the student's future, which on a lighter note, Hana's is the absolute funniest because she's just like, "I'd like to graduate." That's it. She's like, "Maybe I'll graduate this year." That's it. It's like, "Please take this seriously. Please talk to us about colleges or career option or work," or whatever but...
ASHLEY: No, no.
JACOB: ... she just refuses which is great.
ASHLEY: She's the one who is taking make up tests on purpose because she's like, "They're easier."
JACOB: Yeah. She knows that the system is not objective and that there are many ways to happiness and she's found her own and it's fine.
ASHLEY: Yeah, in that play she gets a yakiniku restaurant and is successful and never marries and she... Feminism, happily ever after.
JACOB: Yeah, I remember on my second read through, I took a picture of the panel where the last line of "Sort-of Cinderella" is, "Then the princess Cinderella got a yakiniku restaurant and proves to the world that woman can be perfectly happy and fulfilled without marriage. The end." It was like, "Yeah, that's good. That's good."
ASHLEY: It's a good ending.
JACOB: It is a good ending. I think Hana is set for future. Whatever she does, she's fine. She could be a psychic and be a really good psychic.
ASHLEY: That's true. Her career path is already set.
JACOB: Now that she has full control of her powers, the world is her oyster.
JACOB: I think the scene with Yuki and his mother is another thing. Talking about most powerful scenes in this arc, is his mom goes to this future career meeting and she just starts telling the teacher all the plans that she has for Yuki, which she has not even told him about. And at first, he starts to fight back. So this has literally happened to me before. I was like, "Oh, sht. I've totally been here." This was also the point when I was reading it as a teenager, when I was like... I don't know. I think maybe I was 16 by the time this came out. This is one of the first times... All the time I was reading Fruits Basket, the themes in it were speaking to me subliminally but I didn't really realized that these were like my life until very specific points.
JACOB: I remember this moment being like, "Oh, this is my life. This is my mom." Which was that scene where she's talking about his future and he's like, "Whoa! Whoa! I didn't agree to any of this," and he starts to fight back because he's not a total doormat, he's doing his best and this is what these shtty people do to you, is his mother turns around and she says, "I don't remember you ever saying that you were unhappy." She gaslights him, basically, and Yuki's brain just shuts down because he was like "it took..." From his perspective he's like, "It took all the effort I had in the pit of my stomach to object to stuff and to tell you, to beg," when he was a little kid and he was trying to go home and not leave with Akito anymore.
JACOB: He begged her like, "Please take me home," and she was just like, patted him on head and says, "Okay. You're a little sad, but you'll get over it." As an adult, you know—or not as an adult, but here he is 17 and filling out this career future thing with his mother and she's like, "You didn't tell me that you didn’t want this." He's like, "I did." He just shuts... That's her way of winning the argument, by gas lighting him, she forces him to painfully go through, "Is it my fault? Did I not assert enough that this isn't what I wanted?" Of course it's all completely false. If she was a caring mother at all, she would know. He wouldn't have been so afraid to say what he wanted to her and she would have remembered it and listened, but instead it was a situation where he voiced what he wanted in the most meek way possible, because it was very difficult for him to do, and then she just denies that. Denies that he ever said it.
JACOB: He encounters the same thing as Kisa where he's just like, "Well obviously, my words have no impact so I just forget how to talk." He falls behind in these moments and so his mother is continuing to discuss all this career stuff and starting to set it out for him and just completely bulldozing him and he can't even speak anymore.
JACOB: I was like, "Oh, sht." I remember reading that, I'm like, "Oh, that's me," because I felt like such a strong-willed, passionate, convicted person who would fight back and speak my mind and stuff like that, but there would be moments if I got gas lit that badly where it was just like, "Oh, I don't even remember what words to use anymore to combat what's happening." He just starts to shut down. I remember that. That panel will probably always be burned into my brain where he sort of buckled over a little bit and the text on the page just says, "My words are dead. They're dying and I can't get them out of my body before they die." It was like, "Oh, yeah. I've been there." But on the plus side, to get us out of this dark pit, Ayame—
ASHLEY: A plus side? Okay.
JACOB: Ayame thrusts open the door...
ASHLEY: Oh, yes. Ayame—
JACOB: ... and his mother screams like a banshee, like she's seeing a ghost of this child that she couldn't control stepping in to give his brother freedom. It's great. Ayame steps in and says, "Yuki's going to decide his own future." While he's talking to the teacher while his mother shrieks and says, "What are you doing here?" She's completely shut down and now she has no power in the conversation anymore.
JACOB: It was, yeah, Ayame did the good thing and...
ASHLEY: Yay! Ayame!
JACOB: ... rescued his brother when he hadn't in the past.
ASHLEY: Good stuff. It is good stuff. I forgot about that scene because it was one of the earlier ones but, yeah. We also had Shigure being Tohru's parent.
JACOB: Yeah. I don't know how I feel about that. That's a whole different thing. It's not super important but Hatori's next love interest is Tohru's teacher and she once dated Shigure and so there's a vibe there.
ASHLEY: There's a vibe.
JACOB: An uncomfortable vibe where they're discussing her future and it's clearly not about Tohru at all, it's just about the bitterness between them. It's very funny but... You know.
ASHLEY: Tohru lets that happen because she's Tohru.
JACOB: She lets it happen. There is... I think the Tokyopop translation is like, "there is a cold freeze blowing" and in the Yen Press version, I laughed. I believe the translation is, "I sense diamond dust," which I don't know what that means.
ASHLEY: What does that mean?
JACOB: I don't know what that means but it does sound like a deadly... Like imagine a sandstorm of diamond dust between two people and it does seem like that's an intense tension.
ASHLEY: I think they gave a translation note at the end of it and I was like, "I still don't know what this means." I'm like...
JACOB: Right, yeah.
ASHLEY: ... what? Whatever, that's cool. Yeah. See, it was actually maybe Yuki asking his mom for a cellphone is actually really powerful because it has to do with words.
JACOB: It is.
ASHLEY: He actually—not just in the act of like, she acquiesces to it and is flustered that he has will power as a child—
JACOB: "How dare you have a will of your own?"
ASHLEY: Yeah, but just the act of an actual cellphone where he's like, "I'm going to communicate with people so that they're not ridiculous and call me over intercom. I'm going to text and we're going to chat on the phone and I'm going to have friends. Manabe's going to have my number," and stuff after he had had a whole interaction with her where he's like, "Words are dead to me." It's really powerful.
JACOB: It is a means of control. Until I was in my early 20s, all I had was a cellphone that was for family only and pay by the minute and I wasn't allowed anything more that because it is a means of control, definitely, to try and keep you from other people.
JACOB: So by Yuki saying, "Sign this freaking cellphone contract so I can get in touch with other people," it's definitely a moment of agency for him. It's very powerful.
ASHLEY: Yay, Yuki.
JACOB: Yay, Yuki.
ASHLEY: Welcome to the 2000s.
JACOB: Welcome to the 2000s of your flip phones and... What's funny is that wouldn't be dated for a while because Japan held on to the flip phone much longer than America in terms of switching. Some people still have them instead of smart phones.
ASHLEY: Yeah. Well, they had better flip phones than us.
JACOB: They did, it was easier to text, that's the thing.
ASHLEY: Who else's mommy do we have up in here?
JACOB: Whose mommies?
ASHLEY: So many mommies. It's a problem.
JACOB: Hiro's mom get knocked up.
ASHLEY: Oh, yeah but she's a good mommy, right? Because, yeah. He's the best one off and they know that one can't be possessed by other member of Zodiacs so I guess that's fine. We have Momiji's mommy who forgets him.
JACOB: Right. She doesn't appear again, I don't think it, until maybe the end of the story but, yeah. In a lot of cases there, the parents are more... Importantly, I think this is one of the things that makes Fruits Basket great, is it's not about, like—the parents are just an obstacle, and it is about the kids finding their future past them. Because I think if it really went into detail about the parents and made it more about that dynamic, I think it would run the risk of qualifying their relationship in a way that was like, "Well see, there are nuances to this." And it's like yeah, there are nuances to this but it doesn't matter. They're still bad people and the focus—
ASHLEY: They're still bad, yeah.
JACOB: Yeah, the focus needs to be on the damage that they've done rather than exactly why they did it. You don't need to humanize them that much. I'm sure that Yuki's mother has a fascinating back story that... We'll get more into Kyo's mother but that's more in the future. I'm sure that she has a complex psychology behind what she does but we don't really need to know that because it doesn't excuse what she did.
ASHLEY: Yeah, I think you get the most sense of that... I mean, Rin's story is good for that, I think, in that it's just so abrupt. Rin is like, "We're happy. That's weird. We're too happy, right?"
JACOB: Yeah, she's like, "This is like a doll house. This is like a play." The second that she questions it, it comes apart.
ASHLEY: She like, "Why doesn't anything make you sad?" They're like, "We're doing this all so that you'll be happy and now you're questioning us? What's wrong?" It just undone from there. I'm like, "Okay. Those people seemed crazy but that's Fruits Basket."
JACOB: Yeah. I think it would have been nice to get a little more characterization for Rin's parents because there's... It's not that it's unbelievable, it's that it compresses so much time and context into a short amount of space that we don't... I believe that something like that could definitely happen to a family but we don't quite get a perspective on it and we're never going to because Rin was so young.
JACOB: Again, that's a good framing thing of like, "Okay. You could explore this in more detail but it's not something that Rin's ever going to understand because it happened to her at an age where she's not going to remember the context or be able to deal with it. She just has to deal with the consequences." Explaining to her it was because her parents were, I don't know, in an arranged marriage or had some strictures placed on them by the family where they had to purchase a bunch of expensive stuff in order to live in the inside. We don't know what it is.
JACOB: It could be any number of things but the important things is how it affected Rin, which is it screwed her up real bad.
ASHLEY: Yeah, then she went to live with Kagura, right?
JACOB: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah.
JACOB: Which is difficult for its reasons, because Kagura has a supportive family and Rin does not and so she can't... Her trust has been betrayed too deeply to be like, "Oh, this is my mother now." It doesn't work that way, especially at the age where she was, because I think she was like 13 or something.
ASHLEY: Yeah, she is just like, "Whatever. I live with Kagura's family." She does not adopt that as her family.
JACOB: Yeah, she lives in the pasture behind their house as it were. She's the horse who lives there.
ASHLEY: Yeah, okay. Yeah, so I guess we should talk about... We briefly mentioned Mayu—unless you think we should save Mayu, who is Tohru's teacher—
JACOB: I don't think she gets much follow up actually. I think they—
ASHLEY: Oh, this is it?
JACOB: Her two chapters... Yeah, yeah. I remember her two chapters end with like a flash-forward to the future to just let us know that had happened and so I think it's a little rushed but I like Mayu, so it's okay.
ASHLEY: Yeah. She's...
JACOB: I like her.
ASHLEY: ... fun. She has the symbolic, "I cut off my hair and moved on." Those were fun moments.
JACOB: Yeah. She has a similar relationship that Uo has to Tohru where she's a little more jaded and she's doesn't have that classic like, "Oh, this person is like a..." If you're a straight guy and looking for a girlfriend or whatever, she doesn't have this classic feminine loving, caring, good cook sort of thing. She's tall and brash and rude, and a little masc(uline), I think. She's self-conscious about all of that but she has the hots for Hatori and she feels really bad about that because she loves her friend, Kana, so much and when it doesn't work out, she feels even worse. Fortunately, everybody gets to grow and move on from that.
JACOB: I don't know that their relationship is anything groundbreaking or that emotional because it's all from the outside, she never finds out about the curse or anything, but she's just really lovable because her personality is just so relatable, I think.
ASHLEY: Yeah, and I think she's an interesting case where it's fun to see a character... No, not fun, but it's interesting to see a character who had... She knows that Kana somehow has forgotten Hatori and all these things. She lives in this world where she is like, "I am aware that the Sohmas are very, very, very strange."
JACOB: Yeah, "but I don't know why."
ASHLEY: Yeah, but she has absolutely no idea why. It's not like with Kana, where she's like, "I know that Hatori turns into a seahorse." It's not that level of anything. She's just like, "Something very weird went down here," but she's still intrigued by that and she doesn't super blame Hatori, I guess, because she still crushes on him. Even if she does blame him, she's still like, "Oh, he seems nice and I know that he regrets this." He got her too because his eye was basically almost taking out by Akito. Great.
JACOB: Yeah. I think she doesn't blame him for any of it. In fact, it's almost a little suspicious how she never assigns any resentment to him.
ASHLEY: Right? That's why I'm like, that's weird.
JACOB: It's a little rushed, yeah, considering how badly Kana went through it, but I think she understood... Again, because she's Kana's best friend. In fact, the only person close enough to even know that she and Hatori were dating—nobody else knew about that because it only lasted two months and they kept it private. Mayu knew because she's her best buddy.
JACOB: Yeah, she recovers remarkably quickly from like, "Holy sht! My best friend is having a nervous breakdown," to, "Oh, it's okay because her boyfriend erased from memories of it."
ASHLEY: Yeah, like what?
JACOB: Somehow? It's a little rushed, but I don't know. I'm just really, really happy that Hatori finds happiness because, of course, he deserves it. It's funny, like they set it up at the cabin in the early chapters in Volume 5 that like, "Oh, maybe Hatori will find love again." You think it's going to be a developing, long sort of thing but they just rip it of like a band aid, which is fine.
JACOB: There's so many characters. There's so many.
ASHLEY: There's so many characters. You can't keep them all straight.
ASHLEY: Yeah, I think that's all that I had written down for us to talk about, unless you have something else you wanted to mention?
JACOB: I guess we could talk about what we know about Machi because we did say... We said she's Yuki's love interest but I think talking more about her issues...
ASHLEY: That's true.
JACOB: ... would be interesting.
ASHLEY: We should talk more about Machi. Yeah. Machi, what is her... She is the secretary of the Student Council?
ASHLEY: She is—
JACOB: Treasurer or something.
ASHLEY: She's one of those things. She's a member of the Student Council. She actually has a relationship with Kakeru who, they are half siblings. Bringing mothers up again, actually.
JACOB: Yes. Oh, yeah. Mothers are important to Machi still, yeah.
ASHLEY: Yeah, because both of their parents have them in a competition. They are very close in age. They're only... It's basically like, he had a mistress that got married only a few months later and then the other one was conceived. They're very close in age and they have like an inheritance battle basically, where the parents are egging them on being like, "You have to be perfect, Machi. You have to get 100 on every test so that you prove that you're worthy of inheriting all the wealth" of whatever their father has.
JACOB: Yeah, and Kakeru pulled the Ayame and said, "Screw this! I'm out. You can't make me care about this." He's fine being the black sheep of his family because he doesn't have literally a curse, so whatever hardship comes his way through this, he's taking care of. But Machi, she is not free of that expectation yet. She's still very, very worried about it because unlike Kakeru, who has this boisterous personality—and her relationship with Kakeru is a lot like Ayame and Yuki's, because Kakeru has this boisterous personality and he's like this fount of charisma. He's obviously going to go far on his own. But Machi is worried that she's really boring and uninteresting and nobody will love her or care about her unless she works her ass off so that's what she does.
ASHLEY: Then she flips out sometimes. We are introduced to a Student Council room that has been upturned and destroyed, mildly, as our first introduction. Yeah. Kakeru comes out and he's like, "It's okay. I'll take care of it." It's always interesting to me that Kakeru says that because I'm like, you... It's a way to establish that they have a relationship but I'm like Kakeru doesn't understand what's going on with her still so he's like, "I don't know. I sit around and we talk maybe a little bit and we just clean up papers and stuff," but he doesn't get it, really.
JACOB: Yeah. It's so different from his personality. Again, they don't share a mother so he's just like, "I don't get it but I'm going to support her." Again, he's a little like Ayame in his age where he's like not enough of a support for Yuki because he's too different and too separated by circumstances but he tries to help in any way that he can. He cleans up after Machi and he doesn't scold her for blowing up but, yeah, she's little Ms. Perfect until she snaps when confronted by something that looks too neat or orderly. Then they eventually revealed, they show her house and it's a sea of decay.
ASHLEY: It's the sea of decay, yes.
JACOB: I worry about Yuki and Machi ever moving in together because both of them do not clean at all. They're both filthy so that's a concern.
ASHLEY: You haven't read Fruits Basket: Another yet, have you?
JACOB: Oh, no. I haven't. That's going to be something, I'm sure. Yeah, they revealed that even though Machi is immaculate and neat and perfect in all aspects of her life, that her home, her room... Well, she lives by herself. She doesn't live with her mother because... That's the thing in Japan, high schoolers live by themselves sometimes and she didn't want it because she doesn't like her mother.
ASHLEY: For obvious reasons.
JACOB: Yeah. Her house is just filthy. Yeah, she has conversations with her mother she's like, "Well, it's a 95. It's not really the best you could be doing and you're not making connections with people because you're so boring. You should acquire a personality." It's like, ugh, what a terrible woman.
ASHLEY: That's what prevents her from, of course, acquiring a personality. She's like, "I just feel so empty," and they ask her basic questions like, "Where do you want to go, Machi?" They're all meeting up just for fun or whatever after student council. They're like, "Let's go to this restaurant." She's like, "I'm not going." Yuki's like, "Well, where do you want to go?" She's like, "What? I don't..." She doesn't understand the question.
JACOB: Yeah. When they ask like, "What's your favorite color?" She's like, "I don't know." It's not because she's actually boring, but it's because she's been told that she's boring and pushed into a circumstance where it's like, "Just do these rudimentary... Do these tests over and over. Do these chores over and over." Where she hasn't been allowed to explore herself and she, I think, is afraid that if she did, if she ever questioned what she likes or whatever, that other people would laugh at her.
JACOB: It's the same issues that Yuki has, really. That's, I think, why they relate, is because they're on similar level where they're dealing with a lot of the same issues.
ASHLEY: Yeah, you get the feeling that... Because in the end they joke about how she likes red. Yuki gave her a leaf, because they've been on this class trip—as you do in Japan—to Kyoto, I guess during fall. Then he brought back a leaf that I guess was red. They're like, "Oh, Machi also wears a red ribbon, so her favorite color must be red," but I guess she didn't say that because Yuki had to be the default red under Super Sentai things, I guess.
JACOB: Yeah.
ASHLEY: Red Ranger is the—
JACOB: As Kakeru points out, he's really more of a pink ranger but we'll say red because he's the leader.
ASHLEY: Yeah, exactly. She's like, "Well, I can't take this" sort of deal. It's very clear that it's like, "Oh, if I say what I like then yeah, people will refute me in some way for some reason, so better to just be quiet and live in the sea of decay."
JACOB: Yeah. We'll see their relationship get developed. It's barely begun but it's like it's, oh she's like Yuki. I think the most meaningful moment in their relationship, like the moment where you know these two are going to be an item, like the first time you're really sure is... And this is what leads to him telling Kakeru. Basically, Yuki gets kind of shocked or scared into being like, "Okay. I got to get this off my chest. I see Tohru as a mother."
JACOB: The thing that causes this is he accidentally gets locked in the supply room in the student council room. He gets locked in there and there is paint, there's black paint in there and he starts to have a panic attack because he was locked in a black room for most of his life. Not just a coincidence in a black room but a room that Akito purposefully... It was a normal room. He purposefully painted it black in order to terrorize Yuki so that he really would feel there was no way out or no lights, no escape.
JACOB: He starts to have a panic attack when he sees the black paint in the supply room. Everybody else is joking about it like Kakeru, he's a Ayame like where he just thinks this is funny and he's like, "I'll find the key. Hahaha this is funny." But Yuki is quiet and Machi, I think ,senses—because they're so similar—senses that maybe he's not okay. She just grabs the chair and breaks the door down. It was like, "Oh, okay."
JACOB: Yeah.
ASHLEY: Well, that's also so powerful because everybody else is not... I mean, Nao is taking it seriously, I think. Kimi is not and of course—
JACOB: Yeah. No, not at all.
ASHLEY: —Kakeru's not but I think they have a belief in authority still that they're like, "Whatever. We'll go get somebody and they'll resolve this. They'll fix the broken lock or whatever." Because Yuki's whole point is like the lock is already broken. Who cares? It's just... Whatever. Yeah, I think that they believe in some sort of authority figures that Yuki is like, "No, authority has always betrayed me." Machi's like—
JACOB: Yeah, bad parent's, bad family, bad everything.
JACOB: Machi's like, "Screw this! I'm just going to knock the door down."
ASHLEY: Yeah, she's like, "Isolation is bad."
JACOB: I like it how she just knocks it down with a chair.
ASHLEY: Yeah. She just like, "This chair is fine."
JACOB: I bet she just looks at him and she's says, "It's open."
ASHLEY: Then walks away.
JACOB: He's like, "Yes, it is." It's like, "Oh, okay. These are two are meant for each other." You know?
JACOB: Definitely.
ASHLEY: Destiny.
JACOB: It's destiny. The chair of destiny knocks down the door of isolation.
ASHLEY: Yeah, so cute.
JACOB: Yeah, so romantic.
ASHLEY: So romantic.
JACOB: Yeah. Fruits Basket, it's good.
ASHLEY: The romance is so cute.
JACOB: It's adorable but yeah, we'll definitely learn more about her in the future. It is really remarkable how all of these characters, you can say there's commonalities between them because it's like, "Oh, this person is parallel to this person and this person, this person." But they all do feel like individuals and none of their issues... Where alike as you can say that Yuki and Machi are, there are significant differences, like Machi feels that she's empty while Yuki feels there's all these expectations put on him that don't match what he can deliver, which is a little different. With Yuki it's like, "Oh, you're perfect, Yuki, as long as you just stay like this perfect glass doll on a shelf." Whereas Machi is like, "Oh, you're nothing. You have to make yourself into something." They both ended up having the same psychological impact on them so that's what they come together on.
ASHLEY: Yeah. I still think that manifest differently in their personality. Machi is just—
JACOB: Totally.
ASHLEY: —very direct with her words whereas Yuki is like, "I have to say a lot of words but they're not really the things that I mean necessarily all the time. I'm playing nice with everybody because I want them to like me." Machi is just like, "Whatever. Yuki is not a prince. I don't care that you all think he is." [crosstalk 01:51:13].
JACOB: Yeah. Yuki has a hollow charisma and Machi has zero charisma, but she gets to the point. She doesn't have time for bullshit.
ASHLEY: Yeah. I look forward to seeing more actual romance with them.
JACOB: Definitely. Well, there's going to be a ton of romance in that last third. Some of it—
ASHLEY: Oh, we're going to have the most epic shipping corner then, Jacob.
JACOB: Yeah. It's going to explode.
ASHLEY: It's going to be an hour of shipping corner here.
JACOB: An hour of, "And then they kiss."
ASHLEY: "Then they kiss and it was good."
JACOB: Yeah, pretty much.
ASHLEY: I mean Haru and Rin already have solid scenes together. Their kisses are pretty hot. I'm not going to lie.
JACOB: Rin is definitely meant to be like the, "All right. I'll give you a steamy female character." I like how she's characterize as... Everybody says that she's voluptuous and she has a figure that... She's gorgeous but this is a figure that would be a standard in many other like shojo manga or just manga in general. It's like, "Oh, that's what just our lady looks like," or whatever.
JACOB: But Fruits Basket has realistic Japanese men and women proportions so she's considered a model or something because she's drawn the way that she is, which is nice. It makes it more realistic and I think immediately relatable that of course, somebody this beautiful isn't just another character. They're considered the only female centerfold character in Fruits Basket.
JACOB: There was another voluptuous character but she's not sexually framed. We'll get to her next time. We hadn’t met her yet but she's a mess. Talk about bad moms.
ASHLEY: Bad moms. Bad moms will come back next time too, all right. Well, we'll end it there then.
JACOB: Yeah. You have any closing thought on all the stuff that we reached in this volume or these volumes?
ASHLEY: No, I definitely... Each volume, I'd be like... I think it actually made me depressed yesterday. I'm not going to lie. I was supposed to be—
JACOB: It's hard to read. I was shocked how hard it was to read still and I've read it many times but, yeah.
ASHLEY: I know. No, yeah. Yesterday, we had been planning to go to a party in the afternoon. It was both a combination of, I still have a little too much Fruits Basket to read for that to be comfortable but also just like, I'm emotionally devastated right now. I don't want to hang out with humans.
JACOB: I need to be in the sensory deprivation chamber and process these feelings.
ASHLEY: Yeah, I'm taking a nap. I'm too sad to function.
JACOB: We are recommending this manga to people, right?
ASHLEY: Yes. No...
JACOB: Read this. Get sad.
ASHLEY: ... it's a great manga but be prepared, that's all I'm saying. Don't prepare... Don't read it before you're supposed to go to a club. That's not the mood.
JACOB: Nope, it's not the mood. We just have to look forward to the third act and be like, "The sun will come out tomorrow."
JACOB: You got to hang on until the third ark.
ASHLEY: Yeah, until the very end of the third arc too because this—
JACOB: Yeah. No, it's going to get... It gets better but for first it has to get worst.
ASHLEY: Yes, as things do.
JACOB: It's just like life.
ASHLEY: Yeah. I think also Fruits Basket having so many characters is both, is like kind of a detriment but also great because you will find some character in there who you will love to death.
JACOB: Yes, you'll fall in love with somebody or 20 or all of them.
ASHLEY: Yeah, or all of them.
JACOB: Maybe all of them, yeah.
ASHLEY: Yeah. You're like, "I don't know about that but, yeah."
JACOB: Right.
ASHLEY: Yeah, so everybody read more Fruits Basket. Reread Fruits Basket for this podcast. This is my final thought.
JACOB: Yes, so you can understand what we're talking about.
ASHLEY: So that you appreciate all the subtle things that you may have missed the first 50 times you read it.
JACOB: Definitely. I'm stoked to get to that last arc in a couple weeks.
ASHLEY: Yup. All right. Thanks for listening Shojo & Tell. If you have any comments or concerns about this episode or just generally, you can email or leave a comment on this episode page which We're @shojoandtell on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and Tumblr. Jacob, where can people find you and your work on the internet?
JACOB: You can follow me at It's I-T-S bonedaddy. You can read the editorial stuff that I manage on Anime News Network. Twitter and Anime News Network is usually where you will find me.
ASHLEY: Always about anime, so much anime. Jacob has...
JACOB: So much anime.
ASHLEY: ... all thoughts of anime.
JACOB: My brain is full of anime.
ASHLEY: Are you excited every time that you see a new episode from us? If so please leave a rating in iTunes or Stitcher. This will help podcast reach more hearts, or at least ears. Thanks again for listening. We'll be back next time for that ending of Fruits Basket that will surely devastate us, that is Volumes 17 to 23. The good news is all the ships will sail buoyed by all the tears that we have shed throughout this.
JACOB: Throw me in the dumpster. Just going to dive into a pit and float away on my own tears.
ASHLEY: I know. That's how many tear you will shed and how salty it will be, okay.
JACOB: Yeah, yeah.
ASHLEY: Until then, bye.
JACOB: Bye-bye.*