One of my great frustrations with Fruits Basket – and something that will always keep me from unreservedly embracing it – is that I feel almost nothing for Yuki. Nothing much positive, anyway. And that’s a problem, because he’s one of the three main characters and in terms of focus, probably second only to Tohru. It feels to me as if he’s even more omnipresent in this version (and thus the manga) than he was in Akitarou’s version and that may well be the case, but he’s always been a central figure. And no matter what Takaya writes for him, it doesn’t resonate with me.
I wonder if she’d put the stuff we got in this week’s episode, which mostly explains how Yuki got to be the way he is, closer to the beginning of the series it would have moved the needle more. By this point my feelings about the character are pretty calcified, after all. But in truth I don’t think so, because insufferable is insufferable and I just find teenaged Yuki insufferable. His navel gazing bores me and his relentless self-obsession (which is what this episode was, really) annoys me. And it has for 20 years.
This, more than anything, is what grates on me about Furuba – the untapped potential. Takaya has elements of a really powerful story here and when she chooses to utilize them, that’s exactly what this series is. But she chooses to utilize them so rarely, and that’s the rub. Either she’s too in love with all her characters to edit herself as she should, or she simply doesn’t believe that she has better raw materials to work with than she usually chooses to. It’s her series and a popular one at that, so she’s certainly justified in developing the narrative however she likes. But I’ve never had a show so distinctly run hot and cold with me as this one.
Did we learn anything new here? Well, we certainly already knew Akito was a sadistic bastard. That character can get a little repetitive but it certainly helps to have a virtuoso actor like Sakamoto Maaya voicing Akito, because she gets every ounce of menace and even nuance out of the character that’s there to be got. The final dots being connected with the cap story is probably the only real new information. And there’s a lot of irony to that, Yuki’s precious secret memory of Tohru being built around Kyou’s cap. I get that Yuki’s arc in this story is more self-oriented than connected with Tohru the way Kyou’s is – I just wish I could push a button and make myself care more about it…