If you thought Season 1 of Fruits Basket ended with a bang, prepare yourself for “I’m Different Now”, which drops not one but two big revelations before peacing out for another year. Thankfully, Season 3 has been confirmed, so even though we’ll have to wait a bit to see what happens, we will get to see it.
At long last, anime-onlies for Fruits Basket are in on the secret(s) that I’ve been trying to talk around without revealing too much since I started these episode reviews at the beginning of the season. “I’m Different Now” explained that the reason that Kureno is kept isolated from the rest of the Zodiac is that his curse inexplicably broke years ago, and he pretends for the sake of Akito.
Also, Akito is a woman. More on that later.
I like that this episode focused so much on Kureno and his backstory and relationship with Akito. Kureno was the last Soma to make an appearance and the one we know the least about, yet there was so much more mystery around him than any of the others. It wasn’t even that we didn’t know much about him, it was how he was treated differently than everyone. There was clearly something there.
Since Kureno’s introduction earlier this season, there have been hints that something is a bit “off” about him. In true anime fashion, these hints have been talked around but never directly referenced. This happens quite a lot in this episode in particular, with Shigure and Hatori asking open-ended questions and trailing off before they finish. “Could it be…?” Could it be what? Just tell us!
Other hints occurred earlier. One of the things that clues Tohru in on the situation is that the sparrows fly away from Kureno when he approaches, which is also something that happened when Tohru visited him at the Soma estate. Kureno was the last member of the Zodiac introduced, which isn’t suspicious on its own, but in retrospect seems like a clue. And of course, the kicker, he doesn’t transform when he hugs Tohru.
The Soma Zodiac curse is an eternal reincarnation of the animal spirits into human form. With Kureno’s bond breaking, that means there won’t be another rooster. It’s a sign that the curse is weakening; similar to how Hatori doesn’t transform into an actual dragon, but a seahorse. So, yes, Kureno’s Zodiac bond was somehow broken, but not even he knows how it happened, which means there is still plenty of mystery left for the final season.
Kureno is free from the curse, which means he could be free from the Somas. He is choosing to stay tied to the family, and Akito in particular, because he made a promise to a young, crying Akito that he wouldn’t abandon her. This sacrificial behavior makes Uotani’s comparison of Kureno and Tohru a lot more obvious; Tohru also will do anything for the people she loves, even if it’s detrimental to her own health and well being. Kureno is a reflection of who Tohru could have become if she hadn’t started learning to stand up for herself.
But Shigure also has a point that Kureno deciding to stay by Akito’s side and pretend that everything is OK has done nothing but enable Akito’s behavior. It’s reasonable to conclude that Kureno’s bond breaking is what caused Akito’s mental state to deteriorate, leading to her being much more controlling and abusive of the other Somas, especially Yuki. It’s possible she would have done that regardless; Kureno says the bond is everything to Akito, and no doubt she was terrified of losing her connections to the others. But we won’t ever really know.
Now, then, “I’m Different Now” reveals that Akito is actually a woman. I don’t know how many anime-onlies were shocked by that “twist”, considering Akito’s voice actor in both the sub and the dub is a woman, and the character design is very androgynous. I can assure you that it was a much bigger reveal in the manga, where Akito is always referred to as “he” and uses “he” pronouns.
Akito being a woman does explain why her interactions with male members of the Zodiac have always had sexual overtones and why she exploded over them getting girlfriends; she is jealous and panicked that the girlfriends will “steal” the men away from her. It also explains why she tends to attack the female members of the Zodiac, and why she really, really hates Tohru. It’s grossly misogynistic, but I think it has a lot to do with Akito’s upbringing, as well as her paranoia after “losing” Kureno.
Why is Akito’s gender such an important plot point that it gets a dramatic reveal in the Season 2 finale? That, my friends, is something that we will find out later. But it does make you wonder how many of the Somas know that Akito is a woman. Clearly Kureno knows, and I suspect Shigure knows. Hatori must know, as Akito’s doctor. But none of the others seem to be aware.
Some fans have commented they actually feel bad for Akito in “I’m Different Now”; she seems genuinely distraught over the loss of her bond with Kureno, and even Yuki said she didn’t used to be so bad. She was raised being told she was a literal god, and as I’ve said before, that’s got to mess up a kid.
However, it’s difficult for me to feel any sympathy for her, considering how unbelievably manipulative she is. Even at the beginning of this episode, she tries to tell Kureno she doesn’t mean the things she says when she verbally abuses him.
- With the knowledge of Yuki’s true feelings about Tohru, it’s easy to read the scene where he admits that he stood up to Akito as a kid looking for praise from his mother.
- I absolutely love Hanajima being proud to be an idiot if it means she never gets sick.
- The scene with Rin and Tohru was great, with Rin being all flustered that Tohru knows about her and Haru, and Tohru just being like, “Was I not supposed to know that?” I am a big fan of the blossoming relationship between the two (let all the ladies be friends – except Akito), but it also indicates that Tohru isn’t always as clueless as she comes across.
- Momiji remains The Cutest.
Season 3 is confirmed to be airing in 2021. We don’t have an episode count yet, but considering the remaining number of manga chapters and how much has been adapted so far, it stands to reason that it will be another two-cour season. We don’t have a return date, either, but Fruits Basket was one of the only spring/summer anime not affected by everything, so it’s possible it will return in April as usual.
I am so beyond excited to see the final arc of this series animated.
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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