Fruits Basket is back for the final season and “I’ll Hold Another Banquet” picks up right where we left off with season 2. I was so excited for this show’s return that I forgot how much of a gut punch every episode is, and as we get closer to the finale, it’s just going to keep hurting. Isn’t it great?
As “I’ll Hold Another Banquet” begins, we continue with Tohru and Kureno’s conversation from the season 2 finale. Tohru reels from the revelation that Akito is actually a girl, and you can almost see her mind working as she goes back through their few interactions trying to see if there were hints. (I did my best during reviews not to mention Akito’s gender as I didn’t want to spoil the reveal, but in retrospect that was probably a clue.)
This is Fruits Basket, so the surprises aren’t over. We learn that a lot of Akito’s behavior is influenced by her relationship with her mother, Ren, who lives on the estate despite the fact that Akito positively detests her. And the feeling is mutual. Ren is a nice counterpoint to the few other Soma elders that we’ve seen before, where they all treat Akito as a god, as she seems to find the whole Zodiac thing utterly ridiculous.
Of course, we don’t yet know why their relationship is so awful, but we do get a little bit of a clue when Akito spies Ren “saying hello” to Hatori and Akito flies off the handle. Akito accuses her mother of basically lusting after all of the male Zodiac members, which is ironic considering how Akito herself treats them. Ren also calls the Zodiac bond “unnatural” and makes a reference to someone named Akira who, given context clues, is likely Akito’s father. I suspect that the relationship Akito had with her father is one of the ways that her relationship with Ren soured, but so far we just have that brief glimpse.
Thanks to this episode, we have almost a full picture of why Akito is the way that she is. First, there is the entitlement. I mentioned this in previous reviews, but if you grow up being told that you’re a god, it’s going to give you a complex. The short scene with Akira telling Akito she was special and born to be adored will have done her no favors. Second is the enabling. This is obviously not a person who has ever been told “no”, as evidenced by the way she is treated by the household staff and the older members of the Zodiac. Third, she has extreme abandonment issues, which is one of the reasons she is so possessive of the Zodiac. None of this, of course, excuses her behavior.
An interesting thing that we now have, thanks to the introduction of this dynamic in “I’ll Hold Another Banquet”, is that Akito is being set up as essentially the polar opposite of Tohru. Akito has a mother she wants dead (literally, she tries to kill her) while Tohru had an amazing relationship with her mother, who died young.
It’s also in the way each of them treat the other members of the Zodiac, which is something I believe I’ve mentioned before. Akito clings to the artificial and unnatural bond she shares with the Zodiac. She expects them all to love and revere her while making no efforts to nurture or maintain the relationships. Meanwhile, Tohru inspires love and loyalty without even trying, just by virtue of being herself. No wonder Akito sees Tohru as a threat. Tohru is able to effortlessly acquire what Akito so desperately wants.
“I’ll Hold Another Banquet” also reminds us that Tohru and Kureno are very much alike. Uotani and Hanajima both emphasize this to Tohru, when Tohru is so devastated over Kureno’s lot in life. They remind her that she is very much the type of person who will put everyone else before herself, even to her own detriment. However, there is one vital difference: Tohru’s martyrdom only hurts herself, whereas Kureno’s hurts the rest of the Zodiac.
As I said last season, Kureno is only enabling Akito’s abusive behavior. Every time he sits there silently while she fumes and throws a tantrum, he is only making things worse for the rest of the Zodiac. Akito’s controlling and manipulative behavior, designed to keep the rest of the Zodiac close to her, are the very thing driving the younger generation away.
Now, then, one of my questions after the Akito revelation was “how many of the Somas know that Akito is a woman”, which is something Tohru wonders as well, considering how Akito presents herself and how the rest of the family treats her. This information is given to us by Kureno, who reveals that the day after Akito was conceived, he, Shigure, Hatori, and Ayame all had the same dream. This dream is just creepy, and I think Kureno understands now just how weird it was that they knew Ren was pregnant before she did.
With the big moments of “I’ll Hold Another Banquet” out of the way, we can focus on the smaller, character-centric moments. I love the friendship between Tohru, Hanajima, and Uotani. It’s so pure. That Hanajima could sense that Tohru was upset and came just at the right time, and that simply being with her friends was enough to raise her out of the gloom she’d been in after Kureno’s confession, is such a joy to behold. Honestly, they are just so precious.
Megumi continues to steal every scene that he’s in. I really hope he gets a lot more to do, because his deadpan is hilarious.
We’re also given a nice little Kyo/Tohru moment, where he finds her scarf on the street and brings it home to her (and washes it, even). While I believe this is just a sweet scene to emphasize their burgeoning romantic feelings for each other, I think it also nicely highlights how much Kyo has grown as a character since he was introduced. Do you think early season 1 Kyo would have spent that long staring at a scarf that may or may not have been Tohru’s? I doubt he would have even noticed it. But now he takes the time to grab it and even to clean it, not only because it’s hers but because he remembers how excited she was when she bought it.
And I appreciate the reminder that without Tohru, these Soma boys cannot feed themselves.
I am also a massive fan of the new OP and ED. I like the song better in the OP but I love that the ED features original art from the mangaka. (Also, hello, Momiji. Wow. Can I just say I love that they have actually made him grow up over the course of this series?) This is a spoiler to say, but if it’s something you’re concerned about, both the OP and the ED are quite spoilery. If you want to avoid spoilers, I would suggest skipping them both.
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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