After a bit of a delay (is the French Open really more important than Fruits Basket in the grand scheme of things?), “I Just Love Her” arrives to tickle your funny bone, tug on your heartstrings, and punch you in the gut. In other words, another week, another episode of Fruits Basket.
“I Just Love Her” has brought us over the threshold, everyone. The end is in sight. And you can see the beginnings of multiple happy endings threaded throughout the episode. Kyo has finally accepted that he is good enough for Tohru, not because of some arbitrary measure of worth, but because she wants him and he makes her happy. Arisa and Kureno are reunited after almost two full seasons of being kept apart by a warped sense of duty. Akito is ready to move on from the swamp of toxicity that is the Soma estate. Yuki is willing to fight for what he wants. Haru gets some chicken nuggets. Everything’s coming up roses.
The biggest moment of this episode is the fight between Yuki and Kyo, which was less of a fight and more of a beatdown, but then, that’s how most of their fights ended up anyway. It isn’t the first time they’ve fought, but it has been a while; Tohru’s presence mellowed Kyo considerably, and the shift in their interactions with each other went a long way towards shaving down the envy Kyo always had towards Yuki.
This fight, in that sense, had an air of finality. Both Yuki and Kyo acknowledged that they were always jealous of the other; Kyo because Yuki was always the perfect one everyone loved, and because he accomplished the one thing a little Kyo was determined to do. Yuki because Kyo didn’t have the same expectations hanging over his head, and because he was free and easy and (non-Soma) people flocked to him.
Fans have been waiting for this fight for a long time, because this is really the moment that these two finally put aside the rivalry that’s been dominating their entire lives – that essentially ruined their lives, because they let other people decide how they felt about each other. In a family like the Somas, it’s hard to break from the mold. It’s taken a while, but Yuki and Kyo have made up their minds that they will fight for what they want, even if – especially if – it breaks from the family tradition. It might be too late to salvage the relationship, but who knows.
Yuki being the one to get through to Kyo in the end was an inspired choice. I feel like Kyo has always dismissed Yuki’s advice because of the years of resentment, or perhaps it’s because he thought he was being condescended to. Yuki’s impassioned plea that he needed to choose life and not just brokenly accept his fate was amazing. Nobunaga Shimazaki was incredible throughout that scene. He managed to exude this quiet power even when he wasn’t shouting. It was such a forceful speech.
I’ve never understood why Kyo felt the need to visit his father. If I had a father like that, I would be happy to never see him again. But I suppose for Kyo, it was about closure. “I Just Love Her” really hammered home how awful the Soma parents truly are to their children; Kyo’s father likely drove his mother to do what she did, and because he couldn’t deal with the consequences of his own actions, he foisted the blame and the guilt onto his young son, who internalized it the way all children do and tortured himself for a decade.
In the end, I suppose it was about choosing his own destiny. He visited his father to actively reject going to the Cat cottage, but during the visit he finally realized that his mother’s death was never his fault. It will take a while for him to heal from that trauma, but he is finally choosing to do so. He is choosing to live, and he wants to live with Tohru. He finally admits he loves her, and that he doesn’t need a reason to; he just does.
And, naturally, when Tohru and Kyo lock eyes for the first time after the accident – and their kiss – Tohru takes off running. Kyo running after her, concerned that she would hurt herself after just getting out of the hospital, was a nice, light-hearted way to end what was another emotionally heavy episode.
Yuki, likewise, is choosing to live and go after what he wants. Rushing to find Machi the moment she called is simply adorable. I’m really glad that has someone; he’s been lonely his entire life and it’s about time there is someone (other than Tohru) who sees through all of that, someone who has no idea about the Soma family curse but has absolutely lived being the treasured golden child who is somehow still the family disappointment.
This is an important moment for Yuki, and it’s been a long time coming. Yuki has some of the best character development in this series, and this is the culmination of it.
Kureno and Arisa’s reunion in “I Just Love Her” is so hopeful. Arisa has at last learned just how complicated Kureno’s life has been up until this point; it’s more than the naivete she witnessed when they first met, it’s a long, traumatic cycle of abuse and manipulation. He has finally realized that the best thing he can do for Akito is to walk away, and Arisa is totally on board with going wherever he does. These two mirror Kyo and Tohru so well; it’s not about reasons, it’s just… they make each other happy. I don’t particularly like them together, but this moment was sweet, and I loved the image of the two butterflies circling each other.
I still feel that Akito’s abrupt 180 is a little too fast, but Fruits Basket is, at its core, about taking control of your own life, owning up to your mistakes, being able to let go and move on, and changing for the better. Akito dismantling the likely centuries-long cycle of abuse in the Soma family is cathartic. I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to forgive Akito, but then Akito may never be able to forgive herself. And honestly, granting Kyo his freedom does go a long way towards making me not hate her with the fire of a thousand suns.
It’s a small moment, but I loved the scene between Hiro and Kisa. Those two are so adorable. Of course, she’s the first person Hiro told, and of course, their main concern is that the other won’t want to hang out anymore because they don’t have the bond of the Zodiac.
Still, for an episode full of so many weighty scenes, I was not expecting to laugh as much as I did in “I Just Love Her”. But Haru calmly asking to order pizza and chicken nuggets while Yuki and Kyo destroyed the upstairs (and Shigure becoming sadly resigned to his house being demolished again) was hilarious, as was Tohru’s tryout for the track team. And any time the Student Council is on screen, hilarity ensues. (Kakeru just flat out admitting that Tohru is Yuki’s mother slayed me. Also, referring to Kyo as “the red-headed hottie”. Stan a bicon, everyone.)
What did you think of “I Just Love Her”?
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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