During this week’s episode of Fruits Basket (2019) Tohru’s class is made to run a marathon around town. While en route, Tohru, Yuki, and Kyo encounter Hatsuharu (Haru) Sohma who, as it turns out, has been looking for them for three whole days (you couldn’t have called them, or something?). During their encounter, after Haru and Kyo briefly exchange fists, Yuki collapses. Haru, in ox form, carries Yuki home and, while he’s resting, tells Tohru what he means to him. When I sit down to write about each episode of Furuba I usually pick two or three things to unpack in detail. But this episode (which was probably my favourite so far) was full of so many interesting details that I don’t think I can approach my analysis of it like I usually do! As such, this post is going to be a little less focused than usual, I hope that you’ll bear with me!
Like Hana, I cannot stand running! I, too, have ducked out of a fair few PE lessons, in my time! Kyo, on the other hand, seemed to come alive at the thought of touring the town in his gym kit in the middle of January! But I think that his passion was less about the running than it was about having another opportunity to take on Yuki. For Kyo, competitions, which necessitate there being a winner and a loser, are an easy way to prove himself against his sworn rival.
Interestingly, Kyo seems far less interested in proving himself against Haru, who, shortly after bumping into him, challenges him to a fight. This is probably because he considers Haru, who has also been subject to much ridicule by the other Sohmas, more of an equal… Partners in persecution, if you will.
Haru may very well have only been introduced this episode, but we already got to learn a lot about him! In what is likely a play on the black and white spotted coat of an ox, Haru possesses two completely different personalities: “Light Haru” and “Dark Haru”. Light Haru is kind of spacy and adorably out-of-touch with his surroundings, whereas Dark Haru is loud, aggressive, and just plain rude! At this point, we don’t really know what causes Dark Haru to emerge, but what we do know is that he tends to bottle up his anger until he just snaps. At one point Tohru compared Dark Haru to Kagura. I instinctively wanted to leap to Haru’s defense here, since I muuuch prefer him to Kagura, but, like Kagura, he also attacked Kyo, in spite of his (loud) protests, the only difference being he made his intentions known beforehand.
Anyway, Haru, with his two completely different personalities, comes off as a bit of an oddball! Though, when you consider that each and every Sohma has another, hidden side to them, e.g. Shigure’s behind-the-scenes game playing, Yuki’s desperate desire to live up to other people’s expectations of him, and Kyo’s “true form”, Haru is, ironically, completely normal!
And, though I’m not excusing his violent behaviour, you can kind of understand where Haru’s aggression comes from… Just as it has been difficult for Yuki to live up to the sky-high expectations that other people have of him, it has been hard for Haru to go about his life knowing that people expect nothing of him. After all, he is the ox and the ox was tricked by the rat… He’s too stupid, too trusting, he can never measure up, least of all to Yuki. Haru is a perfect example of what can happen when you internalise the damaging labels that are attached to you by other people… Even though he has now formed his own opinion of himself, he is still dealing with the residual anger left over from this treatment.
There was a lot about this episode that I loved, but my favourite moment was when, during a flashback, a much younger Yuki looks longingly over at Haru and Kyo, who are busy sparring. It seems as though he might go over to join them when a pair of hands reach out from the shadows behind him to wrap themselves around his face. This moment, complete with sinister sound effects, could have been plucked straight from a horror movie! It was at such odds with the rest of the episode’s fluffy melodrama that, like Yuki, you just don’t see it coming! Yuki may have already been weakened by his cold, but this disturbing memory is what’s ultimately responsible for triggering one of his “fits”. This, combined with his strong aversion to the Sohma compound, suggests some kind of deep, underlying trauma in Yuki’s past, the effects of which are still being felt…
It doesn’t take a genius to work out who those hands may have belonged to. Akito may not have had more than two or three lines so far and Tohru has yet to meet him in the flesh, nevertheless, his position as primary antagonist has been firmly solidified at this point. His insidious presence can be felt in almost every episode. You can see Akito in the grey, joyless Sohma compound, in the trauma that so many of the Sohmas possess, and in the scared deference with which they refer to him. He’s everywhere.
Let’s finish on a more upbeat note! Did anybody else notice Hana reading Shigure’s smutty novel this episode? Can you imagine what a force of nature these two trolls would be if they dated? Power couple or what!? Speaking of power couples… During this episode, Haru convinces Tohru to call Yuki by his given name. Yuki is so startled by this unprompted show of intimacy that it triggers yet another transformation! You could say that the effect this has on him is akin to if Tohru were to have wrapped her arms around him in a tight embrace! Aw, Rat Boy’s in luuurve!
I’m sorry that this blog post is such a mess! But the fact that I had so much to say about a single episode speaks to the strength of its content, don’t you think? Anyway, before you go, let me know what you thought about this episode! See you next week!