Fruits Basket – 08 – All is Quiet on New Year’s Day

Everyone has somewhere to be for the New Year’s holiday…everyone but Tooru, whose parents are dead and whose remaining family is off to Hawaii. Yet no matter how hard Uo and Hana try to invite them to their places, she insists she’ll be fine, and that they should spend the time with their families.

After reveling in winter cleaning with the Soumas, Tooru learns the three are headed to the main house for the big banquet and other festivities. Tooru, not being a Souma, is not invited, but she’s content to hold the fort at Shigure’s house, even though it will mean ringing in the new year all alone.

Despite her insistence she’ll be fine, Yuki and Kyou are uneasy the whole time they’re en route to the main house. They know her well enough (it’s been four months) to know she can be a bit of a space cadet, and is prone to accidents. What if she gets hurt and no one is there to help her?

Shigure finds the two young lads’ worrying about her like their baby chick to be most entertaining, and so stirs the pot by saying there’s a burglar in their neighborhood who has yet to be caught. The final straw is when they run into Saki, who very simply and concisely asks them to consider how she’s feeling all alone at their house for New Years; to put themselves in her shoes, knowing both what she’s been through.

Yuki and Kyou bump heads rushing back home to her, cursing themselves for not realizing they accepted Tooru’s polite insistence far too easily. Saying you’re fine being alone and being fine alone are not the same thing, even with Tooru. Their suspicions are confirmed when they arrive to find her holding her mother’s portrait and crying while listening to Enka music on the telly.

Wondering what the heck happened, an exhausted Yuki and Kyou collapse to the floor and say, simply, “I’m home”…and Tooru tears right back up, only they’re tears of joy. Despite always smiling on the outside, Tooru is not always happy and cheerful on the inside; the lads were right not to leave her alone on the holiday; she’s happiest when she’s with people she cares about.

Shigure meets with Hatori, Hatsuhare, and Momiji, informing them Yuki and Kyou have skipped. Hatsuhare can understand, as he himself contemplates running from things he’d rather not engage in. But Shigure tells him this wasn’t about running away from Akito (in Yuki’s case) or Kagura (in Kyou’s); not this time.

Instead, it was about running to someone, someone both in greater need and more deserving of their presence. That’s hammered home when Shigure checks in on a morose Akito. Shigure is actually glad to see the family head reaping what he sowed. Shigure is the one harboring Yuki and Kyou during their self-exile, after all; it makes sense he’d be on their side with this…situation.

Meanwhile, by spending New Years with Tooru, keeping her company, sharing mochi (and chewing carefully!), and finally climbing up the roof together to watch the gorgeous first sun rise out of the horizon, the guilt Yuki and Kyou initially felt about abandoning their formal family obligations eventually melts away.

No, Yuki and Kyou needed Tooru every bit as much as Tooru needed them. Far from being a night they’ll regret, it turns out to be a night—and morning—the three of them won’t soon forget. They get to see Tooru smile without a hint of weariness hidden behind it as she looks forward to another year with two of the four people (along with Uo and Saki) most important in her life; her real family.

Nisekoi – 05

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Still suspicious of the nature of Raku and Chitoge’s relationship, Ruri presses forward in her crusade to help Kosaki win Raku’s heart. Kosaki herself has reservations about stealing him from Chitoge, but if Ruri can confirm they’re not really together, and that Raku has a crush on Kosaki…well, that’s different, isn’t it? To that end, we get a pool episode replete with graceful swimsuit and changing fanservice.

It doesn’t detract so much as call attention to the fact that this is a SHAFT series and Shinbo doesn’t skimp on close-ups, no matter what it’s a close-up of. In contrast to last week’s ill-fated study session, Raku and Kosaki fare much better during his one-on-one swimming lesson; though Raku does have to run to the nearest seaside cliff to shout his desire to make her his wife. Being in swimsuits also means the locket and key aren’t on their respective persons, only the show teases us yet again by having Raku use the wrong key.

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The picture is very, very slowly being pieced together in the slow-churning minds of the star-crossed lovers: both are entertaining the possibility that the other is the one they made the promise to, but progress remains slow. Meanwhile, while it’s clear Raku has a crush on Kosaki, Ruri is growing more and more perplexed with Raku and Chitoge, probably beause she sees as we do without even knowing it that the fake relationship grows more and more real the more time they spend with each other.

Yet again Raku and Kosaki’s progress is mitigated by a similar development with Chitoge, as he is the one to drop everything and dive in after her when she cramps in the pool. Kosaki is spared having to see them lock lips (she doesn’t need mouth-to-mouth, though Shuu tries to make it happen for Raku), but Chitoge learns yet again that Raku isn’t the gutless bean sprout she’d created in her mind…except, apparently, when it comes to going after who he truly wants.

7_very_goodRating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • The Girl’s locker room is apparently “very retro”, which is why the key is so easily mistakable for an ornate locket.
  • We don’t know if the voices of the characters are sped up in production, but if they’re not Touyama Nao and Uchiyama Kouki deserve props for some seriously articulate high-speed, spirited arguing this week.
  • There’s no official episode count for Nisekoi as of yet, but it’s starting to look likely there’ll be two cours, since there’s two main characters hiding in the shadows of the OP that haven’t even been introduced yet.
  • We like how the omakes typically add texture to the main story, rather than act as random standalones. To whit: we catch insightful glimpses of Chitoge, Raku and Kosaki dealing with Valentines Day in junior high.
  • After that, Chitoge visits Raku’s house for New Years and learns he’s a kickass Enka singer. Nothing much manlier than that!

Sket Dance – 71

The first part is a satirical retelling of the Japanese folktale Saru Kani Gassen (The Quarrel of the Monkey and the Crab), with Himeko as the crab’s offspring, Bossun as the cow pie, and Switch as the Monkey. In the second part, Date has transformed into an Modern Enka singer, and his friend and bandmate Rodan insists they help change him back. The Sket-dan converts to the visual-kei asthetic, but it has no effect. Eventually, Bossun determines Date fell victim to sleep learning after falling asleep in front of the TV.

We keep watching Sket Dance because we never know what it’s going to throw at us next, and for mind-bending episodes like this, which exhibit the intense variegation of Japanese culture and society. Japanese folklore is not our strong suit, and there are certainly some who would consider this parody in poor taste, but we found it both educational and hilarious. Whether it’s Date still trying to make cool gestures as an usu, or Bossun’s turn as a literal piece of shit with no confidence (but all the good ideas), it was well-executed, self-contained little story.

We thought it would continue into the next half, but instead we’re treated to even more ridiculousness in the form of a visual-kei dilemma. The show is essentially turned over to Gackt, who puts on a clinic as a suddenly-transformed Date who has gone all the way to the other side of the musical and stylistic spectrum, all thanks to sleep learning. He can sing Enka with the best of them (like we’d actually know…), and is certainly better at belting out sentimental ballads than the Sket-dan are at coming up with cool interpretive phrases. However, perhaps the most bafflingly bizarre and uproarious moment was the Shiki-like visualization of Bossun’s creepy little poem about black roses and a “dilapidated princess”. How the hell do they come up with this stuff?


Rating: 8 (Great)