because you cried

As much as I love Fruits Basket, there are some elements that I’m quite bitter about: Its obsession with pairing up just about every character in its large cast towards the end of the series is one of them, especially in light of its heteronormativity. It makes it feel as though romantic relationships are the key to happiness, and that their inclusion is supposed to be on par with character development. In truth, the individual development of numerous characters within the series comes to an end in order to showcase their involvement in romantic relationships, and it is the female characters whose writing takes a toll most of all.

That isn’t the case with Kyoko’s story, but it is something I have to get off my chest before I approach the next subject: There are two romances within the series that closely resemble Kyoko and Katsuya’s, each of them largely conveyed within a single chapter. And while I like each of these three relationships in isolation, as a whole, they may slightly come across as rehashed content. The relationships in question are Arisa Uotani and Kureno Sohma’s (volume 9), and Mayuko Shiraki and Hatori Sohma’s (volume 10).

Unlike Katsuya, both Kureno and Hatori are part of the Sohma clan, and both are confined by it and by their curse in some way. In the chapters where they come across their respective to-be love interest, they are actively trying to break out of their everyday monotony as they go for a walk outside of the Sohma’s boundaries. What they do have in common with Katsuya are their slightly detached disposition — especially noteworthy when interacting with others — and the expectations placed on them by their environment.

On the other side, you have Arisa and Mayuko: women who, just like Kyoko, are outspoken and show their emotions openly. Although it is Kureno and Hatori’s emotional isolation and detachment that is shown in the two chapters, the resolution of those chapters and the slight changes are brought about by the women in question: Both Arisa and Mayuko are able to laugh and cry whole-heartedly — something neither Kureno and Hatori is capable of.

Maybe you’re right. Maybe crying it out does make everything feel better. (Being able to do something recklessly without considering the consequences… Just like a child…) We just forget how it works. The older we get, the more we forget how these things work. […] You shed the tears that I couldn’t cry. Thank you. Hatori, Volume 10

What Hatori verbalizes comes very close to what Katsuya admitted to Kyoko: that he was drawn to her due to how human she was when she cried her heart out — an act he couldn’t emulate. The three chapters feature different persons with different backgrounds and circumstances, but all three of them are about detachment, loneliness, and words and feelings that have been left unspoken for far too long.

Kyoko, Arisa and Mayuko all give shape to those things: By showing their honest emotions and expressing pain, they remind others of what it means to be human. And what Katsuya, Kureno and Hatori have to realize is that there’s more to the world than what they have settled with; there’s more to be seen beyond the confines that they know, and only by leaving that behind will they be able to pursue and realize their own happiness. Amusingly, all three stories are associated with good weather, and all three duos decide to eat out together after the initial emotional outburst.

My issues with the big picture aside, I can’t fault Fruits Basket for depicting these three relationships the way it did. They’re very much in line with the series’ themes after all: reaching out to others when you’re lost or in pain, continuously looking (out) for those who have gone through similar experiences, and helping each other get through dark times. And even if you are not capable of expressing your own pain, as long as you don’t let go of hope, your voice will reach someone out there — someone who will see your pain for what it is and help you break free from it.