Fruits Basket Collector’s Edition, Vol. 8

By Natsuki Takaya. Released in Japan by Hakusensha, serialized in the magazine Hana to Yume. Released in North America by Yen Press. Translated by Sheldon Drzka.

This volume sees the completion of the ‘Yuki and Kyo are mirrors of each other’ arc, as we finally get long flashbacks to Yuki’s childhood. We’d seen bits and pieces before, but now we truly see how wretched it was for him, and also how his own life interacted with Tohru’s as a child, and not just Kyo’s. One interesting thing is that we see, not a kinder gentler Akito per se, but an Akito who is at least less mercurial and violent. Sadly, it doesn’t last. Of course, there’s also another purpose to all of this, as the Yuki/Tohru ship is sunk here. I never shipped it, but if I had I’m not sure I would buy Yuki’s reasoning either. That said, we also start to get the setup of Yuki paying more attention to Machi, and also begin to see into her own tragic past.

In between tragic flashbacks we have what is no doubt the funniest arc in the entire series, as it’s the cultural festival and Tohru’s class is doing Cinderella. Of course, the casting is a bit… off, and so after attempting to get everyone to act against their better natures, the script is rewritten (and, my guess is, relies heavily on improvised dialogue). As a result, we have Cinderella-ish, in which Hanajima’s gloriously uncaring Cinderella goes up against her adorable and caring older stepsister Tohru and the grumpy Prince Kyo. Interestingly, this actually ties into Kyo and Tohru’s main story as well, as Cinderella accuses the Prince of being content to “lock himself away forever”, and this clearly strikes a chord with Kyo, who replies seriously, and Tohru, who breaks character to try to stop it.

The second half of the omnibus is mostly taken up with the backstory of Kyoko, Tohru’s mother. This serves several important purposes. First, it fleshes her out, shows us what Katsuya, Tohru’s father, is like (he’s sort of a kinder, gentler Shigure – don’t hurt me, Furuba fans) and how much his death devastates her, to the point where she’s considering killing herself. But more importantly, it serves to show us that Tohru has totally put her mother on a pedestal, and that Kyoko was not remotely the perfect all-loving mother she seemed – in fact, even after her recovery and desire to be a good mother to Tohru, she still seems to have the wild mood swings which have dogged her most of her life. And, once again, we see how the lack of love in a family can lead to things like this – as Katsuya tells Kyoko’s parents, parenting isn’t something that can just be abandoned when you find it too difficult. Something that most of the parents of the cast also need to hear.

There’s still a lot to resolve – the curse, Haru and Rin’s relationship, and whether or not Kureno will watch that DVD all come up in the last chapter – but I’m especially grateful that this is the last review I will have to play “hide the gender pronoun” for. Stay tuned for omnibus 9, containing the volume that broke Furuba fandom more than any other.

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