WARNING: The following contains spoilers for the premiere of Fruits Basket Season 2, “Hello Again,” now streaming on FUNimation and Crunchyroll.
Fruits Basket could not have returned at a better time. Its good-natured humor and deep-seated sense of empathy is a source of comfort when life is at its toughest. For those who read Natsuki Takaya’s manga or watched the 2001 anime, it’s a blast of nostalgia, but the story is so great it should be no less captivating for those experiencing it for the first time.
“Hello Again,” the Season 2 premiere, is a less captivating episode than most. It’s not even trying to match the intensity of the Season 1 finale. Most of the main characters, with the exception of Yuki Sohma, are pushed into the background. Because of this, it almost feels like an extended teaser, with the new opening and ending themes, Tohru Honda’s recap of last year and brief flashes of the other Sohmas serving as promises of better things to come.
Tohru and Kyo are still on summer vacation, but Yuki has to return to school early for his duties as Student Council President. On the Student Council, the series introduces two new characters: Vice President Kakeru Manabe and Treasurer Machi Kuragi. Machi is a quiet, distant girl who doesn’t receive much development in this premiere. Kakeru, meanwhile, makes a stronger impression. His brash outgoing personality and teasing nature, reminiscent of Ayame, rubs Yuki the wrong way at first. By the end of the episode, however, Kakeru’s genuine desire to be friends with Yuki becomes appealing.
While Yuki has the most development in this episode — and his fellow Student Council members will prove significant in the future — “Hello Again” is framed primarily around the perspective of one of Fruits Basket‘s most absurd tertiary characters: Prince Yuki Fan Club President, Motoko Minagawa. Up to this point, the Prince Yuki Fan Club have been obnoxious comic foils; obsessive fangirls jealous of Tohru’s closeness to their crush. Now, the anime is treating this obsessiveness with a more serious lens.
The episode’s cold open, preceding the opening theme and the Season 1 recap, sets the focus. Motoko watches Yuki and Tohru through a window, pining for Yuki and angry at Tohru for “changing” him. As usual, she stalks Yuki throughout the episode. What’s different from usual is that the show presents her inner monologue, dialing in on the ways in which her unhealthy obsession is connected to her deep sense of self-loathing. Fruits Basket is such an empathetic series that even the most unlikable joke character gets the chance to be treated seriously.
She also gets the chance to grow and change… slightly. When she tries to break into the Student Council room, the door is actually open, and she gets the chance to actually talk to Yuki. It’s a light conversation about breakfast, but it makes her realize the ways Yuki has changed, becoming friendlier and more sociable, have been for the better. While she still harbors desire for him and won’t be giving up her club any time soon, she realizes her anger at Tohru was misplaced. Sure, she doesn’t want Yuki to fall in love with anyone but herself, but she just can’t hate Tohru if she’s actually helping him grow.
On some level, it’s off-putting for the season premiere to place such focus on an unpleasant side character. It’s certainly not the most exciting season premiere. Still, Fruits Basket‘s willingness to attempt such a premiere is evidence of one of the story’s greatest strengths: for all of the shojo cliches and comedic hijinks, it always finds ways to dig deep into human emotions.
New episodes of Fruits Basket Season 2 premiere Mondays at 1:30 PM EDT, dubbed on FUNimation and subtitled on Crunchyroll.
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Fruits Basket centers its season premiere around the perspective of an absurd tertiary character: Prince Yuki Fan Club President Motoko Minagawa.