Leading up through Easter Sunday, Beneath the Tangles will be running a series of posts based on a theme with the hopes that it will lead our readers to consider the meaning of this week and especially of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Our theme this year is loneliness.
While so much of the fandom is excited because they get to watch a quality Fruits Basket anime that sees the series through to the end, I’m excited because I feel like I’m getting something entirely new. I’ve only watched a bit of Fruits Basket, and while I read most of the manga series, I never finished it. Further, I’ve pretty much forgotten everything. And so the remake feels brand-spanking new to me.
I love that feeling, because I get to be on the outside looking in, not quite sure where the story is going. I see clues that may be obvious to those who are already fans, little tidbits that have me theorizing on what’s really going on. For instance, what’s pretty obvious early on is that our three main characters are all suffering from loneliness. Tohru is the easiest to analyze: she’s orphaned, homeless, and only recently living without her mother. It’s a loneliness she wears well with her unbridled optimism (Tohru’s mother, by the way, for “Mom of the Year” for raising such an amazing child!), but we can all understand the sadness she must feel, even if few of us can connect real deeply with her loss as such a young age.
The loneliness of the other two, though, are maybe more comparable in terms of how you or I have felt. Kyo, for instance, is left out, not part of the group. We aren’t privy yet to what happened beyond knowing the story about the rat tricking the cat, but we do know that he desperately wants to be part of the Soma family proper, to truly be one of the zodiac. But he’s not. He has no formal part of the family, and his personality, too, makes it hard for him to get close to others, as demonstrated by his clunky attempts to treat Tohru reasonably in episode two.
This is a loneliness that seems to be part of most of our lives when we’re younger, whether for just a short period of exclusion from some group or some longer, consistent problem. But the thing is, exclusion can follow us into adulthood, too. I’ve seen it up close in places where it shouldn’t happen, and if anything, the power of it is magnified in adulthood. Kyo’s suffering can be our own, and it’s a painful place to be.
Yuki, too, is suffering in loneliness, but a different kind. He has everything he seemingly wants—adoration, talent, and a family name. But Yuki doesn’t want any of that. He would be willing to give it up, especially being part of the Soma family, because being in that group doesn’t give him wholeness. In fact, it leaves him empty, frustrated, and bitter. Being surrounded by family doesn’t make Yuki feel any less lonely. I’ve been there, too, feeling that I don’t belong, that no one understands, even when I’m around a lot of people. It’s a loneliness of the mind rather than one that’s physical, and that perhaps makes it a kind that’s harder to solve, more challenging to make one’s way out of.
Isn’t it funny, then, how these three lonely souls have found their way into the same household? Into the same school and class? I’m eager to see how this all plays out, with Tohru, it seems, being both the glue and instigator, the one who helps alleviate loneliness, even as she has cause to be the one who needs comfort most of all.
Fruits Basket can be streamed on Crunchyroll.