The Last Temptation of Tohru Honda

I’ve neither read the Fruits Basket manga nor watched the original anime series, but even without knowing the end of the story, I cannot help but believe that episode 10 of season two is the most central and important episode of the entire remake, for in it, the heroine of Fruits Basket confronts her enemy with eyes open for the first time. I’m not referring Akito, whom Tohru met before, but the curse which she is now starting to understand. And after doing so, is forced to make the decision: Does she continue to love the Somas at all costs or is there an end to the grace and love she’s extended the family this entire time?

This climactic episode—for even if it doesn’t have quite the significance I’ve assumed, it is the climax of this arc—ends with the confrontation between Akito and Tohru. Fruits Basket is usually painted in soft tones, befitting of a shoujo series, but this entire scene is almost out of a horror film, and would carry that tone more strongly if the series belonged to a different genre. Akito appears unexpectedly in the night and dismisses Momiji, who stands up for Tohru as best he can. We fear for Momiji’s safety, but it’s Tohru who will receive Akito’s furor, beginning with a verbal castigation before leading into a physical assault. This confrontation is significant. Akito realizes that the grip they held on the Zodiac Soma is loosening; though pride and a firm belief in the Soma curse gives Akito confidence, the visit itself demonstrates that this belief is wavering some. Akito comes to destroy Tohru—and Tohru, fearful as she is, must respond in some way.

It would be easy, here, to paint Akito as the devil. Akito certainly acts that way, but the series has demonstrated that they, too, are a victim. So a more accurate representation here is to perhaps paint Akito as the tool of the devil or of sin, thus as an agent of the curse. That curse, more fully explained to Tohru in this episode and the next, visits her in the night to tempt her away from the job she seems born to do—freeing those living under it.

This visit in the night is reminiscent of another fateful night, one in which Jesus reached a point of immense sorrow, though we are left largely in the dark of how it all the played out. Those that would record this night spent most of it asleep, and thus let us know only a few details, though even the few verses describing Gethsemane are telling, of the sweat that dripped off Jesus as blood, the amount of time that he spent in prayer, and the content of some of his words with the Father. We are privy to his prayer which demonstrate a perfect love for God and man, and also to the immense pressure and pain of walking the road of obedience and love. There is a conclusion to the night of prayer, and not one sealed by a traitorous kiss; the conclusion is in Christ’s decision to simply be who he was and always will be: pure and perfect.

Tohru, too, reaches an end during the night, though hers isn’t so much a conclusion as a realization—she is not fighting against a young person who has a psychological grip on her friends. She is fighting against a “god.”

Akito explains their role as the “equivalent” of the Soma Zodiac’s god. More accurately, perhaps, Akito is the body inhabiting the role of leader in this generation, the leader of the curse. And against such a compelling power, Tohru Honda finds herself overwhelmed, in over her head. What can she do against such a creature, against such a compelling evil?

And that is merely Akito’s final blow. Akito also physically assails her while relaying that information, and previously taunted belittled Tohru, attempting to wrest all her hope away. She has no power to help her friends, and she cannot even join them in their suffering. A master of abuse, fed by an evil curse, Akito is both powerful and subtle in temptation and cruelty. What can Tohru accomplish against that? What power can her goodness and purity have against such wickedness and perversity? The horror of this scene is best exhibited by the curse’s evil manifesting physically, though blood dripping from one who we all know is nothing but kind, gentle, and caring.

Oh, what it must have been like to be in the garden that evening two thousand years ago when similarly, sweat fell like blood off of the body of the pure lamb, when for reason of a different curse, Christ related, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death…”! I’ve felt sorrow and I’ve endured pain, but nothing like what Christ encountered that night and into the following days; it makes me wonder what he experienced that evening as he shared time with the father—did Satan intrude during that intimate time and attack him as well? He must surely have tried, as he would before and after with Judas, and with all the subtlety and voraciousness with which he tempted the disciples, with which he tempts us.

But Christ would not walk away; instead, he would walk to the cross and to his death in order to bring salvation to those he loved.

Tohru is not God incarnate. And her path is different. But her love is like Christ—sacrificial and resolute. In the next episode, Kazuma tells Tohru that the Soma family members don’t have a strong will to oppose Akito. They will need someone break the curse for them when they cannot, to demonstrate a graciousness and sacrificial love they’ve rarely experienced (and likely never on the this level).

The curse is strong, and the words Akito spews about the helplessness of the Somas against it are true—they have neither the will nor the power to destroy it. But what Akito doesn’t understand is that there is something even stronger, that the curse is likewise helpless against a Christlike love.

In fact, that kind of love is its very cure.

Fruits Basket can be streamed on Crunchyroll.


10 thoughts on “The Last Temptation of Tohru Honda

  1. I haven’t seen this episode yet (I’ve been stubbornly sticking with the dub for nostalgia reasons, and Funi’s release schedule has become erratic due to the pandemic), but this was absolutely one of my favorite chapters in the manga. It’s a huge turning point and a series-defining moment. And the best part is that the story only gets richer and more compelling from here!

    The Gethsemane comparison makes an awful lot of sense. It’s easy to imagine Satan whispering Akito’s words from those screencaps into Christ’s ear.

    1. I can’t wait to finish out the series! Oh, and the dub is very good, so not a bad decision to wait for those episodes to come out!

  2. Yes! I, too, felt like this episode must be profoundly important to the series as a whole. It was like the rest of S1-S2 has been setup so we could get to this point. Tohru’s realization that even Akito is one of the *victims* of the curse displays an almost awe-inspiring level of empathy.

    1. We could probably learn something from her…to see our “enemies” in this culture as victims of the curse of the sin, and to love them appropriately.

  3. Love the analysis! Akito struck me very much as representative of the false images of God that we can have, even when we’re trying to love God truly. I think those of us who have experienced spiritual abuse can relate.

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