Shojo & Tell: A Manga Podcast

Fruits Basket Part 1 (with ANN’s Jacob Chapman)

Episode Summary

Covers volumes 1-8 of FRUITS BASKET by Natsuki Takaya At the height of the mid-2000s manga boom in the US, there was no bigger series than FRUITS BASKET. And this story about orphaned Tohru Honda and the Sohma family curse has endured, getting a very special rerelease in recent years. For a series this influential, we brought on one of the biggest Furuba fans of all: Anime News Network editor Jacob Chapman. We discuss why FRUITS BASKET left such a lasting impression, who our favorite Sohmas are, how Tokyopop and Yen Press’ translations compare, what the curse really is, Kyo’s “true” form and the search for what’s real, Furuba’s message about belief in others, particularly as it relates to religion and family, and much, much more. Most importantly, obviously, we answer the question: Yuki or Kyo? And just think: This is only the first of three episodes about Takaya’s masterpiece.

Episode Notes

Covers volumes 1-8 of Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya

At the height of the mid-2000s manga boom in the US, there was no bigger series than Fruits Basket. And this story about orphaned Tohru Honda and the Sohma family curse has endured, getting a very special rerelease in recent years. For a series this influential, we brought on one of the biggest Furuba fans of all: Anime News Network editor Jacob Chapman. We discuss why Fruits Basket left such a lasting impression, who our favorite Sohmas are, how Tokyopop and Yen Press’ translations compare, what the curse really is, Kyo’s “true” form and the search for what’s real, Furuba’s message about belief in others, particularly as it relates to religion and family, and much, much more. Most importantly, obviously, we answer the question: Yuki or Kyo? And just think: This is only the first of three episodes about Takaya’s masterpiece.

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Episode Transcription

Ashley: Welcome to Shojo & Tell, where we discuss shojo manga, tell who's hot and who's not, talk about themes, and just generally geek out. Today, August 19th, 2018, we'll be shojo & telling about the first eight volumes of Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya. I'm your host, Ashley McDonnell, and I'm joined by Anime News Network editor, Jacob Chapman. Hey Jacob.

Jacob: Hey, everybody. Oh, thanks for having me on.

Ashley: Yeah. Jacob, you have a long history with Fruits Basket that I'm not even sure I know all the bits of. So I feel that you should tell the audience about your history with Fruits Basket.

Jacob: Well, geez. Yeah. It is basically going back to how long Fruits Basket has even been in English is kind of my history with it, but because I think it was published ... Do you remember when Tokyopop first published the first volume?

Ashley: I think it was 2004, or around there.

Jacob: Yeah, okay, that would be the time. So I discovered Fruits Basket when I was sort of getting into anime for the first time in middle school. And it was certainly the ... It's funny because when I first read Fruits Basket, I was the age of the youngest characters, and now I'm, I guess, the age of the oldest characters, a little older than most actors, they're all 27, and I'm technically 28. So, wow, how time flies, right?

Ashley: So this is would be true of me too. Yeah. Oh boy, okay.

Jacob: God, everybody just makes ...

Ashley: I'm shocked.

Jacob: Everybody jokes about Shigure being old, and it's like, "Oh no, I'm one year older than him now."

Ashley: Yeah, we're old.

Jacob: We're old. Oh no. Anyway, so my story with Fruits Basket is when it first started being published in English by Tokyopop, I had a lot of friends who were really into it, and they're like, "Oh, you should read this if you're kind of into anime manga, you should read this." And at that point, I really hadn't fully divulged into being fully an anime fan and reading not that much manga because I don't. I'm kind of illiterate when it comes manga. I read some of the biggest stuff, but that's about it. Right now, I'm reading Attack on Titan and To Your Eternity, and that's kind of it. But I was really intrigued by it, and so I started reading it initially because I was like, "Oh, fairytales and animals. I those things." And yeah, there are a lot of the other shojo manga more about just sort of high school antics, and a celebrity high school. I really couldn't get into Boys Over Flowers, or Skip Beat. Skip Beat was really big when I was in high school. And I try, but I wasn't as interested in them because I kind of liked the supernatural element for Fruits Basket, and that it wasn't really about love triangles, that it was kind of about complicated family relationships and hardships in school and in life and stuff that.

Jacob: So even though there was a romantic subtext to it, it didn't really start that way. So I dug it, and I was into it, and I thought it was fun. And the anime was the first anime that I ever bought on video. And so I had to sneak it because I wasn't allowed. So I had these old, really crappy dual layer 7 episodes on each DVD release from animation, and I got in the collector's edition box, which is just kind of a ... It was a folded cardboard sort of book thing that clunk open, and you would fit four individual DVDs in there, in their respective cases. It wasn't very fancy. But I had it for a long time. But I was really into it and I would read a lot of it again for the reasons I mentioned before. But then as it went on I was like, "Oh, this is dark. This is gruesome." By the time I was getting in high school, and we're in the published volumes that we weren't necessarily coming today, but most the ones actually, come after Volume 8, I was like, "Oh my God."

Jacob: And it really stuck with me because as I got older, the books did kind of age with me. And it informed a lot of ... I think a lot of things that I kind of believe on a deep level emotionally like Fruit Basket, a lot of the way almost every chapter ends is talking about an emotional problem and how you work through it or how you come to terms with these emotions and what it means about you and your place in the world or what it doesn't mean about you and your place in the world and stuff like that. And for better or for worse, I agreed with a lot of Natsuki Takaya's stance on this stuff, as spoken through Tohru or through other characters. And even Tohru has problems that she doesn't understand, and needs emotional support from people. And so yeah, as I got older, every time I've ever gone back to it, it's only ever gotten better and better with the new translation, I looked at some of these scenes and they make even more sense emotionally, and it's more complex image and I thought when I first read it.

Jacob: And yeah, I think eventually, over time, it became more definitively my favorite manga, and I think it probably will be forever because even if I read a manga that ... And I have read manga that I know are "better" or more distinguished or something. Nothing ... Well, nothing meant to me emotionally what Fruit Basket meant to me emotionally at a formative time in my life. I think every single chapter in Fruit Basket there's something that helps me as a person, which is ... How can you top that? It's not that it's the best manga of all time, but I don't think anything will mean more to me in manga form. So that's been my history with that, and then along the way ... Oh yeah. I left this out, right.

Ashley: You left out a big part here.

Jacob: I left out a big thing. So when I was 20 or so, yeah. From the time I was 20 to 22, I made a radio drama version of Fruits Basket just for free out of my own time. Patreon didn't exist back then. So there wasn't really a way to get enough money to support actors or musicians and stuff like that. I was surrounded by really wonderful people who helped to contribute to this thing. I thought really, really great talented amateur actors who just really knocked it out of the park, playing all these parts. And I got the sound effects library together and then amazing just dropped in my lap this guy, Ken Clayton, who was like, "Hey, I'll just make music for you." And it's really ... It's pretty good music.

Jacob: I mean I'm uninformed on this stuff. I don't make music myself, but I was really moved by the stuff that he came up with, and just gave to me to use for this radio drama. And it was always just sort of a little thing that a couple thousand people listened to. It was a small, considering what I was doing at the time which was making money off of YouTube and Blip, which is not YouTube thing that used to exist, talking about anime. And this was a side thing that made me no money, and not that many people paid attention to. But I loved it dearly and would have kept going if I could afford to have done so but I couldn't. So I made 24 episodes that cover the first four volumes of the manga, and then I had to stop. But that's, I think, one of the most fun, one of my proudest little accomplishments, so I just sort of made for me and for people who love that story.

Ashley: Yeah, and people can still listen to it. I saw it had a lot of comments that were like, "I love this, it's so good."

Jacob: Yeah, it was as a long time ago. And I think that I wouldn't be opposed to doing something that again in the future, but it would either have to be official or it would have to be in some other capacity where I'd be kind of allowed to do it and able to do it and get either paid to do it, or I don't know, it would just be something that I could sustain, but I'm definitely proud of what I put out there. And yeah, if you want a link, I will link, I guess, to the archive I have of all those if anybody wants to listen to them. Be warned, they were made in the year 2010. I'm not actually going to say "be warned, they're janky," because of course, they're a little janky and they sound a little immature, but I'm actually kind of proud. I don't think that they're hard to listen to. I'm still proud of the work that I did. What I want to say is be warned because they're problematic, because I made them in 2010.

Jacob: I believe the R-word is used once or twice by a character so that's not great and I apologize. And there's just some roughness to it that is I believe in keeping. I didn't add anything that wasn't in the manga, but the manga was written in 1997, and it's also a little problematic so there you go. But if that doesn't bother you, I'm still really proud of the work I did on it. And it made me happy for the time that I got to work on it.

Ashley: Yeah. And I think my own personal experience mirrors yours, maybe to a less intense degree because I don't think I've read Fruits Basket for a decade since it ended. I remember I read it all the way through once all of it was out, and I was like, "Okay," and I probably looked at scenes that are my favorite that come later in this manga to be like, "Oh, deep feelings," and stuff like that.

Jacob: Sure, cute. Later in the manga, that's really cute.

Ashley: So cute. Also, crying.

Jacob: It's so not warming what happens. Yeah, no. Reading Yen Press's translation, because it's new, I would think "I'm inured to this, I don't feel anything anymore." I do feel things but oh I'm not going to cry reading this manga anymore. And then I read Yen Press the translation and it somehow makes it feel new to me and it's like, "Ah, shit." I definitely cried while revisiting this for the podcast.

Ashley: I cried too.

Jacob: Powerful stuff. And the first eight volumes don't even really get into the, I guess, the deep emotions but even that surface, that Chicken Soup for the Soul that you kind of need, it's very real and it speaks to you.

Ashley: Yeah, and I definitely remember when it was coming out as you had to wait months in between each volume each value would come out. I'm just like, "I'm just sobbing. Why am I doing this?"

Jacob: Yeah, I would be at the Barnes and Noble, we had Barnes and Noble and Walden books, Walden books carried more manga, but I think Barnes Noble's close to me I lived in a small town in Kentucky, and I would be there and I would get that book because it was very important to me.

Ashley: Yeah. Okay. So I guess we should take a step back in case people are not 28 and they did not grow up in the boom of ...

Jacob: Yeah. I grew up in the early 2000s when this was anime fans of the early 2000s.

Ashley: Yeah. Because I feel there's lots of younger people now who are like, "I've heard Fruits Basket is good." And like, it is good. What are you talking about? What is Fruits Basket about, Jacob?

Jacob: Well, and I'm glad it's in print now because for a while there, you would say, "Oh it's good, but it's out of print."

Ashley: Yeah, that's true.

Jacob: ... And there's 23 volumes. And now there's only 12, and they're in fully in print. So yeah. Well for Fruit Basket is about a 16-year-old girl named Tohru Honda, who was raised by her single mother most of her life before her mother dies in a horrible traffic accident. And she because her mom, again, being a single mom was excluded from most of the family. She doesn't really have family ties necessarily. The only person she knows that can kind of take her in is her paternal grandfather and there's problems there that that maybe we'll get into it, but she's just not really anywhere that she belongs. And it's not convenient for her to ... She has two very good and loving supportive friends, but she's extremely self-conscious about being a burden or taking advantage of anyone. In fact, that that's sort of a recurring thing that's Tohru is that she's sort of a sweet cinnamon roll too pure too good for this world. She just doesn't want to cause ... She tries to be positive about everything, and she doesn't cause anybody any trouble, and she's just sort of this shining beacon of positivity sometimes to her detriment. And so now that she no longer has a home, she decides, "Well, I could probably get away with camping in the woods."

Ashley: Yeah.

Jacob: Which sounds insane, and it sounds insane and that's how the manga opens. The first page is like, all right, here's what you're dealing with, this 16-year-old girl has decided that she's going to just live in the woods and support herself by working because for those who don't know, there isn't really a public school system in Japan that's ... You pay to go to school in Japan even if it's not a particularly prestigious school, as Tohru's isn't. You had to be able to pay your tuition as a high schooler. And she has to pay her own tuition because her mother didn't have anything to leave her.

Jacob: So she works and goes to school in high school, and lives in a tent in the woods. And this is where we're starting, and she's just happy about it. She's like, "My home is my castle. I'm taking care of myself. I'm such a strong person." And it's like, what are you doing?

Ashley: It's tsunami season too or something, right?

Jacob: It is. Yeah well, it's the monsoon season where it's raining a lot. There's liable to be a landslide in the woods, and that's eventually the trouble she finds herself in is that eventually, a landslide sweeps away her tent in the woods. Fortunately just before this happened, she found out that she was camping on the property of the Sohma family, which is this ancient, you know, you think of old families in America and stuff, that old money. There's really old families in Japan, and that's the thing is Fruit Basket is a very Japanese story. It's based around a lot of Japanese social morals. And even though the emotions are universal, it is really captivating to kind of that it takes a look at high schoolers in society in Japan, modern life versus antiquated life. And the Sohma family is this very ancient traditional family, and they own a lot of shit. They're filthy rich. And so there's this cottage in the woods where she was camping that happens to belong to one of the members of the Sohma family, who's sort of a dirty old man. I say a dirty old man, he's 27. But he's sort of he's a ...

Ashley: But he's old, remember?

Jacob: Yeah, he's a lazy letch is more of the ... He's a writer by trade, so he just sits around doesn't shower, and writes books all day. He's very handsome, but he wears a traditional kimono and stays in his house and doesn't really do anything. But he lives in this house away from the estate, and he finds a Tohru there, and he sees that this mudslide is swept away her tent, and he offers to let her stay in his house with his two cousins, who are Tohru's age which means we're going to have a love triangle between the two cousins, Yuki and Kyo, who absolutely hate each other. And Yuki is sort of the classic princely dignified beautiful perfect honor roll student who all the girls adore, and so they immediately hate Tohru for spending a time around him.

Jacob: And Kyo, his cousin, is this rowdy, mean, acts like he's 13, even though he's 16, punk kid who swears a lot and throws things, breaks things, has a terrible temper tantrum and just kind of went missing from school. So you have the bad boy and the prince. And all that seems okay. It's a pretty typical shojo setup right. All right. So here's where it gets weird. It turns out that the very ancient Sohma family is under a curse, whereby 13 members of the family in each generation basically as soon as one dies another person has to take up the curse, are cursed by the 13 spirits of the Chinese zodiac. And his 13 because there's an old fable about the cat being one of the animals to be left out of the zodiac because he got tricked by the rat and didn't show up to the party where they're all inducted into the zodiac.

Jacob: And so that holds true for the curse, which means Yuki is the rat, which is the most blessed and the most providential of the zodiac animals, which is also why he's so good at everything and so incredibly handsome. And Kyo is the cat, which means he's the sheep of the family. Not, I guess the black cat of the family right?

Ashley: Not actually.

Jacob: There is a sheep, but that's a different character. And so you have a rat and a cat. And just for funsies, a dog because Shigure is the dog of the family, and he's just trying to keep everybody together, and keep them from wrecking his house and starting too many fights. And he's just kind of the irresponsible but lovable uncle in this sort of wild living situation. And so that's the situation Tohru finds herself in as she finds out about this curse, which will activate, they will reveal their animal forms if they get sick or emotionally weak. It depends, again, if they're weak in body or spirit, both hold true, and then they'll transform.

Jacob: And also, if they are pulled too close, let's say embraced. But it's really anything more than your hand touching their shoulder. If you get too close to them at all and your member of the opposite sex, they'll transform. And so it's a very awkward situation because that means they're going to run into each other, and you're gonna have cats and rats and dogs running around and mass hysteria. And so Tohru has to do her best to keep their secret and take care of them, and that's the basic premise of the story. And as it progresses, she meets more members of the family and starts to realize that the curse isn't just about turning into cute animals when you accidentally run into a girl. There's something more sinister to it. She doesn't really understand why it's called a curse necessarily. So she just kind of tries to make their lives better, and she feels very blessed for having a place to stay and for getting close to these very fun loving and eccentric and exciting rich family. And that's the premise of Fruits Basket.

Ashley: Yeah, I feel there are a lot of people who look at the premise, and they're like, "That seems cute. It's a reverse harem, like, I want to read that, that'll be fun," and I'm like, "You don't know the devastation you're in for."

Jacob: Right. And it does start out cute, and I think that a lot of the early messages, people will probably immediately notice it, there's a formula for Fruits Basket with the first half of every chapter is sort of sitcom, jokes, where it's kind of playing on everybody's personality to elicit some kind of joke about like, "Ha, ha. Kyo is dumb," or "Yuki has a complex over looking feminine," or "Shigure is lazy and lecherous," or whatever the case may be. And Tohru is clueless, right. She's well-meaning, but not very bright. They bounce off each other, but then you find out that this is all leading to all these jokes—Natsuki Takaya, even in the early chapters, which are less cohesive and intensely thought out than later chapters, she doesn't really put anything in there for nothing. She likes to pay off almost every little thing that she puts in there, even what seems kind of a joke. And usually the last half of the chapter is, so the first half will be sitcom hijinks, the the last half of the chapter and will be like, "Okay now we're gonna focus on one of these characters, Kyo or Yuki, or Tohru or Tohru's friends or one of the other Sohmas." Not so much Shigure. But we'll get to that.

Jacob: Shigure doesn't have really a vulnerable moment upfront, but like all the other characters, the second half of a chapter will be having a vulnerable moment with them, where you discover that they have a complex over something, or they were hurt by somebody before, or there's a coping mechanism they have in life that is unhealthy and Tohru kind of addresses it, not purposefully. She's not trying to be their therapist. She just had a really good mom, and that's kind of what ... Right, so that's as far as we know, we'll get that later but as of the first eight volumes, Tohru had a very loving single mother, who impressed upon her just all these valuable emotional things for how to deal with hardship in life, and she was just a really good mom. And so Tohru kind of unintentionally, just talking about her mom and how much she loved her and the things that she would impart to her, helps the Sohmas deal with their problems because the Sohmas don't have loving parents.

Jacob: This is an interesting aspect of the curse as they met. It is weird that Uncle Shigure is living with his two distant male cousins in this house in the countryside, right. Not the countryside, but the woods neighboring a small city, right. It's weird that they don't live with their parents or even mention their parents. We don't meet Yuki or Kyo's parents for the entirety of his first eight volumes. We never meet them. And they're very rarely talked about. And so it's like, "Oh, Okay. This family is weird," and these people have trauma, and they're not ready to talk about it but it's healing one chapter after another, little aspects of what they think of the damage that they had. And without even meaning to, Tohru certainly isn't trying to solve their problems. But as time goes on, she realizes maybe I should be trying to solve their problems. "Is there something I should be doing about the curse?" And that is kind of the central crux of the plot is the curse just a cute fun thing or should something be done about it, and what can one not very bright or talented orphan girl do against this legacy of a family that has existed for centuries?

Ashley: She can heal their hearts. It's fine. She's good.

Jacob: Yeah.

Ashley: Okay, I feel it's very important. There are many Sohmas. There are many characters in this manga. I feel for people who do know it, it's very critical to know who your favorite Sohma is. I'll go first. Mine is Kyo. I know it's very stereotypical, but I really do love him. I think that he was the one who resonated the most with the struggles that I had myself, personally. I very much felt that all of my friends were smarter than me, and came from parents who were better than mine. So Yuki is the one who's, he's just like, "I'm just perfect. I'm just naturally a genius" or whatever.

Jacob: Right. And he's very confident about that. He owns it.

Ashley: Yeah. And Kyo is the one who's struggling and trying to be like, "I work hard. I'm just trying to live, why hate me."

Jacob: Yeah exactly. It's like, "Screw you if you hate me. I'm going to continue to exist without you," which seems very strong but it is, in truth, kind of a cover-up for how he really feels about himself, and yeah, he has lots of anger problems. He likes to pretend.

Ashley: Lots of anger problems. I definitely had anger problems too, that's fine. I still have anger problems.

Jacob: Yeah, totally. I relate to that as well. Geez, I mean, favorite Sohma is really difficult because it kind of, it's ...

Ashley: I love all of them so much.

Jacob: I love all of them so much. And that sounds a cliche but this is one of those stories where I love ... I can't think of a character I don't like. I even like the student council characters which don't appear. You get a cameo. They get a peek in volume 8.

Ashley: They got a chapter. Yeah.

Jacob: And I love every single character in Fruits Basket. But for the Sohma, I feel like a bad person. But it's true. I think I've always most resonated with Shigure.

Ashley: Wow, okay.

Jacob: Yeah, yeah. So I think it was because I understood—so Yuki and Kyo, I relate to their dysfunction similarly because I also, like Yuki, had a trauma response. I grew up—I'll just get this out here right now—one of the reasons that Fruits Basket means so much to me, is I also grew up in an abusive household with rich parents. It wasn't like stereotypical alcoholic fist swing and sort of situation. It was sort of a cult-like situation. And the Sohma family is very much a cult. They're very rich, and privileged, and have a lot going for them. But emotionally it's all fucked up. There's no healthy emotions going on in the Sohma family at all despite their providence on the outside, which is why it's so hard for them to ask for help.

Jacob: And so, I related to Yuki's, I guess, responsive shutting down to situations, to emotional abuse where he just wouldn't respond and kind of lock up and feel he could no longer remember how to speak. And I understood that. But I also understood Kyo's anger problems. He rages and just gets angry over absolutely nothing, over things that he's not really angry about. He's angry about something else but he'll break something or he'll freak out or get mad at someone over something he doesn't actually care about. And so, I related to both those things even though they seem opposite, people contain multitudes and you can relate to so many different characters. But ultimately, I was always drawn to Shigure most because Shigure had gone through the phases that these others had gone through. But he came out of it sort of very crafty and bitter and scheming and doing everything that he can. So we don't know what Shigure is scheming exactly as of the first eight volumes but we know very early on—and this was cut from the anime which is sort of weird.

Jacob: In the anime [NOTE: the 2001 anime, not the 2019 reboot], Shigure really serves no purpose but to be comic relief and kind of emotional support. But in the manga it's clear from early on that his purpose, the reason that he's there in this love triangle or outside of this love triangle is that he is planning something, that he wants Tohru to stay with him, to stay with these two boys because he's up to something and it's something selfish. He talks about whatever he's up to it might hurt the kids involved. And they might hate him for it but he's willing to do it regardless. And so, I know. I certainly don't condone that behavior or relate to it but I did relate to Shigure's kind of "over it" thing, I guess, as I got older it was like, "I'm over punishing myself for my family or for other people who treat me badly. I'm going to do something about this." I guess, it wasn't so much that I related Shigure, it was more he was aspirational in an antihero kind of way. He's a little bit of a villain, he's not a great person but he's really strong because he's been through all this bullshit, we can't reveal why, but he points out that something makes him very different from the other zodiac members.

Jacob: He considers himself more cursed than any of the others, which you can agree or disagree with once you find out why he's saying that, but he is in a unique position to the other zodiac members in that they cannot relate to him at all in this very unique position that he's in. And so he has decided to do something with that and like, "I'm going to change my life. I'm going to do something about this, even if it's hurtful and even if it makes everybody hate me. I have to do this because I'm not gonna sit around and waste my life feeling bad and letting this family control me anymore." And I thought that that was really cool and that's just, that's the dark side of him that's sort of in secret, that's seen only to his closest friends and in spare chapters. But the side of them that we mostly see, is just he's really funny. He's always making jokes.

Ashley: He is.

Jacob: He's there to lighten the mood in every circumstance and he likes playing with people and usually, his manipulations are positive, right? Usually, he's manipulating people in a way where he's trying to help them and he's trying to push them and he's just kind of playing hardball with people like, "I'm going to push you out of your comfort zone because you need it." And he offered Yuki a place to stay in his house and I think that that's kind of a big deal because nobody was reaching out to help Yuki before Tohru showed up and he said, "Hey you can live with me." And that was huge. Without that Yuki wouldn't have been able to move on. He needs somebody to tell him you don't have to live in the estate anymore. So I think Shigure is a crafty bastard and I dig that about him.

Jacob: I think he's interesting and fun to watch. So I think the other characters are more lovable and you want to be friends with them and you wouldn't want to be friends with Shigure. You don't want to be friends with Shigure but he's in this story full of nice people and hurt people, you need a mean bastard, you need somebody who's like, "I'm not going to take this anymore and I'm going to solve this problem." So I think Shigure is maybe my favorite. It's hard to say but he's certainly the one that I like to, "oh, you." I kind of like to read his stuff over and over, I think.

Ashley: Interesting. You've convinced me about Shigure. He's definitely very funny and everybody is funny around him, which is fun and ...

Jacob: He stirs the pot.

Ashley: Yeah, certainly the machinations of him being like, "Kyo you're going to live here too and then I'm just gonna make you fight with Yuki all the time. At least you guys are talking, isn't that fun?"

Jacob: Exactly. And he's like, "You guys are talking ..." I think he knows that you can't be ragingly be angry at somebody all the time. He's like, in the past Kyo and Yuki would meet each other and it would be bloody, it would be bloody every time. And now because they're forced to live with another with one another you can't do that even if they haven't resolved their emotional issues because that's going to take time. You can't do that all the time. You would be exhausted. You have to just kind of get used to be like, "Okay. I can spend time around this person without ripping their throat out." You just gotta get used to it. And he's forced that situation which is ultimately for the best, I think, because Tohru is there, and because Tohru was helping them. It's not just them at each other's throat that wouldn't be good, so.

Ashley: Tohru is fun because she's always like, "Do I want them to fight? I don't know. Maybe. Yeah, I guess this is okay."

Jacob: She comes around on it. It's funny, but I think it's kind of in a throwaway chapter, it's not really—they go camping in the woods. And I know they already live in the woods, but they go camping in the mountains, specifically, at one point. And that's the turning point for Tohru, where for the first time she's happy that they're fighting. And in the past, Tohru's role was always like, "Please don't fight, you two. Please don't fight you two." And it would get monotonous and at some point, she's happy when they're fighting because she was like, "You know, this is just how you are." And it's become benign, it's become harmless because they're not hurting each other they're just expressing their feelings. Like, they can't help but hate each other.

Jacob: They're going to continue to hate each other until they resolve that, but it's better than bottling it up. And in the case of this specific part of the story, she was upset because they had just visited her mother's grave together for the first time, and they were depressed afterward and she didn't know why. The reason is, spoilers, they're both depressed for completely different reasons that we won't find out ... We won't find out for books and books and books. But it's never even covered in the anime, which is funny, like the story is covered in the anime and we never find out why they're upset. So she's just like, "All right, they're fighting, but you know what? They're getting their feelings out and this is normal for them, and I'm just glad that they're being themselves. And maybe they'll get along better over time but that's not really something I have to force." It's nice. It's little things like this, this is a sitcom where there isn't really a status quo that gets monotonous. Things are always changing just a little bit in every chapter I think.

Ashley: Yeah. And at some point, you realize Yuki and Kyo kind of fight and feel that they have to hate each other because they're like, "This is crucial to my identity." And it slowly becomes like, "Oh, maybe this doesn't have to be crucial to my identity," will become a central plot point. But yeah, I guess we should talk about anime, and where you can read this because I think that those are important. You can currently buy Fruit Basket from Yen Press. They have re-released it. It is in 12 omnibuses. It's very interesting because I've had at least two people respond to my tweets about Fruit Basket, being like, "Where can I get it in like, single volumes though?" and I'm like, "well you can buy the old Tokyopop versions, because it was initially published by Tokyopop. You can probably find those used.

Jacob: Hunt those down.

Ashley: Yeah, you can probably hunt those down. They're around. I still have them, but yeah—also the anime is available from Funimation, and I would say if you have watched the anime, you can probably follow most of this podcast discussion, but then the next two podcasts will be incomprehensible.

Jacob: Yeah, then it's gonna get dicey. Yeah.

Ashley: Yeah. But yeah, you should read the manga because yeah the anime only covers the first eight volumes or so and that's what's up. That's not enough. You don't know anything about these people yet.

Jacob: No, and it doesn't cover them faithfully necessarily, so like I said, it cuts out the scene where Shigure has a conversation with Hatori about how he's scheming about how he's got a wager going with the head of household Akito, which we haven't mentioned Akito but he doesn't show up all that much. He's just this figure of fear and domination. He's not a villain because he's not actively hurting anybody in the story that we can see because he's closed up in his mansion and everybody else is living in this cottage away from the mansion, basically because of him. But he is a thing that eventually we're going to have to address. He's like the snakes in the pet shop in PeeWee's Big Adventure, where you keep coming back around to it and it's like we're going to have to deal with him eventually, we're going to have to deal with him eventually but for now he's just this dark cloud of "I own you, I control you, I can take everything away from you at any time, but I'm gonna wait." And that's what he does, and it's very threatening.

Jacob: Anyway, the anime took out all those scenes. It took out anything that it would have had to explain as being part of a plot or mystery in the future and just kept it in the sitcom stuff, which is fine but if you're wondering what the guys are really depressed about when they go on that camping trip with Tohru in the anime, well it's never explained.

Ashley: You're never gonna know. You gotta read the manga.

Jacob: You're never gonna know. Yeah, it's in the manga though, and it's that whole graveyard scene was very different in the manga.

Ashley: Yeah, we got an anonymous ask on Tumblr to discuss the differences in Shigure's portrayal between the manga and the anime and admittedly, I have not watched the anime also in a long time but I assume that most of them stem from this they didn't know what was going to happen with Akito—spoilers, lots of things happen with Shigure's relationship.

Jacob: Yeah. According to Takaya they knew, insofar as she told them what the seeds that she was planting for the stuff was setting up, but then they just took it out. They took it out because I think they knew that they weren't going to pay it off. They were like, well this is 26 episodes, and it is on a micro budget. That show's visuals have not aged well. And I think they were like, "let's not set up anything we can't pay off and let's take out anything that's a little too dark and mysterious." So that's what they did and that's fine. As this effects Shigure's portrayal, it's not as obvious in the first eight volumes, but it will be more obvious down the line.

Jacob: I would just say in the anime, he's just sitcom uncle, he's just sitcom dad, and he just makes jokes and is occasionally revealed to be smart and manipulating them in ways to help them but he's never anything but benevolent. In the manga, he's not benevolent at all. I would say he's much meaner. He's still funny and he still makes funny jokes, but there's always a scene afterward where it's like, he's up to something. And it's not "teehee, he's up to something," it's "what is he doing?"

Ashley: Yeah, it's like he might destroy Tohru's soul kind of thing.

Jacob: Yeah, he's talking about doing something that will really hurt these kids. And we don't know what it is. But it's something he says he has to do because otherwise he just can't keep living. So it seems, he does feel remorse about it, again he's not a villain, he's just like look, rock and a hard place, I have to do this.

Ashley: He's like this will be better, it will hurt some people but in the end, help more people so let's do it.

Jacob: Yeah, and I get what I want. Which is what, I think he obfuscates, it's like, "I get what I want," but really he does care, but he says, look it doesn't matter if I care or not, I know I'm doing this for me. Which is good self awareness if you're self aware about being terrible that is a little better I guess. Who knows.

Ashley: You're doing it with knowledge. You're not doing it out of ignorance.

Jacob: You know what the consequences are going to be and you accept them.

Ashley: Yeah.

Jacob: So sure.

Ashley: Whether that's good or bad is different but yeah.

Jacob: Yeah.

Ashley: We also got a question from Twitter about the differences between the translation. So @supersnazzy on Twitter said "what are the most notable changes in comparison to the Tokyopop versions for the Yen Press versions? Is the new translation more accurate to the Japanese version or are the changes made to better suit an American audience? Do either of you have a preference for one publication over the other?"

Ashley: You, I think, did a more heavy comparison of the two. I just read your comparisons truthfully, and I read some select scenes to see how they were different, but.

Jacob: Yeah, and I continued doing that by the way, I did it for the first six chapters, and by the time this up, there will have been more chapters. I just wanted to work ahead for awhile, I was like oh I need to go ahead and work ahead before I continue doing this but I do want to compare the chapters between these versions and honestly, I don't have a preference. I keep going back and forth. Sometimes I like Tokyopop's better, sometimes I like Yen Press's better but the differences are definitely, there's a consistency in the approach between them which is that Yen Press's is much more faithful. I think that Yen Press's — I can't say much more faithful. Both of them are good translations. I don't think either of them really betrays the intent in any significant way. It's just if you're really a huge fan and you care about the minutia, then Yen Press's version is more accurate. And also their printing is bigger, it's nicer, the print is nicer, the margins are wider so you can see all of the art. The font choices are better, so for aesthetic reasons Yen Press's is certainly superior.

Jacob: But in terms of the translation, Tokyopop's is much more natural. It pretty much always reads and looks like people talking except when it gets to the internal monologue. That's when things get dicey, especially in later volumes, the internal monologue is dealing sometimes with the vagueries of a very context-heavy language, Japanese, and trying to give words to that in ways that are confusing sometimes. So when it gets really dark and emotional I would say that Yen Press's version is better at conveying the intent in words that are a little more natural. But when it comes to people just talking, sitcom jokes and stuff like that, Tokyopop's version is much more natural. It's funnier. The Yen Press version feels like reading anime subtitles sometimes. It's kind of janky. It's much more accurate to the exact nature of what people are saying, but it doesn't sound like a conversation. And that's a little more helpful for a sitcom for jokes and stuff like that where you just want to get the vibe, you don't need to know exactly what Japanese reference this person was making, you just need to get the joke.

Jacob: So I go back and forth. I like both of them. I think if you're a nut like me that you should read both of them. And I think if you've never read the manga before that either one will serve you fine. I would say don't expect to maybe laugh much at the jokes in Yen Press's version. They don't really pop. You don't really get why it's supposed to be funny. But you will cry more. So there's that.

Ashley: There you go. Trade offs.

Jacob: You're gonna cry more, right. But I like both. I would definitely advocate for both. I'm glad I have both. So the other thing is Yen Press's version did not carry over any of the commentary that Natsuki Takaya wrote in the late 90s and early 2000s. And a lot of that stuff is really interesting and fun. But she requested that it be removed because it's not relevant to her life now, which I understand, it's 20 years old.

Ashley: Yeah. For me, I liked not getting distracted by the commentary because then I have to spend so much more time reading, but at the same time, you don't get as much historical context with it.

Jacob: The historical context is that she was playing a lot of RPGs at the time.

Ashley: Yeah, of course. But it's probably just her talking about music or whatever they normally write in these stupid margins.

Jacob: Definitely. She talks about how many JRPGs she plays, which is a lot.

Ashley: Yeah. I was like, I don't really need that. That's fine. I'm fine not being distracted by that. I think yeah, there were certain things in Yen Press's where I was like "I don't think I understand what's going on in this situation," to be honest.

Jacob: Yeah.

Ashley: There would be a scene of them just talking and there would be a total shift and I'd be like "I don't understand the connection between how we got here," sort of deal.

Jacob: Yeah, the ensemble stuff where everyone is talking and making jokes, it doesn't quite flow.

Ashley: Yeah. I think the one thing I really can't forgive Yen Press's for is Yucky Yuki, which you also pointed out.

Jacob: Okay. Right, so the biggest, I would say the only thing that I would say I absolutely wish they hadn't done, it's not just a nit pick, it's "y'all this was maybe a mistake", is that everybody who's read the story knows that Kyo likes to insult Yuki by calling him "damn rat" or "rat bastard" or whatever. It's mostly damn rat but I liked rat bastard because that's a real insult in real life.

Ashley: Yeah. That's true.

Jacob: That's what we call people sometimes if you really don't like them and it rolls off the tongue great. But for some reason instead of "Damn Yuki," they went with "Yucky Yuki."

Ashley: Alliteration.

Jacob: Because it's alliteration. But here's the thing, and this happens several times with Kyo in Yen Press's version. Actually, I guess if there was one character that bugged me most in a translation.

Ashley: It's Kyo.

Jacob: It's Kyo talks like a dork in Yen Press's version. He uses a lot idioms, he uses a lot of dad joke phrases and stuff like that. And Kyo's dialogue in Japanese, which I'm very familiar with, I've heard it and read it a million times, is rough, 13 year old boy, no creative anything. He uses idioms sometimes but they are idioms that have existed in Japanese since the dawn of time. And occasionally he'll come up with one of his own but it's just not very clever. He's just not a clever boy. He's not stupid, he's just very crass and he just sort of says what he feels in the most direct way possible. He's not eloquent. And so I think Yen Press's version is a little too cheeky and dorky and eloquent for Kyo. And really he's just saying a string of bleeps. He's just not very creative in the way that he insults people. So he says Yucky Yuki which there's no anger in that. It's hard to imagine somebody saying Yucky Yuki with bile or rage.

Ashley: It's just so silly.

Jacob: It's so silly, and Kyo is an angry guy. He's 99% rage. And he really hates Yuki, and when he insults him it's not trying to be cute. He's not like "Yucky Yuki, hehe." He's like "I hate him." He's like "damn rat, damn rat bastard." He hates him. So that was my most, okay, all this other stuff, tweaks in translation. But I really wish they hadn't done that. Fortunately, it does lesson as the volumes go on. I think they started realizing, this doesn't convey the anger. As the story gets darker, this really doesn't convey how Kyo feels. So they start using it less which is good.

Ashley: That's good, but there was definitely the one line. He's talking to Tohru pretty early on when they were on the roof discussing Kyo's master. And Kyo just says "yeah, if Yucky Yuki went up against my master, his ass would be grass." And I was just like, "what is this line?"

Jacob: Yeah, I took a picture of that, and I was like people, we need to talk. Sit down, we need to talk about this.

Ashley: It's bad.

Jacob: I don't think Kyo would say "his ass would be grass." I think he would just say he'd knock him out. He'd say he'd knock his ass out.

Ashley: Yeah. The Tokoyopop version is just "damn rat would be destroyed by my master," something super normal.

Jacob: Right. Exactly. Yeah, and there's certainly room for eloquence, when it comes to Ayame, you want as flowery language as possible. But for characters like Kyo I think maybe it was overwritten. That's the word for it. Overwritten. It's not bad, it's just too much.

Ashley: Because that's definitely. So if you want a better Kyo, read Tokyopop.

Jacob: Sure. Yeah. Or mentally substitute any funny cute nerdy thing he says with fhldkahferlafdslajlre because that's what he's saying.

Ashley: Just add the word "bastard" to it and it's fine.

Jacob: Yeah.

Ashley: Let's see, we got other questions, another one was from @metamar was just like "what is the most powerful, important part of the first third of Furuba?" For me it's definitely Kyo's true form stuff when he transforms into I don't know what to call it, it's like an alien, but sure.

Jacob: It is an alien. I don't know what she was thinking coming up with that thing. It is very—it's freaky but it's still a little cute. I think the most important part of Kyo's transformation for those who don't know, the climax of the anime, the end of the anime and the big turning point in the manga, and there's a note in the Yen Press editions where Natusuki Takaya says "hey, one thing that bothered me about the anime is that for me revealing Kyo's true form was the end of Act One," was "now we pull back the curtain. Okay we've had the sitcom fun. Now we're gonna pull back the curtain and show you the story that I really wanted to tell you." That's what she says about it. And she says in the anime, it was the end of it. And it ended on this high note with him being sort of healed and accepted for who he is and this monstrous form that he takes on. And she said, "and I thought it came across like oh everything's going to be okay now because he was accepted. That's the end of this beauty and the beast kind of story." And she's like "that's not how I feel."

Jacob: And I thought that that was a really valuable thing to say. But I understand why the anime chose that for a climax because come on, of course.

Ashley: Yeah it's a good climax. I cried a lot. I also cried at the things, not just Tohru accepting him but everything with Kazuma, who's his master and who he treats as his dad. And just those two chapters, these are the best chapters.

Jacob: It's definitely a high point of the story. It's definitely a very impactful moment. Yeah, it's hard to pick just one. And I think the thing that's so powerful about that moment is that it's not the cliché of this guy turns into this horrible monster and a girl saves him by saying "I love you anyway, you're fine just the way you are." It's not like that. And I think it's more complex than that and I think that's the thing that really speaks to people which is that Kyo didn't want somebody to just say "oh it's okay, that's not who you really are and I love you anyway, baby." He doesn't want that. Not that Tohru would say "baby."

Jacob: But he doesn't want that because that's what his mother—we didn't find out, no I guess we do find out, we don't know exactly how his mother died but we know that his mother died violently, tragically, and that people think that she killed herself. And his mother was not abusive to him, she wasn't cruel to him. She had a Tohru thing of always obfuscating her sadness where she was like, "it's okay, you're fine you're okay, I love you."

Jacob: And "you're not a bad person and it's okay." And she just didn't talk about the fact that if he doesn't wear, basically it's a blessed Buddhist ring of beads, that basically keeps him under control, if he doesn't wear that, he turns into what is basically an undead blob of, it looks like a cat that got hit in the road and then all it's fur melted off in the rain. I understand because I'm like "what is this, it looks a little like a xenomorph," but I understand the design a little bit when I think of it as a cat that's dead and it's got stretched out and all its fur fell off. And they specifically say that it is a dead thing. That he smells like rotting flesh, which helps take the edge off the cuteness and be like it is a monster. It's like a yokai I guess, a yokai of dead flesh. Gross.

Jacob: But nobody's talking about this, and so what Tohru needed to do was not to say like "oh everything's okay, let's just go back to the house" because she tries to do that, she tries to be her usual Tohru self and he slashes at her. He wounds her. He cuts her shoulder and scars her actually. But what she had to do was to come back to him and say "I'm scared of you, I'm terrified, I don't even recognize you when you speak, it doesn't even sound like you. I can't breathe because you smell so bad." All this shit, but she says "but I don't want to be without you in my life." I'm crying just talking about it. Because it's like holy shit.

Jacob: And he slowly changes back and then he says, "that's all I wanted from my mother, I just wanted her to say hey this sucks, and I'm scared of you and life is hard but I want us to be together." Instead she just said, "hey it's okay, there's no problem, and I'm gonna take care of everything and I just love you so much I want you all to myself, which is why I don't let people see you." And he's like "that's not the reason, you're lying to me. Why are you lying, why are you talking about this like it's not horrifying and sad". And then she just couldn't take it and died. We don't know exactly how she killed herself. We'll find out. And that I thought was just a very complex and powerful emotion to express that it's okay if you don't love everything about me, it's okay if there's things about me that you hate or are gross or are hurtful, just as long as you're like "I'm going to be here with you through it." And that was like, oh Jesus, throw me into a well, I'm done. I'm just going to roll around on the ground and cry.

Ashley: Yeah, and Tohru never says that it's his true form. There's all this stuff about it being his true form, where clearly it's not his true form, it's a form. Tohru's like this other thing that Kyo becomes, I don't like that thing, that's not fun. And I think it's very much contrasted with the chapter right after it of, is Kazama Kyo's true father? What does it mean to be true here? And what is just another form?

Jacob: What's real?

Ashley: Yeah, what's real?

Jacob: Yeah, and it's such a big thing and I think while the story hasn't become explicit about this necessarily it's definitely giving you more than enough subtext where you can kind of figure out where it's like, the curse is family. What's the curse? What's the zodiac curse? The curse is that you can't choose your family. And in Japan especially you can't escape your family. Family is very important in Japan, and it's important over here. I think people don't really realize how important and accepted, that like, you act a certain way around your family or your family is a certain way, in America even, until they're not in that position, until they're on the outside, until they don't have a family anymore.

Jacob: And in Japan it's even more so because your family dictates for so much more of your life under the government and social security and everything like that. Like, you can lose your job because your father went to jail. That kind of thing. And so really the Sohma curse is being a Sohma, is being a family. And I think that when they talk about Kyo's true father or his real father or his other form, his family is going to tell him, "this nasty stinky undead thing, that's your true form, that's your real self, and we have to cover it up with these beads." And really he's in that position because of the curse, it's not his fault. It's because of something that somebody else did hundreds of years ago, but they blame him for it and they say "well if we treat you this way, we can accept you so long as you accept that you're worthless and you have to do everything that we say." And that's not real. That's just your screwed up family. That's not the way the real world views you. And Tohru brings that to light when she says "this is this other thing, this is not your natural self. That's just this other thing that you have to live with."

Jacob: And yeah, the same thing is true for Kazama, he's not his real dad. And he obsesses over that a little bit because he's like "I don't want you to be my real dad because that means that you're gonna get hurt and you're going to get blamed for things because this family has a curse, I don't want you to be my real dad."

Ashley: Right.

Jacob: But he is his dad. He's become his dad in every sense that matters, that means anything. That idea of choosing your own family, technically Kazama is a Sohma, but he's, Kyo's real dad, we haven't met him yet, but he's not a good guy. And to have somebody that you can accept as a father and it doesn't really matter whether he's your father on paper or to the government or to the rest of your horrible clandestine family. He's his real dad.

Ashley: Yeah, this is definitely playing with the whole family bonds, and what's a healthy family bond and what is actually bondage tightening you up, sort of deal.

Jacob: Yeah. What is obligation and what is "oh, you're part of this, you're the rat of the zodiac or you're the ox of the zodiac, which means you're like this ,which means you have to fulfill this role, which means that you're this tool." And that comes up near the end of volume eight where Yuki says "I'm supposed to be the most blessed member of the zodiac. I'm born with even better looks than anybody." All the zodiac members are handsome and I like that Natsuki Takaya gets away with this by saying that's the curse, they're extra pretty because of the curse. Because they're blessed by the spirits, possessed by the zodiac spirits. And Yuki has the most. He's the most blessed. He will be good at absolutely everything that he does and he's the most handsome and pretty because he's beautiful like a girl and beautiful like a boy. Which he doesn't like, he just wants to be manly, but that's not the life he was born into.

Ashley: Whatever. Yeah.

Jacob: Yeah, and all this stuff, but he's like "but I'm just treated like a tool. I'm just swapped around because I'm a valuable item. I'm not a person. I am the role that I was born into. I'm not treated like a person." And it's really, I think, thoughtful and powerful to talk about the stuff that way because that is how some people are raised within their family and some people never realize this. They grow up and they never come to terms with it because it's just accepted that whatever your family says about you, they know you best, is right. If they're not doing something outlandish like rejecting you or beating you then they must be good enough.

Jacob: But the Sohma family isn't like that. All of the abuse that they carry out, for the most part, there's some beating, but we'll get into that. For the most part, the abuse that they dole out is structural, it's just integral to the family's structure, it's just how they treat people, it's just emotional neglect.

Ashley: Yeah, and that's contrasted with, you see Tohru's mom, and not everybody's parents outside of this zodiac Sohma family are great either.

Jacob: Yeah, there are some problem families but there are some very loving families, and there are one or two loving families in the zodiac but I don't think we have gotten to them.

Ashley: Yeah, we haven't gotten to them.

Jacob: It's made it clear that it is very difficult to be a loving parent in the Sohma family because you are under so much pressure and you're basically inducted, because the Sohma family is gigantic and people get inducted, which is what happens to Momiji's mother. She's just like a nice German lady who met a Sohma guy in University in Europe and married him and had a kid with him, and then she had to be dragged to the Sohma complex. She had to move there immediately when she had a child because of the blood right that was the rabbit of the zodiac, so she has to go live there. And she has to go live in this completely foreign place with all these people that she doesn't know in this harsh rigid weird family structure with this child who has weird gifts and talents, and she can't hold him without him turning into a rabbit, which is really weird. And it breaks her. She can't handle it, and she's just like "I want a normal life."

Jacob: And so it's not so much that every Sohma is just mean. It's that when you live under abusive conditions, abuse is cyclical. You can't be the person who breaks the cycle when you get drawn into it. And it's tough which is why it's like "Oh geez, Tohru has this monumental task ahead of her if she chooses to pry too much into this family."

Ashley: Yeah. At least Tohru is not very prying. She's just like "oh, Sohmas have come about my life and then I hug them just because I want to see what animal they are."

Jacob: What animal they are? Yeah. That's the most impetuous that Tohru ever gets, is she's like, "I'm gonna do it. I'm gonna do it."

Ashley: "I can hug this one."

Jacob: Yeah. It's really very rude and she knows it is but she can't help herself. Sometimes it's necessary. It's necessary.

Ashley: Yeah. She loves holding the cute animals. She can't help it.

Jacob: I would too. I could never be in that position because I would just be hugging people anytime they get on my nerves. I would be like "well yeah, well you know what?" Grab. [crosstalk 00:55:10] Get in a fight with somebody how to shut them up.

Ashley: "Well how do you feel."

Jacob: "Now you're a pig." I would fit in better in Ranma 1/2] I think.

Ashley: Okay, well we have two more questions. And I think one of them dovetails into this family stuff but it is from @Mumbyatmovies [mispronounced] on Twitter.

Jacob: @Mumbyatmovies, I think

Ashley: Okay. But I will read the second question first because I think it goes more into what we've currently been talking about. So it's: "do you see Fruits Basket as a humanist parable, ie. about rejecting the potentially oppressive aspects of religion, or is it more nuanced in its attitude to faith slash belief?"

Jacob: Well, so I internalized and related to Fruits Basket as somebody escaping a religious family structure that made them cultlike and like the Sohma family in many ways. But I think that Fruits Basket itself is not directly concerned by religion. It can be applicable to religion because it is literally a god, the head of the Sohma family and these animal spirits that entertain him and this giant legacy of money and stuff like that they surround themselves with to pretend that they're happy and they're not. And I think that there are definitely parallels to a really harsh fundamentalist Christian or otherwise religious upbringing in other countries or whatever, but Japan is very agnostic as a country. There aren't particularly strong religious factions there. Things are more based around societal norms and governmental stuff like that. But my point is it's more social than it is religious pressure.

Jacob: And so I think the intent of the manga was to talk about humanism ,rejecting the omnipresence of family and where you're from and what that means about you, because family and where you're from and what that says about you is so important in Japan compared to America. But I think it can be applied to all sorts of things. Anything where you're being judged for, or perceived—I think that Haru's story factors into that really well where Haru is the ox of the zodiac and so he's the butt of the joke about being slow and stupid because the only thing that's said about the ox in the old fairy tale is that the rat jumped on his head, the ox was like "I'm gonna be the first one there." And the rat jumped on his head and rode him all the way to the banquet and jumped off ahead of it so he could be the first one. And so everybody's like "haha, the ox got taken advantage of and he's dumb and he's gullible and slow."

Jacob: And Haru internalizes that and Haru's very smart, as it turns out. Haru is a poet, and we're introduced to him sort of making rye observations in quiet, poetic ways. He's not, like, effluent, like Shigure or Ayame or anything like that, he's slow and he's quiet and he says thing slow and steady and direct. But he speaks poetically and he's thoughtful. And he's a very good judge of character and he's very empathetic. But he internalized all this stuff about "I'm dumb and I'm slow" and all this stuff like that because that's what people told him his entire life and it made him angry and it literally resulted in a split personality that was rebellious, that's sort of angry. And that's part of the curse too, is that there are some characters that have these animal traits, animal instincts that break out, and in his case he has a black and a white patch to his personality, much like a cow does, where the white is his true self and the black is this rage monster that comes out because of how he's treated, of how poorly he's treated in the family. And that's a pretty good metaphor for how repressed emotions can lead to basically a version of you that's not you, lashing out and rejecting everybody and getting angry.

Jacob: But anyway, but the only reason that any of this happened is because everybody told Haru who he was supposed to be, and in a negative way or just at all really and told him "this is your role, this is who you are, and we're just going to make jokes, it's all in good fun, we're your family, we love you but we know you're dumb and slow." And there's no excuse for that. You can't judge somebody based on what you think they're supposed to be based on, who they are in your family or whatever the case may be and so I think that Takaya was talking about things like that, that can apply to a religious upbringing if you're like "oh good Christian boys and girls should be this way." But it can also apply to an agnostic or atheistic family that treats family members that way as it did with the Sohma family. Although I guess, their religion is the zodiac right?

Ashley: Yeah.

Jacob: You have no choice but to believe in it if you turn into an animal when girls hug you. It's not a religion it's just a fact, you know?

Ashley: Yeah, I guess the religion part is that they're always like, "Well, we can't defy Akito. Akito's will is everything, since—

Jacob: Right.

Ashley: ... he's supposed to be God or whatever."

Ashley: But, yeah, similarly, I can see the cult-like aspects of the Sohma family and all these things. I think you can read that onto it, but I don't think that's an explicit textual thing, you know? They're definitely a cult, though. They live in a compound, they can't defy—

Jacob: They live in a literal compound, that's what it's called.

Ashley: Yeah, they live in a literal compound. They can't defy Akito. So, I guess if he told them to go Jonestown on that, they'd have to do it, or something—

Jacob: Yeah.

Ashley: ... sort of deal.

Jacob: Who knows how many generations of the Sohma family there have been, like what the heads of the family were like and what they told the Zodiac members to do? 'Cause, I mean, they have to do it.

Jacob: And, the thing that's really fascinating is that there's this entire legion of servants and people who have been with the family forever, either are directly Sohma members or distant cousins, and they just want a little taste of that power, and that money, and that prestige.

Jacob: So, they do what Akito says and they don't even have to. The Zodiac members have to, they don't have any other choice. If you told them to jump off a bridge, they just have to go do it. And, it's kind of a screwed up situation.

Ashley: Definitely. And, I think that the belief that it deals with, since this asks if it has a more nuanced attitude toward faith slash belief, again, is not a religious thing. But, I think the core thesis of 'Fruits Basket' is about believing in others without any preconceptions.

Jacob: Yeah.

Ashley: And, loving them unconditionally despite their flaws and all these things, like Tohru's mom's ...

Ashley: So, I guess I'm trying to think of where to start with this. The thing that I did not realize, that has truthfully stuck with me the most, from 'Fruits Basket,' is apparently this like ... Tohru's mom is like, "It takes more courage to believe in somebody."

Ashley: Like, it's really easy to doubt them, so it takes more courage to have belief in somebody being good than being bad. And, Momiji tells this whole story. Momiji is trying to convince Yuki and Kyo to not think of people as foolish. So, he tells this whole story about some book they read in class, that's about a traveler who gives up everything for all these people that he meets along the way, as he's traveling. They're like, "Give me money for my child. Give me this."

Ashley: And, everybody's like, "He's just being tricked. They don't actually need that money that desperately."

Ashley: And, now he has nothing. Eventually he gets like ... He's only a head, then he loses his eye.

Jacob: Yeah, we should clarify. He runs out of town and goes into the monster, excuse me, goes into the forest, and there are monsters there who are like, "I could really use your finger."

Ashley: Yeah, like, "Hey, what's up?"

Jacob: "You know, I could really use your arm. I'm hungry. My child is hungry," that kind of thing.

Jacob: And, he's like, "All right, I wish you happiness." And, ...

Ashley: "I wish you happiness with my finger."

Jacob: That's what he says, just over and over, is like, "I wish you happiness." And, eventually he dies.

Ashley: Yeah, but then at the ... Eventually he dies, because he loses basically everything except his head.

Jacob: Every part of his body.

Ashley: Yeah. He's fine.

Ashley: So, then, Momiji gets to the end of the story, and he's like, "Do you really think that that person was foolish? I think that that person was a wonderful person."

Ashley: 'Cause, basically, I think this is an SJW story, really. It's a Social Justice Warrior story.

Jacob: Well, yeah, I mean, yeah.

Ashley: About like, don't blame the victim, blame the system that ...

Jacob: Blame the system, yeah.

Ashley: And, the people who were crappy to him, you know?

Jacob: Mm-hmm (affirmative). And, he's like, "I think that that person was wonderful," because all he wanted was for other people to be happy.

Ashley: Yep.

Jacob: And, he got what he wanted. He said, "That guy died happy, because he was able to give to others, even if they didn't appreciate it. That's what he really wanted to do, and he was doing it for no other reason."

Jacob: And, he's like, "Do you really think that that person was foolish?"

Jacob: And, admittedly, not everybody should be that person, but it's good to have people like that in the world. And, I think that a lot of ...

Jacob: The Foolish Traveler, it's funny that you bring that up, because that is a story that I think a lot of people, if they're gonna start disagreeing with 'Fruits Basket', are going, "Oh, I can't go there." The Foolish Traveler is a sticking point for people.

Ashley: Oh, yeah? Ooh, tell me about this controversy.

Jacob: I noticed it. Well, and I did get that far in the radio drama, and I remember that being the most discourse-heavy episode.

Ashley: Hmm.

Jacob: Most of the others would be like, "Oh, you know, I laughed, I cried," that kind of thing. But, this was the most like 'I don't know how I feel about the message of the story', because it's not right for you to certainly not stick up for yourself and allow to be taken advantage of. And, it's true.

Jacob: Tohru does need people protecting her and she does have to address some of the emotional coping mechanisms and problems that she has that are unhealthy. But, that doesn't come up till later.

Jacob: So, but, later volumes of the story will absolutely challenge Tohru's beliefs and way of life a little through another character that appears that's like male Tohru, who goes through the pain so that she doesn't have to. But, that will come later.

Jacob: But, I think the point that it was making is not that everybody should just give everything to everyone unconditionally. I think it was because you have people like this in the world, other people can survive. And, wouldn't it be great if we could all be happy just trusting and giving to one another unconditionally, you know?

Ashley: Yeah.

Jacob: And, acknowledging that that's not possible, but wouldn't it be great if we could? And, ...

Ashley: It's like wouldn't it be great if you flipped your worldview to think that he was the good one and to actually be like, "Hey, those people were shitty"?

Jacob: Exactly. It's not so much that like, "Oh, that guy's the best person ever." It's like, "Maybe you should think about it like this was the hero of the story."

Ashley: Yeah. And, I think Yuki, bringing up Yuki, 'cause Yuki does have a line, when they're talking about Kisa and how she's being bullied. Kisa's the tiger. She's being bullied at school. She stops talking. She's in this really bad place and all these things. And, they were like, "Well, Kisa is really, really, kind," and all these things. And, Yuki's like, ... So, somebody, like Kyo, would be like, "You just need to learn how to beat people up.", or whatever. You know?

Jacob: Mm-hmm (affirmative)- Yeah.

Ashley: Sort of deal. But, Yuki's like, "Getting strong is good, being strong is good, but it's not the answer. And, we are taught that society is fulfilled by this survival of the fittest." But, like ...

Jacob: "You need to be tough, 'cause other people are gonna bully you."

Jacob: And, he's like, "Maybe tell people not to bully you."

Ashley: Yeah.

Jacob: "Maybe tell the bullies to back the f- off.", you know?

Ashley: Yeah. Yeah.

Ashley: And, Yuki's like, and he just says, "But, we're not animals, we're human." Equating that kindness is the thing that makes him human.

Jacob: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ashley: And, he's like, "Maybe we should just learn to respect each other, 'cause that is the thing that will make us human. Animals just fight on instinct and all these things."

Jacob: Right.

Ashley: "And, we're trying to reject our animal forms, clearly, because ... "

Jacob: Yeah, and it's like, "Well, you're judging us as animals, and you think it's okay to treat us this way because of it."

Jacob: And, it is an interesting way to tie the zodiac thing into like broader themes about compassion and love and stuff like that. I think the manga's first radical statement in that regard, 'cause it gets a little radical with how it talks about human nature.

Jacob: It does. I mean, all this stuff is reassuring, but I think it wouldn't be powerful if it didn't have some balls to it sometimes. And, it does. I think the first time the manga makes a radical statement, or a thought-provoking statement, about humanity is in the fourth chapter, where Tohru, sweet, adorable, optimistic, loves everyone Tohru, says that her mother taught her that people aren't born kind, that they aren't born good, which I thought was kind of ...

Jacob: Every time I go back and read that, I'm like, "Oh, it's so weird that ... " And, the Yen Press' version is actually more explicit about this. Tokyopop's version, one of the other things they did that's not great characterization-wise, is they made Tohru more of a doormat and more like just kind of a babe in the woods, starry-eyed ... They made her a little less astute. And, in Yen Press' version, she has moments of self-loathing. She has moments of, not aggression, but like standing up for people.

Jacob: I mean, you can see that. I mean, she pushes people and pulls people away from bad situations and stuff like that, throughout the manga. She's not completely doe-eyed, doesn't know what's going on. And, she tells Yuki, who is like, "Oh, I'm not kind, the only reason I ever do things is because I want people to like me. And, that's not kindness. You should do it with no ulterior motive," and she's like, "There's no rules for kindness, Yuki."

Jacob: She tells him there's no rules for kindness. Nobody's born kind. She said, "We relate to, we understand selfishness and cruelty, because everybody is selfish in the exact same way. Because, we come into the world selfish. All we want is food, attention. Babies just scream; they do not care about the feelings of the parents. They just scream. They don't have the ability to care about ... "

Jacob: She's like, "So, you don't start with kindness. As you grow older, you learn what kindness is, and then you choose to be kind everyday, in your own way. And, for everybody, that's different. Kindness takes on completely different shapes, depending on who you are. And, that's why it's hard to trust people, because the way that you express love or kindness might be different from how somebody else expresses love. So, you might be hurting each other, because you just don't understand that person's version of kindness."

Jacob: It's kind of a radical statement. It's kind of a big deal for this really sweet, I-just-love-everybody character to say, "You know, people aren't born kind? They aren't. They have to choose it, and they'll choose it in ways that are different from one another. So, there's misunderstandings."

Ashley: Right.

Jacob: It's like, oh, right, Tohru's really emotionally intelligent.

Ashley: Yeah, Tohru is really, really astute. I think Yen Press' version definitely made me like Tohru more, 'cause I felt her astuteness more. Like, yeah. She's just good at seeing how everybody's kindness takes shape, because I think the end of that scene with Yuki is her being like, "Your kindness is like a candle, it's soft, and it lights up suddenly, and all these things," or whatever.

Jacob: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ashley: So, I think—

Jacob: And, Yuki blushes.

Ashley: Yeah, and Yuki blushes. Whatever, it's fine.

Jacob: Not a Yuki girl, I see.

Ashley: No, Kyo all the way. Come on.

Jacob: Yeah, we'll get to that later.

Ashley: Yeah. But, yeah, Tohru's just good at being like, "I see that everybody else is trying to be kind."

Ashley: And, specifically with Yuki, in his relationship with his brother, Ayame, I think Tohru is like, "I see that they don't connect."

Jacob: Yeah.

Ashley: "But, I think they are both definitely trying to connect, they just can't. But, they're both trying to be kind," and those things.

Jacob: Yeah. It's because Yuki's personality is just like, "I want everybody to like me. I will do ... " He can't really be himself. He's perfect at everything, but it's because he is pushing himself to always consider other's feelings and be like, "I'm weird and terrible, and I don't want anybody to know that, so I will just act ... "

Jacob: He hates himself, but he has to act in a way where he thinks everybody will like him. And, Ayame doesn't give a flying flip what the world thinks of anything that he does, at all. He is just following his id and following his passions. Even though he lives under this curse, he's ...

Jacob: I think Takaya said he is the least afflicted by the curse, because he's just one of those people who just doesn't care what other people think about him. He has two friends, and another ... Yeah, we have met her as of the latest volume.

Ashley: Yeah, we've met her.

Jacob: A sweetheart/... I guess she's another one of his best friends, but he has feelings for her. It's weird, 'cause I think he also has feelings for Hatori, but they just didn't ... I guess we can kinda address the elephant in the room that there's a lot of gayness in 'Fruits Basket', but it's never really ...

Ashley: Yeah.

Jacob: There's no gay couplings. There's a lot of bisexuals. There's a lot of bisexuals is the answer ... Everybody's-

Ashley: There's a lot of cross-dressing, too, but it's kind of negative, and stuff, so ...

Jacob: I guess, I actually thought that 'Fruits Basket' is pretty positive on cross-dressing, but that's neither here nor there. Either way, the reasons that characters cross-dress is multitude-ness, and the bi-ness of half the cast is very hard to ignore.

Jacob: But, anyway. All this to say that Ayame has like two friends and a sweetheart, and that's all that he needs. And, he doesn't give a crap if anybody else likes him or not, his mom, the teachers, anything. He just follows his bliss.

Jacob: And, so, Yuki can't possibly understand him, because he was raised with very different expectations and he has very different trauma. And, Ayame was part of that, because Ayame wasn't there for him when he was a child. But, Ayame doesn't apologize for this in the right way, because he just doesn't know how to cater to other people's feelings, 'cause he just doesn't do it. He only cares about what he wants to do.

Jacob: So, it's fascinating. They both care about each other and they're both trying to reach out, they just can't quite meet.

Ashley: Yeah. Tohru has to help them. She needs to guide them a little more. But ...

Jacob: She needs to help them by hiding a snake version of Ayame - 'cause Ayame's the snake - in her clothes, so he can spy on their conversation.

Ashley: Yeah.

Jacob: Which was a weird scene.

Ashley: It's fine. Ayame is using that snake form to his advantage a lot of the time.

Jacob: He does. If you just turned into a snake when it got cold, wouldn't you?

Ashley: Yeah.

Jacob: 'Cause that's the rough thing, it's because he's a reptile, of the many hiccups the various zodiac members have. He can't stand like a unseasonably cold April, he turns into a snake. And, it's like that's gotta suck, though, 'cause Japan can get real cold in winter. I guess he just wears big fur coats.

Ashley: He just stays inside.

Ashley: Okay, so, I guess we can move on to our last question. It was actually about the radio drama, which, I guess, came up with the Traveler story. But, it is: If you were adapting the manga as a radio drama now, what would you change from your early efforts, and why?

Jacob: Just on a dumb, superficial level, I believe I changed first year, second year, third year labels to like Freshmen, Junior, and Senior, and I just skip Sophomore, because I thought it would be easy. That's such a dumb, pedantic thing, but it always bugged me. I was like, "I shouldn't have done it."

Ashley: You're like, "American can't do this, so ... "

Jacob: Yeah. I Americanized it a fair amount. I didn't Americanize ... I don't know, I picked and choose what I Americanized. Obviously, I would ... Just little things, like I wouldn't have Uo say the 'R' word, 'cause she says it a couple times. Like stuff like that. I don't know. I mean, I guess, if there was anything that I could've changed, it would have been like to start it in the era of Patreon, where I could've kept it going. I don't know.

Jacob: But, I don't know. Honestly, I had no resources and very little time. And, everybody was just doing it out of the goodness of their hearts. They weren't getting paid. So, I'm really proud of what I did. I guess I would just want more resources and I would modernize it. The way I would modernize it now is to take into account how much anime fans know about Japan, and I wouldn't change first year, second year to more American terms or anything like that.

Jacob: I was really happy with the work that I did on it, so I wouldn't drastically change anything. I would just want more resources, to be honest.

Ashley: Okay. Fair enough. So, I feel that most of what we had written down for themes did come up naturally in this question segment. So, we can skip to Art Corner unless you have objections?

Jacob: No. No. Not at all. Yeah. I mean, honestly, there's so many stories in those first eight volumes, 'cause every chapter is kinda discussable. Like, I'm sure I missed some things that I like about the manga, but there's just no way to sort of cram it all in, so ...

Ashley: I know. Well, normally, I do a character walk through, but I was like, "That's gonna take forever if I do that."

Jacob: There's so many. We haven't even met them all. There are two Sohmas that we haven't really met. She had like a line at the end of Volume 8, we met Rin Sohma.

Ashley: Yeah.

Jacob: But, we've met almost all of the zodiac, haven't even filled out the zodiac, and a bunch of non-zodiac characters. There are simply too many.

Jacob: That's another thing I like about it is that I like stories that have a bunch of different characters, and they all sort of have their own emotional thing that's unique to them. And, yeah, if you like that, 'Fruits Basket's' a playground, 'cause it's got a bazillion characters, and they're pretty much all done justice.

Jacob: The worst thing that happens is, if you like Ritsu, he does not show up again.

Ashley: Yeah.

Jacob: Ever. Ever. He's referenced sometimes, but ... And, he has a good story, and I really like Ritsu's story, but he doesn't appear again. He's fine. He'll get over his trauma. It's okay. He's fine.

Ashley: Yeah, he's fine.

Jacob: He's fine. So, the worst thing that happens is that. And, Ritsu gets the shortest stick of anybody, and he still gets a good story. So, everybody gets a really nice exploration of character.

Ashley: Yeah, and I'm sure they'll keep coming up. We have two more podcasts. We'll make sure, we'll be like, "Did we check a box to talk about it?"

Jacob: Yeah. Yeah. Who else did we leave out?

Ashley: Yeah.

Jacob: We didn't even talk about Hatori's ... I don't know, I really liked Hatori's story, but it is more melodramatic than most of them, I would say. It has violence. It has drama.

Ashley: It goes zero to sixty really fast.

Jacob: Yeah. Real quick, you know? Yeah. I think the thing I liked most about Hatori's story is the idea that other ... He thinks because he loved and lost, that that's the best he can do, because other member ... Hatori cares so much about everybody, and he knows that all these other kids, in many ways, had it worse than him, partly because of him. It's his job to erase memories of people that have learned about the secret and aren't supposed to know. And, so, he's hurt people, because he's erased memories of family members and friends and stuff like that.

Jacob: And, he's like, "Look, I fell in love with a woman, and I had two months, just two months, where I felt safe and happy and accepted and that's it. And, I don't need any more."

Jacob: And, the thing, I think, that moves me about Hatori's story is that even though he has all these f'ed up relatives, they still come through for him and say, "No, you deserve more.", and push him to find love again, which I'm sure he will someday, in later volumes. That, I think, was the most meaningful thing is that it doesn't ...

Jacob: Because, I feel like there's a lot of anime that do that with an older character, where he's just like, "I'm too old, and I've loved and lost." And, that's the end of their story.

Ashley: Hmm.

Jacob: He's 28 years old, and he's just gonna watch over the teenagers, because he lost his wife. Like, that's a lot of anime. And, I like that 'Fruits Basket' is like, "No, your life's just starting. You just learned. You learned from this really awful experience and you can keep going forward." And, I like that a lot about Hatori's story.

Ashley: Yeah. And, then, since Hatori's the one that can erase memories, it reminded me that I like Momiji's line where he's like, "I wanna remember all of my memories."

Jacob: Oh, God. I will just start crying profusely if I have to start thinking about Momiji's story.

Ashley: Oh, yeah. Okay.

Jacob: Because it's so good. Well, no, we should talk about it, but it's so good.

Ashley: They're happy tears, okay? That's good.

Jacob: I should clarify that Shigure is my favorite. Momiji is a very close second. In fact, I think that in this ... I don't use Skype, so I made up a Skype name for us to just do this, and then I'll uninstall Skype. But, it is Momiji Sohma, because I love him.

Ashley: I know. I thought you were gonna say Momiji because of that, and then you didn't.

Jacob: I guess I couldn't talk about him yet, because Momiji's biggest developments haven't happened yet. Momiji is like Tohru, but has suffered more. He is a little perfect. That's the other thing, Shigure has so many problems and so many flaws. Momiji is just a very good boy. He's gone through so much hardship, and he's come out of it like very self-aware and astute and understanding about his emotional problems. And, that's really inspiring.

Jacob: Momiji needs the least amount of therapy of everybody, and it's not 'cause he didn't go through less hardship. He went through more, you know? So, ...

Ashley: Yeah. He remembers it all, because he wants to learn from it and not hide from it.

Jacob: Exactly. Exactly.

Ashley: Little Momiji.

Jacob: Yuki and Kyo and a lot of these other chuckleheads bury their feelings. And, Momiji says like, "I think about this every ... I never wanna forget what my mother did to me, because even though it hurts, I hope someday it won't, because I get to watch my little sister grow up and, hopefully, interact with her someday.", that kind of thing.

Jacob: And, let me tell you, that tore me up, also, as somebody who has a little sister, who is still in the family that I don't speak to anymore and that I was very close to at the time. So, it's gonna take a long time, but, maybe, as my sister reaches adulthood, things will change. But, I have to hold onto that, because what else are you gonna do?

Jacob: You can't bury those things. You can't just say like, "I'll forget about it. I'll move on." You have to live with it and you have to live with until the pain is manageable.

Ashley: Yeah. Okay, so you relate to Momiji a lot then?

Jacob: Yeah. Yeah. I'm nowhere near as cute or fun as Momiji. I think my sense of humor is more acerbic, like Shigure's. But, Momiji, I don't know, he's just like a guiding light that everything's gonna be okay, kind of a thing. And, so, he's pleasant to have in the story.

Jacob: And, he's still a little bit of a pervert. He's not like pure-

Ashley: Yeah.

Jacob: He's like, "I look like I'm 8, but I'm actually 15, and I'm gonna use this to my advantage."

Ashley: "I wanna sleep with Tohru!"

Jacob: "I wanna sleep in Tohru's room!" And, it's like you know you are 15 years old, you are not 8. And, she doesn't know that. But, I can't blame him. That's the other thing, 'cause we don't get into it until later volumes, I guess, ...

Jacob: I keep saying, "Oh, it happens in later volumes." But, Momiji is a little resentful of the fact that his aspect of the curse ... I don't know, it's some joke about the rabbit and youth, or something like, but, that he looks like that, right?

Ashley: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Jacob: That he's so tiny. But, he embraces it to the fullest. He wears the girl's ... Oh, man, okay, if we have to talk about one thing, I don't wanna leave out Haru and Momiji coming to school for the first time.

Ashley: Okay.

Jacob: And, the great commentary on Japanese school uniforms and wardrobe collusion.

Ashley: Oh, yes, they have a great battle about it.

Jacob: It's really good, I thought, especially 'cause it was written in like 1998, or something like that, and it was like, "This is cutting. This is great."

Jacob: But, yeah, for those who don't know, Momiji and Haru, Momiji being the rabbit and Haru being the ox, come to school and they can't do anything about their hair. That's the other thing that makes the Sohmas stand out is that the curse gives them the hair color and the eye color of the animal that possesses them, and they can't do anything about it. So, the school's just kinda have to allow it. I assume they're paid handsomely by the Sohma family to just sort of let it happen.

Jacob: But, he comes to school in the girl's uniform, because he's itty bitty and it looks cute on him.

Ashley: Yay.

Jacob: I think he's wearing pants, he's not wearing a skirt.

Ashley: Yeah.

Jacob: But, it's cute. It looked great. A little sailor uniform looked much better on him than the collared suit. And, the student council president, who is just this stick-up-his-ass like ...

Ashley: Yeah.

Jacob: Again, with the everyone is bi, although I think he's just gay gay. He's got a big crus on Yuki.

Ashley: Definitely.

Jacob: And, he comes stomping down the hall, and he's like, "Momiji, you can't wear that girl's uniform. Don't you have any pride as a man?"

Jacob: And, he's like, "Well, it looks better on me. It looks better on me, stop picking on me."

Jacob: And, Haru turns to him and says something, I don't have the exact translation here, but he's like, "If I wore a three-piece-suit, does that mean I'm not a Yakuza (like a thug)? Oh, you should respect this guy, 'cause he's wearing proper attire?" And, he's like, "If I didn't have ears pierced, does that mean I won't kick your ass? 'Cause I will. I will do it right here, right now."

Ashley: Yeah.

Jacob: He said, "I could take out these piercings, I could dress exactly how you want me to do, and I will still kick your but, because I'm still badass."

Jacob: And, it's like, yeah, the clothes ... All the stuff he's saying, the student council president argues that, "You have to wear these clothes, because otherwise everyone will be uncomfortable. It's not fair to the other students if you don't look exactly like them."

Jacob: And, he's like, "If I look exactly like them, I'll still be different on the inside." And, I'm like, "Yeah! You tell him!"

Jacob: "I'll still be different on the inside and I should do what matches my heart." But, he says that in a badass Haru way.

Ashley: Yeah.

Jacob: And, then, the student council president, because he's still like, "Well, you can't prove to me that that's your natural hair color. I know everybody ... Oh, your natural hair color, so you don't have to dye it, but you can't prove it."

Jacob: And, then, the best joke in maybe all of 'Fruits Basket' happens, 'cause he takes the student council president by the collar, he takes him into the men's room, there's a pause, the student council president comes out of the men's room and he's like, "The evidence is irrefutable."

Ashley: Yeah.

Jacob: "There's many mysteries in the world that are unknown to me."

Jacob: And, you know what he did, but they don't ever say it. But, it's great. He just-

Ashley: But, then Tohru asks.

Jacob: No, she does.

Ashley: And, that's what makes it funny, too, 'cause she's like, "What did you show him in the bathroom?" And, you're like, "Tohru, ... "

Jacob: "Tohru, no." The carpet matches the drapes.

Ashley: Pure, innocent Tohru.

Jacob: Yeah.

Ashley: Yeah, I guess ... Okay, that scene is good with cross-dressing, because I think, also, Yuki and Kyo are like, "Can't he just do what he looks better in? Just leave him alone," sort of deal. I guess the cross-dressing bothered me with Ritsu.

Jacob: Right.

Ashley: 'Cause they were like, "He dresses in men's kimono's, or whatever, and he needs to grow out of that-

Jacob: They're women's kimonos.

Ashley: " ... women's kimonos, and he needs to grow out of that." And, I'm like, "Does he? It's fine."

Jacob: I just read that chapter, 'cause I was wondering about that myself. I read it in the new translation. And, it's a little nuanced. So, none of the family has issues with him wearing ... Excuse me, none of his non-parents. So, Shigure and everybody else, don't have problems with him wearing women's kimonos, they think he looks beautiful. And, they're like, "You look great. It's fine."

Jacob: But, the problem is that he has a problem with it, because he wants to be masculine. And, that is its own ... You can deconstruct that as to like, "Okay, but if he's more comfortable in women's clothes, he shouldn't hate himself for not being masculine."

Jacob: And, ultimately, what they do is encourage him to like, "Okay, well, you can do these things to make yourself comfortable enough to wear men's clothes.", which I think is constructive and healthy. But, there's also the matter of couldn't he just ...

Jacob: And, also, the way that it's written, it was written in like 1999 or 2000, or something like that, and the way it's written, it seems pretty clear that Ritsu makes more sense as like a trans-woman character.

Ashley: Yeah.

Jacob: That's kind of one of the only things that make sense about it is that he's a closeted trans-woman, but the story doesn't take it that way. The story takes it just in the direction of, "Well, he's happiest in women's clothes, but he hates himself because of it this, because he feels like it makes him feel weak."

Jacob: And, so, I really wasn't offended by the way the story gets told, it was just sort of out-of-date, I think, but I appreciated the nuance of it. And, certainly, he wasn't being shamed for wearing women's clothes. The issue was more that he can't stop apologizing and self-loathing and causing problems for people, 'cause he's like, "I know it's terrible that I wear women's clothes."

Ashley: Yeah.

Jacob: And, we're like, "We don't care. Shut up!"

Jacob: That was the real issue, was that he was so self-hating about it, and that his parents obviously didn't approve. But, they don't come back into the story again. We never hear from Ritsu again after the whole-

Ashley: Yeah.

Jacob: ... after Tohru's message to him, which is valuable. Her message to him is, "We're not born with a purpose that's given to us that we have to be that way. We have to find our own purpose. We have to find our own reason for living. And, if your reason for living is if you wanna wear women's clothes, or if you wanna become strong enough that ... "

Jacob: Again, this is a problematic thing to say, but, "If you wanna become strong enough that you don't have to fall back on women's clothes to be comfortable, then that's your decision. There's nothing written in the stars. It's you choose your purpose."

Jacob: And, then, that seems to do it fine for Ritsu. So, we just don't see him again after that.

Ashley: Yeah. He's like, "Yeah, it's good."

Jacob: He starts dating Shigure's editor, and we assume that love solves his problems.

Ashley: Yeah, which is seeded in this. So, I was like, "Oh, they're definitely a couple. Yeah, this is totally ... They're fine."

Jacob: Yeah. Yeah, they're fine. They are definitely together. They're an item. Their anxiety can drive each other insane.

Ashley: Yeah.

Jacob: That's the other thing. It's like I'm not sure the most anxious person and the most anxious person-

Ashley: Should be ...

Jacob: ... should be dating, but it seems to work out, because they just commiserate on what's making them anxious. And, it calms them down, and it's fine.

Ashley: Yeah.

Jacob: So, it's kinda weird. It seems like maybe, in the long run, that could be a problem, but, you know, it's sweet.

Ashley: Yeah. So, I guess it's just ... My problem with Ritsu is that I'm like, "This does feel like something that's from the '90s, where it's like it doesn't want to admit that he's a trans-woman, but that's fine. Whatever. It can't be perfect."

Jacob: Yeah. Yeah. Of course not. And, I think it being of its time is part of what gives it its charm. It's like, "Hey, isn't it great that these things were being said in this manga in 1997? But, at the same time, it was 1997" You know, you go back and forth on it.

Ashley: Yeah. So, I guess I just wanted to address the art which does change a lot throughout the story.

Jacob: A lot.

Ashley: But, early art discussion, because it is very cute despite having a lot of same-face and roughness to it, I feel. I love whenever the characters ... Kyo will be a human, but then he has cat ears and a tail and stuff. I'm like, "Yay, he looks so cute!"

Jacob: Yeah.

Ashley: And, I think that's part of what draws people in, is the art. Again, I feel like 'Fruits Basket' has a lot of things that people on the surface are like, "It's fun, 'cause it's a reverse harem. And, there's such cute art. They're animals." And, I'm like, "That's just a marketing ploy to get you to read something real deep."

Jacob: Yeah. Right. "We're gonna make you feel, dammit."

Ashley: Yeah.

Jacob: Yeah, I think the early art ... I wasn't drawn to the art as much, initially. It is, ooh, very '90s. And, it's also, I think, early Takaya art was really, really busy. There's a lot of line weights, there's a lot of screen tones that are different screen tones in a small space. It's just busy. And, it gets dark sometimes, because there's so much inking and so much happening in the frame.

Jacob: And, then, as time wore on, and also after ... So, it should be noted that Takaya is left-handed. And, weirdly, right after the Ritsu chapter, which we were just talking about, she had a injury/disorder to her hand, where she could no longer move it.

Ashley: Yeah.

Jacob: And, so, she had to take a break for a year and undergo a surgery that made it so she could move her left hand again. And, she had to re-train herself how to draw. So, the art does change. There's a little bit of a rough period. And, then, it just comes out completely different. It's kind of like when somebody goes into a coma, and then they wake up and they speak in an accent, or something like that. Which, that's not common, but it has happened before, where somebody will speak English with an accent after they come out of a brain injury. And, it's kind of like that her ... we're training her hand. Because, then here art became much more ... I thought it's much stronger. But, it's much sparser. It's not as cute and energetic. It is like a lot of space and a lot of creative use of space. And, a lot of color blocking that is not busy. It's like tone, it's like specific tones that like are kind of minimalist.

Jacob: So, it's usually like beautiful bodies in sort of a spread that gives you a lot of space to work with and to breathe. So, the manga is a lot more, but the art is stronger like it's much cleaner.

Ashley: Yeah.

Jacob: And, like the line weight is very thin and the colors are not ... or the screen tones are not like ... there's not a bunch of different ones. It's like black and then white and then this like very soft gradient of gray. And, you know so it's very different but it fits the tone of the ... The story is ... had gotten so dark by that point that it fit better. Even the jokes were like you know it was not a whole lot of high energy. It's much more peaceful and room to breathe, I think.

Ashley: Yeah, I think what's trippy about, even from a character design point, like reading the Yen Press editions is that you know the covers and stuff have their later—

Jacob: Right, yeah.

Ashley: Character designs and then you open it and you're like, "Ah, that's not what Tohru looks like though, right here like, ooh."

Jacob: Those giant '90s eyes.

Ashley: Yeah, giant '90s eyes are not conveyed in this new cover. What's up?

Jacob: Yeah.

Ashley: Need to read the Tokyopop one for that, I guess, I don't know.

Jacob: Right, yeah, so I prefer her modern art certainly to her old art. But, I mean I love all of it and I love the story underneath it which is what matters most, but ...

Ashley: Yeah. Okay. So, this time, this is the Chinese ... I mean, Fruits Basket is all about the Chinese Zodiac. And, normally we do a love quiz but for now, BuzzFeed has a quiz that is, "Can we guess your Chinese Zodiac based on your taste in food?" Quiz. So, we're going to see if it can. First, we have to establish what Chinese Zodiac sign we actually are.

Jacob: Right.

Ashley: We're both the snake if we're 28?

Jacob: No.

Ashley: You're not snake?

Jacob: I'm the horse. I was born in 1990, so ...

Ashley: Oh, see I was born in '90 but like before the cut off. Like, five days before the January cut off.

Jacob: Oh.

Ashley: So, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Jacob: Okay. No, the horse is most of the year I think, and the snake is the really ... It's good that we're not the same one.

Ashley: That's true, that's good. Okay. So, the first question is, "What's your favorite way to eat potatoes?" And, of course, there are going to be 12 answers, so prepare yourselves, you all, it's: curly fries, cheesy baked potato, tater tots, mashed potatoes, french fries, crinkle cut fries, sweet potato fries, potato wedges, hashtag browns, chili cheese fries, In-N-Out's animal style fries or, sorry, I don't eat carbs.

Jacob: In it ... I like how that's really specific, like if you don't live on the West Coast, you're not going to know what In-N-Out's animal style fries are.

Ashley: But, we both do, so we know.

Jacob: Yeah, right. So, yeah, hm. Definitely not those because those ... In-N-Out's fries are pretty disposable. I'm torn between mashed potatoes and sweet potato fries. I'm going to go with mashed potatoes because sometimes you got to be in the mood for sweet potatoes. I think I'm always okay with the mashed potatoes.

Ashley: That's a good reason. I'm torn between mashed potatoes and tater tots. And, I think I'm going to go with tater tots just to be different from you.

Jacob: That's, that's, yeah.

Ashley: Okay. Now, it says, now pick a sweet treat. Red velvet cake, brownies, banana bread, carrot cake, frozen yogurt, Ben & Jerry's pint, deep fried ice cream, cupcakes, chocolate chip cookies, apple pie, pumpkin pie, and rick crispy treats. It's so difficult because they're all so good.

Jacob: Yeah, those are all really good. I'm a pie kind of guy so I'm trying to decide between apple and pumpkin.

Ashley: Okay.

Jacob: I think pumpkin is more seasonal, I'm going to go with apple.

Ashley: I think I'm going to go like solid banana bread always gets me pretty excited, I'm not going to lie.

Jacob: Banana bread it great.

Ashley: Yeah. Next question is, "What's your guilty pleasure?" And, the options are, apparently you know bad chain food restaurants. So, we got Chipotle, Popeye's, McDonald's, In-N-Out Burger, Domino's, Taco Bell, KFC, Dunkin' Donuts, Steak 'n Shake, Jack-in-the-Box, Burger King, ew, none.

Jacob: I got to go with In-N-Out. That's definitely the most like not death tasting of the fast food chains, I would say.

Ashley: Your California is showing.

Jacob: It tastes healthy. Yeah, well, it tastes healthy because it's just a very light burger. Definitely not Chipotle, I hate Chipotle. Chipotle is like so gross. Anyway, what about you?

Ashley: I think I actually want to go with Popeye's. I know I'm shameful.

Jacob: Popeye's, no, not at all. It's better than KFC.

Ashley: Yeah, no, somebody had Popeye's on the bus the other day and it just made the bus smell so good. And, I was like, I hate you right now.

Jacob: No, and Popeye's chicken is a respectable choice, absolutely.

Ashley: Okay, the next question is, "How about some seafood?" We've got shrimp-

Jacob: Mm, how about it?

Ashley: How about it? I don't know. Shrimp, oysters, lobster, salmon, octopus, calamari, mussels, crab, cod, tuna, scallops, no seafood for me. To be honest, I am not the seafood person.

Jacob: Oh.

Ashley: So, I think I have to choose no seafood for me.

Jacob: Which, is a picture of Regina George, for some reason.

Ashley: Yeah, for some reason.

Jacob: So, yeah. Oh, man, I like all this stuff. God.

Ashley: Oh, no.

Jacob: Right? This is difficult. I like all of these and I'm not like super pumped about one over the others, I just like seafood. Let's see. Well, I think it's in keeping with my slightly bland choices so far that I pick salmon. I eat probably more salmon than any of the rest of this. So, I eat more salmon, I'll go with that.

Ashley: Okay, fair enough. What's your go to breakfast? You got pancakes, waffles, omelet, scrambled eggs and bacon. Avocado toast, Captain Crunch.

Jacob: Making Millennial jokes here, you know.

Ashley: Yeah, yeah, Millennial jokes, our West Coast is showing again. Oatmeal. Acai bowl, fruit smoothie, cream cheese bagel, eggs Benedict, cinnamon roll.

Jacob: Straight into the cinnamon roll. I don't eat ... I actually only eat bananas and apples and stuff for breakfast. So, if I'm going to have like a more substantial it's going to be something disgustingly sugary so ...

Ashley: Interesting. I probably I'm just going to go bagel, because that is what I was like, this is a cheap meal to have in my days where I could not afford real food.

Jacob: No, totally. I feel you, yeah.

Ashley: Yeah. What's your favorite fruit? We got banana, apple, cherries, mango, blueberries, pineapple, strawberries, kiwi, papaya, raspberries, orange, and grapes.

Jacob: I like all of these. I eat bananas more than any of the rest of these, though, so ... I don't know it's not my favorite.

Ashley: You're like, but they're just there.

Jacob: Yeah, they're there. What do you think?

Ashley: I aspirationally try to eat a lot of strawberries, like they're good, they're sweet, I like to put them on waffles when I do have a waffle, or maybe a bagel you know just sprinkle some. Cut it up. Put it on top.

Jacob: I think my favorite is mango. I don't have it very often but if I'm going to pick like a flavor of something outside of just eating the fruit raw I think it's usually mango, so, I'll go with mango.

Ashley: That's fair, that's a good reason, too. I do like mango flavored things, as well. Ooh, cheese question. Which cheese does it for you? Mozzarella, smoked Gouda-

Jacob: Getting a little personal, BuzzFeed.

Ashley: I know. Cheese is very contentious, okay. Cheddar, Brie, Camembert, Blue, it's so weird to just say Blue cheese without cheese at the end.

Jacob: Blue cheese, yeah.

Ashley: What's up? Colbert. Colby, Monterey Jack, long name, hard for me. Cream cheese, Edam, I don't even know that one.

Jacob: Edam.

Ashley: Edam, I don't know.

Jacob: Edam.

Ashley: I am not cheesing well, apparently. Feta, Gorgonzola, and Parmesan.

Jacob: Not that I have strong feelings on cheese but probably Brie because it's a little creamy and sweet.

Ashley: Yeah, I agree. Definitely.

Jacob: All right. Cool. All right, we got the same answer on one of these, yeah.

Ashley: Oh, boy. Okay. What chip are you bringing to the party? Nacho cheese Doritos, Pirate's Booty, Tostitos, Salt and Vinegar Pringles, Lay's Classic, Sea Salt and Vinegar Kettle Chips, Lay's Barbecue, Cheetos, Sour Cream and Onion Pringles, Salt and Pepper Kettle Chips, Lay's Sour Cream and Onion, Flamin' Hot Cheetos. Okay, 100% Pirate's Booty. Like ...

Jacob: It's real good, yeah. I don't know I like Pirate's Booty a lot, but I eat more Original Pringles than any of the rest of these, so ... got to go with Pringles to be honest.

Ashley: Okay.

Jacob: All right.

Ashley: That was the final question and BuzzFeed, you cannot guess what Zodiac sign I am.

Jacob: Yeah, you couldn't do it. Yeah.

Ashley: Because, I got dog.

Jacob: It called me a pig.

Ashley: Oh, rude.

Jacob: How rude.

Ashley: The dialog for dog is: "Fantastically fabulous? Absolutely. That sums up these beautiful creatures. The dog is arguably the sweetest animal in the Chinese astrology. Simply put, they are happy go lucky, cheeky, kind, thoughtful, understanding, generous, and selfless." Is that Shigure? No. That's not.

Jacob: Nope. But, that's, well, that's the enigma of Shigure. Like, I guess when we get to that part of the story, I will explain what I think Takaya doing by giving him the opposite personality of his animal [crosstalk 01:39:40]. Because, there is a sort of a twist to it. That what he says about like, "Oh, I'm not like ... my curse is unique from the rest of you guys's curse." And, I think that that's, you know we can't spoil why. But, once we get there it's like, "Oh, that's why he's a little bit reversed." He really is very much like his zodiac animal. But, it just seems reversed because of the circumstance that he's in. So, that's interesting.

Ashley: Yeah.

Jacob: Pig is: "loving, caring, thoughtful, honest, genuine, and happy, sociable, selfless, understanding, compassionate, adorable, and positively cuddly." Which, I mean, that's certainly true of Kagura, it's just that she also ... She feels all these things a little bit too strongly and gets violent.

Ashley: Yeah, as many characters are won't to do, apparently.

Jacob: Yeah, yeah.

Ashley: Just, violence is the answer.

Jacob: It's like, here's their normal personality. Yeah, here's their normal personality, and then they have violent personalities.

Ashley: And, Kyo is just always somewhere like solidly in the middle, who's always a little ready to have a violent outburst at any moment.

Jacob: Yeah. At any time.

Ashley: Any time at all. So, we're not going to have a shipping corner. But, I think we do have to be like Yuki or Kyo.

Jacob: Right.

Ashley: To explain.

Jacob: Right, yeah.

Ashley: That's like, who did you want Tohru to be with when you were now, as a child, like whatever. We have to ... it has to be out there.

Jacob: Right, yeah.

Ashley: You seem to be team Yuki.

Jacob: No, not at all actually.

Ashley: No? Okay, good.

Jacob: I was just, I was teasing you earlier because I was like oh, Yuki clearly has a thing for Tohru. But, no, I actually am really proud of a prediction I made when I was a teenager reading the manga. It's nothing to be proud of, but I was very proud of it when I was a teenager. I made a prediction within the first couple of volumes of the manga that everybody laughed at me for. They were like, "Oh, that's weird. Like that's kind of screwed up and weird." And, it turned out to be true.

Jacob: It actually turned out to be exactly where the story was going and I was ... so I patted myself. It was the only like exact prediction I ever made about Fruits Basket. But like, the long and short of is that prediction allowed me to say that, "There's no way Yuki is going to end up with Tohru and definitely she should end up with Kyo." So, I was Kyo and Tohru all the way.

Ashley: Okay, I know what you must've predicted then. But, we will not spoil it.

Jacob: Right, yeah. I was like, "I don't think Yuki likes Tohru like that. I think likes Tohru like this." And, people were like, "That's weird and creepy." And, because the manga's like, I told you.

Ashley: You're like, "I knew it all along."

Jacob: I knew it! You know. And, I think it was because I understood the psychology a little bit. Because, again, I related to Yuki and I was like I ... I feel like I understand what this guy is looking for, and I don't think that he's trying to date Tohru. I think there's something else going on with this guy.

Ashley: That's fair. I just, I think I just liked Kyo and Tohru better and I think I do not understand Yuki as well. Perhaps, it is also that his mysteries are drawn out very long and hinted at very sparsely throughout each chapter and you're like, "All right. Yuki."

Jacob: He's secretive, yeah.

Ashley: Lay it on me. I'm ready.

Jacob: Tell me how you feel. And, he's like, "No."

Ashley: And, he's like, "No, I just hate myself." And, whatever, I'm like, "All right, come on Yuki."

Jacob: All right, yeah, keeping it to yourself.

Ashley: You got to get there.

Jacob: Yeah, but I think ... I mean when you ... and just regardless of whether or not you like one character more than the other I think that seeing Yuki and Tohru together, it is like it's just kind of pleasant. Like, she doesn't challenge him. She helps him. But, she doesn't like I don't know. If they have a conversation together, I think Yuki and Tohru, you could see it. Like, it would look like a conversation that Tohru has with any number of other people. She's being nice, he's being nice back. They're just kind of bull crapping about like basic stuff.

Jacob: And, if she has a conversation with Kyo, it gets weird very quickly. Because, she'll say something to him and he's like, "That's weird," or "That's dumb." And, she's like, "Well, I don't really think so."

Jacob: And then, he like blushes. She's exposed him in some way and then he's embarrassed and he blushes and then he's like, you know, "Don't wander around like a space cadet or you'll get in trouble. If you wander around like a space cadet if I'm with you. But, that doesn't mean anything weird."

Ashley: Yeah.

Jacob: But, you can if I'm with ... it's just so much entertaining to watch them sort of fumble around each other. So, I think that's part of it as well is you just kind of want to see their rapport grow whether as with Yuki and Tohru, things are immediately already pleasant and ... but she doesn't really, she doesn't pry. You have to pry with Yuki. She heals him in other ways but she doesn't pry into his business. Whereas, Kyo just dumps his business everywhere and she kind of has no choice but to stumble over it, you know.

Ashley: Yeah. Well, I think they also have better, you know I think she is trying harder with Kyo, too. Like, she goes up ... she climbs up to a roof with him. It's like, "Teach me martial arts."

Jacob: She does, yeah.

Ashley: Like, punch, and he's like, "Oh my God, that's pathetic and sad." But, he has like ...

Jacob: Yeah, it's really cute.

Ashley: Yeah, so they have better ... they have cuter scenes. And, like obviously team-

Jacob: But, she has the garden with Yuki, though. She helps him grow his-

Ashley: Uh, that's, no.

Jacob: She cooks the food that he grows. He grows food and she cooks it.

Ashley: Ugh, whatever.

Jacob: No, I think they all belong together in some capacity.

Ashley: They should all live together happily forever.

Jacob: Yeah, well, they do for several years, for certain.

Ashley: Yeah. Okay. So, I guess it's weird to ask if we have any final thoughts since we're going to do two more podcasts. But, you know if there's anything you want to bring up now, desperately, now's the time.

Jacob: I guess, so I ... a scene I really like that ... I'm trying to think of stuff that really sums up the manga's emotional message, which you were talking about earlier as being like the need to trust in people and to throw away prejudgments or misconceptions and just believe in people. And, that they will become their best self if you believe in them.

Jacob: And, I think well, one scene that always really struck me, because I remember ... So, I'm one of the people who doesn't like the Evangelion TV series ending very much. For people who have seen Neon Genesis Evangelion. And, I've come around to Evangelion over time mostly because the Rebuild movies have been so good. And, they've addressed a lot of what the issues that I had with the show and it's message and its framing originally. And, I don't think Evangelion is bad, I think it's very good. It's just that the ending really bugs me.

Jacob: As the ending as it was originally written for the TV series. End of Evangelion is great but it's a downer. It's a downer. So, that's a whole different conversation. But, I think I remember Fruits Basket, there's a scene that really meant a lot to me because it put into words, again, so many scenes in Fruits Basket aligned with like things that I believe deeply, emotionally. Things that is like, "Yeah, I really feel that way." Or, that really puts into words how I feel about an emotional thing.

Jacob: The scene where Kisa, who we were talking about, gets bullied and unlike the older Sohma boys who also went through bullying, is just really hurt by it and really recedes into herself and shuts down. And so, she stops coming to school and she just stays with Tohru for a while. Because, also, she can't stay with her mother because her mother is reaching a breaking point as a Sohma mom. And, with Kisa. And so, she's, you know her mother can't comfort her, she's got to stay with Tohru and the family and then her teacher sends her a note home to I guess try and fix the problem.

Jacob: And, the teacher's note is quite terrible. The teacher's note is like, "Well, you know we all hope that you're coming back and I will be here to support you but you know it's really up to you to make a better impression with the rest of the class. And, I think that you're getting picked on because the other students can sense that you don't like yourself. And so, I would encourage you to think about your positive qualities and to embrace who you are as a person because there's no way that somebody." And, this ... the letter ends with, as if it's a fact. And, it's really cruel and upsetting to read but it's something you could totally imagine someone writing.

Jacob: Like, there's no way for somebody who doesn't like themselves to be liked by others, right? You have to like yourself first.

Ashley: Yeah.

Jacob: And, Evangelion isn't saying the exact same thing, but that is the gist of Shinji's rollercoaster therapy session is that ... I think it's easy to misinterpret or easy to boil down to. And, I think this was a problem with the execution, not a misinterpretation that Shinji just needs to like himself and then he can move forward. That he just has to accept that like my life is worth living and even though I'm depressed and maybe nobody likes me, like really, I just have to ... "Nobody else will understand you so you just have to accept yourself." I think that is a line in the Evangelion ending where it's, "Nobody else will understand you so you have to be the one to stick up for yourself and say, 'I understand myself and I love myself.'" And, you have to make that choice.

Jacob: And, I understand what it's saying in a positive way. But, it always really bugged me and I really didn't like it. And so, and seeing it in Fruits Basket, seeing that letter, it reminded me of why. And, Yuki's retort to this, he's like, "What is this supposed to mean?" He gets angry, which we don't see Yuki angry very often, at all.

Ashley: Yeah.

Jacob: He says, "What do they think you're supposed to do? Just like find your positive qualities?" He says, "I can do that, but it's an empty exercise. Just saying like, oh, I'm good at." And, Yuki's good at a lot of stuff. He has many positive qualities. He's really handsome and beautiful and people love him and he's perfect in his academics and sports and all this stuff.

Jacob: But, he's like, "I can't just count up the things that are good about me because it's a hollow exercise because at the end of the day, I still hate myself." And, if you hate yourself, it doesn't matter how many qualities you point out or how much you go like, I have to love myself, you can't do it. And, he says, "What you need, what everyone needs," and this is an onus on the rest of the people, it's not on you, as that you need somebody who says, "I like you just the way you are." You need somebody to say that to you first.

Jacob: And he said, "And then, it's a process. After that, you can start to accept that there are things about you that are lovable and that you have the right to live as a person because someone cares about you." And, that was like, oh, that's the truth to me. That's what I find meaningful and helpful. And, I think it's difficult because that can also be misinterpreted as like, oh, well, if nobody likes you in your life then that's your problem. Like, you know that you can't move on unless someone says, "I like you and accept you first."

Jacob: Which, is difficult because you can't tell somebody that, either. You can't be like, oh, well, somebody will. You know, it's nobody else's job to save you and I definitely don't think that's what Fruits Basket is saying. It's not the somebody else has to come in and save you. It's that, there is somebody. And, I think this is true for just about everybody in the world. There is somebody, even if you don't get along or even if you know your relationship with this person isn't perfect. There is somebody who loves you just the way you are.

Jacob: And, you have to see yourself through that person's eyes and you have to ... So, rather than saying, "No one else will understand you. You're the only person who can understand yourself." It's like, you in the process of coming to understand this person who says they love you. You're trying to understand them because they say they love you.

Jacob: And, it helps you to understand yourself because you are thinking outside your own mind which is all, you know busted and twisted and confused and hurting. And so, I really preferred Fruits Basket's message of looking outside yourself to Evangelion's I think, not fully intentionally but maybe accidental framing of, "Oh, well, look within yourself and you'll find that since no one else will understand you, you have to love yourself."

Jacob: I don't think that ... I just don't ... it's less helpful. And, I think it has helped a lot of people break out of depression and so obviously it means a lot. And so, I don't want to diminish Evangelion or say that it's not helpful. But, Fruits Basket was the thing that broke me out of many, many troubles that I've had throughout life and I have come back to it. And, I think it's because of that message of like look, reach out to other people. You know? Because, you need ... we all need to support one another, you know?

Jacob: And, you can love yourself when other people love you. And, people do love you. And, that's you know. So, I thought that that was ... that was the message that I wanted. And, screw that teacher who wrote that letter that says, "Well, you should just love yourself and everybody else will be drawn to you."

Ashley: Yeah.

Jacob: And, it's like, that's not the answer. It's not the answer.

Ashley: I mean, that's just such a stereotypical like self-help thing, too regardless of Evangelion. I'm just like, "No, that's not how anything works." And, I agree, I really loved Yuki's like surprise anger and his eloquence about, you know, it's not even having somebody else love you. It's like seeing yourself through other people's eyes and understanding them-

Jacob: Exactly.

Ashley: And, being like, okay, I can understand how the world sees me, which can help me interact with the world then, in a way that is more constructive.

Jacob: Yeah, it's like, this person loves me, why? And, you know, and answering that question, you feel more sane and real and like a real person. Because, other people are loving more and reaching out to you, you know.

Ashley: Yeah.

Jacob: And so, but I understand that's going to be very contentious because you know you can't live your life following other people. I don't know, and also that's a very big cultural thing. It's like, in Japan, there is more of a pressure on, you live your life to make other people comfortable. And, Fruits Basket on the one hand is saying that that's good because it's saying we all need each other and we should be empathetic and trust one another. But, it's also saying that's bad because it's like, because living your life to please other people is a part of the Sohma curse, right?

Jacob: So, you know it's a tight rope. And, I don't know, I like that the manga is so thoughtful about all these feelings. So, yeah, I guess that's my biggest take away is, I really like that scene with Yuki.

Ashley: It's a good scene. And, yeah-

Jacob: It's a good scene.

Ashley: Fruits Basket is not ... I mean, it's so hard because in Japan it's in contrast to America, where we're so like individualistic and all these things.

Jacob: Yeah, yeah.

Ashley: We're probably like, "No, the thing where you have to love yourself first, is better than all these things." I'm like, "No, okay." But, I think Fruits Basket overall is very good with the nuance of all its arguments and they can be misinterpreted, sure but like that's ... you're just not trying hard enough if you think.

Jacob: I mean, there's 23 books. And, it just ... It's 23 books of like fleshing out its emotional arguments so there's like ... It's very hard to take away a black and white anything. Ironically. A black and white anything from Fruits Basket, it's just-

Ashley: Except Tohru.

Jacob: Yeah, yeah, he's black and white. But, it's you know it's just buckets of nuance and you just get to kind of peel through the nuance and say what you agree with and what you disagree with. And, yeah, there's things I disagree with in Fruits Basket. I can't think offhand, because it means so much to me. But like, that's the fun thing is finding little things that like exploring your reaction to a piece of art. And, thinking about why you think a certain way. So, yeah.

Ashley: I think what struck me about that scene, too, is the believability of how crappy that teacher's letter is, too.

Jacob: Yeah.

Ashley: Because, I don't know, for me one thing that really stood out to me in high school is I had like a suicidal friend and I kept trying to help her. And, I tried to get the adults to help her. And, one of my teachers, we had a mutual teacher. And, this teacher was just like, "You know, you can't save somebody who doesn't want to be saved." And, I was just like, "You just said that to a 15-year-old." Like, what are you doing?

Jacob: Yeah, God.

Ashley: I'm so upset by this, like ...

Jacob: Yeah.

Ashley: It was a terrible thing. So I like believe that teachers, you know, like that teacher has her heart in the right place. Or, their heart in the right place, but like that's a bad letter, you know?

Jacob: Yeah, I think she's just ignorant and this is ... And, I think that's why the Sohma curse has lasted for centuries is that it's hard to reach out. And, it's hard to ... The pressure is there to be like, well, you know you're making ... everybody else is fine because you're keeping your problems to yourself. So, you should just continue doing that. And, it's not helpful, it's not healthy.

Jacob: But, yeah. Like, Fruits Basket, it's real good.

Ashley: It's so good. If you haven't-

Jacob: It makes me feel feelings.

Ashley: But, yeah. You will feel all the feelings. You will laugh, you will cry. You'll do both at the same time and-

Jacob: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Ashley: Reread it because you're like, "Oh my God, it's so good."

Jacob: Definitely. It means a lot to me. I think it is a formative piece of media for me and definitely always going to come back to it, so, yeah. And, we have even more to discuss in the future. That's only the first eight volumes.

Ashley: Yeah. Oh, we've only scratched the surface. I mean, Kyo's true form is just the beginning, right? Like, come on.

Jacob: It's the end of Act I, the curtain is down. Tohru knows that there's something sinister about the Sohma family. And, it's not just Akito and his bangs.

Ashley: Yeah.

Jacob: His evil bangs.

Ashley: I did love when Tohru shoved Akito. I was like, that is-

Jacob: So good.

Ashley: That's some powerful stuff right there, Tohru. Like, oh.

Jacob: Yeah. And, she says. And, that's the thing. Like, Tohru is astute. She says, "His words are gentle, there's nothing violent about his bearing, there's nothing," like it's nothing where she feels like she has to ... And, she's seen violence. She's seen Kyo yell, "I hate you and I'm going to kill you," at Yuki over and over and not broken it up. Because, she's like, "Oh, you guys."

Ashley: Yeah.

Jacob: But, all she sees Akito doing is just like gently talking to Yuki about how he should come back home so he can be re-educated, in very nice, friendly terms. And, she says, "Nope, not doing that." You know, and she just shoves him. And, it's like, "Yeah!"

Ashley: Yeah!

Jacob: She cuts through the crap and she's like, "I realized for the first time." She said, "I'd never before met somebody where I understood real animosity." Like, real ... and there's a different translation ... I think animosity is the word that Tokyopop's version using. But like, malice. You know, she's like, "I never seen stuff like where like everything about their bearing is like kind and nice and normal. But like, it's evil under there." And, but before you write Akito off, it's just the evil thing that needs to be defeated. You know, oh, boy, are we going to explore some layers of that like Akito is not the final boss, you know.

Ashley: Oh, we'll get to Akito. That's what I'm going to promise you as I read this outro. All right, everybody. Thanks for listening to Shojo and Tell. Comments, questions, constructive criticism, concerns, need to tell us who you're favorite Sohma is, some favorite scenes. There's so much you can write, and just write an essay to us, that's fine.

Jacob: Yeah.

Ashley: Email Or, leave a comment on There's going to be at least three Fruits Basket so hold on to your hats, there.

Jacob: Yes, yes, yeah.

Ashley: We're @shojoandtell on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram ... Jacob, where can people find you and your work on the Internet?

Jacob: You can find me on Twitter @itsbonedaddy. That is itsbonedaddy. Itsbonedaddy. And, you can see anything that is an editorial on anything that's like a review or an interview or an editorial on I helped produced that, put it together. You know, all that stuff and Fruits Basket-wise, I will, if that's cool, I don't know if there's links in the description with this-

Ashley: Yes.

Jacob: But, I will link to that radio drama that I made. Keep in mind I made it eight years ago now. Oh, my God, I'm so old. I made it eight years ago, and that it's a little rusty but I still ... but, I worked really hard on it and I'm still happy with it. If anybody ever ... anytime anyone tells me that that meant anything to them, it is just ... It really, really touches my heart because it was a labor of love and for very little response. And, it means a lot to me.

Jacob: So, yeah, and I'm looking forward to talking about the next two-thirds of this long manga with you, actually.

Ashley: Long manga. Yeah. If you could leave a rating in iTunes or Stitcher, that would be great. Otherwise, we'll be back next time to discuss volumes nine to 16 of Fruits Basket. So, the middle third-ish.

Jacob: Yes.

Ashley: It's an odd number of volumes. It's weird. But, we will be sure to count how many times we cry and then tell you about them.

Jacob: Yeah, I'll keep a tally. I'll be like ... and I'll get one of those crowd clickers-

Ashley: Yeah.

Jacob: That they tally how many people. And, I'm just clicking while I read.

Ashley: You have to count the number of tears for each one, too.

Jacob: Yes. Yeah.

Ashley: Okay. So, if you want to hear about that, that will happen two weeks after this one. Until then, bye everybody.

Jacob: Bye.