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I get the feeling that Tohru Honda marches to the beat of her own drum. She had no problem accepting that we change into animals. And even though she’s been through a lot more hardships than most high school girls, she’s always smiling, as if none of it weighs her down. We’ve been living together for four months now, but there’s still part of her that I can’t grasp yet.

Much of this chapter comes from the point of view of an unspecified narrator, clearly Yuki, Kyo, or both, as they both appear to reach the same conclusion at the end. For what it’s worth, both adaptations have opted to simply split the monologue between the two.

The main conflict in this chapter is whether or not Yuki and Kyo will go “home” to the Sohma estate for the Chinese/Lunar New Year festivities.  In Asia (especially Japan and China), the Lunar New Year (which is in late January or February) is typically the biggest holiday of the year, where extended families get together, possibly even bigger than Christmas in the West.  It’s understandably a huge deal for the Sohma family.

Shigure: It is indeed our biggest event! The whole clan gets together to celebrate. But the most important thing of all is the banquet held exclusively for Zodiac members. Only those possessed by the twelve animal spirits can attend. The two members who represent the old year and the new dance together. So this year, it’s Momiji-kun and the child of the Tiger.

Yuki and Kyo both maintain that they “had reasons” for leaving and just don’t want to go back on principal, but it becomes evident that they just don’t want to deal with their disagreeable relatives (even if said relatives are Akito and Kagura, respectively).  Anyone who’s part of a reasonably large family can relate. On top of that, Yuki points out that if they went, Tohru would have to spend the holiday (and three days) alone.

Tohru: Thank you for thinking of me. That alone is enough to fill my heart with happiness. But New Year’s only comes once a year, so I want you guys to go have fun. And it’s been a while since you’ve seen your parents, right? I’m sure they’re waiting for you to come home.

Once we actually do meet their parents, it’ll be obvious that this is only convincing for them coming from Tohru, who lost both of her parents.

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And look who just happens to intercept them on their way to the Sohma estate.

Saki: Then she really will be alone this year. She always spent New Year’s with her mother, but I guess it’ll just be her this time. Arisa and I both offered to spend it together with her…she just smiled and told us to be with our families, though. But where does that leave Tohru-kun? Every year, she watched the Japan Record Awards and the Song Festival with her mother – now treasured memories – but how will she feel watching them this year? Is Tohru-kun really okay with it? Does she really not mind being alone for the holidays?

Back then, how did she feel as she saw us off? How does she feel right now, alone in the house?

And so they head back the way they came – back home.

Shigure: Saki-chan, did you show up to get them to do that?

Saki: That doesn’t matter. I just wanted to do something for Tohru-kun, that’s all. I hope you have good waves next year, too.

Shigure (internally): That one is formidable…

She speaks up for Tohru when it seems Tohru doesn’t even know her own needs. And she beat Shigure at his own game. Because Hana-chan is awesome like that.

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We’ve been living together for four months now, but there’s still part of her I can’t grasp yet. It slipped by me. I didn’t notice because she’s always smiling cheerfully. Because she smiles joyfully over even the most trivial things. That’s right. She always smiles. Then she says the words you most want to hear. Why didn’t I pick up on it? How could I have missed it? She said she’d be fine alone. That it was no problem…but nobody’s like that. I want to go home. I want to see her.

She’s always smiling when other people are around, and perhaps she even believes herself that she’s not hurting, or that it’s not her loss that’s hurting her, that somehow the pain is normal. And that’s why she needs her friends.

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Shigure chats briefly with a boy of strange hair color who’s quite interested in Yuki and Kyo and is clearly not at all important or going to show up again in the near future.  And then he delivers the bad news to Akito.

Shigure (internally): For now, this is what you get, Akito.

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In the end, after thinking everything over, I guess what I really wanted was this: To spend New Year’s together.

Until next time…

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