This is mostly just Tohru being pampered and made much of, which is perfectly fine by me. She’s earned it.
Momiji seems determined to milk this opportunity for all it’s worth – there are few frames of him where he’s not right next to Tohru. He even tries to get her to take a bath with him (which she totally would’ve agreed to had Yuki and Kyo not been around).
This is the only new character we meet – the hostess of their inn, a Sohma with a poor constitution, strong feelings about how young men should act, and a son who’s also a member of the Zodiac (the Monkey). Tohru wins her over quickly, even if Momiji brings down her wrath upon poor Kyo.
Hostess: To be honest, Tohru-san, when I first heard about you, I was uneasy. I was afraid that someone outside of the Sohma family knowing the secret of the Zodiac could hurt my son or the young masters even more. But I would like to apologize now for ever feeling that way. If it’s you, Tohru-san, I’m relieved. When you do eventually meet my son, please befriend him as you have the young masters.
This chapter provides a nice sampling of Takaya-sensei’s comedic chops, which sometimes gets overwhelmed by the drama, but is a big part of endearing the characters to the audience and even adds to the realism. The tonal roller coaster of Fruits Basket creates a more believable scenario than straight drama or straight comedy could, because life is full of ups and downs.
After one particularly funny moment, Yuki steps outside, and Tohru follows him to find out what’s up.
Yuki: Hilarious….Honda-san, you’re so funny. You make me laugh. […]
Tohru: You could’ve laughed in there. I don’t mind.
Yuki: I wouldn’t. Not in front of Kyo. For that matter, I’ve never even laughed like this in front of my parents.
While this seems to represents a cultural difference, it also shows how comfortable Yuki is becoming with Tohru that he can laugh in front of her. And then he gives her his return gift: A hair ribbon.
Yuki: Is it to your liking, Princess?
Mom, there are many princes in the Sohma family. […] I’m so happy that I get to spend time with them like this. This is another night for which I have to count my blessings.
And then Momiji drops a bombshell or two on Tohru.
Yuki: Honda-san, it looks like you didn’t know it, but Momiji is just one year younger than us. He and Haru are the same age.
Tohru: I assumed you were in elementary school! But you’ll be going to our high school in the spring!? And with Hatsuharu-san!? Aaah! I’m not sure which part surprises me the most!
Momiji: Be surprised by all of it!
Yeah, Momiji totally knows he looks like a grade schooler and exploits it. They never offer any explanation for it, so we’re left to assume it’s just the Rabbit affecting his growth or something. Tohru would never have let him sleep with her if she knew he was 15.
The anime version of this chapter is one of the more memorable episodes, if not one of the better ones. Between playing up the hostess’s role (rather poorly, as Takaya seemed to strike just the right balance here) and Momiji’s stupid song, it’s all rather over-the-top.
Until next time…