Time for another episode of Yuki’s Vicarious Character Development!
Tohru: I hear President Takei wants you to be the next president, but it looks like you don’t want any part of it.
Yuki: Yeah…I don’t know what he and other people are expecting from me, but I really wish they wouldn’t. The real me is more…
Yuki: Nothing…nothing at all.
Meet Kisa, the Tiger. She introduces herself by way of biting Tohru’s hand.
Kisa is an interesting case in that she’s first introduced at her lowest point, having turned mute after persistent bullying in middle school. What’s more interesting is that Yuki doesn’t seem to have much compassion for her situation at first.
Yuki: You seem awfully concerned about her. I don’t remember you two being that close…
Haru: I just can’t leave her alone, is all. She reminds me of you when you stopped talking that one time, Yuki. You curled up in a ball and wouldn’t say a word. All you could do was protect yourself, Yuki, and that’s what she reminds me of.
He sees in Kisa a part of himself that he hates, a part of himself that he’s ashamed of and wishes he could forget. He sees his weakness, and so he shuns her.
Then Kisa’s mother shows up, providing a bit more context.
Kisa’s Mom: What are you doing? Why are you causing trouble for everyone around you? What are you thinking? Do you enjoy putting me in a bind? Tell me, why didn’t you say anything about being bullied? Why did you run away from home? Why won’t you talk? You’ve worn me out. I can’t take it anymore.
Tohru: She can’t say that. It’s hard for anyone to say “I’m being bullied.” I couldn’t say it either. But after a while, my mom found out. At the time, I apologized to her, like an idiot. I felt so pathetic. I thought I was worthless for being bullied, and I was ashamed when my mom learned of it. I was also scared. Scared Mom would hate me for being so weak. So when Mom said to me “it’s okay”, it was a huge relief. When she told me, “You have nothing to be ashamed of”, I was so relieved. Maybe Kisa-san feels the same way. Maybe she didn’t want you to hate her. She couldn’t tell you because she loves you.
It’s so hard to admit that you can’t do things on your own, that you need help from someone else to get your own life in order. But it’s really helpful when someone else can put those feelings into words. I guess that’s a big part of what makes Fruits Basket such a powerful story: It’s good at putting complicated feelings into words.
I didn’t want her to know I was like that, so I desperately put up a brave front to hide it. But that made me feel even more pathetic and ashamed. I’m sorry, but please, don’t hate me. Tell me, “It’s all right.” I’m always so ashamed of how weak I am, but I want you to say it. Just once would be enough, even if it’s a lie. I’m sure that would give me the courage to try to become strong.
That train of thought is unattributed, but it appears to be Yuki (thinking in terms of Tohru), although it definitely describes something of what Kisa’s feeling, too.
After that, Shigure agrees to let Kisa stay at his house for a bit.
Haru: It looks like her mom’s at the end of her rope, so putting a little space between them should help them both recover.
The biggest change between this and the anime is that they completely leave out the details of Yuki’s past affliction, just leaving traces of the deeper story (as usual).
Until next time…