I’m not even going to bother with trying to hide Ritsu’s gender: He’s a crossdressing man.

FB 44-1

Ritsu: I was going to bring you fresh fruit, but I don’t know what kind you like, so I brought you books about fruit instead…huh? What? What? I’m sorry, was I wrong? Maybe you don’t want them!

Shigure: Well, nope, not at all. I’m kidding. Kidding. Only kidding.

FB 44-2

Shigure clearly enjoys teasing Ritsu (but of course he’s always “just kidding”).  Yuki’s disdain is more apparent (as much as he tries to hide it), probably due to Akito’s aversion to crossdressing.  Tohru, on the other hand, is totally convinced that “Ricchan-san” is a woman.

FB 44-3

Until this turns him into a monkey.

FB 44-4

Shigure: He says wearing women’s clothing makes him feel secure. You’ve noticed how timid Ricchan is, right? Well, dressing like a man makes him feel even more like a shrinking violet.

Ritsu is embarrassed about his crossdressing, but it’s the only means he has of coping with what appears to be social anxiety.  When he presents himself as male, he acutely feels the pressure to be assertive, but he’s afraid of shaming himself, which combines to make him feel cornered, unable to move forward or back out of a given situation.  Evidently he doesn’t feel that same pressure when he can present himself as a woman (there’s a possibility he has gender dysphoria, too, but I’ll just leave it at that because I’m not at all qualified to explore that topic).

FB 44-5

Ritsu: Why? Why do I always cause trouble for everyone around me? I cause problems for everyone! Why was I even put on this earth? Maybe…maybe someone like me isn’t meant to be in this world at all, but I don’t even have the guts to end it. That’s right. Even though I’m totally useless, I shamelessly take up space and oxygen on this planet! I can’t stand myself!

Tohru: […] You don’t need it…you don’t need to have the guts for that! There’s nothing wrong with shamelessly living on! After all, we’re all alive; it’s because we’re alive that we can cry, worry, or feel joy. There is a reason you were put on this earth.

Ritsu came to meet Tohru as a mere courtesy call, but this little speech of hers resonates with him, so he summons the courage to ask Shigure if he can spend the night in order to speak further with Tohru.

This chapter is more on the comedy side of the Furuba spectrum, but for all that it wasn’t actually very funny.  The humor was a lot meaner than usual (the climax is Ritsu threatening suicide, for crying out loud), and the twist (Ritsu is a man) was already spoiled by the hostess at the hot springs (she specifically mentions her “son”).  This relative lack of quality is most likely due to real life problems that came up for Takaya-sensei – namely, she was having trouble with her drawing hand.  She needed surgery, which forced her to put the series on hiatus for about a year after this chapter came out.  Her exhaustion is palpable in this chapter, but she was able to return to the series with renewed vigor for…

…Next time.

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