Chapter 48: Cool For the Summer

Summer vacation has arrived, and thus much of the chapter is just the kids enjoying their freedom.

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They’re not all having the same measure of fun, though. Momiji suggests a haunted house, the prospect of which is clearly terrifying for Tohru, but she doesn’t want to ruin anyone else’s fun, so she decides to “face her fears”.  Yuki and Kyo are only really scared about Tohru’s safety, while Momiji and Haru laugh through the whole thing.  Personally, I’m the sort of person who just laughs at that sort of thing. But then Tohru tries to minimize her fear by shutting her eyes (it doesn’t help).  Yuki and Kyo both offer her their hands at the same time, causing an argument.

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Momiji: Hold my hand and we’ll walk together, Tohru! You don’t leave a girl stranded and fight!

Momiji’s sneaky!  But also totally right. Tohru’s still pretty scared, though, so Haru offers his own form of help.

Haru: If you’re that scared, why not give these guys their own backstory? For example, this fellow, he certainly looks scary, but he’s actually a fine young man who is very kind and likes animals and cooking. On Sundays, he does volunteer work, and around the neighborhood, he’s been voted number one for “The man I want to marry.” Being easily moved to tears is his one flaw.

Momiji: Huh? Is that true?

Tohru: I didn’t know…

Haru: But he does have a heavy, sad past. When he was ten years old, his mother left, never to return.It was pouring cold rain that night. His mother gently covered him with a hand-knit sweater. Warm hands, a kind voice, tears filling her eyes – that’s the last memory he has of his mother. The next morning, she was gone, leaving him with his drunkard father, a sizable debt, and the sweater. […] And so, he worked without complaint, for the sake of his father and paying back the debt, all the while holding on to the sweater that smelled of his mother’s love, and dreaming of the day that he could be reunited with her. That mother has come to see him today.

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Well, Tohru survived the haunted house, so I guess Haru succeeded.

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Tohru: I think this is the most excited I’ve ever been at the start of summer vacation. I have a feeling that something big is going to happen, or something important is going to begin. It’s strange…(internally) Is it summer’s doing? I have a feeling…well, let summer vacation begin.

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Hiro: I hear you’re getting out soon? That’s a good thing, isn’t it? I think they would’ve let you out earlier if you hadn’t snuck out so much. Maybe they’re happy to be rid of you…

Rin: Hiro. I get it. I do. I get that Gure-nii is all I have left. It’s not going to be easy, but…

Hiro: You’re not going to give up, are you, Rin?

Rin: Give up? Not on your life. Never.

Hiro and Rin have really fascinating chemistry (not romantic, of course).  Her stubbornness and his blunt cynicism would seem like they should clash, but instead they bring out sides of one another you don’t often see with other people.  Obviously this isn’t the last time we’ll see them interact, since this is only our first glimpse of Rin.  She kind of ushers in a new tone for the second act, not to mention new developments for the plot.

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Suffice it to say we’ll have a good idea of what our heroes are up against by the summer’s end.

I have a feeling…I don’t know what to call it, but it’s like there’s something in my chest, and it’s spreading up my throat, ready to come out. I have a feeling I can’t even find the words to describe.

Until next time…

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Chapter 44: Shamelessly Living On

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

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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.

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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.

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Until this turns him into a monkey.

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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).

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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.