Dang, this episode showed me just how much went over my head when I first read this part in the manga in high school lol. It never occurred to me that Akito and Tohru were basically two sides of the same coin and that all this time they were foils of each other. But the fact that I still didn’t get it back in high school despite them basically spelling it out for us is mildly embarrassing. My mind was obviously focused on other things at the time lol.
“Defeating” Akito was never meant to be a physical beat down of sorts, despite many people hoping it’d be that way. None of the problems that were depicted in the series was ever resolved with force, but with understanding. At first, Tohru probably saw Akito as an obstacle to overcome to free the Zodiac. However, it wasn’t until this moment where she finally realized that Akito needed just as much saving as everyone else. At first I didn’t quite get why Tohru was saying “I found you” to Akito. I was like: were you even looking for her in the first place? But then I think this was the moment where Akito laid all of her feelings and insecurities bare for the first time where Tohru was finally able to see the true Akito along with seeing a bit of herself in her. I didn’t notice this until someone pointed it out, but the shot of Akito watching the Zodiac interact with each other from afar was very similar, if not basically the same as Tohru watching all the other kids play Fruits Basket while she was purposefully left out. Akito was never part of the Zodiac but above it, basically being another form of being left behind.
Both of them were lonely after the passing of a parent and were desperate to hold onto unchanging bonds that would be with them forever. I didn’t realize that the bond that Tohru had been holding onto with her mom was actually unhealthy for her and stunting her emotional and mental growth. She wanted things to stay the same and while it is more than understandable to mourn a dead parent, Tohru was acting as if her mom was still around as shown with her treating her picture as if it were a person back in episode 1 of the first season. She wasn’t too far off from what Akito was doing as both were trying to cling to certain bonds out of fear of being truly alone.
Tohru acknowledged that she was basically the same as Akito and that she was a hypocrite for rejecting Akito’s wish for unchanging bonds. All this time, she had been stagnating almost as much as Akito was. However, after having been turned down by Kyo, Tohru finally realized just how unhealthy her attachment to her mother was and is finally taking steps to move forward with her life, something I’m sure Kyoko would have wanted. It’s honestly amazing how this unhealthy mindset was depicted so early on in the series and we probably didn’t even notice it at first. I absolutely love the visual of a middle school Tohru letting go of her mother’s hand and going on ahead while shifting into her high school self.
Instead of just telling Akito that she is wrong, Tohru is coming from a place of understanding and even Akito seems to realize that. In every argument Akito has gotten into, it’s always in the form of someone talking down to her. It reminds me of that time Yuki confronted Machi when she had destroyed the student council room. While Nao talked down to and berated her while Yuki wanted to understand WHY she did it. The same thing can be applied here between Tohru and Akito. Tohru is finally addressing the heart of Akito’s problem. Both of them were at their lowest points, making them the most vulnerable they’ve ever been. However, once you’ve hit your lowest point, there’s nowhere to go but up.
And I’m going to be honest, my heart went out to Akito when she ran away crying. Just like Tohru, it felt like I was seeing the real Akito for the first time as well. No god complex, no abusive tyrant. Just a crying child who is desperate to not be left behind. Akito’s fears of not being wanted or finding any bonds in the world is actually very relatable. We all want to have a place in this world and the thought that we may just end up alone and unneeded is a terrible feeling. However, sometimes, we just need that one person to reach out to us, just like Tohru did. I got all kinds of emotional when Tohru reached out her hand towards Akito, asking to start over with her. And then just hits me again with the visual of Tohru coming over and sitting next to Akito where she is. It’s at this moment where I can’t help but giggle over the fact that the mangaka stated in a bonus in the manga that she was tempted to make Akito male so that she could pair her up with Tohru.
But then the cliff Tohru was standing on crumbles. I bet a bunch of people were expecting Akito to just yeet her off of it. But alas, that isn’t the case. Shigure did say in episode 1 of the first season that landslides were a common thing in the area. And just to make it so that it hits even harder, it’s where the series began. And this is when Akito’s positive development starts to flourish. She immediately starts crying out for help, not for herself, but for Tohru’s sake. Already, she is starting to think of another person’s well being. She even referred to Tohru by name for the first time. And even when asked if she had pushed Tohru (which is honestly a valid question), instead of getting defensive and argumentative, she calmly as she could in that moment tell Shigure that the ground collapsed. However, the big thing was that she admitted to and took full responsibility for stabbing Kureno. After all her gaslighting, shifting blame and never taking responsibility for her actions, Akito took a major step in the right direction.
It was also here where we actually see Shigure being a positive influence on Akito by calmly asking her to calm down and tell him exactly what happened. He listened to her and didn’t doubt or wave her off. He even put his coat around her. It almost feels like positive reinforcement to Akito’s change.
But wow they were trying real hard to convince us that Tohru had died. Especially with the scene of her wishing for Kyo to keep moving forward and living even if she wouldn’t be able to stay by his side as she stopped walking like her mom did. And Kyo’s voice actor really went above and beyond with his performance. You could hear every bit of heartbreak and guilt in his voice. We learn that Tohru had fallen in love with Kyo all the way back in season one during the True Form Arc but it wasn’t until recently where she was able to finally sort out her feelings for him and her mom. And while I’m not a fan of unconscious kisses, the symbolism of it and how it was framed was absolutely amazing. With Tohru’s buried tent left behind in the foreground while the sun shone on bright new beginning for Kyo and Tohru.
I know I’ve been talking a lot about Akito in this post… but how can I not when her development has taken such a large turn? I was definitely one of those people who thought Akito’s turnaround happened way too fast initially and the rushed final season wasn’t doing it any favors. However, we can also see it as a bunch of small things building up over time before Akito was forced to realize that the cursed bonds aren’t going to last forever as three of the members of the Zodiac were already freed at this point. Akito had hit her lowest point and all Tohru had to do was reach out her hand and pull her up. Because all Akito really needed was a genuine bond outside of the Zodiac, just like the rest of them.
What Akito has done was truly horrible and definitely unforgivable in the eyes of many. However, I do believe that it’s never too late for someone to change and if they’re willing to put in genuine effort to change themselves for the better, they can eventually be redeemed in time. Akito is no exception. This is why I can’t hate her. She has finally seen the errors of her ways and is now striving to better herself and moving forward rather than staying stagnant like many of the terrible parents we’ve seen in this series. And while her apologies to Kureno may not mean much in the grand scale of her actions, it’s a good first step.
I love that Momiji is the one to approach Akito as he was the first one to approach her emotionally back in season 2 in the Beach Arc. But man, did he rip into her at first. For good reason, but dang. Akito does feel terrible over what she’s done and acknowledges that she had been killing Kureno all this time. I think Momiji was able to recognize her desire to change her ways and was willing to give her a new chance. Even giving her advice to treasure both Kureno and Tohru and even telling her the story of the Idiotic Traveler. Ugh, Momiji is just so good.
This was a great Akito (and Tohru) episode as you can tell with how much I talked about her. I was wondering how I would feel revisiting this part again because as I mentioned earlier, I didn’t forgive Akito for what she did and think she didn’t get what she deserved at the end. However, after watching her development and see where she was coming from, I may have come to actually really like her as a character now. I wouldn’t say I fully forgive her for her actions, but I am glad to see her consciously make the choice to start moving forward and be friends with Tohru because she NEEDS someone like her in her life after being surrounded by terrible people who enabled such terrible actions. And I absolutely love the ending scene with a bashful Akito walking over to Tohru’s outstretched hand. The first person outside of the family to truly see HER. What can I say? I’m a sucker for characters that go through a lot of development.
But I did want to smack Shigure over the head after he said that her “stabbing spree must have been cathartic.”