Anime Best in Show

Review: Fruits Basket Episode 22 – Best in Show

Quick Summary

In Fruits Basket episode 22, "Because I was Happy," we meet Saki Hanajima before she knew either Tooru Honda or Arisa Uotani. Those were hard times for our hero. She was trying to come to grips with her powers, and since she had talents that others lacked, her classmates bullied her. Sometimes, mercilessly. When one incident went way too far, Saki lashed out angrily -- and the bully dropped in his tracks. Saki was horrified. What would her parents think? Will the police take her away? Is there anything she can to do go to school in peace? Or will her reputation as a supernatural menace get even worse?

Note: This post may include spoilers, so be cautious.

Best Moment in the Show

Saki just met someone who was literally beyond her experience. The meeting would change her life forever. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream

This episode was the emotional equivalent of someone using a ball peen hammer to drive a super cooled iron stake straight into my heart. Saki is probably my favorite character in the series. I've come to know her as someone who offers unselfish and tender support for her friends Tooru and Arisa. Watching her endure that kind of torment was almost too real. This episode evoked emotions I had thought were dead and buried.

Are you a parent? Have you ever had to deal with your children being bullied? If so, then you know rage. How you perceive and express it depends on your imagination, I think. There are times I was honestly glad I didn't have some supernatural power, because burning the continuum to the ground was on the list of options in my HUD. It's a rage that crashes down through every layer of my civilized veneer, down through all levels of my intellect, down below even my normal every day emotions, and ignites something primal and very, very dangerous.

I felt all of that for Saki.

Saki was fortunately that her family, including her little brother, supported her. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream

The way the show showed us her agony completely invested me in her plight. The way the show dramatized her innate kindness -- her not wanting to hurt those who hurt her -- pulled me so far into the narrative that I was no longer conscious of time. The story had completely captured my imagination. The colors -- grays and blacks -- and even the expressions of the other characters painted a world that was at best painfully indifferent and at worst belligerent. I was starting to feel frantic on Saki's behalf; desparate to find her some relief, some way to answer her brother Megumi Hanajima's touching prayer (07:53) -- which was itself a moment that came this close to being my Best in Show for this episode.

Soon after Megumi's prayer, Saki had to endure a particularly painful bullying event, so her supportive parents decided to change schools (in another scene that came this close to being my Best in Show moment). Things start on shaky ground when a teacher asks her to get rid of her black nail polish. She sat alone in the classroom. She tried to say away from the other students. 

My Best in Show moment started with Saki standing in line for lunch. Someone handed her a bowl of what looked like stew, and she looked up to see Tooru (11:41). Her smile shocked Saki. Her enthusiastic greeting and introduction were almost like an alien first contact: completely outside of Saki's experience. 

Tooru's smile could not only light up a room. It could light up Saki's life.  Capture from the Crunchyroll stream

No matter how many years of professional practice I put myself through, a moment with enough emotional power will force me to revert to form. Fruits Basket has already made me quote Tolkien. This moment pulled up a reference from Christian Scripture: 2 Peter 1:19: "as to a lamp for lighting a way through the dark, until the dawn comes and the morning star rises in your minds."

I just about cheered. Saki was going to be okay now that Tooru's in her life. I felt almost as relieved as if Saki had been my own daughter. 

And I still don't know how this show pulls off such effortless power.

What did you think of Saki's plight? What was your Best in Show moment? Let me know in the comments!

6 thoughts on “Review: Fruits Basket Episode 22 – Best in Show

  1. My own favourite moment? When Tooru and Arisa first double team Saki; Tooru with her politeness and easy-to-worry demeanor, and Arisa with her yankee talk and surface-pushiness are such an unlikely combo. Finally, a totally dumbfounded Saki calls them weird, and they both grin into her face and say “We hear that a lot, too” Totally on page, now. In a sense, that’s the ice breaker scene – completely different people converging and offereing an opening with no definsiveness whatsoever.

    I’m not a parent. But I’ve pretty much been in Saki’s situation and I know the visceral horror when you see the results of a “shine! shine! shine!” freak out. It’s not pretty.

    Also, it’s nice to see that Saki has a supportive family. That’s not the common anime trope. It really drives home how difficult such situations can be, and how hard it is to cope with bullying.

    1. “My own favourite moment? When Tooru and Arisa first double team Saki; Tooru with her politeness and easy-to-worry demeanor, and Arisa with her yankee talk and surface-pushiness are such an unlikely combo. ”

      That was also in contention for mine. It was such a beautiful moment — the two of them together represented something completely outside of her experience.

      I picked Saki’s first meeting with Tooru because of the contrast it offered with Saki’s life to that point.

      “Also, it’s nice to see that Saki has a supportive family. That’s not the common anime trope. ”

      I loved see her family support her. It really drove home the point that even with a supportive family, enduring bullying is really hard.

    2. >When Tooru and Arisa first double team Saki; Tooru with her politeness and easy-to-worry demeanor, and Arisa with her yankee talk and surface-pushiness are such an unlikely combo. Finally, a totally dumbfounded Saki calls them weird, and they both grin into her face and say “We hear that a lot, too”

      Birds of a feather and all that! But it felt predestined, and not just because we know they’re canon friends in the future.

      My favorite moment was essentially the whole episode. (Largely because it was the first serious feels ep since you-know-when that I got through with only some chest tightening.)

      1. “My favorite moment was essentially the whole episode. ”

        I think this show holds the record for how many times I’ve wanted to say that! I mean, it flowed so smoothly that it was had to isolate a single moment!

        1. I have to say, Uotani and Hanajima’s two parter’s have been the best of this cour… (Especially since they give us so much more of Tohru’s background as a bonus.) Ever since Tohru moved in, we’ve been stuck in a “introduce a new Sohma, lather, rinse, repeat” mode. I won’t argue there hasn’t been a lot of coolness in those episodes, but I’m so done with the pattern.

          1. “I won’t argue there hasn’t been a lot of coolness in those episodes, but I’m so done with the pattern.”

            I know what you mean!

            We’ve got to almost be out of Zodiac Sohmas, I think!

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