Where is home? These are the questions that I struggle with the most as I think back on the episode I just watched. Tohru didn’t have a place to stay, because her relatives were renovating their home. Now that those renovations are (almost) done, she can go back “home.” But to nobody’s surprise, she doesn’t leave her bishies. The bishies don’t want her to leave either. Eventually, she confesses that she wants to go “home” to her bishies, so both Yuki and Kyo show up to escort her back. But nothing here resonates with me, because I can’t identify where Tohru’s “home” is supposed to be. Surely, it is not with her rude, nasty relatives. But if you want to convince me that our heroine has already formed an unbreakable bond with her bishies after just four episodes, give me a break. This is why this episode falls completely flat. The feels are supposed to build and build and build until we hit the peak at Tohru’s supposedly selfish (that’s another thing to get into) confession. But we can’t build unless we have a solid foundation. And I’m sorry, but four episodes do not make a solid foundation. The story doesn’t deserve this emotional high point because it hasn’t done the legwork to deserve it. What I get instead is a story that is just being overly dramatic. Anyways…
— Even though her relatives say that the renovations are done, the exterior walls still need work. Um, alright. I don’t even know what to say to that. You already know that these people are scumbags, because they allowed a girl to live on her own for some indeterminate amount of time. Then for some reason, they want her to come back. Maybe it’s out of obligation. Or maybe (this comes up later), they don’t like the idea of her shacking up with a bunch of men.
— So we get a flashback with Tohru and her mom. We establish yet again that Tohru is hopelessly selfless. Perhaps even to a fault, because she’s trying to cook dinner even though she’s sick. Her mom has to remind her that it’s okay to be selfish, but there arguably isn’t anything selfish about staying in bed if you’re sick.
— You’re just making it worse for everybody if you end up getting sicker as a result of your actions. Tohru admits, however, that she isn’t very bright, so maybe she can’t think that far out? Look, there just isn’t really much depth to the girl. She’s a terribly boring protagonist. You can’t convince me that most people aren’t here for the stupid boys and their quasi-furry hijinks.
— Right before Tohru leaves, she rattles off a bunch of reminders. One can only wonder how these boys ever managed to survive without her… y’know, four episodes ago.
— Tohru obviously doesn’t want to leave, and the boys obviously don’t want her to leave. But no one’s going to say anything. It’s one of those stupid Asian drama things where everyone has misgivings about a situation, but they just keep their feelings all bottled up in order to keep the peace. As an Asian American, I get to have both feet in two different worlds. I understand it, but at the same time, I don’t.
— Then we get this silly flashback designed to tug at your heartstrings. Back when Tohru was a little kid, the boys in her class used to pick on her. Why? Shrug. Kids can be mean sometimes. So they played a game where each person is assigned a fruit, and when your particular fruit is called, you get to participate. Well, some kid called her a riceball, and predictably enough, riceball is never called. So blah blah blah, dimwitted Tohru never got to play with the boys. She felt as if she didn’t belong. What does this have to do with anything, you ask? Our heroine proceeds to draw a connection between this sucky moment and how she now has to leave the Somas. But the Somas didn’t pick on her, so honestly, I don’t know how this flashback is even relevant. It’s just here for us to feel bad. Hey audience, poor little Tohru never got to play! Doesn’t that make you wanna cry?! And now she can’t play with her bishies anymore! No, don’t try to think too deeply about it. Just feel… ya feel me?
— Then we get to see all these flashbacks of Tohru spending A+ quality time with the boys! This is just so sad, you guys! I mean, just look at these scenes… all four episodes worth of them. It’s almost like they can’t hang out with her anymore… except at school, or after school because they appear to live in the same general neighborhood… uh, yeah. But I mean, she won’t be able to cook dinner for them anymore! That’s just so sad!
— Anyways, Tohru hasn’t even gotten settled in, but her relatives are already being shitty to her. Why, you ask? Dude, c’mon. You know better than to ask me that. There is no foundation here. People are just what they are. If her relatives are shitty, that’s just a fact that you have to accept. You shouldn’t worry about whether or not the story is credible. Just go with the feels, and right now, you’re supposed to feel bad for Tohru. You’re supposed to feel outraged because they’re treating her so unfairly!
— I guess they just assume that Tohru might act out, because her mother used to be a delinquent. Y’know how it is.
— Tohru’s grandpa eventually stands up for her even though he’s so senile that he can’t even remember her name. He tells the bad relatives off, but not really. No one’s really going to suffer any consequences, so no one is really going to learn jack shit from this. All that’s really important is that he gives Tohru permission to be selfish. If she doesn’t want to stay here, she doesn’t have to.
— But what is selfishness? Selfishness is putting your needs before others. The story, however, hasn’t established at all why our heroine is obligated to live with these people other than the fact that they are related. Do they need her help? Do they need her to do chores around the house? Or maybe she thinks she’s bothering the Somas even though we’ve gotten absolutely no indication of this! Look, I just don’t know! I don’t know why she is being selfish for wanting to live with the Somas. Nevertheless, this is treated as a critical juncture in the girl’s personal growth. She sobs because she’s going against her nature. She wants to be selfish, but she has grown up putting other people first. When you defy your own programming, it can be shocking and traumatic. That’s why she’s breaking down. But again, the drama here doesn’t resonate, because I can’t understand what she’s being selfish about. Again, the story hasn’t done the proper legwork to deserve this emotional payoff. I’m left feeling cold, because none of this adds up to me.
— After hearing her grandfather tell her that it’s okay for her to back to the Somas, she sobbingly confesses that she wants to spend more time with Yuki and Kyo. This is when the rat suddenly shows up inside the Hondas’ home and tells Tohru to return with him. I just think it’s hilarious that it doesn’t even appear as though she’s spent a week with her relatives before giving up on the idea.
— The rest of the episode doesn’t really merit a discussion. We wind back the clock a little to see that Yuki and Kyo had decided to fetch Tohru together.
— Then as they reach out to her, our heroine feels as though she is finally accepted by the boys. Ugh.
— To make a long story short, the drama here falls completely flat. I would expect this sort of thing at the halfway point in the story. Y’know, long after Tohru has lived with the Somas and thus established a true connection with her bishies. In the fifth episode, however, there just isn’t much of an emotional well for the girl to draw upon, so I can’t help but laugh at all these fuzzy feels. They are unearned and inauthentic.