Tears, tears, and more tears.
— In the cold opening, we see a flashback involving Momiji and his father. Momo has started taking violin lessons, and by itself, this is all fine and dandy. Unfortunately, she and her brother now share the same instructor, so their father wants Momiji to quit. Tch, always with the extremes. I mean, c’mon, is there only one goddamn violin instructor in the entirety of Japan? It’s confounding, isn’t it? I know Fruits Basket likes to dial the sadness to 11, but it does so at the expense of making sense.
— After the OP, Arisa reveals to her friends that she has taken on completely different part-time jobs? Why? ‘Cause she’s tired of wishing and hoping that Kureno would one day drop by. But when Tohru realizes that Arisa is talking about one of the Sohmas, our plucky heroine decides that she has to do something about this. I get it and I don’t. Arisa is one of her besties, so of course, she’s gonna want to do everything she can to help her bestie out. On the other hand, Arisa is obviously trying to move on. That’s why she insists that her Kureno can’t possibly be the same Kureno that Tohru is talking about. You can’t recklessly give people hope, because if that hope can’t be realized, you’re really just drawing out their pain.
— That night, Tohru asks Kyo about Kureno, but he doesn’t know much about the guy either. Even within the Sohma family, Kureno keeps to himself. Still, I wonder why Tohru stopped there. Why not ask some of the older Sohmas like Shigure, Hatori, or Kazuma? Ah well.
— Tohru goes all the way to the Sohma estate, but she doesn’t have enough courage to just walk through the front gates. To be fair, she probably wouldn’t get very far anyways. But as luck would have it, she runs right into Momo, who is there just to listen to Momiji playing the violin. It’s like a mini-culture shock to me. The thought of a young girl wandering the streets on her own sounds like a potential nightmare in the making. But I dunno, maybe Japan is safe enough for Momo to do whatever she wants.
— Anyways, Momo knows a secret entrance into the estate. There’s literally just a gaping hole in the walls that no one has bothered to patch up. Alrighty.
— The little girl confesses that she’s very curious about Momiji. After all, he’s her brother, so they obviously resemble each other. More than anything, she hopes that she could have a big brother to play with. Tohru is already worked up over Arisa and Kureno, so upon hearing this, the girl is on the verge of breaking into tears. And as soon as she talks to Momiji, the dam breaks.
— Momiji is happy that he and his sister share a connection even though it’s an extremely tenuous one. He even opens up to Tohru about one of his dreams. At the moment, however, it remains an impossible dream. Until the curse is broken, Momiji will always keep his distance in order to protect his family’s happiness. It’s not bizarre for kids to sacrifice a little of their happiness to help the family. Everyone pitching in for the sake of the whole is a noble idea. Unfortunately, the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction in Fruits Basket. Momiji has to erase his own identity just because his parents are complete cowards. And of course, this just one small corner of the complete Sohma pastiche. After all, the cat exists as a scapegoat, i.e. another form of sacrifice.
— Anyways, Tohru reveals why she’s sneaked into the estate: she wants to talk Kureno into seeing Arisa at least one more time. That’s insane, isn’t it? I care about my friends, but I wouldn’t trespass for them. I certainly would’ve spent more time seeing if there were other options to contact Kureno. Plus, Akito drew blood the last time they met. Literally drew blood. On the other hand, our heroine is getting gutsier and gutsier by the day. You gotta commend her for that… even if what she’s doing is completely foolhardy.
— Even though Momiji lives here, Kureno lives within the inner estate so he’s rarely seen. There are layers to this madness. Still, the young Sohma draws our heroine a map, and off she goes! Tohru proceeds to do her best Solid Snake act.
— In the end, she almost gets caught by a woman whose face we can’t see. Tohru recognizes her voice, but I don’t. I wonder who it is.
— Kureno comes to Tohru’s rescue, so they talk a bit. She tells him about how Arisa is doing lately, but he tells her that he simply can’t leave and it’s not even because he’s one of the Zodiacs. After all, his curse is somehow already broken. Nevertheless, he still isn’t free. I like that he doesn’t actually explain this to Tohru. He simply looks up and sees a bird taking off into the sky. Even though associating birds with freedom is certainly far from original, it’s a nice bit of visual storytelling.
— Despite Kureno’s resistance, Tohru presses on. She writes down Arisa’s contact information and gives it to Kureno. She asks him to hold onto it, because you never know! Maybe he’ll feel like reaching out one day!
— After Tohru leaves with Momiji’s help, we see Kureno holding onto that scrap of paper… that scrape of hope, if you want to be as corny as possible. But honestly, Arisa should move on, especially since Kureno pretty much ghosted her. Tohru is technically right. You never know what dreams may come. But there has to be a limit to that — a limit that is feasible and healthy. Arisa can’t just wait forever. She still has her own life to live. And who knows? Maybe she’ll meet other people, start dating them, and fall in love. That’s just life. But this is fantasy drama land, so she’ll probably sit tight and pine for Kureno all the way to the very end. The idea that someone you barely know would wait for you is bizarre for me, but these love stories are for dreamers, not realists.
— At the end of the day, Tohru doesn’t tell Kyo exactly what she was up to, but she does lament that she couldn’t do more for Arisa. I dunno, man. Putting your life at risk for your best friend’s… barely-a-relationship is more than the bare minimum to me. I don’t dislike Tohru, but I’m not a fan either. Even so, I think she should give herself more credit.
— Kyo thinks Tohru is talking about a crush, which the girl quickly denies. Nevertheless, he tells her that if she ever finds someone that she likes, he would help her out. The girl starts crying, but she doesn’t know why. I think it’s obvious. His words imply that he can’t be one of those lucky candidates for her heart. He’s removing himself from the competition, and even though Tohru might not consciously realize the meaning behind his words, her subconscious does.