The new, limited edition Fruits Basket bubble teas have come out, which is surely the most dramatic, noteworthy Fruits Basket the Final thing to occur this week—Oh no. Really Shigure? Really?! I was going to start this review with my tasting notes on the three beverages, but that can wait until the end. First, we need to delve into just why Shigure is the dog of the Zodiac. “That's An Unwavering Truth” is a deceptively resolute title for an episode about Shigure's messy love-hate relationship with Akito. This episode reveals a few dark and difficult details that effectively indicate that Shigure's actions are what set the stage for Tohru's encounter with the Sohmas in the first place; none of Fruits Basket would have ever come to be if Shigure had slightly more human decency. This decidedly torrid affair runs parallel to a humorous storyline about the younger Zodiac members' after-school activities, which gives the episode a much-needed dose of levity.
“I love [Akito] so much... that sometimes I want to spoil her rotten… and sometimes I want to crush her to a pulp.” These are not the words of a nice person, and here they are coming out of the mouth of the Zodiac's most difficult member. Shigure occupies a trickster role in Fruits Basket, deceptively charming and on nobody's side but his own. This episode emphasizes just how manipulative Shigure can be. First he implies that he's forgotten a long-ago love confession to a much younger Akito. Then he justifies sleeping with Akito's mom because Akito slept with a chicken Kureno? All I'm saying is it's no wonder that Akito threw Shigure out after that, forcing him to get his own home that Tohru eventually encountered, making the whole show possible. I'm sure that by this point in the story viewers have made peace with all of the romantic liaisons between distant blood relatives. (And if it makes you feel any better, Akito and Shigure are 20 and 28, AKA both adults.) I can't believe I'm writing this sentence in any context, but it isn't incest that's the issue here! Both Akito and Shigure can be cruel, selfish people, and their relationship seems to only stoke those tendencies in each of them. The intimate scene that concludes their role in the episode isn't great—Shigure's lifeless expression while Akito presses a kiss on him, and the cut from two adults consummating their attraction to Shigure and Akito as children isn't exactly sexy.
However, this episode's visual storytelling is as excellent as Shigure is awful. The scenes with Akito all feature red flowers (the Japanese red camellia, which represents deep desire). The scenes with Shigure all take place at night or in shadow, cementing his role as this episode's antagonist. And Tohru, Kyo, and Yuki's scenes all take place during the day and feature white paper flowers. The flowers in question are for graduation preparation; both Tohru and Momiji's classes are crafting them after school. Between wacky hijinks, two potential couples share a moment involving a white flower. First, Yuki encounters Machi right as he's feeling especially distant from peers who think he's too important to help with preparations. Machi seems to be the only one who doesn't put Yuki on a pedestal, offering up her whole tsundere act and a crumpled white flower to boot. Later, after Tohru attempts to tell Kyo about Kureno's broken curse and Kyo wildly misunderstands her implication, he offers her a flower to cheer her up. If you've watched the new Fruits Basket ED, it seems to depict all the show's canon romantic relationships (including Shigure and Akito), but keeps Tohru's ultimate destiny vague. This show may be decades old, but I'm not going to spoil anything for anime-only viewers! But still, episodes like this one strongly suggest that she'll end up with one of the boys over the other.
Now that we've spilled the tea about Shigure, here's some actual tea: the Fruits Basket bubble tea. I love that Funimation did this promotion because it feels so much like one of those pop-up events in Japan where you can have Evangelion character drinks or something and I really want this kind of thing to catch on in the US. Long story short, I ordered all three. I used the Kung Fu Teas app because pandemic, and I was glad that they didn't forget my stickers even though it was a curbside pickup. Hands down, the best of the three was Yuki's Noble Taro Slush, which had purple taro flavoring with notes of nutty caramel. Tohru's Strawberry Blush Slush tasted like a plain strawberry milkshake. Kyo's Mango Madness was an actual tea and not a slush. It was a clear orange drink that cut the sweetness of mango with green tea flavoring. Kyo's was the only one to actually have boba in it—pleasantly firm mango-flavored jelly pieces. The other two were like milky 7-11 slurpees, but I'm not saying they were bad! Best of all, they came with stickers! I'm just glad they didn't make a Shigure-themed bubble tea because after this episode, I'm not interested in trying it.