Joie (hymnia) wrote,

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More thoughts on Furuba final chapter

Back when the first garbled spoilers for chapter 134 came out, and I freaked out (warning: link contains SPOILERS), one of my criticisms of what was happening in that chapter was that I didn't think it an appropriate ending for Tohru and Kyo to run off together to some far-away place. Since then, I've retracted that criticism because 1) it appears to be a somewhat temporary arrangement, a bit like going away to college, and 2) it wasn't for the reasons that I thought it was.

But I've seen a lot of complaints about the final chapter, and one of them is along the same lines as what I thought about chapter 134. But I think that the last chapter did exactly what I hoped it would do. In a way, I think it's even better than the sort of ending I had in mind. Here's what I said in a comment on fruits_basket:

I think there is ample evidence in the story that Tohru continued to cherish her adoptive family all her life. What Kyo says at the beginning and what Yuki says at the end, and how she responds to them show that this is true. And the conversation between Akito and Shigure make it clear that she will continue to visit/be visited by the other family members. Also, it looks to me like the house at the end might be the same one that used to be Shigure's, and since the dialogue in the chapter makes it clear that the house was going to remain standing, though not in use for a little while, I think it's probably a fair interpretation that Tohru and Kyo could have returned to it one day. That's what I think, anyway. So that is another way that they seem to have retained their ties. And finally, in the glass case at the end, I think you overlooked something important: the 12shi ornament set, which I believe is Tohru's way of including a "picture" of her beloved extended family. Actually, I was pleased and relieved to see how much this chapter shows that the genuine bonds of love formed between the characters will remain in spite of distance and the changes that naturally occur in life (such as going off to college or having kids/grandkids).

I don't think I could be more pleased with how beautiful and fitting the ending of this series is. I know there has been a bit of confusion and frustration over the past week of waiting for the first trickle of info to materialize into scans and full-fledged translation. But I am hopeful that over the next few days as we look at the scans and (I hope) get a thorough translation from Shadow and/or Seph, and have a chance to really think it all over, that most fans will come to be as satisfied with the ending as I am.

The reason I like this ending better than what I had originally had in mind is that I think it has a better answer for the theme of the oppressive family bonds represented by the curse. When genuine bonds of love are formed, instead of the bonds of family obligation, power games, guilt, etc., it allows people to move freely--to move out, to marry, to have kids, to go to college, to have a job, to ask someone out, etc. Even if it allows distance to come between people, the bonds of love are still there. All those little flashbacks that each character has of their favorite memories of Tohru (and Kyo, in Kagura's case), the teasing comments between the "baka neko" and the "baka nezumi", Tohru's own flood of memories of all the Sohmas at the end when she's talking to Yuki, and the 12shi ornament and red hat that she cherishes alongside Kyo’s beads and the pictures of her parents and her children and grandchildren all her life long show that the bonds of love formed between them will always, always be there no matter what else happens. They don't have to have an eternal banquet together and close off all other options in order to "stay together itsumo"; they can still love each other and live their lives according to what they want and need, even if it means being apart at times.

The other main criticism I hear is “I wanted one more Shikito chapter”, “We needed more Haru/Rin”, “But what about Momiji and his family?”, “But what ever happened to Ren?”, etc. You know, I think it was a little tough, especially for the many fans who have become more attached to some of the supporting characters than to Tohru and Kyo (which is only natural in a series with such a well-drawn ensemble cast), that we went through a period of thinking that the series would end in just a handful of chapters after the curse was broken, and then found out that it would be a little longer than what was anticipated. I think that may have raised expectations that [fill in the blank with your favorite supporting character] would receive more page time after all, when that was never Takaya-sensei’s plan.

I think most of those storylines did receive decent conclusions, in most cases before the climatic section began. For instance, the way things ended up in chapter 116, with Momji having a wistful conversation with his mother and making up his mind to look forward to his future free from the curse was, I thought, a perfectly good resolution to the storyline about him and his family. Moving it any farther—say, having him become more friendly with Momo and playing violin with her—would have been too complicated to include so close to the end of the series. Takaya-sensei could not possibly have done that and put the same kind of closure on everybody else’s favorite character’s storyline and reveal the truth about Kyoko’s last words—which I do think was essential—and put together an appropriate finale that would show almost the entire cast and give a general feeling of resolution.

People were disappointed that chapters 133-135 were primarily about Kyo and Tohru, and while I agree that some of the fluff from those chapters was not absolutely essential, I don’t think that any of the other suggestions that people have made for what should have been in its place are especially better. The visit to Kyoko’s grave was essential, I think, and the scene with Hana and Uo giving Kyo and Tohru’s relationship their blessing was also very good to include. The rest of it was fluff, yes, but…what should it have been instead? I maintain that most of the things people say they wanted could not possibly have been included and adequately resolved in the space that was instead taken by Kyoru fluff. I’m not saying I don’t see any cause to nit-pick. Personally, if I were writing the ending, I probably would have made the mix a little bit different; even though I am a Kyoru fan, I would have traded a little bit of the Kyoru fluff for a little more page space for the supporting characters—but it still would have been fluff. For instance, I would have chosen a scene where the Yuki fangirls react humorously to Yuki/Machi, and Machi shows that she is tough enough to handle it rather than a scene where the kids at school react to Kyo and Tohru’s new relationship. I think whatever took up those last few post-curse chapters had to be mainly fluff. Things like a confrontation between Ren and Akito or Momji reconciling with his family or Kagura starting up a new romance would have been much too complicated and out-of-place in the closing chapters. But even if I might have done the last few chapters a little differently, I think the choices Takaya-sensei made about what to include and what to leave out were just fine, and do not constitute any weakness in the writing. Probably the most strongly-written conclusion would just have condensed 133-135 into one chapter, but we know that Takaya-sensei probably had obligations to meet regarding the length of the final volume, and a more streamlined ending, which might have been better in terms of pure storytelling technique, would probably not have met practical commercial requirements. It may be that she had a choice between a couple chapters too many vs. a couple chapter too few, and so chose to give us some fluff instead of cutting something she felt was essential from the ending. Anyway, as I said, I'm satisfied, and I hope that most other fans will be, too, when they've had time to digest it.

And now, there is plenty of material left to write fanfic about. I have plans for a few stories. How about you?

Tags: furuba

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