FURUBA FRIDAYS: Episode 10 - Doctor's Orders

Welcome to this week's edition of Furuba Fridays, our detailed look at the Fruits Basket Radio Drama created by JesuOtaku. This week we're into double figures, but with a trepidatious visit to the main house on the cards, there's not much time for celebration...
Fruits Basket Radio Drama
When I first began Furuba Fridays back in September, I said that I would try very hard to keep these posts as spoiler-free as possible, only hinting at future developments rather than spelling them out. This week's episode puts me in a quandary, since a significant proportion of it deals with events that will be spelled out in more detail in Episode 12, which takes place largely in flashback and which we won't cover until January. I can't ignore the events, since they also have a bearing on the rest of this episode, but suffice to say today I'll be speaking in even more vague terms than usual.
Episodes 10 and 12 both deal with a deeply traumatic event in the backstory of Hatori Sohma, specifically with a relationship he had with an intern called Kana and how that shapes his present-day demeanour. While Episode 12 goes into great detail about said relationship and its consequences, this episode is more portentous in nature. Having had the calm before the storm in last week's funny episode, much of this week's instalment is about creating a feeling of dread and coming sadness, epitomised structurally by the main house and the long shadow cast by Lord Akito.
On that front, JO does a really good job in this episode. I particularly like the different musical choices she makes, showcasing the various themes that Ken Clayton produced especially for this radio drama. The lighter moments, such as Shigure planning his pranks or Momiji's explanation regarding different members (stop laughing), are scored either with gentle, whistful piano or upbeat cello, sugar-coating any bitter pills of exposition we have to swallow. Hatori's monologue about "fun and games", on the other hand, is backed by a more ambiguous guitar and flute, which brings out the more threatening quality in Ben Watson's voice.
While last week's episode was dominated by Momiji, this is very much Watson's piece. Not only does he get a large section of the dialogue, but the writing of this episode showcases just how subtle a part Hatori is, and how good Watson is at playing him. The restraint he applies to playing Hatori makes him seem all the more considered and fastidious, so that all of his comments become loaded and discomforting. There is dry humour in the mix towards the end, in the exchange involving the camera, but we're still left wondering whether that is the real Hatori or merely a defence mechanism. It's a very fine performance, and you'll hear more next week about the craft that went into it.
The other source of intimidation in this episode comes from Akito. He only has two lines in the whole piece, but both of them are enough to send a wide-eyed shiver down your spine. Ironically, neither line appears in the manga, with the latter being foreshadowing to Episode 12 and the former being JO's invention. In each case, the production is close and intimidating, putting us in the same room as the characters while keeping the threat of Akito engrossingly amorphous. At this stage of the story, we still have no idea what his purpose is or the reasoning behind it. In fact, as Tohru points out, we may not know that much about the curse either.
JO makes several other changes in the script for this episode, all of which blend seamlessly and bring something to the overall experience. She gives Heather McDonald a great monologue describing Akito's expression as he leans out of the window, bringing to life one of the most famous images from the manga. She adds a conversation between Shigure and Hatori while this is going on, which gives more of an indication about their relationship beyond the comic relief bickering of their first interaction. And she omits the final page in the manga involving Hana's remarks to two other schoolgirls - a page which comes out of nowhere and has no bearing on the events covered here.

I think that's plenty to digest and look out for this time around, so sit back, relax and take in Episode 10. Don't forget you can download last week's episode as a mp3 file through a link below the Blip video. If you feel any side effects from this week's episode, take two doses of Momiji and call me in the morning. See you next week!
Download Episode 9 - A Multicultural Festival here

NEXT WEEK: An Interview with Momiji and Hatori...