FURUBA FRIDAYS: Episode 9 - A Multicultural Festival

Welcome once again to Furuba Fridays, our weekly examination of the Fruits Basket Radio Drama created by JesuOtaku. Apologies that this week's entry is a day late - I spent my Friday night partying away at the Steampunk Yule Ball at the Exeter Phoenix. Suffice to say a good night was had by all.
Fruits Basket Radio Drama 
Having spent much of the last few weeks talking about the darker turns the series will shortly be taking, this episode is an altogether lighter affair - one might almost call it "cute". The word "cute" crops up an awful lot in Episode 9, particularly in relation to Yuki when he's wearing the dress given to him by the senior girls. Not being an expert in either Fruits Basket or adaptive scriptwriting, it is not my place to suggest how else the characters' reactions should have been conveyed, but it is almost as though JO has a particular fondness for the word - or at least a firm belief that it reflects the material.
My obsession over single words aside, this episode is also significant for being the formal introduction to Momiji and Hatori Sohma, both of whom turned up in small capacities in last week's episode. One bubbly and childlike, the other grown-up and intimidating, they are at this stage of the story complete opposites and bring a lot of humour in their interactions with Yuki, Kyo and Tohru. Their introductions epitomise this, with Momiji running in from the background to jump on Yuki's back, and Hatori gently striding into view with a long-suffering tone to his voice.
In a couple of weeks I'll be posting up an interview that JO did with Majorikku and Ben Watson, who play Momiji and Hatori respectively. I therefore won't spend too much time this week talking about their interpretation of the characters - and also because both characters will change quite substantially in the coming weeks. Suffice to say, both of them do a very good job, with Majorikku being endearingly obnoxious (especially with all the crying) and Ben Watson capturing the subtle changes in Hatori's emotional and mental state.
This is also the first school-set episode we have had in over a month, the last one being the card games in Episode 4. There is, therefore, a lot more work involved with extras and Foley effects to recreate the atmosphere of a busy, bustling classroom with stalls breaking and people running all over the place. JO does a sterling job here, particularly with the mixing of Momiji's entrance and the various female extras who comment on Yuki's appearance. It really does feel like you're part of a big crowd gathered in a echoey, three-dimensional space.
On top of the mixing, the adaptive scripting does a much better job than the manga of conveying the reaction to Yuki wearing the dress. While the manga deals with it in a couple of pages, JO gives us an audio montage with first the girls and then the boys all talking over each other. This simple decision keeps the action feeling natural and allows more humour to emerge from the crowd's reactions. It also means that episodes like this hold up to repeat listening, since there's always some other comment nestled in there that we didn't pick up the last time around.
All in all, there's a lot of fun to be had in this episode, with plenty of entertaining interaction between the characters. Phil Burgraff gets more room as Kyo to berate Yuki (and then suffer the consequences), with his discussion about tulips with Momiji epitomising his impulsive nature. Evan Bremer continues to impress as Yuki, getting to be more disgruntled and still managing to surprise Tohru with his compliments. Even with the sting in its tail, this is a highly entertaining episode.

So, having set things up nicely, here is Episode 9 for your enjoyment! Don't forget you can download last week's episode at the link just below this week's video. Join me next week for another (on time) Furuba Friday, when we take a trip to visit Hatori and move into double figures...
Download Episode 8 - All Shapes and Sizes here

NEXT WEEK: Episode 10 - Doctor's Orders