I love Fruits Basket, as does the world. The manga is a delight and the 2001 anime is one of my all-time favourites. This final season goes for heavy emotions and had anime fans around the world in tears. Personally, I liked Season 1 and Season 2 of this remake anime, despite seeing its problems growing over time, but Season 3 is where the show dropped off a cliff for me. I more or less hated it.
BIG SPOILERS, by the way.
The root problem is that I lost all interest in Akito. Her behaviour's been evil, yet we're expected to care when she becomes messed up about that. She stabbed Kureno. She pushed Rin out of an upstairs window, then locked her up without food in a place where no one's allowed to go. That's attempted murder. Before the show started, she'd half-blinded Hatori in an attack that sent his fiancee insane with grief and guilt, so Hatori had to mind-wipe her. She's done lots of things like that and her victims' crimes had always been loving someone who's not Akito.
In other words, it was jealousy.
Theoretically, Akito's emotional journey is interesting and complicated. I'd disagree, but it could be argued that the show doesn't forgive her. Gaining a bit of self-awareness makes her beat herself up about everyone's refusal to bash her for her actions. The last episode notably has Rin declaring that she can't forgive Akito, then Hatori turns up.
Personally, though, I couldn't take it. So you feel bad about not being blamed? Boo hoo. Don't worry, I still blame you. You're going to get off scot free, with a handsome lover and everyone still kow-towing and letting you do whatever you want. Happy ending. No comeuppance. No police. Kureno has forgiven you, which is fine if that's really his choice... but what about your other victims? What if Rin had died? (Lucky not to have done.) What about Hatori and his fiancee, who's been mind-wiped and so isn't capable of forgiveness? Besides, the family's magical bond had left them incapable of disobeying Akito's orders, no matter how vile.
The moral of the story: boo-hoo makes everything all right, with no consequences. Piss right off.
What's more, we can identify a pattern. The show has a thing for foul-mouthed aggressive bad boys who are secretly sensitive and can be Healed by the Love of a Good Woman. Consider Kyou. He's been on a journey from "brainless violent dick" to "extremely boring", with the reason for the latter being depression. He did a bad thing. His reason for not saving Touru's mother's life was horrifying and I'd vote "guilty" if I were on the jury. Firstly, you can pull someone backwards without hugging them. Secondly, even if he'd turned into a cat in front of everyone, no one on the street would have understood what they were seeing and he'd have escaped just fine. (Incidentally, his interpretation of Kyouko's last words is stupid, since she hadn't known he was there and she certainly wouldn't have known that he'd had a chance to save her life.)
Touru forgives him, which is okay. When she forgave him on her mother's behalf, though, I told her to sod off. Touru, you don't have that right. You can be okay with second-degree murder, thanks to the Magical Forgiving Power of Boo-Hoo, but don't put words into the mouth of the dead victim.
Oh, and Hiro's basically a younger Kyou.
All this is what the show's built on. Kyou's the protagonist's love interest. Akito's the big bad villain. This is what pushes Natsuki Takaya's buttons and she disliked the 2001 anime for making (accurate) fun of Kyou.
That's from the manga, although there I think it works. Seeing these people moving and talking for 63 flipping episodes hammers things home in a different way. Now we have the anime.
Good grief, it's hard going. These episodes are a depressing slog. There's no end to the self-obsessed evil and people blaming themselves. This is supposedly a faithful adaptation of the manga, so I actually took the volumes down from my bookshelf to compare them. Nope, sorry. Even if the events are similar, the manga's nowhere near this heavy. The artwork is light and quick to read. The pages fly past. You're not drowning in Sturm und Drang.
There are, admittedly, points where the anime tries to lighten the tone. Earlier seasons had been funny. Here, they failed. I could see that jokes were being attempted, but I couldn't laugh. The "happy ever after" last episode manages to be funny, though.
But don't believe me. This season is an emotional freight train and a lot of people were stunned (in a good way). There's wit and charm in the show's large supporting cast. It's powerful and sincere. Personally, though, I lost patience with the show somewhere around the point where Akito was yelling "why does everyone betray me?" (The question throughout, my dear, has been why they obey you instead of killing you.) I'm opposed to the art shift. I notice that the show's almost forgotten about those animal transformations. I struggle with the central Touru-Kyou romance, which strikes me more as a manga-ka indulging her fetishes than as humans making decisions I can relate to. (I also worry about Touru and Kyou's children. If we can trust genetics, then you'd be wondering whether or not the children would have enough brains to breathe and eat without assistance.)
Delete. Don't watch. Go enjoy the 2001 anime.