I first saw Fruits Basket in high school, right after I just finished my Black Butler phase and was ready for something new to grab my attention. Fruits Basket seemed like a good attention grabber, since I was coming from a show as depressing and, for lack of better term, black and white as Black Butler, I was looking for something funny and colorful. I’ve never been so right…and so wrong.
I should probably give a summary, huh? For those of you who don’t know, or have been living under a rock since 1999, or at least 2001, Fruits Basket is a romantic, comedic, supernatural tragedy. You see, it starts with the introduction of Tohru Honda, a teenage girl who was recently orphaned by the sudden death of her mother a month prior. Since then, she’s been living in a tent in the woods until one day she stumbles across the home of the prince of her school, Yuki Soma. A few conversations, jokes, and mysterious circumstances later, Yuki’s cousin, and the owner of the home, Shigure, brings another Soma, Kyo, to live in his home and he hires Tohru to be a housekeeper. With this, Tohru is out of the dangerous environment and in a secure home with a sturdy roof, while Shigure gets to see his floors again. However, Tohru quickly learns that the Soma family is cursed to transform into the 12 animals of the zodiac and the cat from an old folk tale where the cat was tricked by the rat from attending the party that decided the zodiac animals.
It was my friend AnimeAngel120 who first introduced me to Fruits Basket, and I remember I loved Shigure during my first viewing. However, after watching the show again, I decided that I like all the characters. The show was, and still is, colorful, thought-provoking, imaginative, and is a perfect mirror of the first arc of the manga, even if one more or less handled details better than the other. That’s right, I’m going there!
This is your last chance, from this point on, I’ll spoil both the anime and the manga, nothing held back. Fruits Basket is something that’s actually better going in blind, so come back when you’ve watched the show and/or read the books (or you can just skip down to the very last paragraph).
The first arc of the books, and the whole show, both end with Kyo being 100% accepted by Tohru. She accepts him in all three forms, his human form, his zodiac form, and his “true” form. However, I have to say this. The show does handle this better. In both, she says she’s afraid, but only in the show does she SHOW that she’s afraid. She hesitates, she freezes, she hyperventilates, she even goes to her mother’s grave for guidance. In the manga, she just runs after Kyo like nothing happened. Some argue that the books handle it better, with how she goes straight to Kyo to prove her love without hesitation, but I say not. In my opinion, it’s better how she is visually terrified and showing that she’s torn apart between her fear and love. By showing how hard it is for her to go to Kyo, by allowing him to see how hard it is for her, that she’s not giving into her fear no matter how fearful she is, that’s actually what Kyo had to see because it’s genuine. He even said so himself, “You don’t have to love everything. If you’re afraid, it just proves that you’ve really seen the real me” (Kyo’s words from episode 26).
The endings of all three arcs all revolve around Tohru and Kyo, and all test some aspect of their relationship. The first arc tests Tohru’s bravery to face her fear and accept the fact that Kyo is cursed to be something horrifying.
As for the second test, well, if I remember correctly, the second arc of the books ends with Kyo telling Tohru that it’s his fault her mother died. Now, this is where the books show that struggle that I was talking about earlier, Tohru’s love for Kyo vs. her resurfaced pain with the knowledge that her mother could still be alive if Kyo hadn’t been selfish and would’ve pulled her back to the sidewalk. However, again, Tohru’s pain is more or less brushed to the side without going to extremes, Kyo is forgiven, and it’s simply not touched on again.
Though that bothers me, it’s still a test of Tohru accepting Kyo as a very angsty human teenage boy who makes a million mistakes.
Lastly, the entire manga ends with the end of the zodiac curse. The books go over what really happened at the very first banquet. I don’t remember everything, but I do remember the cat DID go to the party, however, he wasn’t having as good a time as everyone else, and even died right there. God said that all he wanted was to see the cat happy, so he placed the curse until the day came when he saw for himself that the cat was haveing fun at the party. What brakes the curse is Akito, the head of the Soma family, seeing, and accepting that Kyo is happy with Tohru (it doesn’t explain how Kureno’s curse broke, or if the books did say, then I must’ve forgotten).
Though the last arc isn’t really a test for Tohru, it is, I believe, Tohru’s influence on Akito for him (or I should say her since he’s a she) to venture outside and enjoy life while it’s there.
Second, I wanna talk about how this show needs a GOD DAMN SEQUEL! And NOT the Black Butler treatment where the animators were just pulling whatever’s popular out of a “quick-n’-easy copycat generator” (I’m looking at you, Claude). I mean, I want a sequel where the staff pay just as much attention to detail as they did the first time. I want the Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood treatment here!
I want to see the curse broken in animation. I want to see Yuki’s struggles in the Student Council. I want to HEAR Yuki being called “Yun-Yun”. I want to see Arisa’s relationship with Kureno Soma. I want to watch Arisa, Saki, Kyo, and Yuki all shop for Tohru’s swimming suit. And I don’t care if it’s a flashback inside a flashback, I want to see Tohru’s parents falling in love.
Final thoughts, Fruits Basket, both the anime and the manga, are full of colorful characters. Every little conflict had me invested. I laughed and cried multiple times, but I recommend this to everyone, from adults to older children. I would be cautious for children under 10 years old though, there is light cursing, and HEAVY subjects like depression, mental disorders, and a misinterpretation of mothers (#MomForMomijiPlease). Watch the show, read the books, and tell me your own review in the comments. As always, have a beautiful rest of your day~!
But hey! What do I know? Grab the Fruits Basket DVDs, watch them yourself, or read the volumes 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 and make your own opinion (trust me, these links will save money in the long run if you buy the books)! Just keep that tissue box close by…