Just like the title says, I love Fruits Basket. I saw the heart-wrenching and tear duct-drying dramedy anime when I was a teenager. Though, I did not know about the manga until some time later. Since the story has been completed for quite a while (the manga ended in 2006) I will be talking about it with no restraint regarding spoilers. So, warning: POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD!
Fruits Basket (フルーツバスケット, Furuutsu Basuketto) is a Japanese shoujo manga penned by Natsuki Takaya. The manga started in 1998 and was adapted into an anime TV series in 2001. As the manga was still ongoing when the anime started its production, parts of the story in the TV show had to be changed. The anime contains 26 episodes while the manga has 23 volumes.
Currently, Funimation is streaming the complete anime in the US, both subtitled and dubbed. Yen Press is publishing the manga.
Fruits Basket, often shortened to Furuba or Fruba, is the story of Tohru Honda’s life after a fated meeting with three of the Sohma family members. She accidentally finds out certain Sohma family members are cursed based on the tale of the Chinese zodiac. The cursed ones will turn into their respective animals when hugged by a member of the opposite sex (that is not afflicted), stressed, or physically weak. It just so happens that the three Sohmas she meets are cursed.
Due to an unfortunate circumstance, Tohru ends up staying with the three Sohmas: Kyo the Cat, Yuki the Rat, and Shigure the Dog. As fate would have it, she gets to meet the other cursed individuals and winds up being the key to breaking the curse itself. Yes, the Sohmas is a big family with many members. From the looks of it, the main family branch seems pretty well-off too.
What I Love About Fruits Basket:
Furuba has, what I consider, two extreme motifs. The house of Sohma is peppered with crazy abusive stories, some of which just put cracks in my heart. Many Sohmas, cursed or not, have experienced physical and/or mental trauma. The one that hurt me the most? Momiji Sohma’s past. On the other hand, Fruits Basket is also a story full of love and positivity. On to the next point!
Tohru Honda the perpetually positive protagonist
Many of the story’s uplifting moments are provided by Tohru. She is one of the nicest and most forgiving female protagonists ever. If there is anything that Furuba needs, it is definitely her. She has changed many people’s lives with her kindness and positivity. Many Sohmas who have dark pasts eventually come to view her as a true friend, a loving family member they have never had, and, for some, a romantic interest. I find her easily likable because of her personality. Her interactions with many of the cursed ones are also endearing.
Playing with “fate” in its narrative
Another theme in Fruits Basket is fate. Many things in it seem fated or destined to happen. Some examples: Kyo met Tohru’s deceased mom long ago, thirteen of the Sohmas are fated to carry the curse from generation to generation, one of them will be cursed as the “God”, and lastly, young Tohru cried when she hears that the Cat failed to make it into the Chinese zodiac. Well, guess what? She ends up with Kyo the cat and both live happily until old age.
Okay, some people might not like this idea because it may seem forced and I can understand that.
The melancholic but sweet opening
“For Fruits Basket” is the title of the anime opening. It sets the tone very, very well: melancholy with a hint of somberness, some dashes of sweetness, some crunches of hope, and a nice, slow, slightly more upbeat finish. Hmmm… Sounds like I was describing some beverage.
Portrayal of love of different kinds
We, the viewers, get to learn a lot about the dark, traumatizing pasts of the Sohmas. But we also see many different kinds of love. Romantic love is a given because this is, after all, a shoujo series. Then there is the parental love as seen from Tohru’s mom and dad toward Tohru herself. Strong friendship bonds between Tohru and her two best friends/surrogate parents, Arisa Uotani and Saki Hanajima. There is also sibling-like love between Tohru and Kisa Sohma (the tiger) as well as Hatsuharu Sohma (the bull) and Kisa. When contrasted with the violent and bleak occasions, those tender and loving moments shine very brightly. That brings me to the next point…
So much cuteness
OHMAISOCUTEBRLLPPHHHH… *Ahem* There are surprisingly, and thankfully, many cute moments. From the comedic daily happenings to the first times Tohru finds out about the animal forms. Plus, the animal forms of the cursed individuals often look comical and adorable. These occasions provide yet another counter-balance to the grim happenings of the Sohma family.
Those are some of the reasons why I love the series. I am sure you have yours too. By the way, do you have a favorite Sohma? Mine is Hatori because of his strength and willpower to do some of the dirty work that only he can.
(Sources: Ani TAY Kinja, Time (Natsuki Takaya interview), Wikipedia (Fruits Basket), and Fruits Basket Wikia)
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