Fruits Basket

Reviewed by: Lily N.

November 12, 2004

Rating: four-point-five

(26-episodes, July 5, 2001-December 27, 2001)

Creator – Natsuki Takaya

Production Company – TV Tokyo

Director -
Akitaro Daichi

Voices done by:
Tohru Honda – Horie Yui
Yuki Souma – Hisakawa
AyaKyou Souma – Seki Tomokazu
Shigure Souma – Okiayu RyoutarouHatori
Souma – Inoue Kazuhiko
Ayame Souma – Miyamoto Mitsuru
Akito Souma – Wakaba Murasaki
Kyoko Souma - ?
Uotani Arisa – Imai Yuka
Hanajima Saki – Yasuhara Reiko

Fruits Basket is a very touching anime series with 26 episodes and at first glance, the plot is a typical fish-out-of-water story that is doused with beautiful males, and a promise of a lot of love triangles to tangle things up. But that’s not it at all.

Quick Synopsis:
Tohru Honda is high school student who is now homeless because her mother had died a year ago, and the only place she can stay at is now undergoing construction. She is living in a tent in the woods and when walking home, she saw a house and ran into Yuki Souma, who is crowned the Prince at school because he is absurdly handsome and very nice to boot, and his older cousin Shigure there. They talked, and later, Tohru’s tent is destroyed through a landslide, and she faints due to a flu. So Yuki asks her to stay with him and his cousin, Tohru reluctantly agrees and this begins the series.

At the beginning of time, when God is deciding the calendar, he told the animals to show up for a meeting that will decide their order in the Zodiac years. Deceitful that he is, the mouse told the cat the wrong day, and then rode to the meeting on the head of the ox, and ended up being the first animal in the Zodiac, the only one got left out is the cat.

The Souma is cursed by this wrong, so for every generation, members of the Souma family will be borned to represent an animal of the Zodiac, and they will turn into that animal if hugged by the opposite sex. So imagine the fun Tohru has.

Tohru – naïve, sweet and kind. A little bit clumsy and dense sometimes, but always says the right thing and a lovely human being all around.

Yuki – the Prince. He is too good-looking for his own goods, and get mocked by Kyou for his feminine looks. His voice is done by a female seiyuu, so when he first appeared, I didn’t know if he was a guy or girl. Because Yuki is the mouse, he is thought to have things very easy in life, so Kyou deeply resents Yuki for this, and they are constantly fighting.

Kyou – He is the cat and is treated badly when he was a child, so Kyou has a loud and obnoxious attitude to people. A lot is not revealed about Kyou until the last few episodes and then, you truly love him because even if he is not easy to love like Yuki, he is worthy at the same time.

Shigure – To say the least, Shigure is very easy going and a constant surprise. At first, he is a bum who wanders around the house in his kimono and does nothing but laugh at Yuki and Kyou, but to have survived the Souma family intact is quite a feat.

Hatori and Ayame – Hatori is a doctor, and Ayame is Yuki’s older brother, also is a cross-dresser with a flair for anything flamboyance. These two together and Shigure are childhood friends that provide support for each other, and the running gag is that Ayame is in love with Hatori and constantly wants to move in with him.

Akito – he is portrayed as the evil guy, and until the end, I am still not sure what animal of the Zodiac he is, or if he is an animal at all. He controls the Souma family, and everyone follows what he says.

Kyoko – she is Tohru’s mother, and through Tohru, we learn that she is a kind and strong woman who raised a child by herself and did a wonderful job of it.

Uo and Hana – they are Tohru’s close friends and defend her from the Yuki’s fan club at school.

At first meeting Tohru, she is annoyingly cute and so nice that you want to grate your teeth, but as the series progressed, you realized Tohru is nice because she is honestly that way, and she is the only good thing that is happening to these Souma characters for a very long time.

The Souma family is rich and reclusive, so what goes on behind the high walls are kept hush-hush even though the hints are given that they are not very nice things at all. More Soumas keep showing up, and at first look, they are all beautiful creatures with amazing talents, but almost all of them boast a sad past that kept me crying constantly.

The wonderful thing about this series is its characters, they are vivid and real. Yuki might be handsome and a Prince in everyone’s eyes, but to Tohru, he is just a little boy still trying to get someone to love him unconditionally. He once said, “I keep being nice to people so they’ll like me. It’s like giving people candies.” It’s sad and it reveals his vulnerability, making him real. Tohru is wonderful and nice, but she is naïve and at times stupid. Yet she opens her arm and accepts everyone, no matter that they are a cross-dresser or self-destructive and dangerous. This is the girl that everyone should have as a childhood friend or at least meet once in their life. It is easy to understand why both Yuki and Kyou care so much for her, and in return, she makes their lives worthy and bright.

The series is very shoujo in nature, and has little actions. It develops slowly and introduces new character at each episode. There is a sense of peace at the beginning, and humour when you first meet a character, especially Ayame because he’s so out there, and Yuki is so embarrassed at him, but the underlying current is that Ayame is sorry for abandoning Yuki when he was young, and from that point on, Yuki has never reached out for him again. So at the end of each episode, you get to know the new character really well and identify with them some way or another.

"Fruits Basket" is not overwhelmed with love triangles, and even the central love story is not really admitted out loud at all, you just know that Yuki and Kyou care for Tohru very much, and Tohru returns both their affections. The most touching love is Hatori and the woman he was going to marry, only that she discovers his real identity. Normally the girl would be running away or accept him fully, but not here. "Fruits Basket" showed a woman wanting to accept her lover for all that he is, but she is just mentally incapable of it, and the sacrifice Hatori was willing to make just make me cry buckets. He asked Tohru, “What do you get when the snow melts?” Tohru said, “Spring.” And this shows the fundamental characters that they are. Tohru is willing to believe and Hatori has given up on hope.

Fruits Basket is essentially about relationships, about love and our willingness to accept people. Most of the characters are damaged in some ways, and they don’t expect to be whole again. Even at the end, the characters are not wholly happy, and there is no happily ever for them, but you know that they are better and getting there. Although I really want to see a second season so more questions are answered, especially about Akito. He is evil, but he is sad because of his slot in life. He was dealt a crappy card, and instead of taking it like it is, he decided to make others’ lives miserable too, and I wonder if Tohru can save him.

I greatly recommend this series, there is so much more than the pretty characters. There is the humour, especially all the cut screen methods they used and the dialogue by Shigure and Ayame, and the lovely depictions of what acceptance really is. The series is not widely available, and there is
no DVD release in the US yet, so try to get on MIRC and search for it. The manga is beautiful too, with the artwork being very typical for a shoujo audience.

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