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Fruits Basket Review

Genres: Drama Comedy Supernatural Romance All
Series' Year of Release: 2001
Number of Episodes: 26
Review Date: 20-5-2009
Review Language: Dub
Review DVD Region: R4 Available in Australia
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Review By: Bradley Beeck

Fruits Basket features Tohru Honda as its central character as she discovers the secret of the Sohma family while living with them. They are cursed to transform into animals of the zodiac when hugged by the opposite sex or when under pressure. While dealing with the recent death of her mother Tohru brings new life to the blighted Sohma house hold through her indomitable spirit.

fruits_basket007Fruits Basket is based on a hugely successful manga that continued for many years after this series was made. Iíve only read the first volume of the manga and at it times the anime was shot for shot with it. Wikipedia tells me a few things were changed but theyíre largely minor. Through the series we meet most of the zodiac cursed Sohmaís with the exception of the horse and the rooster. Theyíre also mostly bishounen Ė pretty boys.

fruits_basket012The story of Fruits Basket is the story of the Sohma family and Tohruís interaction with its members. The three main family members are Yuki, Kyo, and Shigure all of whom Tohru lives with after her tent is destroyed in a landslide. She was staying on their land after her motherís death. All three of the aforementioned Sohmaís are cursed and turn into a rat, cat and dog respectively. Tohru herself is an orphan and a highschooler who always puts other people before herself; hence why she was living in a tent. Each of the Sohmaís has emotional problems because of the zodiac curse. Tohru through her motherís wisdom and gentle upbringing helps them deal with their problems in some small way. For example Yuki and Kyo always fight because in the legend of the zodiac the rat played a trick on the cat. Tohruís helps Yuki to open up and Kyo to control his temper. In essence we meet a member of the zodiac, learn above their problems, help them and then move onto the next member. Itís all pretty sweet and demonstrates the power of friendship. However itís possible to look at it like the Sohmaís dumping all their emotional problems onto an orphaned teenage girl.

fruits_basket018The series while featuring a lot of drama and emotion is also a comedy. Things are kept light almost the entire time with character quirks and exaggerated reactions. As well as inopportune zodiac transformations which leave characters naked when they return to normal. A few times the transformations felt forced like when Tohruís female friends come to stay over for a night. The show uses character narration to voice a characterís own thoughts occasionally. This is done when going over a past experience or anecdote. The trouble is it happens while theyíre with other characters and itís hard to tell if theyíre actually saying it or just thinking it. Either way most of it should be said. Hanajima, Tohruís friend, is a prime offender in this area with her fondness for monologues.

fruits_basket029While the manga continued long after the anime this series does have a conclusion, as much of one as you can expect from a series of this type anyway. Thereís a twist in the last two episodes that comes out of no where and sends the show into seriously dramatic territory. I donít know why itís such a big issue when itís essentially the same thing theyíve been doing from the start. Some of the scenes in these episodes feel like writer hand waving because characters appear when they really shouldnít. Again Wikipedia informs me that this section was changed from the manga considerably. I guess the producers wanted a dramatic conclusion. The question of why or how the Sohmaís are cursed is never answered.

fruits_basket043Fruits Basketís animation is still good and is a higher quality than Comic Party which was produced in the same year. There are no fancy sequences for the Sohmaís transformation into animals; it just happens in a puff of smoke. The dub acting struck me as being excellent for the core cast which is something I usually donít pay much attention to unless itís grating. The music on the other didnít raise any flags one way or another. The OP For Fruits Basket by Ritsuko Okazaki and the ED Little Prayer again by Ritsuko Okazaki are of the same mold Ė very sweet. The ED somehow grew on me despite the singing sounding off.

Fruits Basket can be succinctly summed up as: Tohru meets zodiac member, learns about them, and then helps them. Itís a simply formula that works for the most part allowing the show to take us through an emotional terrain. Tohru is really quite indomitable, almost this perfect person who sees the good in others and puts others before her self. Itís a trait that shines through the blighted world of the Sohmaís. The series isnít that heavy though thanks to the comedy elements which work along side the dramatic moments without interfering. Fruits Basket is a mighty fine series.