Original Run: July 5, 2001 - December 27, 2001 Number of Episodes: 26 Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance, Supernatural Based on the Series Created By: Natsuki Takaya
***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Fruits Basket. Reader discretion is advised.***
Tohru Honda (voiced by Yui Horie) just lost her mother and through circumstances, is living out of a tent. Tohru hates the thought of being a burden on others; thus, she always faces her difficulties with a smile. Nevertheless, fate always seems to have its own plan.
Tohru’s plight is discovered by her classmate and school heartthrob, Yuki Souma (voiced by Aya Hisakawa), a member of the area’s most influential family. Yuki offers up his home to Tohru, to which she reluctantly accepts. While staying at Yuki’s, Tohru also becomes acquainted with Yuki’s cousin and rival, Kyo Souma (voiced by Tomokazu Seki).
Although hesitant to accept such kindness so freely, Tohru becomes involved with Yuki and Kyo’s family in a way she could never have expected. Tohru accidentally discovers the Souma clan’s biggest secret.
Yuki, Kyo, and other members of their family are cursed to transform into one of the animals of the Chinese zodiac. However, the real concern for Tohru isn’t so much what the Soumas’ curse is, it’s what the curse has done to cause great suffering to those afflicted by it.
Let’s ignore Fruits Basket‘s romantic elements. Although they were important, they aren’t what we should focus on. Instead, let’s explore what it was that allowed this series to be as fun as it was.
Therefore, let’s explore this show’s characters.
No person in Fruits Basket was ill crafted, and the vast majority of them, I will say, were integral to this series. As such, there was seldom a moment when there was an uninteresting collection of people on the screen.
We got to know who everyone was, as well as what they were thinking and glimpses into their pasts. We learned what made them act the way they did. Thus, when this show was funny, it was funny; the humor felt genuine. Conversely, these same characters made the more serious moments much stronger, too.
When this show was at its funniest, it was hilarious, and when it was at its most dramatic, it was gutwrenching.
The success of both was due to this story knowing what each extreme needed to accomplish and when. Fruits Basket understood that jokes and drama could exist in the same scene, but there were also instances where these tones needed to stay as far apart as possible.
A nice guideline I’ve noticed involves the order of when comedy and drama can come into play. This isn’t a hard-set rule, though it has proven to be a reliable setup:
Comedy works for an introduction, whereas drama works for exploration.
Fruits Basket was an easy watch. That said, this show had no business being twenty-six episodes long. There was a ton of stuff that was removable. This was a shame because there was unused material that could have filled the run time.
For example, in one episode, members of the fanatical Yuki fan club went to Tohru’s friend’s house to find dirt on Tohru.
Credit where it’s due, this episode was funny. However, it had no purpose to the story. This was time that could have and should have gone to other areas, such as developing more of Kyo’s character.
There may have been three leads, but Tohru and Yuki got the most attention. If the events of the anime are to be believed, things were shaping up for these two to become a couple. There wouldn’t be anything wrong with that it wasn’t for the fact that Kyo was the more logical route from a storytelling perspective.
Additionally, we didn’t even get the full Zodiac. The rooster and the horse never made an appearance. I thought the dragon hadn’t either, but it turned out he did, but this show failed to point out a weaken dragon form apparently looks like a wimpy seahorse.
Fruits Basket wasn’t lacking in possibilities, and yet, there were more efficient ways to fill twenty-six episodes. Had this show done that, the ending would have gone from strong to amazing.
Finally, and despite my enjoyment of this series, two questions are bothering me. Do they ruin this show? Not in the slightest, but it’s hard not to dwell on them.
The first revolves around the actions of Akito Sohma (voiced by Wakaba Murasaki). He was at the center of the Sohma’s curse. Everyone in the clan was bound to his will, and he was a massive dick.
Akito was cruel to the other Zodiac members. He was abusive, manipulative, and vile. He expected everyone to fall in line. No one could question him. If he suspected the smallest threat to his influence, he would destroy it. One such risk was Tohru.
In Akito’s mind, Tohru was a nuisance. The people he once had an iron grip over, found solace in her. For the first time, the Soumas would go against their leader. This infuriated Akito. He believed no outsider could understand what they were going through.
This begs the question. Why did Akito allow Tohru to know the Souma’s secret, to begin with? He could have had Tohru’s mind erased at the start and then boom, no more problem.
My second question reaches a little further. What was the curse?
I get how transforming into animals can be an inconvenience. It would make it a challenge to get close to other people. But as far as anime curses go, this one wasn’t that bad. I don’t see how it was as awful as everyone made it out to be.
Everyone’s backstories were sad in some way. But that had nothing to do with a curse. Or at least, not directly. Most of the characters grew up in a toxic environment. Neglect, overbearing, resentment, these were common. Except these were the results of the cruelty of people. There weren’t many loving parents in this story. And the ones that were were dead.
There was only one example of why the curse was terrible. Try and guess where this was. If you said, “the out of nowhere ending,” you would be right.
The problems I had with this show I brought up out of a sense of integrity. In reality, they do nothing to hamper how good this series is.
The characters are a ton of fun. And there are a lot of people to get to know. This meant a never-ending supply of enjoyment. This show got hilarious, adorable, and sweet. It also became somber, sad, and heartbreaking. This story knew how to navigate between these two extremes.
I have meant to watch this series for a long time. It was worth the wait. Fruits Basket is one to check out.
But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this show? How would you advise Fruits Basket? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
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