Fruits Basket is a delightful, comedic high school drama with a splash of conflict and darkness that will keep you coming back for more. The anime is based on the Shojo manga of the same title written by Natsuki Tayaka. The story centers on a first year high school student named Tohru Honda, who is trying to find her role in life after losing her mother. In the meantime, she befriends various members of the Sohma family, in particular Yuki, Kyo, and Shigure, with whom she ends up staying while her grandfather’s home is being remodeled. Tohru soon learns that the Sohma family is cursed to live as humans who are possessed by the animals of the
Chinese zodiac into which they transform when hugged by a member of the opposite sex.
Fruits Basket will have you laughing hysterically, crying with the characters, and all the while desperately searching for answers. The character relationships and development are key to the story of Fruits Basket. In order to ensure that the characters are realistic, the motivations behind their actions are explored through flashbacks and the budding relationships. This creates characters that are not just good or evil, but more well-rounded and realistic.
It should be said there are differences between the anime and manga story lines, due in part to the anime having been made before the conclusion of the manga’s run. In addition, many necessary alterations were made for the storyline to transfer properly into an anime. These changes do not affect the loveliness of the story, and in some cases, as with the childlike character Momiji, the anime is able to develop the character in a way the manga could not.
The art of Fruits Basket at first gives the impression of a typical shojo anime with beautifully designed characters with sharp faces and large eyes. But as the anime progresses, it becomes clear there is so much more. On-screen feeling expressions common to both manga and anime are used not only to convey what a character is thinking but also to comedic effect. Additional humor comes from the characters’ occasional breaking of the fourth wall as well as the series’ self-reflexivity. And a lot of work was put into minor details. For instance, in the newspapers that Shigure reads throughout, you are able to see even the smallest characters with clarity. This is credited, by the series director Akitaroh Daichi, to the use of computer animation in the creation of this anime.
At first, I was not keen on the opening song, which was written and performed in the original Japanese by singer/songwriter Ritsuko Okazaki and performed in the English version by Laura Bailey, the voice of Tohru. The similarities in the Japanese and English versions of the song are amazing in both sound and emotionality, revealing the great respect shown to the source material by the English cast and writers. The more I watched the anime, the more I realized how well the song fit the mood of the series, and its use within the episodes definitely works to solidify its correctness. In addition, the background music enhances the mood of the anime, whether scenes are comedic, dramatic, or fight scenes between members of the Sohma family. Whether you prefer to watch anime in its original Japanese audio or the English dub, with Fruits Basket, you will not be disappointed.
This Funimation release includes five discs and a series guide. The first four discs contain the 26 episodes of the anime, while the fifth disc contains the special features. The special features are comprised of a mixture of original Japanese special features and newly crafted English ones. One Japanese special feature is a short series called Fruits Basket Room, in which Yui Horie, the original voice of Tohru, speaks with members of the main Japanese voice cast. The new special features include an English cast interview and auditions.