Fruits Basket Anime Review
US Release By
Romantic Supernatural Schoolyard Drama / Comedy
26 25-minute episodes
2001-07-05 - 2001-12-27
The story begins with Honda Tohru, an average high-school girl, who has led a very unfortunate life. Her father died of an illness when she was young and she recently lost her mother in a tragic car accident. She is left with virtually no family except her grandfather whom she lives with for a time, but eventually he has to remodel the house to accommodate more people. Thus, Tohru becomes homeless and lives in a tent in the woods while going to high school and working a part time job in the city.
One day as she's walking to school from her home, she comes across a house in the woods and something catches her eye. She sees 12 eggs with symbols for the Jyuunishi (the Chinese Zodiac) painted on them. She remembers the story of the animals and suddenly a young man appears followed by one of her classmates, Souma Yuki. After school and work Tohru is returning home when Yuki and Shigure (the man who owns the house) happen to be walking in the woods and see her entering the tent. They insist that she come to their house, and later that night a landslide buries her makeshift home making her homeless once more. However, her luck is about to change when she is invited to live with the mysterious Souma family and begins to learn of them and their secrets...
I've seen a lot of anime throughout the years, but this one has to be, hands down, my favorite. The characters are so lifelike and often when I was watching I would think to myself... "I've thought that way before; I wish someone would have said that to me too." This is definitely a story of forging true love and true redemption where hope is never lost and memories are never forgotten no matter how painful they are. Tohru, the main character, has suffered so much and sometimes you can't help but pity her, but you know "the wisest man is the one who suffers the most" and Tohru is the embodiment of that proverb. Even though she seems very simple even to the point of being naive, her words are so filled with her experiences and her sadness that you can't help but be touched by them. When she meets various members of the Jyuunishi and talks things over with them, you can feel both her kindness and her suffering through her words. If I could meet only one more person for the rest of my life, that person would be Honda Tohru and even though I'm old enough not to have dream girls anymore she still captured my heart and will capture anyone's heart regardless of who they are.
The other characters in the story are also very well developed. Towards the end you can see just what kinds of strain being a Jyuunishi puts on the mind and on the heart. The two main male characters (Kyou and Yuki) both develop in response to Tohru's kindness and as the story progresses you can see that change in the way they smile and treat others. Although these characters all contain a very dark past, Tohru is able to see beyond that and accept them for who they are.
Plot - 5/5
The plot of this story is simply amazing. It flows seamlessly and breathes life into the characters while putting them in circumstances that make them stronger. The story is never repetitive and will draw you in until you've watched 13 episodes straight and can hardly find your way to the bathroom (like me).
Characters - 5/5
The characters in this story develop well and, very importantly, they change over time. They learn from Tohru and as a result they stop running from their problems. The character design is very very good. From the flashy Ayame to the very very cute Kisa the characters are very unique, but they still manage to relate to you very well. Everyone will be able to find a character they can associate themselves with and everyone can understand the problems that these people face such as being bullied at school or dealing with your peculiar looks or even being afraid that your loved ones don't really love you. You'll constantly be thinking to yourself that you've thought the same thing before or felt the same way when you see these characters living just as you and I live (except in some cases not so extravagant... the Soumas are very rich). These characters are not perfect and this allows you to see their good sides as well as their bad as they struggle to change for the better. (btw I want Kisa to be my little sis!!)
Animation - 4.8/5
The artwork in this series is very good. The visuals are stunning and the characters are always very vibrant and give you the feeling that they stand apart from the rest of the world but yet they still try to survive in that world. The backgrounds are always nice and detailed and the characters themselves are simply beautiful. Sometimes the anime uses stick figures and even ghost like thingies but it all adds to the humor of the series and helps to better express the situation to the viewer.
Music - 4.5/5
The music in this series is fantastic. Although I would think that it cannot stand on its own, it fits into the series so incredibly well that it is amazing. Some scenes are just so sad and the music heightens the feeling of the entire series very well. The voice acting was also superb though I did find it kind of odd that Yuki's voice was so feminine (though he was much too pretty to be a normal guy anyways)... Anyways the translation of the opening song basically describes the philosophy of the story and what happens in it and the ending song is also very fitting. The only real problem I see is that there wasn't enough music but I'd sacrifice quantity for quality anyday.
Overall - 5/5
The series is incredible, simply put. It brings together a light humor with a touching story that will even help you learn about your own life and how to deal with your experiences. I know that some of my philosophies have changed after watching the series even though it is an anime, simply because some of what is said is so incredibly true. Also, I loved how it took some elements that could possibly become tedious and turned them into funny moments (such as the Yuki dance that occurs once or twice and is then fastforwarded through). There is so much emotion packed into this anime that it's really hard to believe, but it never overwhelms you or shoves you down, it is simply incorporated very well into the story so that it softly envelops you as you listen to the beautiful music and watch the events unfold. I'm a very very stoic guy and I haven't cried in over 15 years, but this anime brought me really close to tears which, to an extent I'm ashamed of, but which also serves as a testament to the quality of this series. I loved this anime so much that I felt it was my duty to write a review for it and encourage all of you out there to see it as well (and I'm a really lazy guy so this was a real feat for me). I hope you will take the time to watch this series and who knows, maybe besides entertaining you, it will help you in other ways as well.
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Notes and Trivia
Based on a popular and long-running comic series by Takaya Natsuki. The manga is available in English from Tokyopop.
FUNimation has a nice official Fruits Basket website with character profiles, Chinese Zodiac info, wallpapers, and a complete episode guide.
US DVD Review
FUNimation's DVDs have English and Japanese stereo audio and an accurate subtitle track. Extra features include textless opening and endings, character profiles, and behind-the-scenes features.
Suggested 13-up, mainly for mature themes.
Violence: 1 - There is a little fighting in the series but it is incorporated well (Kagura is hilarious).
Nudity: 1 - Nudity is suggested but it is never shown in the least amount.
Sex/Mature Themes: 2 - -There are a few times that they make jokes or sexual references but it's not bad at all.
Language: 1 - Nothing bad said at all really unless you wanna count people just being mean...