Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Fruits Basket (2001)

FRUITS BASKET
SERIES DIRECTOR: AKITARO DAICHI
MANGA BY: NATSUKI TAKAYA
STUDIO: STUDIO DEEN
NUMBER OF EPISODES: 26
OVERALL SCORE: 8.25/10


After the death of her mother, quiet, unassuming, high school girl Tohru Honda opts to live alone in the forest after the rest of her family rejects her. After an accident destroys her self made tent/home she is taken in by the Sohma's, a reserved family who take a liking to her kindness. Though Tohru quickly finds all is not well with the Sohmas, as they are actually cursed by the zodiac animals, and transform when shown any real affection.

I have to admit, judging by the pictures I avoided Fruits Basket for a long time, because it just looked too "bubbly." And for the first few episodes the show was very much that. Comically over the top, lots of random fighting, and really a collection of amusing moments. It doesn't take long for that tone to change though. As Tohru, and in turn ourselves, get to know the Sohma's better, we gain a deeper understanding of our painful their lives are. Unable to be held by their mothers, avoided by family, and ruled by a rather tyrannical family head, they are a somber group that struggles emotionally each day.

Tohru in essence becomes their cure (far more literally in the manga adaptation). Her unwavering kindness, and seemingly infinite sympathy, reaches deep into the heart of each of them. Throughout the series these are without a doubt my absolutely favorite moments. They're powerfully heartfelt, and really get deep into the struggles of each character.

Not to mention Tohru's close friends, who are able to provide a leveling factor for Tohru, and some great comedic moments (including one Blair Witch style episode). It allows for these heartfelt moments to gain a certain sentiment of levity. Creating a simple, enjoyable, tale for the viewer to be immersed in.

The show's real weakness lies in its main decision. Without the length of the manga, the show delves into 26 episodes in which about 20 characters are introduced and examined (with some getting a couple repeats). While this offers great insight into the world of the Sohma's, the huge downside is plot. Throughout the series the main arc of Tohru, the love two of the Sohma brothers Yuki (the "school prince") and Kyo (the red headed family reject) have for her is put on the back burner. It's never fully explored, and only a few real plot developments are made.

Of course the obvious upside of deep character analysis, and hilarious episodes, is a good countering factor. Still, there's always this overbearing knowledge that with a handful of cuts, they could have gone more into the core relationships. Putting aside the random episodes (while mostly amusing), and offering the viewer something truly epic.

Incredibly memorable, with a wide breadth of emotion, Fruits Basket is a powerfully entertaining, and emotionally wrenching series that'll keep you in until the final episode. The only thing that prevents it from near, to even absolute, perfection is too few episodes, and too many characters.


3 better thoughts:

Castor said...

At last one of those Japanese manga I read! I never finished this manga though and didn't get past the first volume if I remember right :(

Sasha (The Final Girl Project) said...

One of my friends in high school was slightly obsessed with this. I never asked her about it, and I guess I was right not to. "Cursed by the zodiac animals, and transform when shown any real affection"? What the hell, that's messed up.

Univarn said...

@Castor That's a shame, I read the manga quite a bit, and enjoyed it for a while, but Manga's go on for far too long to maintain my interest.

@Sasha Well it is a fantasy show, so there is that. It's a rather interesting stretch, but the show does a good job of selling it.

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