Fruits Basket Complete Collection – This Sweet Lovin’ Life
Title: Fruits Basket
Anyone who has exchanged more than half a dozen words with me a convention can’t fail to be aware the I think Fruits Basket is da bomb. There may be a certain nostalgia element to that – it was the first manga I bought, and it was a constant presence throughout my adolescent years. However, please don’t let that detract at all from the fact that whilst the basic premise may sound a little crazy, it is AWESOME.
Tohru Honda, recently orphaned, takes it upon herself to camp out in the woods whilst her grandfather gets his house remodelled, reasoning that she’ll have to live on her own someday, so why not start now? One morning, exploring the area around her tent, she discovers a house belonging to Yuki Sohma, the ‘Prince’ of her school, and his cousin Shigure. After her tent is flattened in a landslide, they offer to take her in, on the basis that she can earn her keep by taking charge of the housekeeping. Shortly thereafter they are joined by Kyo Sohma, another cousin, who has been missing for 8 months.
The Sohma family have a dark secret. Members of their family are cursed, possessed by the vengeful spirits of the Chinese Zodiac. When they are hugged by a member of the opposite sex, or when their bodies are run down or weak, they turn into the animal they are possessed by. Shigure is the Dog, Yuki is the Rat and Kyo is the cat. The story of the cat in their version of the Zodiac is that he was tricked by the rat, and missed a banquet thrown by God because he thought it was the next day. As such, the cat is shunned by the rest of the Sohma family, and has an even darker secret than any of the rest of the family.
Fruits Basket follows Tohru as she becomes more and more a part of the Sohma family, meeting the members of the Zodiac and resolving to help them break their curse. This is where the manga and the anime begin to differ. As the anime was made before the manga was completed, the focus of the series is on the events in Volume 6 of the manga, fairly early on in the story, and around Kyo’s secret. Events are juggled around a bit to push this event later, so some events from later in the manga are moved fowards, but otherwise it is a fairly faithful adaptation.. Unfortunately, this perhaps makes the story feel incomplete with the anime, because so much is left unresolved, and a lot of characters still have not been introduced by this point, including a number of members of the Zodiac. Equally, for the extra drama the way that particular scene plays out is different from the manga as well, and it is perhaps the one flaw I can find in the series as I don’t think the change does Tohru’s character any credit.
The anime is really good fun though – it has a similar dynamic style which is developed in Ouran High School Host Club. It has a very sweet, wistful tone to it, and the dub VAs are actually pretty good. When I first watched this I had honestly expected to find Tohru irritating, as she is the sort of character who can easily come across that way when animated, but it is handled very well. I absolutely adore the manga, so it was very important to me that the anime adaptation had the same sort of feel to it, and it does. Wistful, sweet, gentle and at times slightly melancholy, but with hints of a deeper and darker story.
Sadly, the anime never gets further than hinting. Reading around, it seems that there had been hopes for a second series, but this sadly never materialised, leaving the series with a slightly unfinished feeling. This is disguised slightly by the shifted focus of the plot I’ve mentioned above, but there is no resolution to the overall story – is the curse ever broken? What is the true depth of it? And more importantly – who does Tohru get with?
If you’ve read the manga, you’ll know all these things, and the anime then acts as a wonderful supplement, but never quite a substitution for Natsuki Takaya’s wonderfully subtle art and delicate storytelling. Sadly, since Tokyopop’s infamous end in the world of manga publishing, volumes of the Fruits Basket manga are getting harder and harder to come by. As yet, there appears to be no word on whether anyone else will buy the license to what was once one of the top selling shojo manga in the world, but as it is a complete series, my hopes are sadly not high. Maybe if the sales of the complete anime collection do well, there is a chance?
Certainly, if you’ve read and loved the manga, you will enjoy the anime. Yes, some bits are changed or missed out, but they are not detrimental from the overall tone and effect of the series. If you’ve never read the manga, pick it up – you’ll be pleasantly surprised! And then perhaps the manga will be re-licensed.
By getting this? You’d be doing the world a favour.
Rating: 4 out of 5. And that’s only because it’s not longer.