Review: Fruits Basket (2001) Anime | My Reviews 10 DEC 2013

fruits basket animeHonda Tohru is a naive, clumsy, sensitive girl who cares way too much for others. Her mom just passed away, leaving her to fend for herself. Not wanting to burden her grandfather any longer, she decides to strike out on her own. That pretty much means living in a tent out in the middle of the woods.

However, it would seem that the woods aren’t as uninhabited as what they first seemed. The land currently belongs to Souma Shigure, a laid-back novelist who acts more like a child than an adult. Shigure lives together with the stoic but brilliant Souma Yuki and the socially-inept, bad-tempered Souma Kyo. Both Kyo and Yuki are the same age as Tohru, with Yuki even attending the same school as her.

However, not all is well in the Souma family. The Souma family lives under a terrible curse, the curse of the Juunishi. Members who receive the curse are forced to share their body with a body of an animal in the Juunishi or Chinese Zodiac. When hugged by a member of the opposite sex, their bodies transform into their animal form. Forced to keep this secret from all, members of the Souma family struggle to integrate fully into a normal society.

Accepting Tohru into his house, Shigure and the others begin to form a relationship with the always cheerful, always compassionate Tohru. It would appear that no matter how sad or hard life treats her, Tohru always makes time for others. Could it be that Tohru is the key to unlocking the hearts and easing the pain that haunts the Souma family so?

Fruits Basket is a touching story about a clumsy, naive girl with a big heart and how she changes those people hurting around her. Honda Tohru has an impact on everyone she meets, working hard to remove their sorrows without them even realising it. She’s had more than her fair share of pain and troubles, yet she has always overcome them, always putting others ahead of herself. How can one with so much sorrow have the biggest and warmest smile of all?

Fruits Basket is a beautiful story that is as comedic as what it is sad. The show will have you laughing and crying and cheering all at once. Using the interesting twist of the Juunishi curse to bring in its humour as well as tension, Fruits Basket creates a world that is real, and yet at the same time manages to maintain an air of fantasy about it. Spice up the tension, sorrow and happiness with a lot of silly humour, and Fruits Basket becomes a great show to watch. Aimed mainly at girls and young women, Fruits Basket nevertheless remains a great watch for the guys as well. I found myself with tears in myself more than just a few times (not that I will ever admit that to anyone).

The story is solid, the humour and drama plentiful and the characterisation perfect. In fact, Fruits Basket has a very strong cast of characters which grow with you as the show progresses. Taking time to delve more into each character, Fruits Basket sets itself up for some great stories to be told. The twist of the Juunishi adds a lot as well, with you often working yourself up the whole show just to see if you had correctly identified the animal a character represents. However, at the end of it all, the show is about three main characters and how their friendship slowly strengthens and grows. Despite all the characters and storylines thrown in, Fruits Basket remains about Yuki, Kyo and Tohru’s relationships.

The animation for Fruits Basket is fairly simplified and there is nothing special about it. A lot of deformed animation and exaggerated expressions are used to accentuate the show’s humour. Also, the animal designs have been extremely simplified in order to show through a more human side.

The voice acting is strong and the characters are perfectly cast. The musical score is hauntingly beautiful with a very beautiful solo title track by the late Ritsuko Okazaki.

This is a great series that will have you laughing and crying. A wonderful heartbreak/feel-good story, well executed series, Fruits Basket is a great watch.

fruits basket anime under umbrellas

(Historical Note: This was written back in September 2004. Pleasingly my writing has improved significantly since then!)

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About Craig Lotter

South African software architect and developer at Touchwork. Husband to a cupcake baker and father to two little girls. I don't have time for myself any more.