Fruits Baskets is a manga series that began running in 1998 in the Japanese magazines Hana To Yume. In 2001 the series got an official anime that quickly became a classic for fans of the media. Sadly, the anime ended before completing the story even leaving out some of the key characters of the zodiac. The current airing anime has been revamped to closely follow the manga to its end. The first season began airing in April as one of the top Spring anime.
Fruits Basket is a story based on the lore of the Chinese zodiac. The story begins when a displaced high school girl named Tohru loses the tent she was living into a landslide. With nowhere else to go the members of the nearby Sohma family offer to give Tohru a place to stay. She soon learns that not everything is as it seems when she accidentally hugs her classmates Yuki, Kyo, and there’s guardian Shigure. As it turns out when certain members of the Sohma family are hugged by the opposite set they change into an animal from the fabled zodiac.
The zodiac members of the family are possessed by these spirits. This includes Kyo the thirteenth member who represents the ostracized cat. As Tohru lives with this family she slowly comes into contact with other members of the zodiac. As the story progressive Tohru begins to learn the extent of the curse that her new family is subject to.
New Vs. Old
The new Fruits Baskets leaves out some of the comedy of the original anime. Instead, the anime shows the darker undertones present in the manga. This helps to better balance out the feel between the happy-go-lucky main character Tohru and the cursed Sohma family. Many scenes perfectly match the manga panel for panel including the facial expressions of the characters. Some scenes from the original anime have been cut or altered to better fit the flow of the story. This is especially apparent in the first few episodes where some comical filler has been removed.
Thanks to the cut of filler the show has been able to fit more of the core story into individual episodes. While it’s doubtful the whole 22 volumes of the manga can fit into a couple of seasons, the story can be wrapped up within a few years instead of going into the high episode plight that faces many popular anime series.
Animation and Soundtrack
The animation is gorgeous especially during the opening and ending themes. The characters are drawn in the newer shoujo style with tall slim bodies, and expressive eyes. There is particular attention to details in the character’s wardrobe where the artists stay away from using the same outfits for out of school scenes. The animal forms of the cast are drawn in chibi art styles without heavy detail. This helps to add an overall sense of cute to the show while not taking away from the serious conversation present during transformations.
The music selection made up of soft tracks that capture the gentle moments of the show flawlessly. The ending and opening songs are both soft ballads set to still pictures of the characters that fit the tones of the show perfectly. The voice acting in the show is well done with the characters lines being carried out with expressive acting that fits each individual cast member.
It’s a Hit
Fruits Basket has topped the seasonal anime chart each week with the shows overall score reaching towards the 8 out of 10 range with both Japanese and international audiences. The consistent quality of writing and animation are sure to draw in new fans as the anime goes on. The rating also suggest that this anime will be able to put out a decent amount of merchandise for those who love collectibles.