“Tooru Honda has always been fascinated by the story of the Chinese Zodiac that her beloved mother told her as a child. However, a sudden family tragedy changes her life, and subsequent circumstances leave her all alone. Tooru is now forced to live in a tent, but little does she know that her temporary home resides on the private property of the esteemed Souma family. Stumbling upon their home one day, she encounters Shigure, an older Souma cousin, and Yuki, the “prince” of her school. Tooru explains that she lives nearby, but the Soumas eventually discover her well-kept secret of being homeless when they see her walking back to her tent one night.
Things start to look up for Tooru as they kindly offer to take her in after hearing about her situation. But soon after, she is caught up in a fight between Yuki and his hot-tempered cousin, Kyou. While trying to stop them, she learns that the Souma family has a well-kept secret of their own: whenever they are hugged by a member of the opposite sex, they transform into the animals of the Chinese Zodiac.
With this new revelation, Tooru will find that living with the Soumas is an unexpected adventure filled with laughter and romance.” – MAL Synopsis
I love Fruits Basket. This review is going to me gushing over this show for however many paragraphs it takes. It’s always fun/interesting to step outside the box of genres that I primarily watch when it comes to anime. All my life all I’ve really watched and enjoyed were Shounen & Seinin anime as it just appealed to me more. But I heard the praise around this version of Fruits Basket for a while now and the premise interested me. I’m very pleased to say my interest payed off massively.
Fruits Basket’s premise is so outrageous it’s funny. I couldn’t imagine a teenage girl going to live with a family of boys that she only just met. Kind of a bizarre situation. But man if this isn’t one of, if not the most heartfelt anime I’ve ever watched. The whole show is just so wholesome which is to be expected when the main character is just a bundle of happiness and humility. This season is really Tohru living with the Souma family and meeting new members and learning more about the family. All the while we get to see how her just being her amazing self has an effect on not only the Souma family but other people around her. Learning about the Souma family more specifically the zodiac members was super interesting. I was always wanting to learn more and loved meeting a new member and learning about their personalities, and their past. It’s all interesting and it kept me hooked and engaged all 26 episodes as everything began to unravel. This show has so many heartfelt and heartbreaking moments and they all hit the right cords. Those moments are so effective because this cast is great. Not only is the cast great but their dialogue and chemistry is as well. Which all adds up and really made me understand and feel for them. The best word to describe it all is touching in every way. Also, this show is hilarious. In terms of anime, this show might be the second or third funniest I’ve ever seen. Every episode at least got a chuckle out of me and a good handful of episodes got a good laugh from me.
The Souma’s are an interesting bunch. The ones possessed by the zodiacs all share traits with said zodiac animal which makes for a lot of funny moments and interesting scenarios. The three we spend the most time with are Yuki (the mouse), Shigure (the dog), and Kyou (the cat). Kyou and Yuki have a tense relationship, to say the least. As far as it’s told in this season that’s all due to the ancient tale of the zodiacs where the mouse tricked the cat which ended up making the cat miss the zodiac dinner and therefore misses becoming an official zodiac. Also, a slight tangent, I like how there are other examples of that story influencing character interactions. When Haru (the cow zodiac) is introduced he has a lot of affection for Kyou because in that story the mouse hitched a ride on the cow to the dinner. Stuff like that is cool. Back on topic though, Yuki and Kyou are always going at it but I loved the subtle progression they have as the series goes along. Both Individually and with their relationship. All of that development can be attributed to one of the greatest (maybe THE greatest) main characters ever.
I love Tohru. She is the heart and soul of this show. She’s obnoxiously nice and hopeful which I’ll admit might be a turn-off to some. It certainly kind of annoyed me a little bit at times where some characters would be mean to her and her personality wouldn’t break. But that’s the beauty of her character and this show. Her personality is not some facade or one that’s so fragile someone can make her act out of character. It’s as genuine as it comes which only serves to make her back story and what she’s been through even sadder than it already is. I’d go to bat for Tohru and so would every (almost) character that she’s had in-depth interactions with. She really changes people’s lives for the better by just being herself, loving life, seeing the good in everybody, being willing to help others, and having real true empathy. I feel like it’s harder than it seems to write a character like this without them coming off as annoying but Fruits Basket pulls it off flawlessly. Not to mention she’s hilarious. Tohru’s the goat.
I wanna talk about two more characters before I move on. Those two being Tohru’s best friends: Hanajima and Uotani. They’re the best. That friend trio is so wildly different from each other in personality. Their dialogue is so well done, the comedic timing is always on point and they bounce off each other so well. Their chemistry is unmatched. Uotani is a bad girl (kind of sounds weird to say but that’s the best way to describe her) with a rough side and rough past. Hanajima comes off as an introverted weirdo with some sort of wave/telekinetic powers. Which I will say is always used for a funny gag but her whole back story is so sad and reveals a lot about her powers. With that being said Uotani’s backstory is sad too and with both her and Hanajima there are hints sprinkled throughout the season about their pasts and how they came to be friends with Tohru. Which all pays off so well during a few episode stretch on the tail end of the season. Those episodes are full flashbacks that go into detail about their lives leading up to becoming friends with Tohru and also solidify a simple truth about this show. Tohru’s friendship changes people’s lives for the better.
This anime looks beautiful and is consistently so throughout. There are some absolutely stunning shots here and the visual comedy is on point too. I rarely talk about things that have to do with character designs in shows. But man do the fits in this show go absolutely crazy or what? Especially Tohru. The soundtrack is, for lack of a better word, once again beautiful. The highlight of that soundtrack being the first opening, which I never skipped. It’s funny almost. English dubs seemed to always get a bad wrap in the anime community for whatever reason. For the most part of my time watching anime, they’re generally pretty solid at least. Fruits Basket’s dub is the best (maybe Fma:B still tops it slightly) dub I’ve ever heard. Every single character kills their performance. The main cast is extraordinary. It’s hard for me to pick out any standouts of this voice cast. Cause if there was a bar set for dub voice acting, this cast shattered through it and is off in the sunset. I will say Tohru, Hanajima, and Shigure were my favorite performances this season. Tohru’s English voice actor, Laura Bailey, perfectly embodied Tohru and brought her character to life. Which is no surprise cause she’s one of the goats of voice acting. I’ll forever give her her flowers as she once again comes through with a phenomenal performance.
So yeah that was 5 paragraphs of me gushing about Fruits Basket. I feel like this is by far the most positive review I’ve done to date. Which is well deserved. I loved this series from episodes 1 to 25. Tohru is one of the best characters ever and hell she might have even had an effect on me in some ways. Her character is great and the characters surrounding her just as great. The overall mystery of the zodiac curse and the Souma family is really interesting and the bread crumbs left throughout about it were great at keeping me interested. I didn’t really touch on this above but the tone of this show is great too and it can switch tones very well. Couple that with amazing animation and one of the best show wide voice acting performances. Fruits Basket knocks it out of the park on all fronts and I’m more than glad I gave this show a shot.
Fruits Basket – 10/10