Fruits Basket Review: Targeting the feels

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Tohru discovers a house

I had originally planned to wait until the next season finished before talking about this series as a whole, but what the heck? It’s a series that I thoroughly enjoyed, so I feel like it deserves the attention. And despite how old the source material is and the existence of a previous adaptation, I actually came to this series entirely blind. Fruits Basket was a manga that I’d been recommended a long time ago, but I never truly felt like reading it. And now that I’ve seen the series, I almost can’t wait to do so.

Using waves to attack

The series stars Tohru Honda, a recently orphaned girl who lives alone in a tent as her grandfather’s house is being renovated. She manages to (quite literally) pitch her tent on the property of the Souma family, one of those old and traditional Japanese families. Yuuki Souma, one of her classmates, stumbles on Tohru’s tent, and offers her a place to stay. Tohru starts to learn more about the Souma family when she accidentally discovers their secret: several of the family members turn into zodiac animals when hugged by a member of the opposite sex.

Yuuki hates cats

I think the surprise supernatural element to the series has always made me wonder if I truly wanted to dive into the story. Looking back, I wonder if I was just avoiding yet another zodiac story, but I now know that it isn’t the main driving force in the series. The series itself is incredibly character-focused, with main characters and side characters alike having incredibly tragic stories. Additionally, the zodiac curse ends up largely taking a backseat to the truly dysfunctional nature of the Soumas.

Yuuki calls for some help

Much of the first season focuses on developing the main trio, Tohru, Yuuki, and Kyou, while introducing its cast. Part of what always impresses me about the series is how well-thought the characters seem to be. The series excels at creating sympathetic characters with emotional backgrounds. Even Tohru, who initially comes off as the saint that can heal anything, has her own issues to deal with.

Shigure questions Tohru

Other than that, I’d say the first season is largely devoted to introducing many of the zodiac characters. It’s enough to make me wonder what else is left to tell in the second season, but the track record of the first season leaves me excited to find out.

Overall Score: 9/10

Fruits Basket Season 1 Final Episode (25): And now we wait for the next one

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Kazuma suggests trying karate

This series really doesn’t let up, even in a season finale. Though largely an aftermath from the previous episode, this week’s episode still manages to deliver excellent emotional scenes between Kyou and Kazuma. The rest of the episode is a series of teasers for the next season that only manga readers can understand (and I’m not one of them this time). I’m looking forward to the season two, and I’ll probably have to hold myself back from reading the manga out of pure curiosity.

Kyou refuses to allow others to see Kazuma as his father

This scene from Kazuma’s memories had such a nice, bittersweet tone to it. I like this idea that Kyou comes off as pushing Kazuma away as a father. But in reality, Kyou would like nothing more than to see Kazuma as his real father. Kyou’s clearly trying to help Kazuma in his own way, but he inadvertently hurts Kazuma in the process. I think it’s a great dynamic.

Kazuma praises Tohru

Kazuma’s discussion with Tohru was interesting. With the way he praises Tohru for acting on the opportunity he raised, I was surprised that Tohru didn’t respond by pointing out the opportunities that Kazuma has likely created for Kyou throughout his life. I suppose that’s expecting a bit too much from Tohru.

Tohru agrees

I have no real comment to add here. I just think this scene is adorable.

Yuuki ponders what he saw

I’m not sure if I have enough information to fully know what’s going on, but I like that Yuuki has a clear reaction to seeing Kyou in the previous episode. I’m not sure what to make of that reaction, but it’s clearly something. It’s sad to see him keep things in, since it’s something I can relate to, but I think it’s great that Yuuki’s still taking steps forward regardless.

Kyou needs to stop complaining

There’s plenty of story left to tell, but I appreciate that this series ends on a pleasant note. It certainly teases multiple potential stories, but the characters we’ve seen so far are gathered together for a proper send-off at the end.

Preliminary Score: 9/10 I’m really hoping this is maintained in subsequent seasons, but I had a lot of fun watching this series.

Fruits Basket Episode 24: Acceptance

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Kyou is pitied

This series really knows how to hit hard when it gets serious. I was not expecting the true nature of Kyou’s trauma to go so far. That being said, I think this episode was a strong moment for Tohru, and it raised an interesting idea about the nature of unconditional love. As I mentioned last week, I’m glad that this was addressed before the first “season” of the series concluded. It does make me wonder just how much more of the story there is, since it feels like a lot has already been covered.

Kyou wishes to leave with Kazuma

I like that Kazuma’s arrival in this episode is intended to force Kyou to change. I honestly wasn’t expecting Kyou to profess that he hates living with Tohru and Yuuki so much, but I think it plays well into the main theme of the episode. It focuses on Kyou’s tendency to cover his feelings up with hate, as has been pointed out in a previous episode with his hate for Yuuki.

Kazuma forces Kyou to show his true form

I do remember the comments Kagura has made about Kyou’s true form, but I was definitely expecting a figurative interpretation of that statement. I didn’t realize that he had a literal form that he kept hidden from everyone. It goes to a more grotesque scenario than I’d expect from this show, but I think it’s used well in this episode.

Tohru is horrified

I think the best part of this episode is that Tohru is actually disgusted with Kyou’s true form. She’s typically the girl who would cover things up with nice words, but she expresses genuine feelings of fear in reaction to this. It makes her feel less like a saint and more like a normal girl, which is what she needs, honestly.

Tohru is hit

I’d maybe argue that this goes a bit too far. I get that Kyou is lashing out, but keep it together, man.

Kyou's mother loved him

This episode does a great job of placing emphasis on actions over words. Kyou’s mother showers him with love and encouragement, but her actions betrayed her true feelings of worry and fear. So while she appears supportive, she actually backs Kyou into a corner. We can see Kyou using a similar defense mechanism when he proclaims his hatred.

Tohru chooses to be with Kyou

This behavior is something we’d expect to see from Tohru as well, given her self-sacrificing and supporting nature. Instead, she expresses her actual anxieties and accepts Kyou anyway. She’s basically saying that she cares about Kyou so much that she doesn’t care about countering fear. I think it’s sweet.

Fruits Basket Episode 23: Intermission over

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Tohru fails some tests

As we’re nearing the end of the season, it looks like this episode was getting back to the main story. I deeply enjoyed the side character stories we’d been getting, but I like seeing Kyou’s story again given his mysterious trauma. I’m really starting to wonder how this season is going to end.

Saki tries to comfort Tohru

While I can certainly understand not wanting to fail a test, I was curious to see Tohru reacting so negatively towards it. I get that she’s worried about not being able to fulfill her promise to her mother, but I guess I have trouble seeing that connection. Maybe I just need to learn more about Japanese school systems.

Kyou lectures Tohru

To be honest, I side with Kyou here. Tohru’s trauma surrounding colds feels like it should extend to herself. Even if she’s the kind of person who is heavily self-sacrificing, I would still expect that anxiety to play a factor here.

Kyou offers to listen to Tohru

I appreciate this scene for not going down the common route of having Tohru spill her secrets in a feverish stupor. Instead, Kyou offers to listen, and she willingly tells him. It’s a nice moment between the two. Am I supposed to be reading into the baseball cap in this scene, though? From what we’ve seen so far, that cap seems to be related to Kyou somehow, so I wonder if it’s important that it’s featured in this scene.

Kyou's master watches along

My first reaction to this scene was that this guy would end up being Kyou’s father. His reaction to Kyou’s smile seemed to fit there. But I guess he’s Kyou’s martial arts teacher or something.

Kagura appears

Oh hey, Kagura’s here again.

Kagura asks Kyou about the past

I think it would be cool if the season ended on Kyou finally admitting to Tohru what he’s hiding, but part of me thinks that this is going to be dragged out longer. I can dream, can’t I?

Fruits Basket Episode 22: More waves

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Saki becomes tired of things

I thought last week’s Saki-focused episode was great, but I was nowhere near prepared for her full backstory. She truly has a heartbreaking childhood, and it’s amazing to see how much she’s changed. I like her character so much more after this episode, enough to say she’s probably my favorite in the series. This series just continues to amaze me with how it treats its characters.

Saki tries to live with her powers

I definitely wasn’t expecting the wave magic to be an actual power. I was planning to say something about it, but then I remembered that this series takes place in a world where people turn into zodiac animals from hugs. Yeah, basic telepathy isn’t a problem in comparison.

Saki starts to blame herself

Seeing the younger Saki internalize her suffering because of a heavy feeling of guilt was genuinely sad. It’s not hard to see why a child’s mind would go to that conclusion, and it’s so tragic to see it happen.

Megumi tries to help his sister

Even before Tohru and Arisa come into the picture, I loved watching Megumi’s relationship with his sister. Despite being unable to help her at school, he desperately searches for ways to help her with her powers. His prayer for her was also such a sweet moment.

Arisa questions Saki

I also appreciate that Arisa reaches out to Saki separately from Tohru. Tohru tends to take the spotlight in these kinds of scenes, so it’s always nice to see that she doesn’t solely drive things forward. People like Kyouko or Arisa have a lot to add.

Saki runs from her power

Part of me wanted Saki’s power to be overblown. I guess the possibility still exists, since the girl’s reaction could easily have been planned. Maybe it’s a cheap win, but I was thinking that maybe her story would end with her figuring out that the incident from her childhood was faked. I think it’s mostly because I like the idea of Saki having a power that isn’t so dangerous.

Fruits Basket Episode 21: Fear the waves

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Saki welcomes you to her house

I was looking forward to seeing Saki’s turn in the spotlight, and it didn’t disappoint. I liked that this episode framed her story from the perspective of an adversarial character. I appreciate how this series uses its side characters, and it’s a good character moment for Saki as well. As with Arisa, though, I look forward to seeing more of Saki’s story in the future.

Motoko plans her attack

This episode has a cool theme of empathy, posing the question of love as a burden. Good intentions are easy to hide behind, but they can often act as a deceptive form of stress if you’re not careful. Just as a general comment, I’ve been liking the themes that recent episodes in this series have been posing.

Megumi introduces himself

I also thought it was great that this theme is introduced through the eyes of Saki’s brother, Megumi. The two siblings are an awesome pair, and they seem to work together well. There’s nothing wrong with adding more characters, right?

Megumi lectures the group

I liked watching this lecture in disguise. For me, it almost seems like it’s pointing a finger at the common trope of “trying to protect” someone you love, so I think it’s interesting that Megumi calls it a potential burden. He’s also correct to point out that Motoko and her goons have effectively claimed rights over Yuki because of their unrequited feelings of affection.

Saki feels lonely

Despite the lesson, I still do feel sorry for Saki after seeing this episode. She probably feels a sense of responsibility to support Tohru after her mother’s death, so it’s easy to see why it would be hard for her to watch Tohru disappear into the Souma family. After all, the recent episodes have been practically swarming Tohru with the family’s members.

Motoko feels cursed

This curse plays out like an intense form of psychological warfare, and I think it’s awesome.

Fruits Basket Episode 20: Helping out some more

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The anime is a problem itself

We’re really getting a lot of one-offs lately. As with most episodes, Tohru is here to solve all problems with yet another zodiac character from the Souma family. Hiro wasn’t the most pleasant character to add to the cast, but I found his blunt criticism funny in some cases. If anything, this episode works to further highlight the messed up personality of Akito.

Tohru figures some stuff out

Tohru’s still cute in this episode, but I do think it’s interesting that Hiro calls her out for her personality in their interactions. While she eventually wins him over, I’m curious to see if the show does anything with Tohru as the story progresses. At a certain point, you have to admit that she’s nice to a fault.

Tohru gives Hiro a penalty

Well, that’s one way to figure out a zodiac animal. How many are we at now?

Hiro tries to ignore Kisa

I’m not sure how I feel about including Akito in Hiro’s backstory. It gives Hiro a powerful impression of courage, but I almost think that his regret for being unable to help Kisa is enough. That being said, Akito’s a real piece of work if two zodiac characters aren’t even allowed to have a relationship. Yeesh…

Hiro questions Tohru

I think it’s funny that Hiro approaches Tohru with a sense of curiosity. It’s more that he can’t believe that everyone else has built a healthy relationship with her. I am curious to see how things go, though. Hatori mentions in this episode that the cursed Soumas have terrible luck with love, so I wonder how Tohru will play into that. I think it would be cool if Tohru’s personal growth inspires the rest of the characters, rather than just using her raw personality.

Tohru wonders what Hiro will become

I guess I’m mostly reacting to the sense of finality that’s been in recent episodes. It almost seems like many of these character arcs are quickly being resolved. So, I think I’d like to see something more come out of these stories.

Fruits Basket Episode 19: Finding purpose

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Mitsuru is upset

I’ve lost count of how many zodiac animals are remaining, but I guess I need to add another one to the list. Ritsu’s not the easiest character to watch, given his personality, but I enjoyed watching his progression in the episode. I also think he complements Mitsuru well. I do wonder what parts Ritsu and Kisa will end up playing in the overall story. The two characters seem to have made it a lot further in recover than many of their other siblings.

Tohru recognizes Ritsu

I think it’s hilarious that Tohru is able to identify Ritsu solely from his mother. His personality is certainly hard to deal with, but I liked how the episode put it into context. I also think that it’s funny that he shows up just because he found out about the other zodiac animals introducing themselves to Tohru.

Ritsu feels sorry for his parents

After seeing the reason behind his behavior, I see Ritsu’s behavior as somewhat admirable. In a sense, he becomes apologetic because he doesn’t want to force his parents to apologize in his place. It doesn’t seem particularly effective with his mother, but I think the sentiment is selfless.

Tohru tries to comfort Ritsu

I also strongly agree with Tohru’s belief of finding personal meaning. I support the idea that purpose is a thing found through life, not something a person is born with. I do think that having her nearly fall of the roof was a bit much, but the themes behind the scene were great.

Mitsuru chastises Shigure

I like that Mitsuru and Ritsu were able to become friends. Their individual personalities aside, I think that the two characters are good together. It would be nice to see them become a couple in the future.

Fruits Basket Episode 18: The struggle to improve

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Haru arrives

We’re back with a completely new character, along with yet another incredible episode. I personally thought that the episode handled the bullying angle well, and I liked that Yuuki played such a large role in the story. It was amazing to see him help Kisa while also growing a bit in the process. It drives home the idea that Tohru is passing her traits along.

Kisa hides in a corner

Well, I wasn’t expecting the tiger to be such an endearing character. She sure came out with all of her cards on the table. I didn’t know what to expect, but Kisa ended up being pretty cute even when she wasn’t talking to Tohru.

Tohru helps Kisa

I’m happy that Kisa’s mother didn’t end up being too cruel in this episode. It felt like she was at a loss with Kisa’s situation, but she clearly still cared. It’s hard to feel too upset with her. In contrast, I like how Tohru approaches Kisa. Where Kisa’s mother chastised her for being trouble, Tohru assures her that she’s done nothing wrong, allowing her to open up.

Yuuki affirms himself

This is a small line, but it seems to have a strong meaning in a show like this. Yuuki assures himself that he’s human, despite his ability to change into an animal. In response, Tohru notices and agrees, giving Yuuki a sense of comfort. I always enjoy when shows take advantage of double meanings.

Yuuki reads the letter

I like how Yuuki frames his criticism here. It’s true that being able to love yourself is a good view to have, but I like what he points out about its use as “advice”. I feel like I can relate with this idea that hearing praise from yourself can feel empty without validation from someone else. I personally see how the teacher’s letter can be interpreted as saying that Kisa is not “trying hard enough”, which can a negative effect despite decent intentions.

Yuuki accepts the role of president

I didn’t even realize that the student council president role would become a larger plot point in this episode. I think it was a great way to visualize the change in Yuuki with something concrete, so I appreciate that it was there.

Yuuki talks about lessons learned

Yuuki’s closing words are probably my favorite part of the episode. I like the idea that he’s working towards something, rather than going through some kind of dramatic shift.

Fruits Basket Episode 17: Finding sanctuary

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Arisa is attacked

This week’s episode covers the rest of Arisa’s backstory and how she became friends with Tohru. I was happy to see it because it was a much better story than I was expecting. In many ways, it was a great portrayal of taking a step back to realize what you have. Also, the parallels between Arisa and Kyouko seemed to be indirectly showing Kyouko’s own background.

Arisa figures things out

Arisa has some truly amazing moments in this episode. I enjoyed watching her self-reflection leading to a revelation that she just felt lonely. It hit hard and made a lot of sense given her home life. It’s nice to see Tohru giving Kyouko what she didn’t realize she was missing.

Arisa returns to Kyouko

It’s mostly skipped through, but I do like the idea that Arisa has a gradual shift. A sudden revelation often isn’t enough to trigger a dramatic change in personality, so it’s nice to see this kind of progression. I also like how the series splits Kyouko and Tohru up. While Kyouko is clearly the most similar to Arisa, there’s this idea that perhaps it’s that very fact that restricts to a mentor role.

Arisa wonders about rumors surrounding Tohru

So while Arisa seeks advice and wisdom from Kyouko, she ultimately seeks friendship from Tohru. Kyouko has clearly softened over time, but perhaps her similar background makes her a reminder of what Arisa is trying to escape from. Instead, Arisa runs towards Tohru, a shining embodiment of what she wants to become.

Arisa tries to quit

As a result, Arisa’s desire to change feels more tangible. I admit I was a bit surprised to see how violent her attempt to leave the crew ended up being, but I guess it’s further proof of her commitment. I also liked the fact that Arisa’s friend Akimoto was secretly supporting her even when Arisa thought she had no one she could trust. I’m curious to see how Akimoto will pop up again in this series. It’s clearly suspicious that she just moves away in the story.

Arisa scolds the delinquents

I was curious why the random delinquents following Arisa around showed up last week, but I like how they contributed to her overall story. With Kyouko gone, Arisa tries to show how far she’s come by effectively taking a similar role. It wraps things up nicely.