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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.
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.
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.
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.
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