Fruits Basket is a horrible anime.
Over the span of 53 episodes, dragging three seasons of joyous and disheartening events, this is the best they can do? One question. Why? Why not just create love rectangles, add some dramatic shouting, slapping, running, crying scenes of all the characters confronting each other, at the end of 11th episode and just be done with it? Just expose all the inner feelings and hidden truths in one final showdown. That's it. Let's throw whatever conflicts they have, mesh them together and let it be resolved by themselves. Let them break their characters. No one cares. We just want a
happy ending, with whatever means necessary.
But, no. Fruits Basket doesn't want this. The character developments are tediously pulled and widened across these three years, seemingly reaching an endless abyss before what is known as the 'finale'. The ensemble cast of zodiac members, are one by one, meticulously portrayed, represented by their own quirks and words. They are, each of them, shaped to be a person. A person united with each other by a curse—and a gift—until a carefree girl barged into their little worlds. Merrily, kind-hardheartedly, courageously, she cared for them, weaving their stories into her perspectives. Into ours. She helped a rat out of his depression and identity crisis; she helped a horse out of her parental abuse and emotional trauma; she helped every zodiac member that she can, even if she's not obligated to. But, she needed to.
Because only then she can help herself.
Fruits Basket is a very pretentious anime, in this sense.
Every shoujo story needs a villain. Dread a villain. A love rival. Fruits Basket has it both: a villainous love rival, who controls the zodiac members at her will and disposal—Akito. The sound of her name itself invokes seas of rage. She appears as the children-book villain that gloats about her supreme, and ceases the main protagonists' wills to live, trapping them, while doing heinous evil deeds to leave emotional and physical scars. She's good at what she does: everyone hates her. So, why? Why does Fruits Basket redeem such character? She is evil. Evil needs to stay evil. There's no other alternative. She's done unfathomable things. She needs not exist. Not as one that we can resonate to.
But, no. Fruits Basket doesn't care. Even if it's perfectly reasonable under the theme of selflessness and kindness that is depicted by Tohru over the plot. Even if the portrayal of acceptance of oneself has fully been embraced by each and every one of the zodiac members, including Mr. Tsundere Cat. Even if Tohru believes second chances to a fault, and accept good as they are, but most importantly—evil as they are. Even if Akito wanted to only protect her little world, with her only means. Tohru doesn’t care. She thrives on her belief, because it is the only thing that she holds on dearest to. Her world would collapse once she stops believing. If she ever does.
Because she, amongst them all, is the loneliest.
She craves people's kindness, as much as she’s given it away herself. It is the overwhelming affection and tenderness that she shows to others, that contradicts her genuine feelings. She creates a world for others to save themselves, but she herself is lost inside it. Because even though we don’t show it, everyone, anyone wants to be cared for. It’s inside our core. That’s why we connect, make bonds. That’s why we empathize with characters, and resonate with their emotions, actions. That’s why we stay strong, even if we are weak.
And that is why Fruits Basket is also highly manipulative.
Sad, melancholic music tracks don't do the tricks for them. Nope. They don't want that. They adapt a much heart-wrenching, orchestral music that elevates the emotional drama, to bring out people's desire to connect, to emphasize that we're experiencing that scene at that moment, to let us know that we are not alone. It's horrifying how influential music and songs can be, until you are relishing it in that particular moment. The sound director, Aketagawa Jin has done a truly intricate, endearing job at this. I cannot think of how many times the music has brought me on the brink of tears; I hate being manipulated like this. Now, don’t even get me started on those cute chibi style changes.
And, accompanied by the elegant piano play, with their wholehearted interaction, comes this wave of warm, lingering feelings. It's a feeling particularly enhanced by the clever use of color tone and the crafty dialogues that are as bare as they get. The ingenious scene transitions using black and white and space, the deceptive teary eyes under a heavy downpour, and the silence that allows tension to creep in. These are all not supposed to be felt, but it added much more merits to the whole story itself. Making it much more manipulative, heartfelt.
Overall, Fruits Basket is a horrible, very pretentious and highly manipulative anime. If the zodiac members can be portrayed as different forms and shapes of snowflakes, then Tohru would be the spring. The snow captures, traps all the insecurities, pride, identity, trauma, anxiety and nightmare that they can't let go of; waiting to be melted away by their own passion, convictions, ideals, actions, and acceptance. Waiting for spring.
Because spring will come, when the snow melts away.
And to Natsuki Takaya, for creating a heart-breaking story like this, I'll never forgive you. Ever.
Jun 28, 2021
Fruits Basket is a horrible anime.
Over the span of 53 episodes, dragging three seasons of joyous and disheartening events, this is the best they can do? One question. Why? Why not just create love rectangles, add some dramatic shouting, slapping, running, crying scenes of all the characters confronting each other, at the end of 11th episode and just be done with it? Just expose all the inner feelings and hidden truths in one final showdown. That's it. Let's throw whatever conflicts they have, mesh them together and let it be resolved by themselves. Let them break their characters. No one cares. We just want a ...
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