Sep 20, 2019
On November 12, 2018 last year, I woke up to a string of Twitter feeds and news alerts. Fruits Basket got announced for a new anime based on the manga. During that same week, I pinched myself several times and realized it’s not a dream. It’s a reality. Fruits Basket, one of the most celebrated shoujo manga series in North America, is making a comeback after all these years. And to my delight, we also got the announcement that the new Fruits Basket would adapt the entire manga. That’s right, all 23 freaking volumes of them.

There’s one thing for certain: Fruits Basket is a best-seller in the West. Whether you’re a fan of shoujo genre or not, the series has a large fan base that still exists today. As a fan myself, I’ve read the series many years ago and have seen the first anime adaptation. Coming into the new Fruits Basket feels like a trip down memory lane. Only this time, we have enhanced visuals updated to more modern quality and a commitment to bring a full adaptation. For an emotional story and character driven show, Fruits Basket is a classic.

It’s 2019 and bringing a show from the past isn’t that simple. The biggest question on many people’s mind revolves how many episodes will the new season consist. With the actual amount of content from the manga, it’s not enough for just 25 episodes. Hence, it’s labeled as “first season” serving as a remake continuation of the franchise. However, something else came to my mind with its staff and cast. Fruits Basket’s characters are significant and to bring their personalities on the TV screen would need an A+ level of talent. Luckily, there’s no need to worry as the voices in this show are able to step up to the plate. Tohru Honda’s VA has changed for the new adaptation but her personality remains relatively the same. For those new to the franchise, she is the main female protagonist and an incredibly kind high school girl. While her character introduction may cause some heads to turn away (I mean, who would be impressed by an orphan living in a tent?), there’s no doubt she is a selfless person. She is loyal and often optimistic about her life. There’s many times in the show where she treats others with respect and is well known for her kindness. At the same time, Tohru’s weakness shows in her personality with her being too forgiving of others. Her character growth this season is slow but should be respected as the anime wants to flesh out her personality as much as possible. Most importantly, the show establishes her as an iconic shoujo character.

Meanwhile, we shouldn’t forget about the other main cast. Fruits Basket is a shoujo after all and isn’t complete without important male characters. These consist of members the Soma family. Most prominently, there’s Kyo and Yuki. The characters themselves are based off of the Eastern Chinese Zodiac with 12 animals. Strangely enough, Kyo himself is not part of the Zodiac although he is still a member of the family. He is portrayed as a young man with a short temper who often gets into pity arguments with Yuki. Their rivalry is relentless with battle of words, contests, and occasional physical fights. However, their rivalry is more about Kyo trying to prove himself and whether he truly can be accepted as a member of the Soma family. In other words, it’s not really some blood feud with lives at stake. Plus, a princely guy like Yuki isn’t the type that would want to harm others. His gentle and reserved personality at school earned him many fans, including his own personal fan club. Despite this, Yuki is portrayed as a distant man who isn’t easy to make friends with. Throughout the show, he develops a unique bond with Tohru as the two understands each other more. It’s also important to realize the season occasionally shows cryptic parts of his darker past. We don’t see it often but there are windows of moments where he shows insecurity and fear. Any new fans would no doubt be curious to learn more about Yuki. And as the more episodes progresses, the more complicated his character gets.

On the other hand, the more you look at Kyo, the more you can probably realize he’s growing a deeper affections towards Tohru. There are some episodes that shows his curiosity about her and even transforming into a genuine friendship. From a character relationship perspective, their chemistry evolves surely, although slowly. Tohru herself also begins to see his true character, beyond that of a hotblooded youngman. It’s important to know that outside of the Sohma family, she has close friends such as Arisa Uotani and Saki Hanajima. It’s noticeable that the anime dedicates time to focus on all three of them ranging from when they first met to how much they deeply care about each other in the present timeline. Similarly, Tohru has a deep devotion for her deceased mother. Known for its flashbacks, Fruits Basket both shows and tells a story about the importance of family. It’s a tear inducing story once you truly understand how much Tohru’s mother cares about her. At the same time, Tohru inherits characteristics from her mother as being a selfless woman who isn’t afraid to protect her friends.

The more I watched this new version of Fruits Basket, it made me wonder how they can introduce the other characters properly. Remember, there are 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac and outside of the two main guys, there are at least 10 others. Shigure Sohma is introduced early on after taking in Tohru in as a house guest. Being much laid back than others, there’s not much we understand about him although he is a man with a word of wisdom. Unfortunately, this season doesn’t fully explore his character so anime fans will have to wait a bit longer. Others such as Kagura, Momoji, Hatsuharu, Hatori, and Ayame are also introduced in various episodes. While not being prominently featured as the main cast, they do have value in the show despite some portrayed as being very childish. Kagura and Momoji are key examples of this with their behavior. I mean, who can forget about the episode with Kagura practically jumping herself into Kyo’s arms? Indeed, while Fruits Basket often carries a melancholic mood, there’s many comedic moments. There’s even a running gag in the show with the guys losing their clothes after being hugged and transforming into animals. Now that’s a curse to really be careful of. But perhaps one of the most mysterious character is someone named Akito. This character is mentioned many times by the main cast, most prominently by Yuki. Just who is Akito? What’s this character’s purpose? And why does Akito make Yuki react in such fearful ways? If you want answers, you’re going to be in for a long ride.

TMS Entertainment is honestly a studio I have mixed thoughts for. They do have a history of producing shoujo anime such as Kamisama Kiss and even bringing back long running franchises like D Gray Man a few years ago. After seeing the promotional material for the anime, I’m thankful to say there’s no need to worry. The animation quality lives up to modern standards with the vibrant and colorful character designs. They’re faithful to the manga on most parts with updated quality compared to the 2003 version. The setting itself presents a youthful field of decorated visuals full of life. And of course, the ladies will be in for a treat with the guys getting the bishounen makeover.

The fact that I’m even talking about Fruits Basket in 2019 is amazing by itself. Not too many franchises gets the golden treatment of having a complete remakes these days especially for the anime medium. Fruits Basket is a great example of a show that deserves this continuation for the 2003 version didn’t truly live up to its expectations. Here, we have the beginning of a beautiful journey and a reminder of why certain franchises deserves to be revived.
Reviewer’s Rating: 9
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