Sep 20, 2019
dotta (All reviews)
Perhaps the difficulty of understanding yourself is equal to the amount you feel alive when doing so. Fruits Basket understands this. Character driven and dramatically told, it is able to embed its most important themes inside of the story and characters.

What starts as a girl finding out a secret quickly becomes understanding the reality they shoulder.

The Souma zodiac secret, transferring into one of the zodiac members when hugged by the opposite sex, is a means to tell a story. Of course Honda Tohru wouldn’t have forged a relationship with them without discovering it, but more importantly it contains single-handedly the most important theme the show pertains—People are born with burdens. Each and every Souma carries some form of ache. But surprisingly enough, their issues are not foregin to what are real problems that real people have to overcome. Having no place to belong, holding resentment towards others because of one's own uncontrolled circumstances, parental issues, losing loved ones, not being able to get along with others. Each of these complications get conceptually visualized through very unreal means, but at their core are not unreal problems. It is this balance between a larger than life setting, but with a core focus on reality, that gives the show its charm.

Fruits Basket is about many things, however, and probably just as important as having burdens is about how to live and move on from them. This is mostly presented through a character, Honda Tohru. To the Soumas, she is exactly what they needed. Inspired by her late mother, Tohru is driven to be compassionate with a way of words. She learns to understand all of them because she understood her wonderful mother. She's kind, caring, and always seems to know what to say to them. She can inspire them with her words or actions, and manage to crack all of their shells to become friendly with all of them. Is she too perfect to be believable? Well, that is sort of her point, because she is in fact vulnerable and flawed, it just isn’t necessarily clear. Her “perfection” in a way feels its adding another layer to the show. Honda Tohru is extremely romanticized as a person, but that doesn’t mean she has no core issues. We learn she is naive, absent-minded, and often forgetful. But the show doesn’t necessarily present these flaws as a means to simply make her cuter. They are real with real consequences. She wants to believe the best in everybody, she wants the moments she loves to last forever, out of fear of not having a place to belong, again. This is only to a fault, because eventually—like everybody else, she will have to face reality. This is best displayed when she is called back to live with her Grandfather. But more important than any one issue the the show gives her is how she views herself. Even though most of the characters in the show (and probably most viewers) can admit she is doing all the right things, she doesn’t necessarily think she is living up to those expectations herself. This excerpt was one of my favorite moments of the show, an analogy Tohru uses to cheer up Kyo:

“If a person is a rice ball and what’s great about the person is a pickled plum, than maybe your plum is on your back! Maybe everyone is the world has plums on their backs, of all different shapes, colors, and sizes. But since they can’t see their backs, they can’t see the plums they have. They think they don’t have anything—that they’re just plain rice. Even though that is not true at all—even though they really do have a plum there. Maybe the reason we get jealous of others, is because other people’s backs are easy to see.”

It’s almost like this was written to describe how Tohru is projected to others. It's an important lesson, however, that we all have doubts about ourselves, no matter how perfect we may come off to others. This is how dynamics between characters in the show are formed. Through both understandings and misunderstandings about one another. Characters hiding things about them, or not being totally honest to themselves or others. It is surprisingly realistic.

The original Fruits Basket TV anime aired 18 years ago, so this rendition surges greatly in its animation/art/sound quality(though not necessarily the music pieces themselves can be compared, however). I can imagine, however, that there will be some loyal towards the original (just like some people are more loyal towards the original FMA and not Brotherhood) If you are looking to watch the series modern day and haven’t watched either, it is hard to not recommend the 2019 version. It is important to mention that just like the original Furuba, the way its assed will likely be polarized. Of course, like most drama anime, this series isn’t free from melodrama, or black/white conflicts every now and again. Not every character is well put together, and not every episode contains something special. But what I found always consistent about the show is how it remained faithful to its wonderful themes.

Fruits Basket is an impressively layered show. It manages to be both character driven and contain a relevant plot, all while never losing focus on its core themes. The characters, while possessing supernatural phenomena and having issues arise in a rather unusual way, contain familiar troubles that are very real. It's in that way the show tries to tell you no matter how distant a person feels from you—we all have to carry the burdens we get for simply existing.