The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Fruits Basket

Title: Fruits Basket aka Furuba
Genre: Romance/Drama
Company: Studio DEEN
Format: 26 episodes
Dates: 5 Jul 2001 – 27 Dec 2001

Synopsis: Since her mother died, Honda Tohru has been living in a tent so as not to be a burden on anyone. One day, her classmate Souma Yuki finds out about her less than ideal living arrangements and invites her to live at his house with his cousins Shigure and Kyou. As Tohru soon finds out, the Souma family is anything but ordinary; certain members of the family transform into the animals of the Chinese Zodiac when hugged by a member of the opposite sex. Perhaps the greater problem for the members of the Souma family is their family dysfunction which Tohru hopes to heal one person at a time.

The Highlights
Relationships: Many unforgettable character relationships.
Comedy: Mostly non-invasive; knows when to take itself seriously.
Fun factor: Immense.
Pacing: Progresses like a marathon run at a nursing home.
Plot: Not much linear plot to speak of.

The inability to know when to take itself seriously and when to be funny has been the bane of many anime. Luckily for its viewers, Fruits Basket can make you laugh and cry in the same episode while offering some highly intriguing characters and memorable character relationships. Sadly, though, all Fruits Basket does is give us a mere glimpse of characters that deserve far more screen time. It’s like viewing the Constitution in Washington D.C.; you get a satisfying peek at something amazing only to be told to move along far too soon.

Fruits Basket without its character interactions would be like Coke without its fizz. Whenever two characters are on the screen at once you know something good is coming. To name just a few isn’t doing Fruits Basket justice. From Yuki and Kyou’s rivalry, to Shigure’s torturing of his editor, to Hiro (Dr. House in a 6th grader’s body) and his kind and caring younger cousin Kisa, you will always be entertained both by laughter and intrigue.

Many comedic moments in Fruits Basket were banal, often due to rehashing an already not funny joke, such as Tohru freaking out when she accidentally causes a member of the Zodiac to transform. Thankfully, just as often as it isn’t funny, Fruits Basket will make you crack a smile if not laugh hysterically. Staying true to its nature as a romantic drama, Fruits Basket has its share of serious heartfelt moments, some of which are quite profound. Anyone who’s ever been burned in a relationship or suffers from low self esteem can learn something from watching Fruits Basket. How often is that true of an anime that’s also incredibly fun to watch?

Fun times aside, Fruits Basket has its share of problems. A great deal of the episodes follow the same pattern of: “Tohru meets a new member of the Souma family – wonders if he/she is a member of the Zodiac – inadvertently causes said person to transform – learns about the person’s troubled past – says something profound – roll credits.” All these formulaic episodes and they don’t even introduce every member of the Zodiac. As interesting as the character relationships are, very few of them develop and those that do change very little. Twelve members of the Zodiac, plus Tohru and her friends, plus Kyo, divided by twenty-six episodes equals not enough time for each character to shine. Twenty-six episodes minus twenty-six filler episodes equals zero plot advancement; almost everything is the same as when the show started.

Fruits Basket is definitely worth the time of anyone who can tolerate shoujo and makes a welcome break from darker anime titles. Many will disagree with me, but Fruits Basket has too much fluff and not enough crunch for me to consider it a true anime classic. Even so, you can’t do much better if you’re looking for some innocent fun, which is needed from time to time so we don’t take the world too seriously.

The Rating: 8

Reviewed by: Kuma

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