FRUITS BASKET 1 by NATSUKI TAKAYA
A REVIEW by ALEXA DUNCAN
Fruits Basket is a series that is very near and dear to my heart. Teenage Alexa loved the manga and the anime adaptation that followed, but I haven’t kept up with the series since then. Until now. The original Fruits Basket manga has since been bound into gorgeous collector’s editions, containing two volumes instead of one. I’d bought this first collector’s edition months ago for the Argenta Library, wanting to spread the Fruits Basket gospel to everyone I knew, but hadn’t picked it up to read for myself until recently.
And boy am I glad that I did.
Fruits Basket is a shojo (meaning it’s marketed toward high school aged girls) manga following our main character, Tohru Honda, as she adjusts to her new life with the enigmatic Soma clan. Set in Japan, Fruits Basket was originally published in the late 90s and early 2000s, It bears the hallmarks of a lot of manga during that time, including a distinctive art style and focus on female friendship. What could simply be a slice-of-life story about Tohru turns a little paranormal when she moves into the Soma household–home to Yuki Soma, Shigure Soma, and Kyo. These three members of the Soma clan aren’t just nice people Tohru met one day, they’re possessed by the animals of the Chinese zodiac and transform into said animals when hugged by a member of the opposite sex. Tohru discovers their secret and swears not to tell, allowing her to move in with Shigure and the other boys.
By far, one of the best things about Fruits Basket is its characters. Tohru is one of my favorite protagonists ever, what with her sweet personality and dogged optimism. Yuki, the rat of the zodiac, is a refined “prince-like” character who is adored by everyone at school while Kyo, the cat of the zodiac, is a hot-head who hates Yuki more than anything. Tohru helps balance the two out and many zodiac-related hijinks ensue. Part of me was worried that I wouldn’t like Fruits Basket now as much as I did in 2008 when I first picked up the series. That wasn’t the case. I love the concept these characters are built around and I love every character, good or bad. Tohru is kind no matter what, and while she’s a bit of an airhead sometimes, she’s suffering with her own pain as well. Her relationships with Yuki and Kyo and the rest of the members of the zodiac are as complex as they are heartwarming. Outside of the zodiac members, Tohru has two best friends, Uo and Hana, who love her unconditionally. I love seeing that kind of female friendship in my fictional narratives and Fruits Basket offers plenty.
Fruits Basket would be a great starting point for anyone looking to get into manga. It’s funny and fun, heartwarming and romantic. It’s not completely “out there,” either, which means it won’t alienate any new fans. And, after you’re done reading,the manga, you can watch the remake of the original anime that’s currently being produced! I’ve been watching it and I love it.
If Fruits Basket sounds good to you, you can check out our copy at the Argenta Library today!