After her mother died, Tohru found herself living in a tent in the woods. Despite that, she remained cheerful and thankful. Then, a chance encounter with school heartthrob, Yuki Soma changed everything.
What did you watch?
At the beginning of the Spring 2019 anime season I picked two shows to cover and one of those was recommended to me. That was Fruits Basket. It is a remake of a previous series and a very successful manga. While I was aware of them, I had never seen anything about them, so this was a complete journey into the unknown, especially when you consider that it is a shoujo title which is not my normal genre. It has been one incredible ride and it’s going to be difficult to sum it up in a single post, but I’ll give it a go. There will be spoilers, pretty big ones…
So, Tohru was living in a tent, determined not to be a burden on anyone, but one morning on the way to school, she wandered into a house and met Shigure and Yuki Soma. Yuki goes to the same school and is revered among the girls there. When they discover that Tohru is living in a tent, Shigure demands that she stay with them until she can make other arrangements. It’s then that she meets Kyo, another of the Somas who seems only interested in fighting Yuki. After an interesting confrontation, Tohru attempts to break things up and soon discovers that the Somas are not what they seem.
It would appear that the Soma family is cursed by the spirits of the zodiac, transforming those affected into the animals of the zodiac when hugged by someone of the opposite gender. Shigure is the dog, Yuki the rat, and Kyo the cat. Tohru finds out more and more about the family, discovering their secrets and meeting them one by one, but some secrets are harder to come by and some are best left unknown. Nothing is quite as it seems and all of the Somas seem to have their own agendas and schemes, but one thing is clear, Tohru is right in the middle of things.
What did you think?
This series was incredible. The character development is outstanding and even though we’re introduced to loads and loads of characters they all have their own personalities that make them very different from one another. If you ever wanted to know how to write stories with emotion, this is the place to start and I’m not known for being overly emotional. On top of that, there is a very sinister mystery running behind the lively and colourful characters that make up this world. There are schemes and secrets. It’s certainly not a warm and fuzzy love story, which is kind of what I was expecting. This is why you should always broaden your viewing horizons.
What was your favourite moment?
There have been several really great moments, some of which were so tense or heartbreaking or uplifting it’s hard to choose between them all. The one that really sticks in my mind is when Kazuma meets with Kyo in the garden. It’s the big reveal of the first season as far as I’m concerned. The true form of Kyo’s spirit is bizarre and grotesque. I know a lot of people would point to what happens next as their favourite moment, but for me, it was the lead up to that.
Kazuma had informed Shigure of his plans to reveal Kyo to Tohru and Kagure overheard them. Instead of stepping in or trying to stop it, she hid in her room and waited. Then, the moment of truth arrived. Kazuma and Kyo were in the garden discussing how he’d failed to grow and how he was still fixated on the rat. Kyo got angry but was unaware that Yuki was listening from his window. Shigure was sat in his room staring at the floor. They all knew what was coming and it did this to them. I thought it was a masterpiece in direction and building tension. So, when Tohru appeared and Kazuma removed Kyo’s bracelet to reveal his true form it was that much more effective. This scene was just perfect.
What was your least favourite moment?
There was an episode where Tohru caught a cold and I had a lot of fun being sarcastic about it, but that wasn’t my least favourite moment. I think it was actually Momiji’s back story, where his mother rejected him and tried to kill herself. Hatori removed her memories, but Momiji was there to see it happen and he sees her on a regular basis, hanging around his father’s building. It was incredibly sad to see this happen and impossible to imagine what this would do to a child, which makes it that much more amazing that Momiji maintains this happy go lucky personality.
Who was your favourite character?
It can only be Shigure. I loved his attitude and the way he interacts with others from the very beginning, even when he laughed at Tohru on discovering she was living in a tent. Then, when I discovered he was a writer, it all made perfect sense. He has a wicked sense of humour and seems to enjoy causing all sorts of mayhem, but he is also the biggest schemer in the whole series. Shigure is plotting something big and I’m not sure exactly what it is, but it promises to blow the whole Soma family apart. I can’t wait to find out what he’s up to and it basically guarantees that I will watch the second season.
I’m going to give a quick shout to my other favourite characters, Arisa and Saki. They’re not a part of the Soma family, they’re in the Honda family and they are incredible. I loved both of their backstories and how they all came together to be such a tight unit. It’s such a shame that Kyoko died as I would love to see more of the whole Honda family interacting more.
Who was your least favourite character?
There is one character that comes to mind in this instance, and believe it or not, it’s not Akito. I can’t stand Hiro. From the first moment, he appeared on the screen to the very last moment he was there, I couldn’t stand him. I’m not Tohru’s biggest fan and yes, Hiro has had it rough, but there is no reason to talk to anyone like that, let alone Tohru. Basically, he’s a spoilt jealous little turd and I’ve never wanted to see an animated child get hit so much.
Would you like some more?
Definitely. This series has been a very pleasant surprise with some genuinely excellent storytelling and a host of bizarre and wonderful characters. We got a little glimpse of several more new characters at the end of episode twenty-five and I’m sure they’re going to impact things pretty soon and probably not in a good way. I’m expecting the second season to get even darker and more mysterious but still manage to hit us with some delightful moments. I’ve been covering this series for half a year and I honestly didn’t want it to end.
What have you learnt?
I think this series did an amazing job of preparing the viewer for the strange things that were going to happen. In the first episode, we saw Shigure, Yuki, and Kyo transform into animals. That’s pretty weird to start with, but it was a small tease as far as the strange go. With all the little increments like Saki’s waves and memory removal, it made the eventual transformation of Kyo’s true form to be utterly believable. Completely unexpected, but I didn’t doubt it for a second. That’s some very clever foreshadowing, because you’re not giving anything direct aware, but just carefully preparing the viewer to accept the strange. If they hadn’t done that and revealed Kyo’s true form earlier it would have felt unnatural and made the event jarring.
Other posts in the series
- Season One
- Episode 1 – See You After School
- Episode 2 – They’re All Animals!
- Episode 3 – Let’s Play Rich Man, Poor Man!
- Episode 4 – What Year Is She?
- Episode 5 – I’ve Been Fooling Myself
- Episode 6 – Perhaps We Should Invite Ourselves Over
- Episode 7 – Spring Comes
- Episode 8 – See You When You Get Back
- Episode 9 – Yuki Was My First Love
- Episode 10 – It’s Valentine’s, After All
- Episode 11 – This is a Wonderful Inn
- Episode 12 – You Look Like You’re Having Fun
- Episode 13 – How Have You Been, My Brother?
- Episode 14 – That’s a Secret
- Episode 15 – I Wouldn’t Say That
- Episode 16 – She Said Don’t Step on Them!
- Episode 17 – This Is for Uo-chan!
- Episode 18 – What’s Important Is…
- Episode 19 – I’m So Sorry!
- Episode 20 – I Can’t Believe You Picked It Up
- Episode 21 – I Never Back Down from a Wave Fight
- Episode 22 – Because I Was Happy
- Episode 23 – You Look Well…
- Episode 24 – Let’s Go Home
- Episode 25 – Summer Will Be Here Soon
- Season Two
- Episode 26 – Hello Again
- Episode 27 – Eat Somen with Your Friends
- Episode 28 – Shall We Go and Get You Changed?
- Episode 29 – I Got Dumped…
- Episode 30 – Wait for me, tororo soba!
- Episode 31 – Are you really this stupid?
- Episode 32 – Let’s Start the Watermelon Splitting Contest!
- Episode 33 – Well, It’s True
- Episode 34 – My Precious…
- Episode 35 – Who Are You?
- Episode 36 – All Mine
- Episode 37 – You Cried for Me
- Episode 38 – Sure Thing
- Episode 39 – I Should Just Die…
- Episode 40 – See You Later
- Episode 41 – Ask Him For Me
- Episode 42 – You Will, I’m Sure of It
- Episode 43 – Do You Wanna Kiss?
- Episode 44 – There’s Just No Way!
- Episode 45 – Are You Okay?
- Episode 46 – There Was, Definitely
- Episode 47 – That Isn’t What I Want
- Episode 48 – It’s Cinderella-ish
- Episode 49 – Here You Are
- Episode 50 – I’m Different Now