Honda Tohru’s father passed away when she was a young girl, so she was raised by her mother. Shortly after entering high school, her mother lost her life in a tragic accident. After a brief period of living in a tent in the woods, Tohru eventually comes to reside at the Souma residence with her classmate, Souma Yuki, and his relatives. One day, Tohru discovers the Souma family’s curse; the members of their family are cursed with the spirits of the animals of the Chinese Zodiac. Whenever they are “huggled” by a member of the opposite sex they transform into their corresponding Zodiac animal. Now that she knows the Souma family’s greatest secret, Tohru tries to learn as much as she can about it.
summary by Gatts
Highs: Brilliant characters
Lows: A few pointless episodes
Fruits Basket is an interesting anime to watch. It focuses on character as opposed to plot. In fact, there is little to no plot, only a premise that the show works around. And yet, it manages to captivate its audience thanks to the outstanding cast.
The early episodes follow the same pattern: a new character is introduced in each episode, and the later portion of the series serves to develop each further. In most cases, this formulaic style would become repetitive, but the amazing characters more than make up for it. The first thing that caught my eye was the character designs. From the sickeningly cute Momiji to the stylish Kyou, all the designs are interesting and unique. Aside from their appearances, the interactions between Tohru and the Souma family make Fruits Basket truly memorable. Their relationships allow for each of their personalities to be fully expressed. The seiyuu performances add to it all and truly bring it to life (featuring two of my favorite seiyuu: Tomokazu Seki and Horie Yui).
The second half of the series falls into a bit of a slump, though. There are a few episodes that feel out of place, and it would have been more beneficial to have used this time to develop the main characters even further rather than dedicating time to a few of the more obscure ones. The ending is also a mixed bag. The last three episodes are a real roller coaster ride. For the most part it’s really well done, but the final half of the last episode make it less enjoyable. The confrontation with the villainous figure seems rushed and clichèd. It doesn’t really give any feelings of closure, and the conclusion is a bit too open-ended.
Although there are a few rough spots, Fruits Basket is still a wonderful show. There are so many excellent characters that appeal to a wide variety of personalities that it is difficult not to love at least one of them. This anime won’t appeal to everyone, but those who watch it are in for a real treat.
Highs: Great blend of comedy and drama; fully-developed themes
Lows: Too many characters to keep track of
Fruits Basket is the only anime to ever make me laugh hard and then cry out of sympathy for the characters… and that’s just the first episode! This show grabs your attention and your emotions from the moment it starts and doesn’t ever let go.
As this show’s premise is based on the thirteen animals of the Chinese zodiac, it seems intent on presenting each of the thirteen-plus characters by the end of story. Some of these characters are well fleshed out and receive great attention, while others are only given one or two episodes and a short storyline. By the end of the series I found myself forgetting quite a few names and faces. In some cases only their curse made them remarkable; otherwise they have no real place in the story.
The curse itself seems Ranma-like at the beginning: the hexed family member turns into an animal if hugged by a member of the opposite sex. But this seemingly simple plot, which does provide more than a few great laughs, also contains a hidden meaning.
To explain it simply, the curse itself is a metaphor. The Souma family is “cursed” with the inability to let anyone get close to them and always has to keep others at a distance (in fact, I’d say this is a common situation for many of us). Tohru’s character is unique in that she teaches each of them how to be close to other people again and to trust them to show their real selves. This understated theme plays out so well that the end of the show actually feels unresolved. This may lead the viewer to a little bit of confusion and even resentment, but the idea behind the curse is presented so well that you understand everything that they have been through.
Highs: Excellent characterization; vibrant art; flawlessly combines drama and comedy
Lows: Filler episodes; climax feels rushed
At first glance, Fruits Basket is a very simple anime. Revolving around character and emotional conflict instead of plot and moving with dreamlike slowness, this series moves seamlessly between manic hilarity and heartbreaking drama.
Though the first half follows something of a formula (introducing new characters and delving into their emotional issues), each character is unique, vividly portrayed and highly developed. Easy pacing and extensive back story give the viewer a chance to really emotionally connect with the characters. Amazing performances by the seiyuu and the unique, vibrant art style tie everything together, making each episode something very special.
As the series progresses, the focus of the story narrows to the relationship between the three main characters. Moving and funny, these episodes are inexplicably interrupted by unnecessary filler episodes. Though they provide some humor, these episodes accomplish nothing and would have been better spent expanding the last three episodes. Though there is a little foreshadowing early on, the climax of Fruits Basket comes very suddenly, moving from the slow pacing of previous episodes into rapidly moving, emotional turmoil. While it is riveting and heart-wrenching, the final conflict seems a bit contrived, if only because little time was spent leading up to it.
Despite a few flaws and unanswered questions, Fruits Basket is still clearly an outstanding anime. With its beautiful art and loving characterization, this anime may not appeal to every fan, but the vast majority should be well satisfied.