Fruits Basket

Fruits BasketType: TV Series
Episode Count: 26
Genre: Fantasy / Drama / Comedy
Vintage: 2001

Version reviewed: Japanese Subtitled
Date of Review: 26 Feb 2008

Grade: B

Once again, Akitaroh Daichi does not disappoint. Even a drama can’t escape his quirky eye for humor.

Plot Summary
Tohru Honda lives alone in a tent in the woods ever since her mother passed away, not wanting to burden the rest of her family with watching over her. One day, Tohru discovers a house near her path that she hadn’t noticed before. The house belongs to the Sohma family, who guards a secret: they are possessed by the animals of the Chinese zodiac, and turn into the animal that they represent when hugged by someone of the opposite gender. Tohru discovers this by accident, but despite learning the family secret, she soon finds herself living with the Sohma family.

The Review
Fruits Basket is a series that I had my eye on for years before finally watching it. I knew that it was from one of my favorite directors (Akitaroh Daichi), but still it took a long time for it to finally become a part of my collection. It was well worth the wait.

The idea is simple enough… a lonely girl suddenly has her life changed when she is welcomed into a home and suddenly finds herself surrounded by people who care about her. Plot is not the focus of this series, though. Feelings are. The narrative is mostly dictated by Tohru’s wish to learn more about everybody from the Sohma family that she meets. And being that they are from the Chinese zodiac, there are many people for her to learn about. Tohru is also selfless in her pursuit to empathize with each family member that she meets, rarely thinking about her own needs and putting everyone else’s first. Between this and her desire to learn and revel in the feelings she is experiencing, Tohru reminds me a lot of Hinata from the CLAMP manga Suki.

Tohru also has her best friends and source of support: the tough Ansa Uotani (Uo-chan), and the creepy – to everyone else except Tohru, that is – Saki Hanajima (Hana-chan). The three are the best of friends, and Uo-chan and Hana-chan will not allow any harm to come to Tohru, aggressively protecting her when necessary.

I’ve hardly mentioned Akitaroh Daichi at all so far! That’s because in Fruits Basket, he proves that he is as adept at drama as comedy. Rest assured though, his unique style still comes through in this series. You’ll know it’s a Daichi series for certain.

Fruits Basket is a great series for fans of character-driven drama. I only wish it were longer, as the large Sohma family has many members, and there simply isn’t enough time to go into all of their stories, though most receive at least one episode. Highly recommended!

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