Hello, again! And welcome to this specific part of the internet dedicated to anime, manga and the like! Today, I have looked through the vast series at our library and have found one that I think is pretty awesome! And it’s a shojo (girl’s) series! So if you’re not into this genre…. You should probably stay there. It’s not always about the hack and slash! It’s also about the actual story, the plot and the sensitivity. Anyway, let’s get started on this post’s subject, Fruits Basket!
This series is about a young girl named Tohru Honda. She has recently been camping out in the woods by her old house that she cannot live in anymore. Her mother has just died, but she is staying positive and going to school, just like her mother would have wanted. As she emerges from her tent one morning, she is greeted by a man who has made decorations of all twelve of the Chinese zodiac, plus the Cat (which in legend was tricked out of an elaborate banquet for the zodiac by the Rat). As she converses with the man, she is greeted by her classmate, Yuki Sohma. She learns from Yuki that the man she just met is a cousin of Yuki’s, and lets it go.
When she returns to her tent, she is met by Yuki and his cousin, identified as Shigure Sohma. After explaining her situation, they agree to let her stay temporarily at their house. However, her temporary stay is extended to a more… permanent stay when a landslide destroys her tent and all of her belongings. She is then introduced to yet another cousin of Yuki’s: Kyo Sohma when he rambunctiously bursts into the house through the roof and demands a fight with Yuki, not willing to take no for an answer. As Tohru jumps up to stop the fight, she accidently trips on a broken shingle and grabs him during the fall. When she opens her eyes, she is incredibly surprised to find that Kyo has now turned into a cat. She trips and falls on Yuki and Shigure, who turn into a rat and dog respectively. It is then that they tell Tohru the dark secret that the Sohmas have been hiding for generations: they are possessed by the vengeful spirits of the Chinese Zodiac, and if they are ever embraced by someone of the opposite sex, they turn into their respective animal. There are ten others that are possessed by animals, as well as the feared head of the family. While this series does start off light hearted, it does start to get heavy around book six, or episodes 25-26 (the last episodes of the anime). An even deeper secret is revealed for one character in particular, causing Tohru to question the curse, and eventually, want to find a way to break it.
I adore this series. It was actually the first series that I started collecting. It was even the first one that I started saving money for. And before I even started buying the series, I remember getting book four from the Virginia Beach Library System and reading it over and over and over. This was probably the series that really got me into manga. And I’m glad it was this series. I even have most of the books, although I’m missing the LAST THREE…
Throughout the series, I think it did start to get a little confusing regarding the plot. The interpersonal relationships started taking over the original thesis, which was to break the curse. And while this break from the main story was to give secondary characters more of a development, I sometimes found it a bit distracting. But that’s usually the case with Shojo series. With this genre, there are multiple plots going on right underneath the main plot. So while the main goal is, in theory, to break the curse on the Thirteen Zodiac Members, the subplots are (and these are just examples): Helping Yuki become class president, understanding the relationship Tohru has with her relatives (most importantly her grandfather), the relationships the Sohmas have with each other and with themselves and, most importantly, who Tohru falls in love with (which actually turns into an important reason WHY she wants to break the curse).
As for the anime, if you don’t feel like reading books 1-6, you can easily just watch all of Fruits Basket and everything will basically stay the same. Nothing is really resolved, but it has a feel-good ending. Like most 26 episode adaptations of a series, only the bare minimum is explored. Unfortunately, if you would rather OWN the manga series than borrow them from our wonderful and lovely library, there are only a few places you can still buy the manga. Since Tokyopop went out of business with big chain bookstores, there are few options to obtain the series: 1. Buy it off the internet (the most sure way), 2: hope to find it at a local family owned book store or 3. MAYBE find it at a Convention.
We have all 23 volumes at the library (Shout out to Indian River Library for having the whole series at that branch!). We also have the box set of the anime (Shout out to South Norfolk Library for having it at their branch!), which goes up to episode 26. The anime gives just enough to hook you IF you are into this genre. And if not… some things are worth a try once, right? I hope you give it a try. Stay golden, my friends!