Foreign Friday: Fruits Basket

“I waited for someone to call ‘onigiri’ [rice ball]. But no one called. There would never be room for an onigiri in a fruits basket.” – Fruits Basket

As a refreshing feminine change, this week’s Foreign Friday review is the manga Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya.

The Story

Tohru Honda was a orphan with no place to go until the mysterious Sohma family offers her a place to call home. Now her ordinary high school life is turned upside down as she’s introduced to the Sohma’s world of magical curses and family secrets.

The Characters

Tohru Honda is the world’s biggest optimist. Cheerful, hard working and insightful, she’s also naive and dense when it comes to herself. Yuki Sohma is popular at school for his looks and kind nature, but he  has a major inferiority complex. Kyo Sohma is the brash, simple-minded hothead. All around these three main characters are others with tragic pasts and guarded secrets, such as Tohru’s two best friends, Risa Uotani (a former deliquent/gangster) and Saki Hanajima (a girl possessing “poison waves,” some sort of strange psychic talent), not to mention the rest of the Sohma family.

What I Thought

Fruits Basket is known for being one of the best loved shojo manga series of all time, and for good reason. Unlike the previous series that I’ve reviewed, this one is aimed more towards a female audience, with the focus of the series being on relationships. And trust me, there are a lot of relationships (not all romantic, but romance is there). The story has a well-written plot, which is necessary to keep all the characters in line without it becoming too crowded or the plot becoming stagnant or redundant. The character development is quite deep, and can get a little complex (but it doesn’t hold a candle to CLAMP’s Tsubasa. That is still the most complex series I ever read). While there is some typical romantic elements in there, such as Tohru, Yuki and Kyo’s love triangle, it’s handled really well, and end results made me happy (which is all that matters! I like happy endings, got it?) While there are some magical elements within the series, aka the Sohma’s curse and Hanajima’s waves, that isn’t the focus of the series, and is used more as a tool to add difficulty and conflict to the characters’ lives. The series is 23 volumes long, and it is all available in the US.

Natsuki Takaya has a great balance of drama and humor throughout the series, and she emphasizes it excellently with her art. It is fun to see the development of the characters as they progressively get older throughout the series (the series takes place over a span of two years or so). The artwork in Fruits Basket is one of my favorites.

Fruits Basket was also developed into an anime series, which follows the manga up to volume 6. Because the bulk of the manga (and therefore the anime) is dialogue, the show moves pretty slowly. It’s still worth watching.

Stay tuned for next week’s Foreign Friday!

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