In this day and age of anime, announcements of remakes or sequels of old anime are becoming a regular thing, and even then they manage to catch us off guard. Shoujo action Banana Fish got a new anime in 2018 after 20 years as it was first published in the 1980s. You’d least expect titles like Banana Fish to get any attention NOW. One beloved early 2000 anime, we all didn’t expect to hear getting a new anime adaptation was Fruits Basket. This announcement certainly caught fans off guard but brought newfound excitement.
Studio Deen produced an anime series based on the Fruits Basket manga in 2001. The adaptation deters away from the manga in certain parts, but to skip over this heartwarming series means that you’ll be missing out on a great adaptation which brings Fruits Basket’s loveable characters to life and that includes some real life lessons that stay with you.
Sixteen-year-old Tohru Honda tragically loses her mother in a car accident. Choosing not to stay with her Grandpa or friends, thinking she’ll be a burden, Tohru decides to secretly live near a forest in a tent, on her own. Tohru’s bad luck continues when she comes home from work to find a landslide having buried the tent, along with her belongings – including a picture frame of her mum in it. Not knowing what to do, Yuki Sohma from her school (known as the ‘prince’) along with his cousin Shigure discover Tohru’s dismal situation.
Yuki and Shigure kindly offer Tohru to stay with them until Tohru’s Grandpa’s house renovations are complete. By mistake Tohru discovers the Sohma family secret: if a person of the opposite gender hugs them, they’ll transform into one of the Chinese zodiac animals.
Plot & Story
Fruits Basket 2001 adaptation doesn’t cover every element of the manga due to production directional changes at the time. For example, you don’t get to see all the main 12 Sohma family members who have the zodiac curse. Rin the horse and Kureno the rooster are not mentioned in the anime. The anime plot may have had its alterations, but that does not make it a weak adaption.
Just like in the manga, the characters are strong, loveable, and full of personality. The main focus in the anime is on Tohru’s encounters with each Sohma member with the zodiac curse. The biggest effect for the Sohma family having the curse is the acceptance of outsiders. Others have found out before but haven’t come to accept this fact and had their memories erased. When Tohru finds out the secret, head of the Sohma family Akito allows Tohru to keep her memories and continue living with Shigure, Kyo, and Yuki. Tohru’s selfless and kind nature towards Shigure and other members touches each member in a positive light and Tohru becomes a massive influence over everyone.
Tohru is a beaming beacon throughout the series. The girl is a saint practically; she might be too good, haha. Each effect she has over each Sohma member is so moving and may cause you to get teary – because it’s too damn beautiful. The bond Tohru builds with Kyo and Yuki is just as beautiful; Tohru affects their perspectives on a lot of things. The anime does a fantastic job going into detail on what effect the curse has had on the Sohma family and will have you invested in all the characters even more.
While the series can get emotionally heavy, the hysterical humor is the greatest uplifter even in dark moments. It’s the characters that make the humor to balance out the bad. The character chemistry among the cast is strong and ridiculous antics that happen, especially in the Sohma household, are a crack up. Also another thing this series does well is highlighting life lessons that seem to stay with you, and Tohru is the biggest teacher of this. It’s an impactful experience you’ll easily find yourself related with.
Art & Music
I’m a fan of Studio Deen’s animation style. Everything looks clean and soft-toned but comparing back to 2001, everything seems a bit outdated. The music for Fruits Basket is sweet to listen too. On the OST, tracks range from subtle and soft tracks to upbeat, silly tunes. I’ve always loved the use of the music for the many emotional scenes contained in the series. They always suit the atmosphere and can set off the water works easily. The opening ‘For Fruits Basket’ by Ritsuko Okazaki is a song that you can’t seem to help but sing along with, expressing there’s more to life than pain. The ending theme ‘Chiisana Inori’ by Ritsuko Okazaki is a unique track whose use of violins and soft melody make it a soothing song to listen to.
Themes And Trivia
Manga Coverage: The 2001 adaptation only covers a third of the manga.
Fruits Basket: The meaning of the anime title refers to a famous Japanese children’s game.
Chinese Zodiac: The Sohma curse is based on the 12 Chinese zodiac animals, a constant rotating calendar of a different animal every year. Each animal has its individual attributes and this advent is most popular in Asian countries, Japan, China.
Manga Releases:Tokyo Pop were the first to release the Fruits Basket manga in English, all full 23 volumes with the final one published in 2007. Announced in 2016 by Yen Press, the series would be re-released in omnibus form. Check out Daiyamanga’s comparison between these two different releases.
Acceptance: Tohru’s acceptance over the Yuki, Kyo and the other Zodiac members is this series prime theme and does so well at. Easy to find a relation with it and make an impact.
Equally the manga and anime for Fruits Baskets are enjoyable in their own rights (Psst, though, if we’re talking about my preference, it’s definitely the manga). If you already are a fan of the manga, I guarantee that watching the anime will make you love this series more. For me that is thanks to the talented voices from the English dub. Spotlight mention for Laura Bailey’s performance as Tohru which truly brought this angelic character to life, this kind and selfless individual who loves to help and encourage people. Also can’t forget to mention Chad Cline as Kyo; amazing performance of this short-tempered hot head.
The anime is an old favorite for me because of the lovable characters. Best thing about this series is how Tohru affects each Sohma member by showing them a kind of kindness and acceptance some of them have never known. The most impactful is Kyo’s backstory: according to the zodiac, the cat was always left out, tricked by the other animals where they have a banquet but the cat isn’t invited – treated as an outsider. It makes me cry every god DAMN time and you will too.
We All Have A Plum On Our Back
- Loveable characters
- Great balance between humor and dark moments
- Fantastic backstory coverage on all the characters
- Sweet, subtle use of music in emotional moments
- Strong English dub performances
- Not including all the Zodiac members in the series
- Animation outdated
Fruits Baskets is, indeed, a classic anime title. The manga may give you more satisfaction than the anime, but this adaptation has its solid merits, especially its adoring cast of characters with their eccentric personalities. You’ll find yourself invested quickly as you’ll want to learn more about each member of the Sohma family and how they struggle with the curse and how they follow the hysterical daily antics. You won’t have any regrets checking out this touching and heartwarming series about acceptance.
Let’s look forward now to more Fruits Basket soon!
Let us all here at MANGA.TOKYO know in the comments if you have seen this adaptation and your thoughts on it? Don’t forget to check out our other anime series reviews.
Summer and Fall 2001
Official Hakusensha Fruits Basket manga site
Official TV Tokyo Fruits Basket anime site