You probably know the story of Fruits Basket already: a compassionate, kind girl is surrounded by mysterious handsome guys who get turned into Chinese zodiac animals once hugged by someone of the opposite sex. Fruits Basket came to the anime scene so many years ago and has been considered a classic shoujo series for a long time. It was one of the first titles that introduced me to the genre of reverse harem, (a genre that literally wrecked my teenage years) so it kind of holds a special place in my heart.
Even though shoujo series tend to be exaggerated and unrealistic, you can’t help but love them and keep enjoying the romance and the eye candy that they have to offer. Watching this as a young teen made me feel like I have discovered a whole new world of brilliance, but after trying to re-watch it as a young adult, welp… I hate to say this, but I think I might be getting too old for this kind of anime. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy them to the fullest but they no longer have the same impact to me as they did before.
In case you don’t know, Fruits Basket will be getting a new season soon and what better way to get yourself ready for it other than watching some anime titles that involve some good humor and cute love stories. So let’s dive right into the recommendations list.
Ouran High School is an exclusive academy for very wealthy, prestigious, and/or talented students. Haruhi is one of those talented students but at the same time a poor clumsy commoner. One day, she accidentally drops an eight million yen vase in a music room, which happened to be owned by Ouran High School Host Club, a group of attractive young men who provide their time and affections to the female students. Fascinated by Haruhi’s background, they force her to work for them until the debt is repaid.
Episodic events that happen in a high school setting with characters that have similar designs and personalities. Despite the overall light-hearted atmosphere and the cute and funny moments, both shows have the occasional drama and sad stories that might even bring some tears in your eyes depending on your levels of sensitivity. Ouran High School Host Club will probably make you cry from laughter because it is absolutely hilarious. Whether you like shoujo or nor, I highly recommend this one, because its comedy is just top notch.
Kamisama Hajimemashita (Kamisama Kiss)
Fall 2012 13 Episodes
Nanami is a high schooler who became homeless due to her father’s overwhelming debt. One day, she helps a mysterious stranger in the park who ends up deeming her the new goddess of a local shrine. Her new house seems to be occupied with spirits and a fox familiar named Tomoe, who objects to the presence of a mere mortal and immediately begins to quarrel with her. As Nanami immerses herself in her divine duties, she needs to make a contract with the hot-headed fox and start working together.
Both have a similar atmosphere and sense of humor and are made by the same director, Daichi Akitarou. Tohru and Nanami even look and act similarly, but Nanami is way more dynamic and outspoken. The male characters of both shows have animals that correspond with their personalities in a fantasy type of way. In Fruits basket, the characters are associated with the Chinese zodiac signs where in Kamisama Hajimemashita withland gods and Japanese mythology. The romance stories focus on one girl surrounded by interesting hot lads, so If you like one then you are likely to like the other.
Kaichou wa Maid-sama!
Spring 2010 26 Episodes
In a school that has just transitioned from an all-boys high school to a co-ed one, Misaki Ayuzawa holds the title of the first female student council president, which isn’t an easy job. She has the reputation of a demon at school, due to her strict disciplinary style where she is not afraid to cast judgment onto the hordes of misbehaving boys and defend the girls at Seika High School. But Misaki has a secret: she works at a maid café in Akibahara to help her family pay the bills. However, one day, when the most popular boy in schoolUsui Takumi wanders into the restaurant during her shift, suddenly she finds her reputation in school at his mercy.
The light humor and romance in these two is very alike. Even though this is more shoujo oriented and there is no harem involved in the story, you will certainly see resemblances between some characters, especially Kyo and Usui that look practically the same. Both stories are equally fun and entertaining.
Spring 2008 13 Episodes
In the school of Cross Academy the students are divided to the Day Class, where all the ordinary humans go and the Night Class which is filled up with vampires. Yuki Cross and Zero Kiryu are school prefects that guard the school grounds at night in order to keep the Night Class’s secret safe. Zero hates vampires while Yuki is fascinated by them and especially intrigued by their charming leader Kaname, who once saved her life. But not all vampires are as amiable as the Night Class and in a world of hunters and human prey, can the two species really coexist?
You could say that Vampire Knight is basically Fruits Basket but with vampires. Love triangles, supernatural elements, and extreme similarities in the female and male character leads. Kyo is Zero: same attitude and smug face, Sohma Yuki is Kaname: the handsome, popular guy at school, and Tohru is Yuuki: the main optimistic girl who goes through incredible hardships and ends up being the center of the love triangle. If you watch both shows, you will definitely see the resemblance.
2010 – 2011 Winter 2011 26 Episodes
Tsukiko Yahisa enrolled to a school that was recently changed from all-boys school to co-ed. Because of the school’s exclusive courses that specialize in astronomy and rural location, up until now the protagonist is the only female who enrolled to the school.She has two childhood friends, Kanata Nanami and Suzuya Tohzuki, who protect her from the entirely-male student body. As the semesters go by, she explores various clubs and lessons where she ends up getting close with the rest of her classmates.
In Starry☆Sky, the 13 constellations of the Zodiac are personified into handsome young men, exactly as it is done with the characters of Fruits Basket and the Chinese Zodiac. So I don’t really have to elaborate more on this one. If you would like to see the same zodiac-related theme in the story, then you will absolutely love this.
2008-2009 Fall 2008 25 Episodes
Kyoko, a bright yet naïve 16-year-old, moves to the big city and works hard to support the career and dreams of her childhood friend, crush, and rising pop icon, Shoutarou Fuwa. One day, she realizes that her tireless efforts have been taken for granted, because her beloved Shou sees her as nothing more than a free servant. Outraged and heartbroken she swears revenge and enters the ruthless world of entertainment herself where she will face new challenges as well as people who will push her out of her comfort zone.
Skip Beat! is one of the best-selling shoujo manga out there, probably because it is very unique and refreshing in a way. It showcases the growth of a young woman who starts learning how to take her future into her own hands instead of working just for the sake of others, a story that deals with the entertainment business and that differentiates greatly from Fruits Basket. What makes these shows very similar though, is the female main characters that are extremely hardworking and oblivious to the love of others, their tragic past, as well as the fact that everything changes suddenly from really funny to deadly serious.
Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge (The Seven Metamorphoses of Yamato Nadeshiko)
2006–2007 Fall 2006 25 Episodes
Nakahara Sunako, is a high school girl that is gloomy, weird, and a horror movie maniac. One day, she is sent to live in an extravagant mansion with four ridiculously handsome boys. As someone who has cast aside all her femininity due to her hate of beautiful things that has been caused by a boy whom she loved when she was in junior high school, she can’t really look at these ‘radiant creatures’ in the eyes, because they give her constant nosebleeds. As she later finds out that the boys have made a bet with her aunt: in exchange for free rent, they will try to turn Sunako into a magnificent lady, can she really coexist with them?
The main stories of the shows are completely different although they both focus on a female protagonist that lives with a group of men and even though Tohru acts very differently from Sunako they are thrown into a very similar situation. The main difference is Tohru went there on her own while Sunako is forced to live with them. Kyo and Kyohei are quite similar as well as they are both easily irritated and argue with the female protagonist for very silly reasons.
2004 -2005 Fall 2004 26 Episodes
Ever since they met, Mikan Sakura, an optimistic and energetic 10-year-old girl, and cold-hearted, Hotaru Imai, have been best friends. When Hotaru suddenly transfers to Alice Academy, a prestigious school in the city, her best friend is devastated, especially when she hears about the horrible rumors regarding the academy’s harsh treatment of students. She sets out on a mission to find her and after traveling for a long time, she finally manages to reunite with Hotaru but is now lost in a school full of kids with strange powers and unusual animals.
At first you might think that Gakuen Alice is just a kid’s anime, but it’s much more than that. It has magic, drama, romance, and even a love triangle mixed with a lot of comedy. Both series start out with a lively, optimistic and naïve heroine who enters a realm of fantasy she never imagined before. There is a hint of a deeper struggle between it all but mainly keeps a nice light tone. If you liked Fruits Basket, you will just love Gakuen Alice.
Kimi ni Todoke: From Me to You
2009–2010 Fall 2009 25 Episodes
Sawako Kuronuma is deeply misunderstood by her classmates because she resembles greatly to the ghost girl from horror movie The Ring, which has led them to give her the nickname Sadako. As she is longing to make friends and live a normal life, she is drawn to the most popular guy in class Kazehaya Shouta, who happens to be the only person that talks to her. As they start spending more time together, Kazehaya slowly begins to bring Sawako out of her shell and soon their feelings for each other develop further.
If you enjoyed the slice-of-life sweetness that was occasionally in Fruits Basket, Kimi ni Todoke is definitely a must-watch. Both Sawako and Tohru are very sweet, and their kindness or naivety touches the hearts of the surrounding people. They have delinquent besties and both experience some degree of bullying from the popular girls that like the main guy characters. Both series focus on the necessity of friendship, kindness and empathy as well as showcasing strong bonds and slow-building romantic relationships.
Azumanga Daioh: The Animation
Spring 2002 26 Episodes
Chiyo Mihama is a tiny 10-year-old academic prodigy who likes plush dolls and homemade cooking and who begins her high school career as one of the strangest students in her freshman class. But she is not the only peculiar girl in it: the animal-loving Sakaki, loudmouth Tomo, athletic Kagura, weight-conscious Yomi, and dim-witted Osaka end up becoming friends. They experience the difficulties of school life with many adventures filled with laughter, absurdity, and occasionally even touching commentary on the bittersweet, temporal nature of high school.
Azumanga Daioh is one of the most hilarious anime that I have ever watched. Its humor is way over the top and its silliness is something that brings me laughter even to this day. The overall heartwarming feeling and the way you get to know each character and their peculiarities will kind of remind you of Fruits Basket. It’s an overly cute show and even though it doesn’t have any intense drama or romance in it, you will certainly enjoy it for its randomness and fun comedy.
Hot boys, randomness and hilarity.
Fruits Basket will always be considered one of the best of its genre, but it’s always nice and fun to explore similar anime titles and see the inspiration or the influence that it might have brought to future works and generations.
Let us know what other 10 anime like articles you would like to see from MANGA.TOKYO and feel free to add your own recommendations in the comments.