A preview screening for Fruits Basket took place in Tokyo on 16 March 2019. During the event which was broadcasted live to multiple cinemas all over Japan, the series screened the first two episodes of the series and brought six cast members on the stage for a talk show. The guests were Manaka Iwami (voice of Tohru Honda), Nobunaga Shimazaki (voice of Yuki Soma), Yuma Uchida (voice of Kyo Soma), Yuichi Nakamura (voice of Shigure Soma), Atsumi Tanezaki (voice of Arisa Uotani), and Satomi Sato (voice of Saki Hanajima). As a fan of the series from back when the manga was running, I decided to go to the screening and give you my impressions!
After the initial introduction, some of the voice actors were asked how they felt when they first heard they would become a part of Fruits Basket. Uchida told everybody he didn’t quite know what he had got himself into and only realized when he received the call from his agency that he got the role. Usually, the person calling would simply congratulate him and tell him to work hard, but this time they seemed a bit agitated. It was unbelieving, they said, that Uchida is Kyo and that he better work hard.
Nakamura didn’t go through an audition but his agency received a call offering him the role. He agreed to do it because a certain person (co-worker?), whom he called S-kun, introduced him to Fruits Basket and its greatness. Nakamura also joked that despite his rugged looks, he is shockingly more into action-based shonen than shojo manga.
The fans at the venue were asked if they already knew the manga; even though we couldn’t see it on screen, the majority must have raised their hands because the guests were very surprised. When the guests were asked the same question, Tanezaki and Sato raised their hands. Tanezaki seemed a bit shy, so Sato talked more about how pretty much all the girls in her class were reading the manga and she read the manga as each chapter came out in the magazine Hana to Yume, when it was serialized from 1998 to 2006. One of the most important questions among her friends was: Team Kyo or Team Yuki? When Sato was asked which team she was, she tried to avoid answering but soon confessed that she is Team Yuki. Tanezaki then mentioned that she did not read the magazine but was waiting for the paperback volumes to come out and confessed that she was Team Kyo. Uchida was very happy about it and the MC asked how she thought about Uchida as Kyo which made her confirm dryly that she may have had the same worries as Uchida’s agency, which had the audience laughing.
Then the guests were asked to go backstage and watch the first two episodes together with the audience; it was also the first time for the cast to see the finished episode. Though I have to mention that it wasn’t quite finished. There was no opening and even though the ending song was features (‘Lucky Ending’ by Vickeblanka) there was no animation yet. So even us lucky premiere screening viewers have something to look forward to until the official broadcast!
Fruits Basket will be the series I am reviewing this season, so please look forward to the first episode review on 6 April 2019, after it has aired! You can also check the rest of our weekly reviews here.
Cinema-goers received this card holder as a present!
After the screening, the guests returned to the stage. Now that everybody in the room had seen the first two episodes, it was easier for them to talk about the series. They talked about the scene they liked best from the many moments that made your heart skip a beat. The first one to answer was Sato, who mentioned a scene with Yuki. Tanezaki mentioned one with Kyo. The way she talked about the scene, however, made Uchida jump up and ask if she really enjoyed it, because it didn’t seem like it and everybody got another laugh out of their interaction. Tanezaki confirmed that she honestly liked the scenes with Kyo and also thought his voice acting was okay. Nakamura also wanted to tell everybody which scene made his heart skip a beat. He started off by talking (flailing?) about Shimazaki and how hard it must be to voice a character like Yuki, who has to show so many sides of himself. There is the lovely prince Yuki, who has to be voiced just right so he doesn’t become a simple ikemen. At the same time he has to talk fierce with Kyo, so that he seems strong and shows his dislike. But the way, Yuki talks to Tohru and Shigeru in very different ways. That’s why he doesn’t envy Shimazaki, but is impressed by how he performed Yuki just right. This also led him to say that a certain scene with Yuki made his heart skip a beat. He went so far as to say that his inner otome (maiden) was awoken by that particular Yuki scene.
Iwami’s favorite scene was the most surprising one, as it was a scene where Kyo turned into a cat and yelled at Tohru. Iwami said that she loved the sound it made right after he screams and that it gave her heart a bit of a squeeze.
The cast was also asked what the biggest charm of the series is. They wanted to express how important it was to everybody working on this series to give back the love and dedication fans have put into Fruits Basket, which is why they really tried to stick to the manga as closely as possible. This is one of the biggest charms of the series. It seems as recent anime usually try to follow a certain pattern (even manga seem to follow those patterns). Back when Fruits Basket was published, those patterns didn’t really apply. The biggest example would be the character Hanajima, who seems to be a mysterious character and who can read the auras of other people. She even can attack with her own aura. In a recent anime, she would maybe be put into one box with Chuunibyou-characters (could be interpreted as delusional characters) but since she can actually use her aura-power, she wouldn’t quite fit in there. That’s what makes it different to other series.
At the end, they showed a new trailer, the newest key visual, and we learned about a collaboration event with a karaoke place and Nanja Town this summer. The cast members were asked to share some last words; everybody thanked the audience and hoped they would enjoy the rest of the series and support Fruits Basket until the end.
The event was filled with laughter and all the voice actors were charming. When Iwami opened the event, she mentioned that it felt a bit nostalgic seeing something related to Fruits Basket, because they had been recording this series since last summer.
The Fruits Basket logo said ‘1st season’ which means we will have more than one cour. Of course it was to be expected if they really want to adapt the whole story of the manga, but it is nice to see them confirm it like this.
The way everybody talked to each other was very adorable. Especially Iwami, who seemed a lot like Tohru on this stage. Whatever she said, at the end she would ask the cast members if what she said was all right and if they agreed. Everybody nodded and answered politely. She also had her hair made to look like Tohru’s, which was a very cute detail. I think Tohru would also wear the clothes Iwami wore on stage. It felt as if I had seen a real-life Tohru Honda!
When the cast talked about what they did when the original manga was running, Nakamura answered that he was learning how to become a voice actor. There were some people on the team who were still in school when he was training to become a voice actor, and as the manga series progressed, he also made his official debut. It shows that he is on the older side of the team, and when Uchida chimed in to say something, Nakamura pretended to be confused because he thought Uchida was only two years younger than he was. Turns out that Uchida will only be 27 years old this September and Nakamura tried to add 10 years to that. As all of them joked around like this, it felt good to watch them and I found myself smiling stupidly at the screen even though I wasn’t even part of the conversation. It was a Saturday well-spent and I hope this report made you feel a bit as if you were there as well, smiling stupidly at the computer as I did in the cinema!