Article: Classics of Anime - Fruits Basket
More than the sum of it's parts...
When Funimation re-dubbed the anime into English, they provided one of the finest Western vocal tracks I’ve heard in years. This was one of the fist anime I’d ever watched where I preferred the Western dub to the native Japanese, and that’s one hell of an achievement. It also took away the need to watch the screen like a hawk (although as I became increasingly engrossed this happened anyway) and watching an episode of Fruits Basket became akin to a nice relaxing bath.
The engaging cast include Tohru, obviously, her two best friends, one a Yankee (Arisa), the other a Gothic Lolita psychic type (Saki) who’s manners are impeccable, and the Sohma’s;
the devious and charming Shigure who is head of household and turns into a dog, Yuki (the Rat), the handsome and delicate prince of the school, who has his very own fan club (much to his disdain) and Kyo (the Cat), the violent, hyperactive ginger martial artist with a short fuse but a good heart.
Kyo is a key character, as his counterpart is not one of the Chinese Zodiac. Legend tells us the Cat was tricked by the Rat into missing the feast held by God, and therefore losing his place with the other animals. This animosity is aimed directly at Yuki, who may look like delicate girl, but is more than capable of defeating Kyo without so much as trying. This dynamic, of the two quarrelling teenagers increasingly calmed by the gentle female presence, is a wonderful creation – Kyo provides us with action, Yuki carries dignity, and Tohru is gentle without being wishy-washy, providing the show’s heart. Sure, she’s a push over at times, but she finds courage when she needs it, and has help from others when things become too much. The balance is nigh on perfect.
The central cast is backed up by the other Sohma family members, all of whom make an appearance at some stage to cause trouble. Most feared of them all is the mysterious Akito Sohma, whose life is pivotal to the survival of the other family members, despite his lack of a Zodiac persona. Once again, this ingredient to the series’ mix adds a huge amount of flavour – those who like the darker things in life will find much to love in the Sohma curse…
It’s the careful, delicate approach to Fruits Basket that makes it so good. The large, well rounded cast gives everyone someone to favour, and the direction, coupled with some great, simple melodies, provide stories so heart warming you’ll be cuddling your pillow like a great big softie! It has action to prevent the series becoming stale, brilliantly written scripts to engage your brain, and a central mystery to provide the all important story arc.
Because of all this, I found anime interesting again. It’s was a little known fact that I cancelled a business meeting to watch this when the final review copy arrived on my doorstep, and only Gungrave has ever managed to compete so aggressively for my attention. For this reason, I threw myself back into the medium, and subsequently UKA received a much-needed boost in productivity. Now on our 8th revision, the site stands as testament to the power of a single, under-rated anime series that didn’t need a big bang to grab you, just a quiet word.
For all these reasons, if you’re an anime fan of any genre, I recommend Fruits Basket whole-heartedly. It has something for everyone and forms the most fantastic, heart warming story I’ve seen since Kiki’s Delivery Service. Rent it, buy it, borrow it (but don’t steal it, Tohru wouldn’t approve!) and get acquainted with Fruits Basket today.