I am reviewing something a little different today. Inspired by both Valentine's Day and the Chinese New Year, as well as MoMo's campaign for a "Year of the Cat," I have decided to review the anime series "Fruits Basket."
Fruits Basket is a charming manga (comic) which was made into an animated series for one season. Fruits Basket centers on a young girl, Tohru Honda, who has recently become an orphan after her mother dies in a car accident. After briefly living with her paternal grandfather, she is forced to move when his house undergoes renovations and other relatives move in. Instead of asking for help from friends, the independent Tohru decides to spend the time it takes for the house to be renovated camping out in a tent in the woods, while going to school and working a part-time job as a janitor.
Tohru and the Sohmas
One day Tohru discovers that her classmate, Yuki Sohma, lives very close to her tent . . . in fact, her tent is in the woods on his family's property! Tohru does not share her secret with him, but it is later discovered anyway by Yuki and his uncle Shigure as they walk home one night, and come upon Tohru and her camp. Taking the sick and feverish Tohru home with them, Shigure and Yuki hear her story and offer to let her live with them. Knowing how independent she is, they deny that they are offering her charity, and instead ask her to become their housekeeper in exchange for room and board. Soon Yuki's cousin Kyo also moves in, and Tohru discovers the Sohma family secret.
The Sohmas have lived under a curse for many generations. Under this curse, thirteen of the Sohma family members are possessed by the twelve animals of the Chinese Zodiac . . . plus the spirit of the Cat, which was left out according to Chinese legend. For example, Shigure is the Dog, Yuki is the Rat, and Kyo is the Cat. The curse shows itself by transforming the person possesed into the animal under several conditions: when the person is sick, weak, tired, overly emotional, or hugged by a member of the opposite sex. Normally when their curse is discovered, the outsider has their memory erased and is discouraged from having any further contact with the family. However, in the hopes that Tohru is the one who will eventually break the curse, she is allowed to continue to live with the Sohmas. Will Tohru be able to break the curse?
Shigure, Yuki, Tohru, and Kyo
The legend of the Chinese Zodiac permeates the entire story and lives of the characters. Kyo and Yuki, being the Cat and Rat, have a strong rivalry between them, just as if they were truly the Cat and Rat in the legend. Kyo struggles for acceptance in his family, just as the Cat wishes to be included in the zodiac. Tohru finds herself sympathizing more with Kyo and his struggle, as she has always supported the Cat from the legend since childhood. However, she also grows close to shy and insecure Yuki, who fears becoming too close to anyone due to the curse. A romantic tension springs up between the three, even as friendship grows.
Yuki transformed into the Rat
"Fruits Basket" is a heart-warming series, full of humor, drama, romance, and whimsy. Tohru captures your sympathy from the first episode, with her optimisim even in the face of tragedy and hardship. The Sohma family members are each as unique and lovable as the animal spirits that possess them. This series can be highly addictive, and once you see the first episode, you will not be satisfied until you reach the end . . . and then you will be saddened that they did not produce more than one season.
Kyo transformed into the Cat
This kitty gives "Fruits Basket" two paws up, a warm purr, and a tail poof. Not only is this a wonderful anime that gives us proper support for including the Cat in the Chinese Zodiac, it also provides fantasy with a warmth and rare insight into the troubles of adolescence. I am sure that every kitty out there would love this series. Even my grandmama, who is very picky about anime, enjoyed this one. Celebrate the Chinese New Year and watch this series today!