I reviewed the anime version of "Fruits Basket" a while ago, and I hate the low review I gave it. This being the first manga I continued after reading volume 1 (okay, it was actually volume 6, but shut up!), I truly love it. Here, to complement my review of the anime, is my review of the manga.
Story: Honda Tohru is a goody-goody girl living on her own in the woods. After the tragic death of her mother and father, she was to live with her family. However, since she didn't want to burden them (and because their rude and inconsiderate of her feelings), she decided to make it on her own. So, she works and lives in a freaking tent. However, one day she is walking through the forest when she notices a nice-looking house. She walks up to it and sees little zodiac (the Chinese zodiac) figurines. Bending down to take a closer look, she is discovered by Sohma Shigure and Sohma Yuki. Yuki, Tohru's popular classmate, recognizes Tohru and invites her in (and they, you know, find out that she lives in a tent... alone... in the woods... a random high school girl... unsuspecting...). She gets a fever and stays for the night. Then blah blah blah, she lives with them. Then she meets Sohma Kyo, who is effing awesome and really short-tempered.
Aaaaaaanyway, the Sohmas are cursed so that each of them is an animal of the zodiac, plus the cat. Go read this somewhere else, but it's a well-executed plot. It flip-flops between a beautiful romance and tear-jerking moments, and has some truly funny comedy mixed in.
Art: In volumes 1 and 2, the art is kind of awkward and not pleasing at which to look. After that, though, it becomes typical shoujo fare: huge eyes, handsome men, the occasional chibi and the like. But it follows through on this, and has oodles of eye candy and girly boys. The touching scenes are even better drawn. Character designs work and fit the animalistic aspects of the Sohmas.
Characters: This character-driven story contains backstories, development and everything you could want. However, the tragic pasts seem so coincidental, it cannot be believed. But it's certainly good enough.
Characters: (S=Sohma) Brown-haired girl in navy uniform: Honda Tohru; silver-haired boy in navy uniform: S. Yuki; orange-haired boy: S. Kyo; blonde boy: S. Momiji; orange-haired... uh... well, boy-who-looks-like-a-girl in kimono: S. Ritsu; brown-haired girl in white uniform: S. Kagura; blonde girl: S. Kisa; brown-haired boy in black uniform: S. Hiro; white-haired boy in purple-ish uniform: S. Hatsuharu; black-haired girl: S. Isuzu; brown-haired man: S. Kureno; black-haired man in doctor's uniform: S. Hatori; black-haired (it looks silver) man in kimono: S. Shigure; white-haired man in purple Chinese dress: S. Ayame.
Now let's hope I got everyone.
Honda Tohru: She is so kind it's almost criminal, and as innocent and naive as... uh, an innocent and naive person. Her mother complex is a little odd, because she seems to have forgotten her father (Hiro kindly mentions this at some point). She is ever the optimist, despite having a tragic past, and she is very forgiving... damn, spoilers. I'll be quiet. But I'll say this much--she's probably the weakest character due to her simplistic personality; she gets outshined and, hmm, kind of annoying.
Sohma Yuki: He is more than just a pretty face and kind demeanor, he has a sad backstory (as do all of the Sohmas -.-). He starts out kind of dull, but really opens up during the School Defense Force time period.
Sohma Kyo: Really short tempered, the poor cat makes for some of the tenderest moments in the series, and he probably undergoes the most development.
Sohma Momiji: Always smiling despite his sob-worthy past. (You know what? All of these people have tragic backstories, so I'll stop mentioning them, dammit!) He is funny and always on Kyo's bad side, but he really mans up by the end.
Sohma Ritsu: Yes, he looks like a girl (IT'S A TRAP!), but there is a reason! He does change at some point.
Sohma Kagura, Sohma Kisa, Sohma Hiro, Sohma Haru, Sohma Rin, Sohma Kureno, Sohma Hatori, Sohma Shigure and Sohma Ayame: I realize that I'm repeating myself with everything because I don't want to go too in-depth for each character in fear of spoiling, so I'll say that, yes, they have tragic pasts and yes, they develope. (Oh, and Isuzu [Rin] and Kureno never show up in the anime.)
Uotani Arisa and Hanajima Saki: Tohru's best friends, they have outrageous personalities (evidently, so that they aren't overpowered by the Sohma), but kind of take a seat on the back burner of the story. Their backstories are nice, but they are lowered to lesser character spots. However, they're important in the beginning of the story, so I'll include them.
The School Defense Force:
Manabe Kakeru, Todo Kimi, Kuragi Machi, Sakuragi "Nao" Naohito and, well, Yuki: I feel the need to include the Defense Force because, honestly? they're the reason I dislike the anime (one of the reasons). The anime doesn't include them despite their awesome awesomeness, which really SUCKS. They make for most of Yuki's development and some of the best scenes of the manga. These four (plus Yuki, I guess) are my favorite characters by far.
Overall: A definite recommendation, this popular shoujo series is well-written and deserving of praise. Even a non-shoujo fan should appreciate the combo of tragedy, comedy and romance.
Fruits Basket. The creme de la creme of shojo! The artwork is flawless, the characters are endlessly endearing, and the story is more memorable and well-developed than any other I've read.
The main protagonist, Tohru Honda, takes some getting used to. She is unbelievably optimistic and almost too selfless at first, but as we grow to understand her, we love her as someone admirable and pure of heart. Not something that a lot of modern characters can lay claim to.
The main storyline seems almost sickenly cute in description: when the members of the Sohma are hugged by someone of the opposite gender, they turn into an animal (one for each member of the zodiac). It sounds like it will go nowhere from there on, but that is so wrong! Every character has its own history and subplot, and the way they intersect and flesh out is really satisfying.
I know there are a lot of great shojos out there, so I need to point out the big thing that sets this manga apart from any other for me. I cried at the end, not because of a tragic or ultra-happy ending, but because it was over. There was beautiful closure, to be sure, but I just wanted it to go on forever!
If you like shojo, this is simply a must.
P.S. I was extremely disappointed in the anime, which basically threw out a lot of the very best plot points of the manga. Turbo fail on that one.
I love the series! I ove the plot andall the characters even if they are bad... I just love Tohru!
**THE SPOILERS! THEY'RE EVERYWHERE!
I'm trying to think of how I can review this unbiasedly, but I really don't think that's going to happen. Be prepared to enter the realm of the mind of a fangirl attemping to be unbiased.
I fell in love with Furuba at the tender age of 14. The STORY follows Tooru Honda, an orphaned girl who is sickeningly optimistic, as she finds herself camping out on Souma property. The Souma's are a family group posessed by the Chinese Zodiac. Everytime they're hugged by a member of the opposite sex, they turn into whatever animal they are possessed by. The catch is that as soon as they transform back into a human, they're naked.
Of course, as the plot progresss, things run deeper. Certain people betray each other and Tooru finds herself in the middle of her own blossoming feelings and a civil war between family members. They all desire to be free of their animal, and she will do the best she can to make that happen.
I feel as if I'm the only one who felt this way, but did anyone else feel that the ART in Furuba changed around volume 9 or so? I don't know; it felt like the mangaka's style became different. I understand that she broke her hand so this could definitely be the reason. While I prefer the original art style, I did enjoy the new one as well. The people weren't as detailed, but the animals were absolutely adorable.
The CHARACTERS of this manga really made it what it was for me. It was so easy to relate to at least one of them because there were so stinking many. This might put some people off, so be warned: this manga has an abundance of characters. Some stay, some go. I'm not sure if people will find them hard to keep up with -- personally, I didn't; but I also read and re-read this manga at least ten times.
Each character also undergoes a significant character development, from Kureno's acceptance of leaving Akito, to Shigure's selfishness being revealed to be selflessness, from Kyou's anger turning into gentleness, from Yuki's ice being melted by love, from Kagura's self inflicted guilt being placated, to Tooru's ultimate development throughout the series. I really loved seeing all of them grow and mature and I really felt that the mangaka did an outstanding job portraying said maturity.
OVERALL, I'd rate Furuba a 10/10 if it was solely for personal enjoyment. I did try to keep this review as unbiased as possible, although it's really probably just full of fangirl mush. I do believe that it deserves the 9/10 it got. I'd also like to note that the manga itself doesn't really take a darker turn until later in the series. I especially remember volume 17 being particularly depressing. Some might be turned off from the light hearted transition into a darker and more mature take. Read through it and see what you think.
So the anime is fun, upbeat and light. All fluffy feeling. The manga starts out similar. Then takes a turn to the dark. It turns deep, dark, and not expected. Its still good but some things start to feel rushed. The ending tapers off into an anticlimatic ending but overall the manga is amazing. the character development is progressive and good. The story is interesting, love the concept, and (mostly) moves along at a nice pace. The diverse character personalities make for a fun and heartwarming read. It is very worth it.