Fruits Basket is a shojo romance with low fantasy elements that does a somewhat better job then the average of its brood out there. But beyond that, it still leaves a lot to be desired, since i twas animated by that piece of shit Studio DEEN which almost always messed up whatever show it grabs for adaptation.
The premise is about a family of cursed people; each one of them transforms into animals if gets hugged by a member of the opposite genre. The plot is basically about every member of the family being an emo at first because of the curse, and the lead girl doing cheery things to make them all feel happy. The plot is very weak, as it is there only as an excuse for Tohru, the shojo lead TM, to be placed in situations where she needs to keep the secret of the curse hidden from other people, as well as gaining the support of the Sohma family while slowly making them open their feelings to others. It is mostly comedy and drama but doesn’t really lead anywhere, since the curse remains impossible to be lifted and progress is limited to making people happier with her super positive attitude. I can’t say the story is basically its characters either, as most segments are disjoined from one another and to the most part feel as stand alone arcs.
Since the manga was back then still on-going, the anime went for an anime original ending that seems to be rather out of place. Dark and violent, aiming to leave you with good last impressions. I wasn’t thrilled with anything going on in it, as it was all basically a light hearted fantasy romance with overblown dramatization and a completely irrelevant ending.
The lead character is the most archetypical shojo lead you can think of. Orphan, kind, always cheery, naive, frail, does her best to do right, and has eyes half her head. The rest of the cast begins in the most stereotypical way possible; with the usual line-up of bishonens, gays, genki kids, tragic men, tsunderes… and yes, Tohru herself. The thing is, everybody gets his spot in the story and thanks to a long line of flashbacks and the shojo lead TM snooping around where she shouldn’t, all of them are given some depth. Also, again because of Tohru’s constant meddling and persistent optimism, all of them begin as closed minded, angry, scared individuals and end up being far more open and happier. That in effect counts as character development; even if it’s silly and overblown. But there is no full catharsis, because the curse is still there and the anime is not adapting the whole story.
In all, there is a great variety of characters and despite their stereotypes, the interaction and opening up offer good impressions about them.
The production values do not excel in details or colouring but they are effective for this type of show. Although human and animal figures are drawn rather simplistic and there is a lot of deformity during comedy, the easy going nature of the story almost makes that unimportant. The soundtrack has a few good pieces, and voice acting is decent.
Keep in mind that there is a lot of nudity because when the Sohmas transform, their clothes do not. That leaves them naked when they turn back to humans and in need to hide from other people until they dress once more. Although this is done for comedy purposes, it still counts as spicy fan service for fujoshis, since most characters are typically drawn to be handsome and sexy.
For a shojo anime, it will be very entertaining if you like the character interactions, and very good in overall amongst anime made by DEEN. The story is otherwise very simple and I never quite understood how these cursed people ever manage to have babies if they can’t even hug another person. I also didn’t like how the curse was used as nothing but a monolith plot devise with no possible salvation in sight. The same premise was for example used in Ranma ½ and over there the objective was to get rid of the curse. In Fruits Basket nobody does something about it for centuries. It’s not a great show but a cute enough time sinker.
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 5/10
General Artwork 1/2 (generic)
Character Figures 1/2 (generic)
Backgrounds 1/2 (basic)
Animation 1/2 (basic)
Visual Effects 1/2 (basic)
SOUND SECTION: 6/10
Voice Acting 3/5 (corny but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Music Themes 3/5 (not great but fitting with the feeling of the series)
STORY SECTION: 3/10
Premise 1/2 (simple)
Pacing 1/2 (slow but manage-able)
Complexity 1/2 (not much)
Plausibility 0/2 (none; the curse is retarded)
Conclusion 0/2 (overblown and out of place)
CHARACTER SECTION: 6/10
Presence 2/2 (everyone is a bold stereotype)
Personality 1/2 (simple)
Backdrop 1/2 (generic and simplistic but it’s there)
Development 1/2 (overblown but it’s there)
Catharsis 1/2 (overblown but it’s there)
VALUE SECTION: 3/10
Historical Value 0/3 (none)
Rewatchability 1/3 (low because of too little plot)
Memorability 2/4 (the animal transformations make it stand out from other shojo, but it’s otherwise still a typical shojo)
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 2/10
Art 0/1 (looks typical)
Sound 0/2 (sounds meh)
Story 0/3 (barely matters)
Characters 2/4 (cute shojo stereotypes with animal theme decoration)