I am a fan of shoujo series, which you can easily tell if you know me. Fruits Basket is the second I have ever seen, preceded only by Sailor Moon. In a way, you could call Fruits Basket the anime that turned me back onto shoujo. In my very early years of watching anime, I mostly watched what I could find on TV. Dragonball Z, Sailor Moon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Bobobo, etc. There was a time I didn't even know it was called anime, so you can imagine how it didn't even occur to me to look for other "anime" online. That said, I didn't know what to expect when one day my friend dropped off the complete series at my house and said I should watch it. The cover art alone made me question what a series with a name like Fruits Basket could possibly be about, but I'm very glad he left it there.
You can probably find a good description of the series on your own, so I'll try to keep this part short. Fruits Basket is about a girl named Tohru Honda who has been living in a tent in the woods all by herself due to some very unfortunate circumstances. While this is only a temporary situation, it is still very difficult because she works hard in school and at her job just to get by. When a classmate of hers by the name of Yuki Sohma discovers her unfortunate situation, he graciously offers her a room staying with his relative Shigure, who also makes frequent appearances. The other character who eventually comes to live in the house is another relative and rival character of Yuki, Kyo Sohma. This all sounds like a nice little family coming to settle together and live happily ever after with no problems whatsoever. They live, they love, they learn. But this in't real life, this is anime, so of course there must be something completely outrageous going on. The Sohma family is cursed. When certain members of the family are embraced by the opposite sex, or when their bodies come under a great deal of stress, they transform into an animal of the Chinese zodiac. The transformation times differ and aren't easy to predict, making them that much more bothersome. The Sohma family doesn't want anyone to find out, you see. They don't gain any special powers while they are transformed, it's just...a curse.
I think that's a decent summary of the series, and I am a man who doesn't care for spoilers, and doesn't give spoilers unless asked for them. So let's move on.
Fruits Basket's story is certainly unique. I was hooked on this one within minutes of watching the first episode. It's hard for me to say what the point of the series is. It's not like they have some kind of goal they're trying to reach like obtaining ultimate power, or a specific destination they're trying to reach. Fruits Basket is just a very heart-warming story about self-discovery. Character interaction is key in this show, and despite the outrageous occurences that could never happen in real life (unfortunately), it retains a certain degree of realism. Every character is unique, with their own style, their own methods, their own way of just being them, and just like real life they also have their own problems. Fruits Basket is a show that will make you laugh. It will make you cry. It will make you angry (most likely at Akito). But no matter what happens, it is definitely a show that will make you smile. This all blends into the story as it almost tries to make you ask yourself "Who am I"? "What kind of person do I want to be"? Now, it makes me sad to say that you may be disappointed with the story based on a few issues. I have heard it said before that the anime falls short of the manga, which runs a much longer story than the anime. The anime requires more seasons to be complete. However, the anime is well worth watching, and I can say with 2 volumes of the manga currently sitting on my shelf that the manga is also worth the purchase.
The animation is very pleasing to the eye. There are times when everything seems normal. Nothing out of the ordinary, people just being people. Which makes it that much funnier when something surprising happens and someones hair stands up like it has a mind of its own, or when small animal parts appear on certain characters when they become angry and their eyes become pupil-less with angry marks on their head and a mouth that stretches past their face for yelling. Or the sparkly twinkly noises and brightly colored background when a character shows signs of excessive love (Kagura). But even though the animation goes through quite a few considerable changes depending on mood and attitude, it all flows smoothly. It seems almost natural that's how the world should look to us when something happens.
Sound is an important aspect of just about every kind of media. However, the sound in Fruits Basket is mostly recycled musical notes and little dings and whistles that seem to take a backseat position to character monologues. Even so, it's very fitting. Fruits Basket is a series that relies very heavily on letting you into the characters world. More detailed sound might be nice and pleasing to the ears, but music is something we interpret for ourselves. We all feel something different when we listen to music, and so it's no replacement for someone telling you what's on their mind. The sound plays its part, and it needs to do nothing more than that. The opening and ending sequences are nice, but sadly not the most memorable. You'll recognize it when you hear it, but otherwise it won't really stick in your mind.
Finally, we come to the most important part of Fruits Basket. The whole point of this series is its characters, and how they live and grow. Each and every character of Fruits Basket is a wonderful, amazing, and unique individual in their own way. You'll never meet a group quite like them, though I wsh I could. As I've already said, this series relies heavily on character development. You'll get a good look into each of their lives and the type of people they are, what they want out of life, and even the things that have hurt them. The characters really bring the series to life. I've always thought a good story should pull you in, make you feel like you've known the characters your whole life. This series does just that. You feel like you can really connect with these people on some level. Sure they're just characters, but it took real people to come up with them. Fruits Basket relies on its characters to keep it running, and they are truly unforgettable characters.
Fruits Basket is definitely a series I recommend to anyone looking for something good to watch. Granted my ratings may be a bit high. Its hard for me to find something I don't like to watch, whether it's movies, anime or TV, and so my ratings can often be very generous. But I'm okay with that. Maybe it means I just know how to appreciate something for what it is. Regardless, every word I've said here is true. Fruits Basket is just...amazing. It has highs and lows, good times and bad, and I feel like a better person for watching it. It really is about finding out who you are and how you can deal with your own problems. A heart-warming series to the very end. But I can only tell you so much about it by myself. Please, watch it for yourself. I'm sure you won't be disappointed.