After a family tragedy turns her life upside down, plucky high schooler Tohru Honda takes matters into her own hands and moves out...into a tent! Unfortunately for her, she pitches her new home on private land belonging to the mysterious Sohma clan, and it isn't long before the owners discover her secret. But, as Tohru quickly finds out when the family offers to take her in, the Sohmas have a secret of their own--when touched by the opposite sex, they turn into the animals of the Chinese Zodiac!
Source: Yen Press
Fruits Basket was THE Shoujo manga that definied all other Shoujo mangas for me. I especially liked the insight you got into the characters, that the anime didn't quite pull off. The characters were rich in spirit, and you don't see a lot of that in manga today. Like, how Tohru Honda seemed too good to be true, but beneath that she was struggling with her own depression, and feelings of inadequacy. All of the characters had trauma, all of them were hurting, and all of them were trying to find & define themselves. There was a level of pain, and depth to it that many Shoujo manga don't even TRY to touch on. For a "fantasy" manga, it felt a lot realer, and hit home a lot harder than any Shoujo manga ever has for me. If you haven't read it, you should. Even if it doesn't seem like your thing, or it isn't your prefered genre, it's the type of manga where there is definitely something in it for everyone. An absolute must-read.
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.
Alright guys. Buckle up because I got a thing to say. I've been watching anime and reading manga for years, but I rarely have found a treature quite like fruits basket. The anime was actually one of my first, so when I found out about the manga, I figured it would be along the same vein: light, precious, sweet, and heartwarming. Now I wasn't completely wrong, because the first 6 volumes cover the entire anime and have the same sweet feeling. Little did I know how incredible and deep this manga would get over the following 17 volumes. It is amazing. I obviously don't want to spoil anything, but I have to convey that the manga is much more mature and dark than the anime and so incredibly worth the read. We meet and grow to completely adore a variety of characters that weren't even in the original show and learn even more about the characters we already love. Natsuki Takaya is a storytelling genius. Her foreshadowing is absolutely brilliant, and while the art isn't completely top notch and does change over the course of the 23 volume series, it is still lovely and enjoyable to look at. This manga is so important to me, I splurged and bought the series. I've lent it out to so many people and have read it through multiple times and fall in love again and again without fail. everyone. And I mena EVERYONE should read this series. You won't regret it.
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