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.
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.
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.
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