Fruits Basket, also called Furuba, is a fantasy, slice of life manga by Natsuki Takaya. Now don’t be repelled by the fact that it’s just-another-shoujo-manga because it’s not. This one’s for those who love manga that tends to lean towards the philosophical side of life and is the best example of one of those life-lessons kind of manga that deals with some serious life issues in an intellectual way.
So here’s what I think of the manga, along with a brief description of the story.
Plot: The story revolves around a young high school girl Tohru Honda (Don’t worry, this is where the cliché ends.) who, after losing her parents, lived in a little tent on the outskirts on the city and tried her hardest to support herself without anyone’s help. Her life, which was already out of ordinary, takes another turn when she finds out that her classmate, Yuki Sohma, is actually a part of a strange family that is possessed by the spirit of the 12 zodiacal animals; and every time they are hugged by the opposite gender, they transform into their zodiacal animal.
Tohru also finds out that the place where she lived actually belonged to the Sohma’s, but being the kind Sohma’s they are, they allow her to use the space. That doesn’t turn out to be of much help as the tent gets blown away by the storm and Yuki offers her to live with them in their house.
As Tohru continues to live with them and meet new members from the Sohma family, she slowly begins to understand the family’s inner turmoil and quite unexpectedly becomes the biggest strength of a family that is at the brink of breaking apart.
Story: Now if you happen to dig for meaningful stories with life lessons while managing to keep the story light and humorous, this is the story for you!
The 12 Sohmas you come across are more like 12 different personalities you’d probably come across in life and all of them happen to have various problems ranging from rejecting or being rejected by the family to having to grow up being wilfully forgotten by their mother or forcefully make the one they love forget about them. And each character’s story has something to learn from, and I doubt you could ever forget them.
The story carefully deals with various issues of life, one by one, without mixing them all together to turn it into one big mass of confusion. And what makes it better is how the author strings it all together in the end into one precious story that you’d treasure for the rest of your life.
The pacing of the story is great; a bit slow sometimes but quite addictive if you have the patience to give it a chance and give yourself some time to adjust with its pacing.
The romance part of it is just a classic type of a warm hearted girl accepting a boy who has been rejecting and hating himself all along. But in Furuba, this case is blown into an issue so big that it needs a level of maturity greater than just accepting someone because you’re oh-so-kind. And that’s what makes Tohru stand out. She decides to walk the thorny path together with him rather than conveniently pulling him towards the brighter side. And there’s a love story in all the 12 cases and like mentioned before, none of them could have been handled with maturity any lesser than what the characters have.
Characters: Like mentioned before, Furuba has all sorts of characters – literally all sorts! You have a hot headed boy who just wants to be loved, a cute kid who looks like a typical pampered kid but has the worst past you could ever imagine, a girl who’s in denial of herself but trying her hardest to keep the family together and an immensely optimistic girl who becomes the back bone of the Sohma family, all thrown in together to one big messy family that’s overflowing with problems.
I also like how the story doesn’t exactly have a bad guy – just a bunch of troubled people who like to mess things up.
I think the level of maturity that the characters portray is what makes it a refreshing and a sensible read that you can actually relate yourself with (even without being possessed by zodiacal animals) compared to other generic stories.
Art: Natsuki Takaya has a very distinct style of drawing that could be noticed throughout the story – especially the glassy effect of the eyes or sometimes the whole body that never fails to portray the turbulent emotions perfectly. You could say, that’s her signature style that made her art stand out so much from other mangaka. Throughout the story, the art is simple, which fits the simplicity of the story; no matter how complicated it is on the inside, the style is perfect for slice of life.
So that’s about Furuba! Let me end it with a few excerpts of the critics the story received that might give you a deeper insight about the story. (Courtesy: Wikipedia)
As this title progresses the fact that this title was one of the more popular series in Japan becomes clear. The characters get a lot of love. You get to experience them when things are good, as well as when they are struggling. The pacing is perfect. There is a good mix of comedy, fun filler, drama and action (something for everyone). In addition Fruits Basket is easy to relate to. With all the different personalities and the different signs of the zodiac, there is always someone to associate with. There are few titles that can do all that well, Fruits Basket puts all of these aspects together and makes a tasty treat…
—Eduardo M. Chavez, AnimeOnDVD.com
The real strength of Natsuki Takaya’s artwork isn’t that that it looks good—though it definitely does, from its beautiful characters to the intricately rendered textures of their clothing—but how well it communicates mood and emotions. Not content to rely on facial expressions, though she does them well, Takaya is particularly apt at using shading and shadows to indicate character’s mental states… The details of character’s emotions—the disparity between Tohru’s private emotions and her public front, the punishing intensity of Kyo’s feelings for Tohru—are not only discernible but tangible, all without a word being spoken.
—Carl Kimlinger, Anime News Network
The entire series of Fruits Basket proves to be a true emotional roller coaster, hiding truly deep and heartfelt drama behind a candy coating of fun and humour. Deep down, it explores many aspects of emotion as the various characters search for their place in the world, gaining strength from each other.
—Allen Divers, Anime News Network
Signing off for this week!