Reviewby Allen Divers, May 21st 2003
DVD 4: The Clearing Sky
In the eighteen months since her mother died, Tohru Honda has faced many challenges. With the discovery of the Sohma curse, Tohru has gained a new family to help fill the void. Even with this newfound family, Tohru continues to face challenges as she encounters more members of the zodiac. The true challenge lies ahead as Tohru must face head on the secret that Kyo has carried with him all his life. Now Tohru must face the ultimate truth that will decide both her and Kyo's fate.
Volume Four: The Clearing Sky, from FUNimation, brings the heartfelt Fruits Basket series to an unwelcome but satisfying ending. Appealing to the entire range of emotions, this series has proven to be a welcome edition to any Anime fans collection. Mixing humor, romance and drama, Fruits Basket has moved swiftly through its 26 episode run, ending on a high note of humor and drama.
The Clearing Sky features the last seven of the twenty-six episodes that make up the Fruits Basket Anime series. Staying in line with previous releases, The Clearing Sky is jam-packed with extras. The character gallery features the main members of the cast as well as all the revealed members of the zodiac. Each character bio includes a link to a small bio about the English actor that performed the part. Also included is the original Japanese Fruits Basket room #3 with subtitles as well as an illustration gallery. The menus and their accompanying soundtrack are built on the wonderful visuals and music presented in the series.
Throughout the series run, the quality of the animation and sound has remained high. The animation and artwork remain rooted in the Manga, staying true to the original character designs. The animation even uses visual jokes and puns that feel very Manga-ish. The overall feel helps remind the viewer about the origins of the series. It also helps to give the entire series a unique feel, as the action is often laid out like it would be seen in the Manga. All the way to the end, the music helps drive the mood of the series, complementing the action on the screen. At times of high drama, the music helps to convey the overall mood, even working to help lighten the mood when needed. The music also complements the performances of the actors of both casts, as each has done a solid job of growing into their roles. The English performances remain solid, with melodramatic actors cast well into melodramatic roles. The other main roles remain solid, and in-character to help bring the show to a satisfying conclusion.
Being the last seven episodes of the Anime, the storyline moves from romance and humor to more drama, bringing together many of the storyline threads that had built up through the series. Before hitting the peak of the drama, Tohru is introduced to 2 more members of the zodiac, the sheep and the monkey. As has become Tohru's role, she helps them to open up to themselves and others by simply being her true self. The first few episodes on this volume continue to flow with a mix of humor and drama, as the sheep and the monkey have personal demons to overcome. This all helps to present Tohru as a strong and confident young lady as she heads into her final test. There's been a lot of foreshadowing leading up to her final confrontation with Akito, but it's really how she must face the dark secret that Kyo carries that becomes the true emotional test of the entire series. The last two episodes push away from the lighter emotions, heading straight into the built up drama. The dialogue and animation show the viewer the emotional depths that Tohru must face, helping them to relate to her dilemma. This final episodes show why Fruits Basket is more than a simple romantic comedy.
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 humor. Deep down, it explores many aspects of emotion as the various characters search for their place in the world, gaining strength from each other. The Clearing Sky provides the answers for many of the questions built up throughout the series, and brings things to a tidy conclusion. Fans of the series can take heart that the Manga continues on from this, but for now the Anime series has reached its end. Fruits Basket is a solid series that should be a part of any collection.
Overall (dub) : B
Overall (sub) : B
Story : A
Animation : B
Art : B
Music : A
+ Emotional roller coaster with a satisfying ending
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