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Jason Thompson's House of 1000 Manga - Fruits Basket

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Village ElderVillage Elder

Joined: 20 May 2008
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 2:04 pm Reply with quote
Of course Very Happy
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 4:24 pm Reply with quote
Takaya loves to write about video games in her author's columns. It's like time traveling back to the days of late '90s JRPGs.

Man, this is why I love older shojo! Please Save My Earth for example, Hiwatari talks about Dragon Quest all the time and it is awesome! So yeah, time traveling to late 80s/early 90s with PSME, and it continues with more video game talk (mid-late 90s) in Tower of the Future! I think it's so awesome to just know that they play the games that I enjoyed playing too (albeit at least several years later), it makes me feel like the mangaka is just an ordinary person who also goes gaga for the artwork others make. So video game talk? Love it!

But ok, enough about video game talk, I was soooo late to the party on Furuba. I didn't read it until 2011 maybe? This used store had 9-21+ 23 for $3 a piece, and 1-8 are easy to find and I got 22 no problem too, so it was a massive, all at once blind buy, but I am glad I got it that way. I remember when I was younger, flipping through it in a Borders and going "yeah, yeah, animal and fluff shojo", clearly I had poor taste in shojo back then, but whatever, the situation has been fixed, and I got a way more awesome manga out of this than I had ever expected to get. Whee! And, being a cat person, I was very happy spoiler[that the cat won the girl! Though this was obvious to me once the student council was introduced then the emo girl started falling for Yuki, it was obvious he had lost for Tohru at that point to me, then it kinda dragged out, so I wasn't a fan of the student council for that reason, it was kinda like setting up a consolation prize to me]
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 4:42 pm Reply with quote
Of course, Tohru does the cooking. Just once, I'd like to read a manga about a guy who lives in a house full of girls and does all their cooking for them.

It's originally a light novel and not a manga, but Ayumu from Is This a Zombie? does most of the cooking for his harem.

Fruits Basket was the first and one of the few shojo I've read. I don't enjoy romances much, so the main reasons I loved it was the full exploration of the characters and the depressingly uplifting mood. Reading it always left me sad but hopeful. It's messages felt so true and important, especially the philosophy that the good never lasts, but neither does the bad.

RestlessOne wrote:
Also, the fact that spoiler[Kazuma, right out the blue, is implied to be dating Tohru's teenage friends, who happens to be the same age as his son. There absolutely no build-up, except for Kyo having a misunderstanding volumes before the end.]

To me, it felt like the author was trying too hard to pair up every character with someone else. I know it's shoujo, but c'mon.

This, so much. It's really the only complaint I have about the manga. That relationship felt so out of place and unneeded, not to mention the age gap bothered me. That one as well as some of the others felt like they were included just so everyone would end up with someone which felt very unnecessary.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 5:15 pm Reply with quote
Not everyone is paired up in the end. Momiji and Kagura are the most noticeable examples of this. In fact, Momiji's story left in a pretty bittersweet note in which he spoiler[ultimately does not get back together with his family--they live on happily forgetting about him while he has to now find his own happiness].

Fruits Basket has one of the best shoujo endings. The major conflicts are resolved, the loose ends are tied up, but the journey is still just beginning for many of the characters. The curse is broken and it's a relief for them, but also disorienting because they now have to live their lives without it. So, while the manga leaves everything in a good place, but it doesn't push a contrived happily-ever-after down our throats.

If you want an example of a contrived happily-ever-after, look at Kare Kano. The ending turned a realistic high school story into a saccharine embarrassment that made a mockery of everything I loved the series for.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 5:24 pm Reply with quote
This is probably going to shock people, but I actually sold my complete FB set two months ago. It was one of the first shojo series I ever read. I decided to reread it and... I just couldn't do it. I was 'meh' on Tohru the first time I read it, but this time it was 'ugh'. She just didn't feel like a character to me, but a plot device spoiler[for breaking the curse] [/spoiler]
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 5:35 pm Reply with quote
Yeah, all the shipping at the end got to me as well - I couldn't help but feel annoyed with almost everyone pairing up in a relationship. And those who weren't paired up had unrequited love for someone of another couple. The problem for me is an overabundance all at once and all of them being heterosexual. On one hand, I guess I could understand due to the circumstances of the curse (not being able to hug someone of the opposite sex who wasn't a part of the Zodiac), but at the same time it was annoying. I would have liked to have seen more families repaired due to the curse. More parent-child relationships that were starting to be mended. Oh well.

So, for those having a hard time remembering or those curious, here's a list of the final couples (the ones a part of the curse in bold):
spoiler[Tohru x Kyo
Machi x Yuki
Hana-chan x Kazuma
Uo-chan x Kureno
Akito x Shigure
Mayuko x Hatori
Mine x Ayame
Rin x Hatsuharu
Kisa x Hiro
Mitsuru x Ritsu

Freaking H, all of the female Zodiac members ended up sticking with the family. Only the boys branched out.

Momiji --> Tohru
Kagura --> Kyo

Of the Zodiac, only Momiji and Kagura didn't have someone at the end, but they both had an unrequited love for one half of the main pair.]

Other couples or unrequited loves we get to know about during the series includes:
spoiler[Kyoko x Katsuya (Tohru's parents)
Komaki x Kakeru
Motoko --> Yuki
Naohito --> Motoko]

With all of the lovey-dovey going around, Kimi ended up being a breath of fresh air. I personally enjoyed her flirty and seductive antics, unwilling to stay grounded to just one person. Her sky-high ego and vanity were awesome and hilarious.
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Encyclopedia Editor

Joined: 08 Dec 2003
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Location: New Taipei City, Taiwan, ROC
PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 5:42 pm Reply with quote
st_owly wrote:
Dormcat: Are there any shojo series which achieved similar levels of popularity in Taiwan as Furuba did in the US?

Good question. Very Happy While I don't have any number with me, I'll ask around and see if someone could leak some information on sales figures. In my personal experience and memory, I'd say Taiwanese shojo readers are more attracted to Ribon titles (e.g. those by Arina Tanemura) than Hana to Yume titles; the latter being the magazine Fruits Basket serialized in and is arguably the "standard bearer" of the traditional-styled shojo manga. Aimed at younger demographics, the "shojo triumvirate" -- Ribon, Ciao, and Nakayoshi -- are often considered too sugary for Western readers back when the general population of the West started reading shojo manga, but I think the acceptance is and will be increased gradually. On the other hand, more mature shojo / josei manga are not so popular in Taiwan; NANA is the only manga in SPP's mature shojo / young josei line popular enough not only keeping its own numbers in black but also capable of covering other titles in red.

Takaya was invited to Taiwan in August 2004 (for the record, I was studying in US then so I couldn't attend). This ad (good thing Tong Li still keeps the web page) shows Takaya is one of four Japanese guests of honor, along with Takeshi Obata, Chie Shinohara, and Takeshi Maekawa. I don't think most of ANN readers even know who Maekawa is.

If we rewind the clock to the pre-WTO (and Berne Convention) era, Ōke no Monshō and Candy Candy were probably more popular than any title above, but it was partly because bootleg copies were dirt cheap. I wouldn't know if girls back then (mostly mothers and even grandmothers now) would find alternative forms of entertainment if they had to pay legal royalties.
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ANN Assistant Editor

Joined: 15 Jan 2008
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Location: SoCal
PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 7:18 pm Reply with quote
Okay, gotta be 100% honest here. ^^; When I saw there was going to be a House of 1000 Manga on Fruits Basket, I was hoping for a more holistic, analytical approach like most of the columns...not so much the stream-of-consciousness timeline thing. Perhaps because Fruits Basket always struck me as an unusually deep and thoughtful little manga and I was hoping that would be explored in the column, but hey, it was! ...Just in a more rambly, linear way. Anime hyper

It's my favorite manga, too...that isn't saying much, I've probably read less than 10 manga beginning to end and less than 50 in part, compared to the hundreds upon hundreds of anime series I've sat through. Guess manga's just not my thing. @[email protected]

Anyway! What stands out about Fruits Basket so much to me, I guess, is that it's not a shojo manga about "romance," certainly not in a puppy-love high-schooly sense of the word romance. It's just sort of about "love," in all its many forms. Parental love, brotherly/sisterly love and even when it comes to romantic love, many kinds...the puppy-ish hesitant kind, the passionate n' lusty, the deep, mature, and unbreakable...and last but CERTAINLY not least: the parasitic and possessive...spoiler[Shigure and Akito are FANTASTIC shades of grey upon grey for this kind of story. Are they the only people in the world for each other or each responsible for the destruction of the other prior to the curse breaking? The manga ends on a happy note for them, but their relationship is still pretty bizarre and screwed up...maybe all the stronger for the adversity?]

The point of it all, as Jason put it, is how valuable love is to keep us human: the fear of loneliness, of not being guaranteed that you're worth someone else's affection, keeps the curse going, and the false love it perpetuates makes the characters more warped and animalistic (on the inside rather than out.) It's all self-imposed. That to me was always kinda brilliant. The whole story is basically about choosing between freedom and an abusive, but secure relationship, and how hard that actually is and continues to be even after you've made a decision.

The decision's a big part of the theme too. Fruits Basket's also sort of a story about change, isn't it? From childhood to adulthood, in and out of love, from self-hatred to accountability or temerity to leadership, all of the change in the story occurs because someone else reaches in and pulls the characters out of the hole they've dug for themselves. Fruits Basket is unique to me in that as well. There are a lot of stories where someone just "gets over" their emotional problems by themselves, and I've neeeeever seen that happen in real life. Change only happens when it's fostered by an outside force...only then can the suffering person see things differently and make a change. Yuki's quote from Kisa's story at 11:23 sums this up pretty well. The Sohma curse wasn't going to go away until someone not related to the family stepped in and necessitated change.

My gushing aside, it was a good read. Very Happy I don't think it's any secret that I have a ridiculous obsession with this manga, and it's nice to see it from an outside perspective that isn't just "OMG these characters are cute!" ...Being a shojo manga, that is a lot of the feedback, ya know. Anime hyper

Side note: Wait, what copy of the manga were you reading where we meet Kisa before Kyo's true form is revealed? o_o? That happened in the anime just to cram in more content, but in the manga the Kyo-monster chapters happen long before Kisa arrives. I think...? Anime dazed?
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 8:21 pm Reply with quote
Jason, I think you went above and beyond the call of duty with this week's column. Twenty-three volumes of Shoujo Manga in one day, and you survived to tell the tale; you're simply not human.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 8:32 pm Reply with quote
Ah, Fruits Basket... I was so. freaking. obsessed. with this series back in the day.

In fact, not to long ago, I found a notebook where I had written every possible bit of foreshadowing and other possible hidden meanings within the series... that wasn't the only notebook to exist, either. I also have a boatload of merch from the series, and it was the first and last series I ever attempted roleplaying for. I also had some Xanga accounts dedicated to researching individual characters and quotes in the series. I joined Gaia specifically because there was a thread there for Furuba fans that was pretty good at finding chapters and getting translations out super quick. They also had the greatest discussions. I pretty much lost interest in that site once the manga ended and the thread died down.

I mean I was OBSESSED. It was on my brain on an almost unhealthy level until it ended... Anime hyper;;

But I also agree that I wasn't a big fan of the format in which this article was written. It was kinda nice to read someone's opinions as they read it, but at the same time, I was kinda looking forward to reading a more essay-like analysis, especially since the series had ended some time ago.

As for the series itself, looking back, I found the themes and dialogue of Furuba to be one of the best parts of the series. I agree with this article that the little tidbits of wisdom were actually quite beautiful and really had a meaning outside of the manga. In fact, one of Kyoko's discussions with Uo about how it's okay to accept another's kindness, and even if you get hurt or hurt them, it's something that helps you grow has stayed on my favorite quotes list to this day. The real theme of Fruits Basket, to me, seemed to be more about just loneliness. It was more about how it's okay to reach out to others and find friends, but don't try to force a relationship or friendship out of someone, as that can only lead to everyone getting hurt. The path to a good relationship is a balance of giving and taking.

My #1 critique of Fruits Basket is the ending. I didn't really mind the end-game relationships, but as far as the curse went, it left a LOT unexplained. I really wish that Takaya had spent more time explaining the origins of hows and whys of the Sohma curse. There are books and stuff out there that give their own theories, but the overall hows and whys were never explained, even in the bonus books. Also I feel that Yuki was never given full closure for his ending. spoiler[ It seemed a lot of his insecurities revolved around people accepting all of him, even as a mouse, but he was cured of the curse before Machi could find out. I couldn't help but feel that as a result, a part of him will always wonder if Machi would have accepted him when he transformed or not, and now he'll never know and there's no real way to find out.]

Now I feel I should probably re-read this soon. The side effect of obsessing over the series as I had was when it finally did end, I dropped it like a rock, and couldn't find any desire to look at it again once the final volumes hit state-side. Though now that a few years have gone by, maybe I can go through the re-read again. Fruits Basket's charm is all in the journey- it's a story about gaining acceptance, accepting others, understanding that you cannot smother people, but you also need to speak your mind and say your feelings. It's a tale full of wisdom and contains some of the best advice on friendships and relationships I've seen in most media. Even if someone doesn't entirely like the ending to the series, the journey of Fruits Basket is entirely worth the read.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 9:08 pm Reply with quote
Oh yeah...and while we're making lists...pairings aside and "everyone ending up with a significant other," which didn't bother me because quite frankly after the dirge of the last several volumes of the manga, like all good fairy tales, a unified happy ending was in order, and I thought everyone earned their own happy ending and true love, and they were all varied and built up in different ways...

Anyway! Lists! There's not just one eye-gouging as far as violence in the story! ^O^ There are beatings aplenty in Fruits Basket. If you just wanted to narrow it down to Akito specifically and not abusive parents, bullies, etc., you still have a long list...

Physical Abuses Laid Down by Akito
Tohru: Scratched across the face, thrown around a good deal, slashed down one arm with a knife, and inadvertently thrown off a cliff...that last one is completely accidental, buuuut it still happens because of him, and he's VERY aware of it throughout the finale, easing in the heel-face turn.
Yuki: Hit in the face and cut badly with a shattered vase similar to Hatori, but narrowly missed damaging his eye...most abuse to Yuki was emotional so he could be preserved as Akito's favorite plaything. Notably, there are several occasions where he has asthma attacks in the isolation chamber and Akito doesn't tell anyone, leaving him alone to suffer, so I guess that counts?
Haru: Because physical abuse against him would only drive him away, he hurts Rin to hurt Haru, making them sort of a twofer.
Kisa: Beat to the point of hospitalization...interestingly enough, it also seems like Akito went for her eye. What is it with him and eyes?
Momiji: Punched in the face multiple times during the beachside vacation visit, and implied to have been hit before by Akito, so there's that.
Hatori: Half-blinded after being gouged in the left eye with a broken vase.
Rin: I can't remember them all. Beat severely on multiple occasions, thrown out a second story window, locked in the isolation chamber when she was violently ill...chopped her hair off roughly and violently with giant scissors...there's probably more.
Hiro: Because physical abuse against him would only drive him away, he hurts Kisa to hurt Hiro, making them sort of a twofer.
Kureno: He gets hit in the face a lot, but needless to say the biggest thing is Akito eventually stabbing him in the kidney. Kureno has to walk with a cane for a few months after that. Ouch. Most of the abuse on him is of course, emotional, since he takes Yuki's place as Akito's right-hand companion.
Shigure: Just getting hit in the face every now and again. The mutual abuse between them was emotional rather than physical unless we're counting all the sex and that wasn't exactly abusive...(mostly?) ^^;
Kyo: Lots of hitting, most notably a blow to the face with a metal windchime. Mostly threats and emotional torture, though.
Only Ayame, Ritsu, and Kagura are never abused by Akito in any way, and only because he's not particularly attached to the overtly feminine Ayame and Ritsu like he is the other men, and Kagura, being obsessed with Kyo, doesn't threaten his control issues.]

Yeah, a couple of those were cheating because it was just a matter of "one person being hurt because another person was injured, but honestly, for as much non-comedic violence as there is in Furuba, the emotional violence Akito inflicts is a lot more haunting than the physical. To make another list...

Emotional Abuses Laid Down by Akito
spoiler[Nope, never mind, it'd take hours and be like five pages long. And again, THAT'S JUST AKITO, not even other wicked or damaged characters, of which there are many, even amongst the "good guys." People are not nice to each other in Fruits Basket. Anime dazed No wonder Tohru was sorely needed.]

I don't like the term "emo" as regards Fruits Basket much, because while it can be melodramatic and oh it is at points...I kinda feel like the characters have earned their angst at every turn. They're not "tortured" in a facetious sense, they're genuinely tortured! Frequently! Laughing I'd be mopey too! Anime hyper

Last edited by JacobC on Thu Sep 20, 2012 9:13 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Vata Raven

Joined: 21 May 2007
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 9:11 pm Reply with quote
I read shojo, I just don't touch shojos with females leads. Lead females are so damn annoying to me, so I'll never pick up Fruits Basket.

And if Viz were smart, they would take hold of the license for the manga.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 9:29 pm Reply with quote
Vataraven wrote:
I read shojo, I just don't touch shojos with females leads. Lead females are so damn annoying to me, so I'll never pick up Fruits Basket.

Well that means you're missing out on about 85% of all shojo series out there, huh? There are some great female shojo leads out there - from strong, intelligent ones like Yuri in Red River to funny, wacky ones like Sana in Kodocha. Not all of them are like Tohru (or even worse, Hatsumi from Hot Gimmick *shudders*).
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dr ochanomizu

Joined: 07 May 2011
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 9:32 pm Reply with quote

Tohru is my biggest problem with Fruits Basket. She has no backbone...

I don’t necessarily agree with this analysis. Even though the story is a fantasy, the story has more meaning beyond relationships. In many shojo stories, often events or circumstances grant mystical power to the heroine. This isn’t the case for Tohru in Fruits Basket. The story is an allegory of life. Not everyone is born into nice and warm circumstances in life. Tohru is not a quitter; she isn’t looking for a hand out or feeling sorry for herself by the card that was dealt in life. Isn’t that the reason why she is living by herself in a tent initially and later she works as a housekeeper for the Sohma’s?
Unlike Walt Disney fantasy Snow White, the story isn’t about Tohru herself. Each of the characters with different curses of life make best of his or her circumstances to overcome the difficulties. I do agree Tohru goes above perkiness trying to suppress her true feeling of loneliness. But that does not take away the meaning of relationship in life.
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mad mac

Joined: 04 Jul 2009
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 9:45 pm Reply with quote
Of course, Tohru does the cooking. Just once, I'd like to read a manga about a guy who lives in a house full of girls and does all their cooking for them.

Just off the top of my head, Hayate from Hayate the Combat Butler and Minamoto from Zettai Karen Children are both godlike in the domestic sphere.

I read the first few volumes of Fruit Basket ages ago, and skimmed though some of the later ones. Enough that I've got a decent grasp on the story and set-up but if never quite sucked me in like it apparently did everyone else.

Still, it was interesting to get an overall view of the manga and some vague sense of how it all eventually wrapped up. Smile

spoiler[Ditching all the supernatural elements sounds disappointing to me even with my sparse knowledge of the series.]
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