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EP. REVIEW: Fruits Basket


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thebond&thecurse



Joined: 18 Apr 2019
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PostPosted: Wed May 08, 2019 12:17 pm Reply with quote
Collectonian wrote:
Meongantuk wrote:

Without going into spoiler territory. spoiler[The grandpa is actually fully aware that Tohru is NOT Kyoko. He has his reason (Tohru is unconsciously aware of this).]


That's a pretty big spoiler for anyone who hasn't read the manga as it is not revealed until much later on.


Well, it doesn't actually give the reason why. And in the grand scheme of things it's an extremely minor spoiler. Just because it's revealed late doesn't mean it's actually "big".
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Alexis.Anagram



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PostPosted: Thu May 09, 2019 1:36 am Reply with quote
Finally managed to catch up after blacking out all recreational zones of my life for work and finals. So far, I'm feeling a little bit on the fence about this adaptation, which is a shame after coming off the high of the premiere back in April. Its technical merits aside, some of the adaptation choices in episodes 4 and 5 have left me wanting. Namely:

Jacob doesn't mention this in his review, but the 2001 adaptation didn't just add a bunch of slapstick to pad out the Kagura chapter, it concluded that entire affair with Tohru and Kagura sharing a very intimate moment in which they share a snack of midnight riceballs (!!) and work on fixing the front door. In the process, they begin to affix different zodiac animal-shaped paper cutouts (Kagura only does cats, obviously) and this is so immediately superior to the drawn out walk down an unrecognizable street at night for a couple of reasons.

First, the way it's framed shows Kagura working on the door alone after insisting on fixing all of her many household messes by herself-- refusing Tohru's help not only because she considers her a "rival," but because she holds herself accountable for the damage she causes; the implication is that this is (if not literally, metaphorically) fueled by the Zodiac spirit inside of her, and it ties it right back into the broader pattern within the Sohma family, especially the Zodiac members, of feeling ashamed of and burdened by the curse. Each one of them has internalized a lifetime of being conditioned to believe they are to blame for how different they feel from others, and that they have no choice but to carry the weight of it and constantly make apologies for the inconvenience their otherness causes for others-- by self-isolating, like Kyo, or by putting up some insurmountable emotional wall, like Yuki. Tohru's gift is that, as a secret outsider herself, she has an instinctive ability to peer into the hearts of these wounded people and bridge the sharp divides between them by acting as a compassionate witness to their suffering; the 2001 adaptation of this episode portrays that really nicely, with Tohru respecting Kagura's wish to fix what she has broken, and then, after seeing how much of a burden this is for Kagura, subtly negotiating a way for her to help ease the load. Her emotional intelligence in that moment shines right through, from the offer of food to the use of decorative visual aids as if to tell the other girl, "I see you," and it's no wonder why Kagura is affected: Tohru doesn't just say nice things about her, the show provides a tangible reference for their unique bond which sets the tone for them as allies rather than rivals. That shift is thoroughly earned, in a moment which takes place in the stark quiet of the night, juxtaposed really well against the extreme chaos of the day.

It's also after that when Tohru goes up to see Kyo on the roof (with another round of riceballs) and they have their first real "moment" together: and this likewise is set up much more nicely, because it stands apart from the rest of the drama. Kyo has just had a particularly terrible day and, just like with Kagura, Tohru offers him a friendly shoulder to brush up against: somebody who can see and affirm him, and doesn't judge him for the scale and boldness of his unrestrained personality. The message, again, is that as incompatible as Kagura and Kyo obviously are, there is a quality of sameness to them that makes sense of her attraction to him: like it or not, they are bonded to one another through this familial curse, and that means something both very similar and very different for both of them. The 2001 adaptation strengthens this comparison by letting each moment stand on its own, grounded in the central clarity of Tohru's characterization-- how she relates to each of them gives indication both to their inner virtues and to their inner anxieties, and all three of them feel much better defined by the end of the episode.

Compare that with this adaptation's rendering of the same story and it really just felt like any other bland shojo one-off/set up episode. I didn't get the sense that Kagura feels impacted by the curse at all, or rather it's not clear how it has impacted her as a person; I was intrigued by the recurring visual breadcrumbs pointing to her catpack, but the way it's ultimately just used as a device to get Tohru to follow her and "rescue" her from a basically unrelated, tangential problem (forgetfulness/accidental clumsiness is not Kagura's core character flaw) made it feel like Tohru was doing less than she needed to in order to give Kagura a reason to be her friend. Kagura cooks dinner twice, but the strain she places on herself through her pattern of behavior is not explored through that framing-- Tohru is already problem-solving before we see what Kagura is dealing with inside. Tohru and Kyo's rooftop talk is sandwiched awkwardly in the middle of all this and so the poignancy of it is lost in the shuffle; rather than that final image of Kyo showing Tohru his moves (and his smile) being given the time it should have to sink in, they're right back with the family and Kyo and Kagura are having another spat.

As for episode 5

Key wrote:
Actually, I'd argue that it was more detrimental than helpful in this case. While I still think this episode 5 was handled pretty well, it did not muster the full brunt of emotional impact that I've always gotten when watching episode 5 of the original series. I see two reasons for this:

1) The shift to focusing on Kyo and Yuki throws off the timing and flow of the emotional build-up; and
2) By allowing time for them, the writing doesn't establish as well how miserable Tohru is with her new situation despite the front that she puts up.

Still a pretty good episode, but even with the better technical merits figured in, the original was better on this plot element.

This essentially sums up my problem with the way this arc was handled. To expand a little bit, I think this is more a problem of how this director is approaching the material in general: despite the (arguably deserved) reputation the 2001 anime has for being really loud and obnoxious, and consequently leading itself into occasional bouts of tonal whiplash, Daichi seemed to have a really good sense for how to pace things moment-to-moment, as well as when to pull back and let the characters breathe so that the things they were saying were always given their merit in dramatic weight. Sometimes it's worth the extra effort in adapting a thing to make the implicit explicit (and vice versa!) and this is where I think the 2019 show is stumbling for me.

While it is ostensibly more mellow and evenly paced than its predecessor, it never seems to stop doing things: the characters always have to be busied with an added plot element, or the episode has to be laying breadcrumbs for something that isn't going to come into play until the back half of this series (seriously, we are not going to get an answer for the hat for like 100 episodes, it was really cool the first time but now we know Tohru has it and it's important, you have my permission to stop showing the baseball cap), and it just makes it feel like the show doesn't trust its audience to follow the emotional trajectory (and believe in the innate perceptiveness) of these characters unless they are literally staring through a window at each other talking. It really cheapens the context of Tohru's inner suffering when they cut away from her moment of self-revelation to describe, in a series of cartoonish hijinks, how Yuki and Kyo found her house (of all things...?). The problem isn't that it's shown per se, but where and how: their experience of becoming lost is essentially given the same weight in narrative import as Tohru's experience being shamed in what is supposed to be her own home, and that doesn't sit well with me.

Also, I'm going to be pedantic and say, what was with that insert song choice? It was so distracting and I couldn't understand why they didn't use one of the really nice instrumental soundtrack pieces they obviously have available; it wasn't even the OP, which is catchy enough but hardly so moving as to be appropriate for this episode, anyway. It just felt crassly forced in and gave an extra layer of sappiness to the whole affair, rather than letting the characters tell the story. It shouldn't have been there and it grinds my gears that such a small detail threw off what could have been a fine emotional resolution. Based on how this episode started, I thought it would have me utterly defeated by the end, but it just didn't stick the landing and I'm a little worried about what that portends for the future. My hope is that the Hatori episode will prove me wrong (please prove me wrong).

I by no means think this adaptation is all bad, but so far it's doing a weaker job of giving the characters identifiable and relatable inner stories than the 2001 show by, I think, getting too caught up in its own mythos-- both the internal and the meta. It's too self-aware of its own eventual destination, and there isn't sufficient attention being placed on making the individual elements in each episode as effective as possible. The problem is that none of the later stuff will work without the powerful foundation that needs to be laid out here and now: the early charm and seeming simplicity of this story makes room for the characters, as they're introduced, to outline and investigate their core concerns, and that's what makes the sheer emotional intensity of the later arcs impressive.

KitKat1721 wrote:
I've really been enjoying both the sub and dub so far for different reasons, but I think this is the first one where the dub truly out-shined the sub for me. The english dialogue felt a lot more memorable ("A rice ball doesn't belong in a fruits basket") than the more literal, stilted subs ("it should be obvious that the rice ball would never get to join the group").

The sub line here gave me pause at first for the same reason, but I think the reason for it is that Fruits Basket is an actual game Japanese kids play, so the idea is that Japanese viewers would understand what Tohru is alluding to and grasp the indirect meaning. I'm very happy to hear the dub kept the title drop intact though, that line has such a nice, pure ring to it in English. I'm saving all the dubbed episodes to view later with my sister so I'm looking forward to that part. <3
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thebond&thecurse



Joined: 18 Apr 2019
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PostPosted: Thu May 09, 2019 2:45 am Reply with quote
Alexis.Anagram wrote:


(seriously, we are not going to get an answer for the hat for like 100 episodes, it was really cool the first time but now we know Tohru has it and it's important, you have my permission to stop showing the baseball cap)


I mean, we're gonna get one answer for the hat in the very next episode (but in true Takaya/Furuba fashion there are layers and layers of answers beyond that) - but I completely agree with you that they are showing the hat too much. Takaya knew what subtlety was and used it to such great effect in her foreshadowing, it's disappointing to see this adaptation finally not just completely cut the actual story out of her manga as the 2001 did and yet be ruining some aspects of its grace already. It makes me nervous for the future.

Alexis.Anagram wrote:

KitKat1721 wrote:
I've really been enjoying both the sub and dub so far for different reasons, but I think this is the first one where the dub truly out-shined the sub for me. The english dialogue felt a lot more memorable ("A rice ball doesn't belong in a fruits basket") than the more literal, stilted subs ("it should be obvious that the rice ball would never get to join the group").

The sub line here gave me pause at first for the same reason, but I think the reason for it is that Fruits Basket is an actual game Japanese kids play, so the idea is that Japanese viewers would understand what Tohru is alluding to and grasp the indirect meaning. I'm very happy to hear the dub kept the title drop intact though, that line has such a nice, pure ring to it in English. I'm saving all the dubbed episodes to view later with my sister so I'm looking forward to that part. <3


The line as it is in the English dub is actually what it says in the manga in Japanese. So, mystery why the anime decided to change it.
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steelmirror



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PostPosted: Mon May 13, 2019 9:05 pm Reply with quote
Just a quick perspective from a person who has no prior experience with Fruits Basket, I actually didn't notice the hat at all until it was explicitly called out this episode! Possibly that means that the folks talking about how overused the hat has been these first episodes aren't seeing this from the perspective of someone who doesn't already know what the hat means, and it hasn't been as blatant as they thought. Possibly it means I'm really oblivious. You be the judge!

I thought it was a cute episode. For the first time Toru did come across as a little too pure to be taken seriously, so I hope she comes back down to earth next time. Uotani and Hana are great, exactly the kind of friends I'd love to have, and their delinquent-tinged edges continue to contrast with Toru's saintliness in a way that just works. I'm kind of rooting for Uotani and Kyo to get together, or at least have a really torrid one-nighter that ends in mortal combat.
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KitKat1721



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PostPosted: Mon May 13, 2019 9:38 pm Reply with quote
Quote:
This is another interesting reflection of their equal-yet-opposite fears, since Kyo is afraid of driving others away with his boisterous boyishness, while Yuki is afraid that other people will mock him for not being manly enough.)


This contrast is something I've never really thought of while reading/watching, but find super interesting in hindsight.

I think this is the first episode (specifically the sleepover) where I'm finding myself missing a little bit of the comedy added in for the 2001 anime, but I get it since they did cover *so much* plot. I also thought Tohru's speech about being so grateful for her friendship, is so sincerely earnest it slightly goes over the top. Maybe because unlike some of her other speeches, there wasn't a beautiful worldview to impart ("no one is born kind") or high emotional stakes involved (leaving the Soma household) to fit the flowery language?

I also thought the hat nods were a tad overplayed up until now, but like the comment above me said, I'm watching with someone who has no knowledge of the show/participates in discussions, and they didn't really notice it that much before now.

Regarding the dub, I noticed they gave Momiji a German accent, which I thought was interesting. At first I thought it didn't make any sense, despite his heritage, given what we know from the 2001 anime and manga. According to the ADR Director, it was part of his character notes from the Japanese side of production, not just a solo decision by the dub team (like how Funi chose to have accents in Baccano or Yuri on Ice for example). And while I hoped there would be a psychological element at play that could be really neat, I looked through the manga, and he did in fact study overseas (they don't specifically say Germany, but you can assume) during his childhood.
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thebond&thecurse



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PostPosted: Mon May 13, 2019 10:00 pm Reply with quote
KitKat1721 wrote:
I looked through the manga, and he did in fact study overseas (they don't specifically say Germany, but you can assume) during his childhood.


That note in the Yen Press translations says he studied overseas but in the TokyoPop it says he studied at an international school, which I always assumed didn't necessarily mean overseas. I've been really curious to figure out which one is correct (and too lazy to find out, cause I do own the Japanese volumes. whoops).

But honestly I'm just lost as to how the Sohma, given everything else we know about who they are and how they operate, would let Momiji go live abroad as a child. That just really makes no sense to me and might be the first time I'd want to disagree with a canon aside from Takaya and go with my own headcanon as to how things are, if it were true. spoiler[I mean, it would have to be a Sohma-owned/approved school abroad because everyone else goes to Sohma-owned and picked schools. That's why Yuki declaring he wanted to go to Kaibara (and Akito letting him) was such a big deal.]

Also, if it really was abroad, what age would he have gone?? He is in middle school when we meet him, so you'd assume he went to middle school all 3 years in Japan. And we see him in the flashback in vol 15 walking to school with the other Sohma kids in elementary school, although he's wearing a different uniform (which leads me to think the "international school (in Japan)" translation is more likely to be correct than that he studied overseas).
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KitKat1721



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PostPosted: Mon May 13, 2019 11:56 pm Reply with quote
thebond&thecurse wrote:
KitKat1721 wrote:
I looked through the manga, and he did in fact study overseas (they don't specifically say Germany, but you can assume) during his childhood.


That note in the Yen Press translations says he studied overseas but in the TokyoPop it says he studied at an international school, which I always assumed didn't necessarily mean overseas.


That's really interesting, and yeah, I'm curious to know now. I've read both versions, but its been forever since I've looked at the Tokyo Pop books.
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jr240483



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PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2019 12:01 am Reply with quote
KitKat1721 wrote:


Lastly, a couple interesting tidbits/comparison notes between the dub/sub:

Kagura's Japanese actress is Rie Kugimiya, in case she wasn't instantly recognizable. Kagura's English actress, Tia Ballard, is one of the new replacements from the original dub cast, and I think she fits very well. I really liked that the dub takes the whole "marriage is every girl's dream," line and implies it as more of a general, "doesn't everyone dream of finding a soulmate" type statement, which feels a lot less dated, but still true to Tohru's optimism and belief in love. I also thought first Tohru's line about hitting with a right jab (but actually using her left) might be a translation error or something, but the dub kept the same line. Turns out Tohru is just a tad ditzy, but I still love her haha


true. though i cant say much to the dub/sub comparisions since i more or less assumed that they would have had glass or leigh as kagura, but miss tia definitely nailed the role really well. and tohru is well tohru which is definitely a wise decision for it looked like after nearly 20 yrs, father time didn't tinker with her vocal chords which is a HUGE relief!

as for this ep, their is a clear reason why he acts like a spoiled brat and its not due to his dad being a big shot CEO!
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thebond&thecurse



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PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2019 6:06 am Reply with quote
Jacob's reviews are too leading lol. This one wasn't so bad, but spoiler[ the wink wink nudge nudge about Kyo and Kyoko last week was just too much Wink ] I'd feel sorry for Furuba newbies who read that review.
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Vikkio92



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PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2019 6:29 am Reply with quote
Maybe I'm too thick and / or didn't notice while watching, but why do you keep referring to Yuki having been abused? I didn't really see any indications while watching these first 6 episodes...
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thebond&thecurse



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PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2019 10:09 am Reply with quote
Vikkio92 wrote:
Maybe I'm too thick and / or didn't notice while watching, but why do you keep referring to Yuki having been abused? I didn't really see any indications while watching these first 6 episodes...


lol, exactly what I was talking about re: Jacob's reviews being too leading/spoilery

I know it's easy to forget what isn't obvious/common knowledge early on in the story after having read it a thousand times over ... spoiler[ sometimes I forget things like that it's not apparent that breaking the curse will be a plot point until the back half of the story or legit forgetting that people don't know/wouldn't guess that Akito (or anyone in the family) is God, cause of course there's a God of the zodiac, they're mentioned in the legend told in the very first episode! But no, that's a big surprise! ]
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Vikkio92



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PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2019 12:09 pm Reply with quote
thebond&thecurse wrote:
Vikkio92 wrote:
Maybe I'm too thick and / or didn't notice while watching, but why do you keep referring to Yuki having been abused? I didn't really see any indications while watching these first 6 episodes...


lol, exactly what I was talking about re: Jacob's reviews being too leading/spoilery

I know it's easy to forget what isn't obvious/common knowledge early on in the story after having read it a thousand times over ... spoiler[ sometimes I forget things like that it's not apparent that breaking the curse will be a plot point until the back half of the story or legit forgetting that people don't know/wouldn't guess that Akito (or anyone in the family) is God, cause of course there's a God of the zodiac, they're mentioned in the legend told in the very first episode! But no, that's a big surprise! ]


I haven't seen Fruits Basket before so I'm not reading your spoilers, but I definitely see your point. A lot of comments made in the reviews are quite leading and at times outright confusing to a first time viewer.
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JacobC
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PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2019 1:16 pm Reply with quote
Sorry about that, I'll try to pay closer attention to what's been hinted at versus stated outright in my wording in the future. I thought they had already implied that Akito was abusive toward Yuki, but in hindsight, they are playing it closer to the chest than I remember in this remake. For the most part, it comes up because in order to discuss Yuki's behavior in-depth (which I don't have to do in a review but that's just my writing style), I kinda have to hint at where his coping mechanisms come from, even if the story hasn't revealed that yet. But I'll try to be more careful in the future. No apologies for pointing out the Kyo/Kyoko parallels though, because Uo and Hana have already pointed them out a couple times, and so have the parallel edits in the show. So you're definitely supposed to notice it even if we don't know anything more than "okay these two are weirdly similar".
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catandmouse



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PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2019 3:48 pm Reply with quote
Maybe because I've read the manga, but I am not really feeling the emotions that the reviews and or other commentators keep talking about. I liked Fruits Basket then, and I am thoroughly enjoying it now, even though there are some things that I was not too happy about later down the road.

On other things:
Anyway, I think it's hard to review this series by someone who's read the series, because inadvertently things might get spilled....

Now I should go back to re-read the manga cus I've forgotten a lot of the little details...
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Alexis.Anagram



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PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2019 10:34 pm Reply with quote
I thought Episode 6 was more even than 4 and 5 (maybe because it stayed primarily on the guide rails set by the source material), but the pacing issues Jacob mentioned are definitely noticeable. The thing I'm missing most right now is the character banter from the manga and the 2001 show, and the accompaniment of Takaya's trademark comical asides. Not only do these moments (like the one Jacob mentioned with Kyo earning a nickname or Yuki winning at Rich Man Poor Man) help insert some space between each sugary, sentimental peak in narrative development, they serve to humanize the cast by helping us see them as more than just bundles of pathologies: the more we get to know them outside of crisis, the more pointed the dramatic elements of their lives become. That's why my favorite bit from this episode was the casual but heartfelt conversation around the Sohma household table, set against Shigure's ominous meeting with Akito: it's that careful balance of sweetness and suspense-- and the occasional, poignant collision of tone-- that colors Fruits Basket at its most compelling. I feel like we haven't gotten there yet with this show. But with that in mind:

*waits with extreme anxiousness for Episode 7*

thebond&thecurse wrote:
lol, exactly what I was talking about re: Jacob's reviews being too leading/spoilery

I'm glad you mentioned this and that Jacob was responsive. It was on my mind as well, haha. I was reading the earlier reviews and found the extent of referencing to future events pretty distracting, like, again (just my broader issue with this adaptation): there's a mythos surrounding this show but what needs to be focused on right now is what is happening in the show right now. The best way to approach the material is to ask: what does Tohru know, and how can her perspective best be conveyed to the audience? Discovering the world of the Sohmas with her is the entire emotional thesis of this First Act-- the climax it's working towards won't land if we don't feel the strength of her connection to them.

thebond&thecurse wrote:
I know it's easy to forget what isn't obvious/common knowledge early on in the story after having read it a thousand times over ... spoiler[ sometimes I forget things like that it's not apparent that breaking the curse will be a plot point until the back half of the story or legit forgetting that people don't know/wouldn't guess that Akito (or anyone in the family) is God, cause of course there's a God of the zodiac, they're mentioned in the legend told in the very first episode! But no, that's a big surprise! ]

spoiler[What??? And here I thought Akito was the Rooster!] Wink
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