This Week in Anime
What's So Great About Fruits Basket?

by Nicholas Dupree & Michelle Liu,

Almost 20 years after it was first adapted to anime, the shojo classic Fruits Basket gets a fresh start with a reboot that's set to recount the entire story. This week, Nick and Micchy share their perspectives as a newbie and a prior fan respectively.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the participants in this chatlog are not the views of Anime News Network. Spoiler Warning for discussion of the series ahead.

@Lossthief @Liuwdere @A_Tasty_Sub @vestenet

You can read our weekly coverage of Fruits Basket here!

Well Nick, it's time to kick off another season of anime.
On the bright side, I get to relive middle school with the return of Fruits Basket, only 18 years after the first anime! Oh my goodness it's been 18 years. Fruits Basket 2001 is old enough to vote.
Being a Froob Noob myself, I'm just excited to finally see this thing. I feel like every time I've seen Furuba mentioned in the last decade, it's been one of my friends explaining how this series destroyed them as a teenager. So I'm hoping to have a fruitin' tootin' good time with Tohru, the homeless masochist closet-furry.

The girl might look panicked, but we all know she's into it on some level.
All teenagers need some time to figure themselves out...
But seriously, if you were involved in anime fandom on any level in the '00s, Fruits Basket was inescapable. Even if you were one of those chuuni edgelords who deliberately avoided the Girly Shit (me), you saw those Tokyopop volumes circulating.
Weirdly, I never was exposed to much of it. I think all the girls in my high school anime club were more into Vampire Knight, which hit big a couple years later.
At the very least, you knew of its existence. I'd seen the old Akitarō Daichi anime in middle school before finally plowing through all twenty-odd volumes of the manga several years afterward, and while I still hold some affection for that old show, holy shit are we in for a ride with a full adaptation of the whole story. Like, this manga goes places. But for now, we're starting with the small-scale shenanigans of Tohru Honda and her furry friends.
As a new viewer, I'm glad we're starting more modestly. Modern otome and shoujo series have a tendency to just pile all their pretty anime boys into the first episode and let viewers sort out their favorite character gimmick, So I appreciate Furuba's more casual pace letting me get to know the characters. So far, I can say I dig all our main cast.
Especially Tohru. Maybe I'm just a sucker for Sad Mom stories but I found myself really invested in her after the premiere.
Tohru's definitely one of the strongest parts of the show! It'd be so easy for her to be a blank slate heroine with superficial flaws, but Tohru's a more complex character than usual for shoujo dramas like this. The classic shoujo heroine is hardworking, shy, a little dense, and constantly beleaguered by bullies and social awkwardness—likable, but rarely more than inoffensively nice. Tohru has all those usual qualities, but she's also self-sacrificial to a fault and scarily self-deprecating. I mean, this girl just buggers off to the woods to avoid imposing on any of her friends, like "oh yeah nbd this is normal".
Yeah, anime heroines whose only fault is that they just care too much are pretty familiar, but Furuba seems to be actively interrogating Tohru's predilection for ignoring her own needs. She doesn't even second-guess living in the mountains for months, because she doesn't even want to ask if she can stay with friends. There's a point where selflessness bleeds into self-loathing, and Tohru's already scuttled right past it.

Naturally, the solution to her problems comes in the form of a cute boy who feeds her platitudes about just being herself--
--hahaha no, this is Fruits Basket. It's not gonna be that easy. Now the story definitely plays with the idea of love as salvation frequently, but it's not as simple as "this hot guy noticed me, boosting my self-confidence to the point where I can love myself again".
Oh, of course. This isn't a job that just one hot anime boy can solve. We need at least three!
Please no, Shigure is a grown-ass adult, we don't need his sleaze all over the 16-year old heroine.
Okay, so I'm not alone in thinking Shigure's kind of sketchy, right? Like, did you ever have a friend in high school who had a college-age brother, and he'd spend way more time than appropriate hanging out with your teenage friend group? Because that's the vibe I get from this dude.
Yeeeeeah, Shigure isn't quite the friendly older brother figure he likes to present to the world, but saying more would be getting into spoiler territory. I will say that Yuki is right to be suspicious of Shigure's willingness to add Tohru to the family so quickly.
I just figured Shigure was also a dumbass on that one. Literally a minute after meeting Tohru, he's about to spill their secret to try and flirt with her.
That's the image he projects, but remember he's on personal terms with the head of the family. Shigure might act like a dopey fool, but Akito seems to trust him to a degree that would seem weird if he wasn't more thoughtful and crafty.
I dunno, this Akito person doesn't seem like the brightest bulb either. Like who in their right mind thinks kids wouldn't be stoked to have a friend who turns into an animal? Granted, Yuki didn't get one of the cool animals like a Tiger or a Dragon, but I'm sure he could find some friends who love Redwall.

The Somas aren't exactly well-adjusted as a unit, and Akito in particular does not have a spirit of encouragement. Yeah, just tell the small children they'll be alone for life, that won't screw 'em up at all.
Between that and Shigure laughing his butt off at a homeless teenager, I feel safe saying the Soma family kinda sucks.

So yeah, we regret to inform you that the hot shoujo boy has emotional baggage.
All of the hot shoujo boys do, in fact.
Yuki's probably the most complex of the cast so far. In just two episodes, we've seen a lot of sides to him, from his aloof School Prince exterior to his more volatile vulnerable side to his gnarled relationship with Kyo. On the surface, these two are just the Red/Blue Oni archetypes, but their relationship is obviously far more complicated. Kyo desperately wants the validation of being a "real" member of the Zodiac, while Yuki sees that position as one of isolation rather than belonging.

Now that they live together, the challenge for the two of them going forward will be to understand why they envy each other's positions so much, and hopefully learn to place less importance on their in/out status within the family.
And trying not to break the house! Like damn, Yuki kicked him so hard that he switched to his sketch layer for a second.
I do find it delightfully ironic that Yuki's best insult for Kyo is "outsider", like he doesn't spend all day wishing he had nothing to do with the Soma family himself.
Both these kids seem like bundles of raw nerves and scar tissue, so it makes sense to me that Yuki's go-to insult would just be to remind Kyo of his biggest insecurities.
And boy does Kyo have insecurities! He's an emotionally stunted teenager trying his best not to be a complete asshole.
So I may possibly have a penchant for angry delinquent boys who use delinquency to hide their own vulnerabilities. But even my bias notwithstanding, I think Kyo's a really intriguing character so far. Violent bad boy is a Shoujo Romance Classic, but Kyo seems more grounded than a lot of his peers. He lashes out when he feels threatened because he panics, only to immediately regret it, and he's aware enough about this problem to explain it when he tries to apologize.
Though he definitely has some work to do on that front.
You get the impression that he never quite learned how to interact with people in non-violent ways. His idea of an apology is "please hit me if you're mad," and when he accidentally lashes out at Tohru, he fully expects Yuki to kick his ass for it.
But first and foremost, he is a supremely awkward child whose first reaction to overwhelming social situations was to yeet himself out a second-floor window. If that's not adorable, I don't know what is.
I can see why some folks might be skeptical about him though. There's a fine line between exploring anger issues and rationalizing dangerous or abusive behavior. But so far, I think Froob lands on the former side with Kyo.
Plus like, he is a cat.

I don't think he ever quite crosses the line. This is the very beginning of his character arc after all, and he's already making legitimate efforts to be less of a jerk. Plus, Froob wouldn't be Froob without some truly messy character flaws, though of course it helps that kitty Kyo is so cute.
I want Tohru to wait for him to yawn and stick her finger in his mouth.
I can't definitively say that doesn't happen, so you might be in luck.
Hell yeah. Until then, I'm more than happy to be on the Froob train, and I look forward to plenty more sweet-yet-melancholy moments between this cast as they grow closer. I'm sure nothing awful or tragic will get in the way of that process.
Yyyyyeah, about that...We're in for a long journey of pain as these kids (and many more!) confront their weaknesses and personal tragedies, so let's all have fun watching each other suffer!

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