“Love isn’t just about loving what’s in front of you. The past, the future, maybe it’s about holding all of them close to your heart.” I think this quote by Kyo in this volume is really emblematic of the kind of ending we see for the series. Fruits Basket has been a series about hardship, emotional and physical abuse, parental abandonment, and family secrets. But most of all its been about growth. Growth in character, relationships, and maturity. Facing the hardships and difficult emotions that come with them are a key aspect of the series and almost all the characters learn some way to grow and move past them. Volume twelve is the final look at how our characters we’ve grown so attached to over the series have matured and faced the issues of their pasts. We see this most clearly with Kyo, Akito, and Rin as they all struggle to find a new place for themselves after the curse is broken, dealing with the memories and fall-out of Akito’s past actions.
Volume twelve brings us back to the Sohma household where all the members of the zodiac have been called in to meet with Akito. It’s here that she reveals the fact that she has been a woman the entire time and attempts to apologize for her actions. We also get to see the final wrap-up of each character’s stories as they finish off high school and move on to bigger and better things. Kyo and Tohru head off to places far away as Kyo studies to take over Sensei’s doujo. Uo still plans on joining Kureno wherever he is after graduation. Then there’s Yuki and Machi who are planning a slightly long-distance relationship as Yuki heads off to college. Shigure quits being a writer and moves back to the main house to be with Akito, and lives move on and grow from there. Continue reading
Let’s face it, growing up is hard. Becoming an adult comes with a lot of responsibilities, one of which is owning up to your own mistakes or realizing when your actions are negatively affecting other people. Fruits Basket has taken us on a wild journey from kooky supernatural comedy to a story of self discovery and emotional maturation for all its characters. The character growth we’ve seen so far has been so fulfilling, and volume eleven takes its characters to their satisfying conclusion with one last round of profound growth before the final volume 12 and its wrap-up of the story. Kyo, Akito, Tohru, Momiji, Kureno, and Uotani all see their lives change and grow with their relationship to each other and specifically to Akito changing drastically at the end of this volume. Like I said, it’s a wild ride, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Natsuki Takaya has succeeded in taking us deep into the psyche and shadows of the dysfunctional and toxic Sohma family while seriously talking about issues like grief, depression, suicide, love, family, abuse, ad growing up.
Volume eleven continues after Kyo’s reveal that he not only knew Tohru’s mother but was there the day that she died, harboring a tremendous amount of survivor’s guilt over her death. In his highly emotional state Kyo tells Tohru he’s “disillusioned” by their relationship and runs off, leaving Tohru questioning whether or not he actually loves her. At the same time, Akito is at her breaking point after more of the zodiac member’s curses have broken and has gone in search of Tohru to confront her for her perceived role in ruining her future of eternal happiness. But their confrontation and almost reconciliation is cut short when the ground falls away and Tohru plummets down a cliff and is rushed to the hospital. What follows is the culmination and resolution of the last ten volumes worth of story. Continue reading
Grief and how one deals with the loss of a close loved one has always been a major theme running in the background of this series, often brought to the foreground as characters are forced to make decisions that put them face to face with their own memories and loss. We see this the most in the characters of Kyo, Tohru, and Akito as all three of them are forced to come to terms with their grief and the guilt and turmoiled emotions that surround it. But I think Fruits Basket is primarily a manga that centers around how life moves on and how people’s feelings, grief especially, change over time as we grow older. I like to think that this is one of the core messages Natsuki Takaya was trying to write about when she made this series. There are so many different stories, threads of overcoming loss, guilt, and the fear of being left behind that all fit so well into this overarching theme of growth and forward progress.
Volume ten continues where we left off with Tohru desperately trying to hide and push aside her feelings for Kyo as graduation gets ever closer and the curse hasn’t been broken yet. Shigure is claiming the curse will break on its own eventually, but eventually isn’t soon enough for Kyo who will be locked away for life after graduation and seems to be resigned to this fact. But has Tohru becomes ever more desperate, she can’t deny her feelings for Kyo any longer and they begin to bubble to the surface despite her best efforts. However, it looks like the death of Kyoko has touched more people than just Tohru, with Kyo and Kakeru both feeling the lingering effects of her passing. Back at the Sohma main house, Akito is having her own battle with grief, a battle between her mother and her for the soul of her deceased father, Akira, as well as the very real possibility that this may be the last zodiac banquet as one by one the curse begins to break. Continue reading
The last couple volumes that we’ve read have all been about seeing the kinds of scars children can develop when they’re abandoned by their parents and how they can slowly begin to recover through the support of loving friends and found family. Volume nine continues this theme but in a different direction, showing the kind of destructive mental and emotional issues that can arise from poor parenting and lack of emotional support. We’re shown these kind of life progressions through the lens of Akito and Machi’s differing ways of reacting to the pressure and issues that arise from their parents lack of support. Their two very different stories, but in a way tell a similar narrative of stunted emotional growth and destructive tendencies. There’s always so much to talk about with this series, and with every volume I feel like I find some new psychological concept to really dig into. I’m really hoping you all are enjoying what are turning out to be short almost essays of Fruits Basket. We’ve got three volumes left and the story is starting to move fast towards the conclusion.
Volume nine continues the story of the previous volume with the examination of Kureno’s relationship with Akito and the fall-out surrounding him finally watching the DVD of Uo in the school play. The story takes us into their past and present relationship and the reasons why Kureno feels like he can never leave as well as a look at the tension that exists between Kureno and Shigure, all revolving around Akito. But in Tohru and the younger Sohma’s world, graduation is fast approaching for all the third years at the school which means a flurry of preparations, many of which centered around the student council. In the background of all of this, Tohru can’t help but have a bad feeling because she hasn’t seen Rin in a while and no one seems to know where she is. Continue reading
In the first volume, Fruits Basket presents itself as this semi-wacky comedy shoujo about a girl who discovers that the family she’s living with can all turn into animals, but as the story progresses we begin to see this for what it truly is: a mask, a facade if you will. Fruits Basket’s true story lies within the family’s it follows. The shame, guilt, and abuse that sometimes hides behind closed doors, or in some cases is right out in the open. But it also speaks to us about the families and relationships between people who care and have cultivated a space of love through struggle and personal growth. I talked about this a bit last volume in how Yuki and Rin’s family dynamics shaped their current personalities and character growth arcs. Yuki especially we see yearning for any kind of parental and motherly love to the point of gravitating towards Tohru, seeing her as someone who can fulfill this emotional hole in himself. In volume eight, we see a bit of a continuation of this, but with more of a focus on the steps he’s taking to grow past it. We also delve deeper into both Kyo and Tohru’s past by taking a look at Tohru’s mother, Kyoko.
Volume eight continues where we left off last time with Yuki recounting and remembering his childhood and relationship with Tohru to Kakeru. We see more of his nonexistent relationship with his mother, the abuse he faced from Akito, and finally the mystery of the baseball cap Tohru keeps with her is solved. In true shoujo fashion, the story moves on to feature the activities of the culture festival, with a play performed by Tohru and gang to the sort-of story of Cinderella. With Kyo as Prince, Tohru as evil step-sister, and Hana as Cinderella, it manages to be both amusing and entirely relevant to the story and characters. For the rest of the volume, we get a look at Kyoko’s past and how Kyo winds up knowing her and then the beginnings of a look into Machi and Yuki’s slowly growing relationship. Continue reading
How do children relate to their parents? What do they look for, want, or need from a family? What happens when that dynamic breaks down, when children no longer have someone to look up to or a stable place to call home? I think in a way, Fruits Basket has been slowly exploring these questions throughout the story, leading further and further into the worst possible scenarios. But it’s also a series that focuses heavily on recovery from trauma and the search for stable relationships. And it’s in this exploration and character growth that I think we get to see some of the most interesting aspects of the story. Volume seven takes us closer to exploring these questions, pulling out the family histories of Yuki and Rin into the forefront of discussion. In Yuki especially I think we begin to see his slow progress to maturity.
Volume seven picks up where we left off in the parent-teacher conferences at the end of the last volume. This time it’s Yuki’s turn to face both his future and his mother who thinks she has everything planned out for him already. But Yuki has his own ideas as the story moves on to his experiences with the Student Council and the kind of rag-tag family he’s been developing there. The volume then switches to Tohru’s quest to get in contact with Kureno for Uo’s sake and her run-in with Momo, Momiji’s younger sister who has no clue about their relationship. The other large story this volume centers on Rin and her struggle to find a way to break the curse and her personal struggle with physical and mental illness. We get a full introduction to her past and how her relationship with Haru came to an end. Continue reading
We’ve finally reached the halfway point and what a journey it has been. I don’t know if I ever made it this far when I first started reading this series. I have to confess I did read ahead over my short two week break and have finished reading the series all the way through, and what a ride it has been. I am definitely so glad I picked up this series after all this time away from it, and now that the anime has been airing, I can’t unhear the English voice-actors while I’m reading through the dialogue, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. And even though I’ve already finished reading through the series at this point, I think it would be beneficial to keep doing these reviews volume-by-volume just because of the vast amount of things to talk about in this series and all of the interesting character progressions and growth we get in each chapter (I’ll also try to keep spoilers for future volumes to a minimum). Volume six winds up being both the halfway point in terms of physical volumes as well as the kind-of metaphorical halfway point in terms of overarching story progression. I think we see a genuine crest or apex in the story during this volume in regards to the story and in regards to two of the main characters: Tohru and Kyo.
Volume six picks up where we left off in the last one with the Sohma’s and Tohru still at the family vacation home where Akito has decided to grace them with his presence. While the main members of the zodiac are called to spend time with Akito each day, Kyo and Tohru get the chance to spend some quality time together. But when Akito finally calls Kyo in to see him, their argument leads to changes in both Kyo and Akito for better or worse. As their summer vacation draws to an end, we learn more about Kyo’s past, finally get fully introduced to the last two members of the zodiac, and see Tohru confront Akito. After this confrontation, Tohru makes up her mind to find a way to break the curse before graduation. And as it fast approaches, everyone begins seriously considering their own futures, which for the zodiac members, becomes a challenge. Continue reading
And we’re back with another look at Fruits Basket, this time volume five of the collector’s edition. I’ve been surprisingly having a lot of fun rereading this series and even more fun reviewing it. I’ve been loving taking these deep dives into each volume and pulling apart the different arcs of character growth and philosophical or thematic elements. I think it’s a really interesting series that not only is great to read but has made me think more about how I personally think about certain aspects of my own life and my own thoughts. And I think that is one of the main ways to identify if a series is truly great: if it makes you reflect on your own world and life views. Series like these are the ones that stick with us the longest because it builds an emotional attachment or adds an emotional connection. I don’t think I had this kind of connection back in high school when I first started reading this, so reading Fruits Basket now when I’m in a different stage of my life has created this new experience for me. But that’s a discussion for another day.
Volume five starts us off in the story with the onset of summer vacation. Yuki, the newly appointed president of the student council, sets off to meet his new council members and take care of business before the new school year begins. Meanwhile Momiji has made plans for all of the current Sohma zodiacs to have some fun in the sun at of the Sohma family vacation homes. Tohru, Kyo, Yuki, Haru, Kisa, Hiro, and Momiji all venture off to the beach while Shigure hangs back and plots from the shadows. His plotting leads to the surprise appearance of Akito at the summer home. In the middle of all of this we also get stories of Hana’s history with Tohru and her psychic waves, Uo’s meeting with the mysterious Kureno, and Hori’s history and relationship with his ex-fiancee’s friend Mayu. Lastly, we get two short glimpses of the last of the zodiac members, the rooster and the horse, Kureno and Rin. Continue reading
It’s that time again, time to take another dive into some nostalgic shoujo romance, more Fruits Basket. Volume four brings us about a third of a way through this series with twelve volumes total to look forward to. The story is still slowly unfolding here, with more introductions and a closer look at the intimate lives of both the zodiac members and Tohru’s friends. This sort of mystique and dread that Akito inspires permeates everything in this volume and I’m sure we’ll be seeing that ramping up in later volumes as well. With the introduction of Hiro, the sheep of the zodiac, and Ricchan, the monkey of the zodiac, we’re getting closer to bringing together the whole cast and with it their histories and interlocking relationships. I’m enjoying myself immensely as I read through this story. It’s packed with discussions on mental health, psychological trauma, life philosophies, and societal issues. I think I’ve forgotten over time just how deep this series goes, and I’m really looking forward to getting pulled down further into the story.
Volume four (chapters 37-48) starts us off with another introduction to the zodiac cast, Hiro the sheep, who happens to be close friends with Kisa. We’re drawn into his story of jealousy as he sees Kisa hanging out more and more with Tohru after her struggle with bullying. Then a shopping trip turns into a look at Uo-sans past as a former gang member turned Tohru’s closest friend. But Fruits Basket doesn’t save the characterization for just the main characters, even the fairly annoying Yuki Fan Club president, Motoko, gets her own chapter to shine in as we learn just what makes her tick and her feelings about handing off the fan club to the next generation. The rest of the volume is filled with our introduction to Ricchan, the monkey, but we also get quite a bit of characterization and backstory on Haru, Yuki, Kyo, and Tohru as they all struggle with thinking about their future after school. Continue reading
Welcome back to the next post in my read-through of Fruits Basket, where I’m finally going back and finishing this series after years of not getting the chance to complete it. The new anime will be premiering next week, and I’m hearing good things from the people who managed to see the first two episodes in theaters yesterday. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it myself, but I’m super excited to see how they wind up remaking this series. But enough about that, I really want to delve deep into volume three’s story today. There’s so much going on in this series with each cast member getting their own intricate and often interwoven backstories, troubles, and growth. We haven’t even seen all of the zodiac members yet, but we’re getting there slowly, and I think that’s the best course of action for this story, to let it unfold slowly and let the pieces fall into place.
Volume three continues the story of the curse Sohma family. Cursed to turn into animals of the zodiac whenever they are hugged by the opposite sex, they guard their secret closely. That is until high school student Tohru Honda stumbles upon it and begins to get wrapped up ever tighter in their lives. The volume starts with the Sohmas — Yukie, Kyo, Shigure, and Hatori — taking Tohru to their family’s lake house for a vacation. But the chapters jump off from there and very soon we’re being introduced to the next member of the zodiac, Kisa the tiger. Kyo’s doujo master makes an appearance as well and we find ourselves delving deeper into Kyo’s past and the darkest secret of the zodiac curse. Continue reading