An Anime Review 'Fruits Basket' (2019)
What a wonderful time.
This is the 2019 remake/reboot of the Fruits Basket anime, this is a 25 episode first season produced by TMS Entertainment (Dr. Stone, Orange), while the original was produced by Studio Deen. The manga for The story was written by Takaya Natsuki. The director is Ibata Yoshihide (episode director—Kill la Kill, Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso). The series composition was handled by Kishimoto Taku (91 Days, Erased), while the music was done by Yokoyama Masaru (Kanata no Astra, Your Lie in April). The four leads are comprised of Honda, Kyou, Yuki, and Shigure, played by Iwami Manaka (Re:Creators, Maquia When the Promised Flowers Bloom), Uchida Yuuma (Banana Fish, Ace of Diamonds), Shimazaki Nobunaga (Baki, Black Clover), and Nakamura Yuuichi (91 Days, Clannad) respectively.
This is a show about Tohru, a high school girl that happens to be living out in a tent in the forest. The reason is because her relatives house is being renovated, and instead of being a burden, she chose to live on her own with what little possessions she had. One day she comes across the Soma family, and as the events transpired, she ends up living with them. As the season goes on, we find that certain members of the Soma family inhabit the twelve zodiac animals, and when touched by the opposite sex they transform into their animal form. What becomes apparent is that even though they are family, there are in house politics within the Soma family that make it an incredibly hostile place for most of the family to live in. This in house politics has resulted in many of the family to be fragile, and in some cases broken people, however in meeting Tohru, they find the means within themselves to accept and mend themselves.
With the exception of a few stories, the structure of the show is quite episodic in nature, while the larger story is built slowly over time through the season in each episode. These developments may not be earth shattering plot twists, they would be a simple moment of character development, a revelation from the past, or a moment of character progression. This is a show that focuses on the characters and their relationship to each other, how family can be an incredibly toxic environment, while it could also be the most beautiful. Watching Tohru navigate her way through this family is incredibly heartwarming to watch, and ended up being a show I looked forward to watching every week.
The characters are all fascinating, they are incredibly well written, and all feel relatable in one aspect or another. Tohru is an incredibly sweet girl who sees the good in everyone, and this sincerity helps to bring out the best in all the people that end up interacting with her for a prolonged length of time. This impact is, at times, instant and at others occur over the course of multiple episodes. This change in them is one that is good for many of the characters, however there are also those that end up becoming all the more conflicted as a result of it. I find this dynamic to be fantastic as if it was skewered to one way or the other it would be far less interesting to watch. The central characters that live in Shigure's house and Tohru's two friends get a significant amount of both character development and progression as the show continues, and in doing so makes them all the more interesting in the process. Interestingly, while we do get a fair bit of character development on Tohru, she does not change through the first season at all.
One character I could not stand at all was Hiro, petulant brat actually made my blood boil so many times in the space of ten minutes that I nearly switched off the episode for the day. Great writing and got the point across well, however he was the one character I never felt sympathy for when his backstory was revealed. To contrast with that, every time Kagura was on screen was a joy.
From a visual point of view, the show is incredibly pleasing to look at. There are soft tones, and a contrast of warm and cold colours that makes the show visually interesting to look at, despite the simple level of animation occurring on screen. The characters all have a distinct visual design that is more in line with the modern day visual aesthetic. This is both a positive and a negative, the updates design definitely brings the anime to the modern day, however it also does not stand out too much from the rest of the crowd. If it had not been for the name Fruits Basket, there's a good chance I would have skipped over it. The music is quite memorable here, and is a fantastic addition to an already stellar show in my opinion.
With season two scheduled for a 2020 air date, this is a show I highly recommend. It is available to watch on Funimation and Crunchyroll.