Fruits Basket: Reviews of Episodes 1 to 3

I’m waiting for the first three episodes of my Spring 2019 anime to air. I’ll then do reviews at each fourth of the season. For example: review of episodes 1-3, review of episodes 4-6, and then 7-9, etc. Now, let’s start with a remake show I have been looking forward to, Fruits Basket. I heard about the 2001 anime as a kid/teen, but I wasn’t allowed to watch it and didn’t think it was worth sneaking and watching in secret. I only just saw it in September 2018. Shocking, right?

(It’s all right! I’ve seen the 2001 version now!)

I appreciated Fruits Basket as a classic and enjoyed it as something I finally got to see just like my childhood friends when they were younger. However, I didn’t get super attached to or interested in the show. So far, though, the 2019 remake is really sparking my interest. I’m loving it. The fancy new really art helps. It’s also because I’m paying more attention now to what makes this anime a shoujo classic. Here are my thoughts about the first three episodes.

Art and Animation

The artwork, style, animation, and character designs are all pretty good. Backgrounds of nature, buildings, and indoor shots are sometimes simple but sometimes stunning. The colorful, patterned backgrounds for humorous shots of characters are also more well-done than in older slice-of-life or shoujo anime, but they still annoy me a little since backgrounds like that are msotly a money-saving measure. I was disappointed that the animal forms of the boys don’t look enough like animals, but they are cute. So far, all this is to be expected from a 2019 anime. If the quality were any less, I’d consider it “fine” rather than “good.” I hope it stays high-quality.

Characters

The character concepts and designs are all good and interesting. I think development is going pretty well by episode 3. I only have one real complaint so far, and it’s not significant. Yuki and Kyo were portrayed differently than how I remembered them or envisioned them in the 2001 adaptation. Yuki is supposes to be “princely,” but then again, it’s up to interpretation what “princely” means. In the older rendition, I thought Yuki was more cheerful; even when he was angry, he had this air of keeping his composure. He was polite and charming. Meanwhile, Kyo was the decided “bad boy,” naturally unsociable, and having issues with pent-up anger.


In the new version, I get slightly different impressions of these two characters. Yuki has this “cool guy” vibe he didn’t have before, being more mysterious, quiet, manly, and yet more revealing of his frustrations, compared to how he was in the older rendition. As for Kyo, he seemed a lot more vulnerable, childish, and impulsive compared to how I previously thought of him. Rather than being naturally unsociable, Kyo is simply impulsive, always saying the first thing on his mind and never thinking through his actions. He isn’t actually a “bad boy” at all. Kyo gets a lot of attention in episode 2, and Yuki gets equal attention to his character in episode 3.

Just as with the 2001 version, I also love the personalities of Tohru’s two friends, as well as the way Tohru’s mom is almost treated like a character. Despite having passed away, she appears in flashbacks frequently, and she’s an important part of understanding why Tohru is who she is. And by the way, Tohru is a great character herself. Considering what she’s going through, she’s very strong and determined. She genuinely wants to help others and takes action to do so. It’s unbelievable that she’s functioning so well when her only parent died so recently.

Music, Songs, and Voice-acting

The opening and the ending songs sound great and have astounding visual components. The opening song (“Again” by Beverly) certainly isn’t my favorite, but I do seriously love the ED (“Lucky Ending” by Vickeblanka). The instrumental OST seems about average, but it’s still too early to tell. I like the seiyuu we’ve heard so far, or most of them. I’m so far not impressed with Tohru, voiced by Iwami Manaka, but I think that’s just because a) I’m not used to her voice yet, and b) she hasn’t had many opportunities to show great emotion yet.

Shigure is played by Nakamura Yuuichi

Yuki is played by Shimazaki Nobunaga. Uchida Yuuma plays Kyo. Nakamura Yuuichi voices Shigure. I like the performances of all three so far, but I’m not very familiar with Uchida Yuuma. I’m a huge fan girl for Shimazaki Nobunaga, though. He was Haruka in Free!, Yuno in Black Clover, and Shinichi in Kiseijuu/ Parasyte. I also love Nakamura Yuuichi, who has been in many roles, but who I will always recognize as main character Tomoya Okazaki of Clannad.

I also noticed a favorite, Sakamoto Maaya, playing Akito Souma. She was Ciel Phantomhive from Black Butler, Haruhi Fujioka from Ouran HSHC, Crono from Soul Eater, and many more. I’ll probably add more seiyuu in future posts as I recognize them.

Story Concept and Plot Progression

So what about the story? A girl has suffered the recent loss of her beloved mother, a strong woman who raised her well. An odd family of boys take the girl in. Hints of reverse harem and girly romance abound. The heroine is humble and dutiful but strong-willed, to-the-point, and more than capable of independence. Featured are themes about family, family dysfunction, adjustments, personal growth, kindness, the goodness of people, and friendship. Then add a unique, cool, and adorable element: the boys can turn into zodiac animals! With all this, the story of Fruits Basket is classic.

There was nothing lacking in the storytelling, nor anything important missing. At least, that’s how I feel with regards to the first 2 episodes. The third episode is slow-paced and repeats a lot of information that we already know about the main characters (Kyo and Yuki don’t get along, for instance). Ideally, a third episode should provide a big game-changer to the plot or to the characters: something that grabs and holds the audience. Even in a slice-of-life, it’s important to have this structure in place. Fruits Basket did not have that.

However, if the series is going to be 24-26 episodes rather than 12, then episode 3 can instead be an extension of episode 2, whose main purpose is to develop the main characters and how they react and interact to/with each other. In that case, the third episode passes with flying colors. It did a good job explaining more about Yuki, and showing us Tohru’s kind and capable yet clumsy and awkward personality. Plus we got to see two new animal friends! 😉

Ranking So Far

Note: For my ratings, anime in the 6s is not bad, but fair. 7s are “good,” and 8s “excellent.” Story is 8/10, but if it’s presented well as it progresses, it will get a higher number. Art is 7/10 and if there are well-animated action or movement scenes, I might put it higher. Sound is 7/10 but depending on performances it may improve. Characters are 8/10 in concept, and so far their development is going well. My personal enjoyment ranks at 8/10.

Add those numbers up to 38, and divide by 5, and overall score so far is 7.6, between Good and Excellent. Fruits Basket is a promising series! I’ll be surprised if it’s not very popular. Here is a cute rat/mouse to end your read. Jya, ne!

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