(This is episode impressions post contains no major spoilers!)
Episode 4: What Year is She?
The animation is good, but slightly stiff, with too many of those shoujo anime backgrounds with bright colors, bubbles, flowers, or sparkles. The art is still nice to look at though– especially the character designs and the scenes of nature/ gardens. Maybe there’s not a lot of justifcation to call it “excellent” rather than “good,” but that’s what I’m going with because it’s just so personally appealing to me. The audio elements are decent. While Fruits Basket 2019 features some seiyuu I like, and pleasing songs for the opening and ending, the instrumental music hasn’t stuck out at me in any memorable way. Also, I’m not sure if the seiyuus for Kyo and Tooru are actually talented.
Despite the art and sound being just a slight letdown, this fourth episode still delighted me. The personality of Kagura was established adequately, and she’s a character I like. She’s loyal, outspoken, strong-willed, and determined. Her animal form was as cute as a button!! The hints of adult humor were mild but surprisingly funny. Shigure was about to say a Souma being in a relationship with a normal human would be inconvenient because they’re bound to transform during sex, but Yuki stops him and says, “Crude!” Kagura implies the same, telling Kyo that marrying another zodiac sign is the path to happiness.
Even though it’s very slapstick humor, and even though I have nothing against Kyo, it was hilarious seeing Kagura beat the crap out of him. Another note about Kagura: she’s voiced by Kugimiya Rie, famous for playing roles like Taiga in Toradora, Shana in Shakugan no Shana, Alphonse in FMA Brotherhood, and Kagura in Gintama. I love her voice and she’s got such vocal power. The presence of Kagura Souma, her seiyuu, and her frickin adorable animal form contributed hugely to my enjoyment of this episode. So did the development of, and new insights into, the character of Kyo.
Episode 5: I’ve Been Fooling Myself
Random: I noticed that when they are relaxed, Yuki sits hunched in a corner, Kyo lies on the wood deck/porch, and Shigure sits up at the table. Kind of like how rats move around on the sides and corners of the room, cats lounge, and friendly dogs sit right where everyone will notice them. Just a funny detail I picked up on this time around.
Iwami Manaka (voice of Tooru) did a great job with her performance throughout this episode, but especially when she cried and said those important lines in the middle and again near the end. Though I find her voice a little annoying, I’m convinced now Miss Iwami has the talent to play the lead role. As usual, Yuuichi Nakamura (Shigure) was impressive, even without having any powerful or important lines. Just his thoughts on the younger boys. The instrumental music finally got through to me and I like it. I also enjoyed the song that was playing at 19 minutes.
If the last few episodes were for character development of the Soumas, this one was for Tooru. As I listened to the thoughts she voiced, both in her head, and to others, I felt a huge amount of sympathy for her. It also served to show that Kyo and Souma miss Tooru when she’s gone, and both genuinely care about her. The usually mild-mannered Yuki went so far as to intrude on strangers because they had been insulting Tooru. Tsundere Kyo was actually honest, directly telling Tooru the comforting words she needed.
There is a lot more to say about Tooru, the importance and themes of her story, plus her growth in this episode. I don’t want to give any spoilers, but I will rant about it in another post. Anyway, because of Tooru, and a certain downright loveable grandpa of hers, I really loved episode 5. Also, I liked the fact that there was some real drama despite the series being a pretty laidback slice-of-life. Also in episode 5, we found out why Fruits Basket is titled Fruits Basket.
Episode 6: Perhaps We Should Invite Ourselves Over
My enjoyment level for episode 6 was through the roof. I also fell in love with the artwork once again and got over being annoyed with those sparkles and bubbles. Fruits Basket still does those kinds of background much better than an average shoujo or SoL show, after all. The audio elements continue to be wonderful, with the best seiyuus so far being Shimazaki Nobunaga (Yuki) and Iwami Manaka (Tooru). It was nice to have a quick scene of Akito so we could hear that he is being voiced by Maaya Sakamoto!
We learned more about Tooru’s personality in episode 5, especially about who she is in the eyes of her closest friends, Hana (the “vibe” girl) and Uo (the “yankee” or delinquent-type tomboy). There were some very sweet moments between them and Tooru. … During the scenes of them being close, the yuri fangirl in me went ballistic. I wanted to ship both Hana and Uo with Tooru, but by the end, I decided Hana and Uo were more like a couple themselves.
In this episode, we also learned the story about the boy with the hat who helped Tooru when she was little. It has a lot of meaning and significance to Tooru. As for the audience, I think we’re supposed to realize that the boy with the hat was one of the Soumas. He was probably either Yuki or Kyo. I honestly can’t remember the truth that was revealed later in the 2001 version of Fruits Basket. Watch the story for yourself and see what you think!
I won’t tell you what animal Momiji is in the interest of avoiding spoilers, but I don’t even think it qualifies as a spoiler to mention that he appears in this episode, is one of the Zodiac animals, and is ridiculously cute and mischievous. The new voice of Momiji was just fine, though there’s no replacing the old one from 2001 version, it’s true. We also met another character, who gave us a grim episode ending when he called to deliver a menacing command to Tooru.
Score For These Episodes: 8.0/10
I like Fruits Basket so far and I think it’s a very important story for youth today, mostly because of the theme of diverse families, in a time when there is so much division and hatred in the country, and the theme of belonging, when so many young people feel so out of place. The story and structure are running smoothly and being told well in this series; I have no complaints. 8/10. The artwork is gorgeous, especially the character designs. 8/10. The audio factors are excellent; I love the music and respect the seiyuus’ talent. 8/10. The characters are cute, interesting, and well-developed so far. 8/10. My enjoyment is also 8/10, and so that’s my score.