Hi, thanks for stopping by today. I hope you’re well. As usual with my anime reviews, my opinions on the visuals, audio, story, and characters will be examined. A section discussing personal enjoyment is also included. Each of these five categories receives a number score from 1 (so bad it shouldn’t exist) to 10 (perfect masterpiece). The average (mean) of these five numbers is calculated, giving the overall series score. With that in mind, let’s rant about Fruits Basket 2019!
Visual Elements: 9/10
“Mesmerizing” and “Gorgeous” are words I might use to describe the visuals in Fruits Basket. The art-style is distinct and beautiful. Scenes and characters are detailed and just pleasant to look at, with the right shading and lighting used. Colorful, abstract backgrounds are often used for short shots of characters — such as Ayame with a background of roses, or Yuki with a background of light pink-and-blue bubbles. I think these backgrounds are well-done in Fruits Basket 2019, even though I usually don’t like those “shoujo effects.”
There are quite a few scenes and shots with beautiful scenery, greenery, or city backgrounds. The face expressions, postures, and gestures the characters have are excellent with communicating who they are or what they are feeling. And of course, the character designs are terrific and not easy to forget.
With the face expressions being as wonderfully done as they are, it’s possible to get some great reaction images from this series. Funny expressions are not uncommon in Fruits Basket. The style occasionally gets a little silly and simplified, like when Tohru is dazzled and her eyes are replaced with swirly-things. This kind of comedic art is not pronounced enough to be annoying, and it never looks bad or poorly drawn. Here are two of my favorite reaction images (of the screencaps I took while watching the series, anyway).
Fruits Basket features adorable animals now and then. I love the way they are drawn and animated. My favorites were the boar, the tiger, the sheep, and the rat. On the topic of not-so-cute “animals,” the creature that is Kyo’s third form has exactly the effect that it should. Animators succeeded in making the creature a weird combination of disturbing/creepy and ugly/deformed. There are plenty of monsters all over anime, and most of them aren’t that scary or intimidating. So I’m again impressed with Fruits Basket.
Audio Elements: 7/10
The first opening song, “Again” by Beverly, was alright, but not something I’d go back and listen to for enjoyment. The same goes for the second OP, “Chime” by Ai Otsuka. However, I loved the first ending song, “Lucky Ending” by Vickeblanka. The second ED, “One Step Closer” by INTERSECTION, has an usual style of vocals which I’m not fond of. On the other hand, I love the melody and mood of the song. Throughout Fruits Basket 2019, there are good, moving instrumental OSTs. They really help set the mood for scenes and increase the emotions (“feels”) for other scenes. I’d be surprised if I listen to the soundtrack much on my own time, let alone buy it. The music was good but it doesn’t stick with me.
There’s an assortment of talented seiyuu in Fruits Basket. I kind of tend to geek out about Japanese seiyuu, but I need to keep things brief. I didn’t expect too much of Yuuma Uchida, but overall, he did fine job playing Kyo. Nobunaga Shimazaki is one of my favorite male VAs, and as expected, he delivered the character of Yuki excellently.
The ones I’m most impressed with are Manaki Iwami (Tohru), Yuuichi Nakamura (Shigure), Satomi Satou (Hanajima), and Makoto Furukawa (Hatsuharu.) The series also features the experienced and much beloved voice actors Maaya Sakamoto (Akito), Takahiro Sakurai (Ayame), and Miyuki Swashiro (Kyoko).
Story Elements: 9/10
I usually don’t give this type of anime a very high score for the story category, since shoujo/drama/slice-of-life series often have weak stories or ones that aren’t compelling or followed through on. Fruits Basket is obviously different. It’s not a single story, but a set of many stories about the characters and how their lives intertwine and progress forward. Almost every character story is moving. Fruits Basket has an amazing ability to evoke emotions with the stories it tells, from sorrow to joy and everywhere between.
The only major things that bugged me about the story were lack of any kind of structure, minimal disclosure of or hints about in-world facts and secrets, and occasional failed comedy. However, in a series as unique as Fruits Basket, I don’t think a particular structure is of episodes or events is needed. Also, the point of the story is about the characters in this world, not the world itself. Things will be revealed only as Tohru (or other characters) learns them. By and large, the comedy if Fruits Basket works well. A few moments that failed to be funny are only to be expected. I’ve heard fans saying that this 2019 version isn’t as humorous as the 2001 version, but it seems just fine to me.
Note: Included in the story category is good delivery of each aspect of the anime. A shoujo anime is supposed to be at least a little bit cute. Well, there’s plenty of cuteness in Fruits Basket, so full points there.
Themes are also part of the story category. The major themes in Fruits Basket include acceptance of others, self-acceptance, diversity, expectations, bullying, grief, trauma, letting the past go, family, and friendship. I think the strongest theme is being accepted by another person and believing you are worthy of that.
Character Elements: 10/10
Where do I even begin with this? I mean that in a good way, obviously. With all the time and development they got, Fruits Basket‘s characters could be a subject of a short book! And then there’s the Fruits Basket fandom, around for decades now — they’ve probably already said everything I could ever say (but better) about these characters. I’m giving a full 10/10 for this category because even though none of the Fruits Basket characters make it onto my list of favorite anime characters, they are developed and presented masterfully. I can’t look away from great characterization in an anime when I see it.
But back to the point. The characters are diverse and creative in the way they are written. Most of them are interesting characters who are in some way relatable. Many of them are likable. A handful of them are truly fascinating. But the vast majority of the characters are made to be fascinating and fun with the way they’re developed, even if their starting character concept is a little boring or overused. My favorite characters were Saki Hanajima, Yuki, Shigure, and Hiro. I don’t know what else to say without writing essays for each of the characters. Additional note: I liked how Kyoko (Tohru’s mother) was essentially a character in the series too, through flashbacks and memories.)
Personal Enjoyment: 8/10
My personal enjoyment level may fluctuate throughout re-watches, and as the next seasons air and increase my appreciation. 8/10 overall is still pretty high, but there also times where it was 9/10, and other cases where it was as low as 6/10. There wasn’t much in Fruits Basket that I disliked; it’s more accurate to say there were too many things which don’t speak to me or my lasting interests. For instance, I tend to like anime with dark themes, violence, and abnormal psychology of characters. Watching a healing, peaceful, and psychologically mild show isn’t typically my cup of tea. So again, 8/10 for enjoyment is very impressive.
There was one factor that I noticed kept my enjoyment level down sometimes. As I watched, I would often grow very annoyed and frustrated with Tohru. For one thing, I don’t understand her or people with her personality type, and when I can’t understand, I am quick to feel a sense of irritation. I don’t “get” Tohru’s self-deprecating attitude and complete lack of self-respect, coupled with her unending kindness toward and faith in others, and her casual cheerfulness. However, I definitely don’t dislike Tohru. I do think she’s a broken protagonist with hypocritical psychology, but those are the best kind.
Besides — and this is the key point — Tohru only recently lost her only pillar of support and her only parent in a tragic accident. It’s natural to expect her to have all sort of issues. And “broken” or otherwise, Tohru is still a beautiful person, with many admirable traits. And for another plus, I love having female leads in anime as general rule.
Now if you remember from the introduction, the overall score is calculated by taking the average of the scores for each of the five categories. Visuals: 9/10. Audio: 7/10. Story: 9/10. Characters: 10/10. Enjoyment: 8/10. Therefore,
Overall Series Score = 8.6/10.0 Excellent
Thank you ever so much for reading this review, and I hope you’ll visit again soon.
(Images From: Fruits Basket. Dir. Y Ibata. TMS Entertainment. 2019.)
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