Welcome, readers! Today we have a review of Fruits Basket‘s second season. It’s a drama anime with a touch of comedic and supernatural elements. As Tohru continues to live with the Sohmas, she discovers more and more about them and the Zodiac curse that weighs on them. As usual in my reviews, I’ll go over five categories: Visuals, Story, Audio, Characters, and Personal Enjoyment. Each category will get a rating, and all of them will be averaged for the overall score at the end. Let’s get started looking at this delightful anime.
Art and Animation: 9/10
The visuals in Fruits Basket are astounding. It’s pure joy to watch this anime. There are pretty backgrounds, awesome character designs, good use of lighting and shading, and excellent, believable face expressions. There’s next to no action in Fruits Basket, so there aren’t any amazing scenes with super-smooth animation or anything. I think the smoothness of the animation is a little above average, but more importantly, the art itself is far above average. I mean things like detail on characters, the color choices, and the overall look.
There is a fair amount of “shoujo effects” (things like sparkles and bubbles or geometric patterns floating around). I used to find these effects annoying, but now I don’t mind them at all. Besides, the ones in Fruits Basket are relatively subtle compared to most shoujo anime. In addition, there are occasional breaks in the animation style for humorous, simply-drawn short scenes. These might be annoying to some people, but I like the effect as long as it’s not overused. In Fruits Basket season 2, funny cuts are used in just the right amount.
Story and Themes: 8/10
Traditionally, I’m not too big of a fan of the way stories are structured in slice-of-life and romantic drama anime series. There tends to be a less skillful organization, events or episodes that seem misplaced, a general lack of action, and slow pacing. Though I enjoyed the progression of events in Fruits Basket, some of these issues were present.
For instance, we should have gotten to know more about Rin earlier than we did. The episode about the homeroom teacher, Mayu, and her connection to Hatori felt awkward in its placement. While Yuki is my favorite character, a bit too much time was spent on him this season when it could have been shared more evenly between the many characters. Episodes all tend to feel more like one-shots than parts of a continuous story with good flow.
All that being said, story structure is not the only facet in this category. Fruits Basket does well in pretty much all of the other areas. That includes having a fair share of humor, thought-provoking meanings and messages, and emotional elements that strike the heart in just the right way. The various themes in this anime are important ones that I care about, even if they are explored more slowly than optimal. Themes include: human fragility, how being vulnerable is its own kind of strength, romantic love, and other bonds between people. In addition, self-improvement and self-acceptance are powerful motifs too. Let me mention a few examples.
People are emotionally and mentally fragile. This theme from the first season carried over into the second. Everyone has pain and weakness. Tohru became the generous, self-deprecating over-achiever because of her mother’s weakness following the husband’s death. Tohru wants harmony and to make people happy. This fragility inhibits her confidence every day, even if she doesn’t know it. Rin became unstable and embittered after her parents abandoned her.
For more examples, Shigure feels jealous of Kureno’s position as Akito’s favorite. Yuki is constantly depressed because his mother is so unloving. Akito was traumatized by the breaking of the bond with Kureno. This was part of what made her become so cruel and unpleasant. Rin was abandoned by her parents, which filled her heart with bitterness and anger.
Those are just examples of the one theme of fragility. I can’t go into all of the other themes in a short review post, but perhaps I will write a thematic analysis a bit later. The key point is that the motifs in Fruits Basket are profound and detailed. This is the main reason I gave the story category a high rating. It also helps that the slow but over-arcing plot about the Zodiac Curse is fascinating. All these different aspects contribute to an excellent story.
The voice acting is excellent. Here are just a few examples. Nobunaga Shimazaki, a favorite of mine, and voices Yuki. My favorite performance of Yuki’s seiyuu this time around was the argument with the vice president. I sometimes feel like his acting is just slightly too dramatic, but half of that is because of the lines he’s given.
Yuuichi Nakamura does an especially great job playing Shigure. It’s hard to describe, but he captures the character perfectly, with both his devious and light-hearted sides. Tohru’s seiyuu (Manaka Iwami) was excellent all around with her ability to put emotion into her lines. I must say that the most talented seiyuu in this series is Maaya Sakamoto, playing Akito. I love the flawless way she delivers this character.
The music is good, but there are relatively few scores, so I got a bit tired of some of them. There also wasn’t much variety in instruments and styles used. It’s mostly emotional piano music. But these scores can be powerful and are timed well, so I still enoy the sountdrack. Sound effects seemed good enough to me.
I wasn’t too fond of the first pening song, “Prism” by AmPm ft. Miyuna. However, the second opening, “Home” by Asako Toki is right up my alley. It’s a pretty tune and melody, the singer sounds good, and the lyrics are easy to learn and sing along with. As for the ending songs, both were pretty good, but again, I much preferred the second. It’s called “Eden” by Monkey Majik and it’s a relaxing and beautiful song.
Fruits Basket is all about the characters. Their stories and personalities are explored and developed throughout the show in impressive and interesting ways. Presentation and development of characters was carried out proficiently. To show this, I’ve included some notes about Yuki’s character and then Tohru’s. I would love to talk about Kyo and Akito as well, but I shall save that content for later posts.
Season 2 focuses a lot of its time on Yuki. He seemed pretty normal for the first half dozen episodes. Then he started to act strangely once Akito told him something. The way he behaves afterward and the way he treats Tohru become a bit different. This is because Yuki is realizing that his attachment to Tohru is like that of a son to a mother. It isn’t until much later that he confesses this truth to his friend, the student council VP.
So through all this, it’s clear that Yuki’s relationship with Tohru is well-developed. There is plenty more character development for Yuki as well, such as his friendships with the members of the studen council, his forgiveness for his brother, and his courage when facing his mother. There’s a lot to this character.
In my opinion, our protagonist Tohru didn’t have as much character growth as some of the others; or if she did, it was much more subtle. Tohru might not ever change at her core, as far as lacking confidence, wanting to please others, and being self-deprecating. However, she does show growth in other areas. Tohru has become more decisive and courageous. This is evidenced by her resolution in episode 10 that she will try to break the Zodiac curse.
Her feelings toward Kyo also grow and change, as she comes to like him in a romantic sense. The realization that she might love him, as seen in episode 24, frightens Tohru. She is still an anxious girl trying to struggle through teenage years. It’s natural that the prospect of love makes her uneasy. I look forward to seeing what she will do next.
Many of the other characters get their share of development as well. Kagura came to accept the fact that Kyo doesn’t love her. Rin and her relationship with Hatsuharu are presented well, too. Arisa falls in love and must deal with the pain and frustration of not being able to see the one she likes so much. For a final example, we learned about Kureno, his personality, and his history with Akito. Considering there are so many of them, the exploration of the characters is excellent in this anime. Most of the characters are either very likeable or quite interesting. All this makes it clear that the character category deserves at least 9/10.
Personal Enjoyment: 8/10
There was so much to enjoy in this season that I hardly know where to begin. I enjoyed aspects from all the previous 4 categories. I can’t write the things I liked for every single episode, so let me just think of a few that pop into my mind. It was really great seeing Tohru and everyone else having so much playing at the beach. I also loved the episode where they go to a haunted house and Hatsuharu makes up a story about the ghosts inside. Momiji is a character I admire and appreciate, so I’m glad he got an episode. The reveal about Akito being “God” was thrilling for me. Also, I adored the last episode and its examination of Kureno and Akito’s bond. Things are getting so much more interesting in this anime.
Overall Score: 8.4/10.0
The overall score is calculated by taking the average of the numbers for the five categories. As you can see, Fruits Basket season 2 made it well into 8s, which is “Excellent.” I think this is the highest score I’ve ever given to a shoujo drama anime. That means it’s pretty damn good! And with that, I’ll thank you for reading, and be on my way. Arigatou! See you next time!