Monday, July 20, 2015

Series Review: Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya

Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya

Number of Volumes: 23
Publisher: TokyoPop
Release Date: 1998 - 2006
Read Date: July 2015
Tagged Under: 2015 read, 2015 favourites, manga or graphic novel, 5, YA-fiction
Check It Out: @Amazon@GoodReads

Series Summary

A family with an ancient curse... 
And the girl who will change their lives forever... 
Tohru Honda was an orphan with no place to go until the mysteriour Sohma family offered her a place to call home. Now her ordinary high school life is turned upside down as she's introduced to the Sohma's world of magical curses and family secrets.

Series Review

I am coming out of my weekend Fruits Basket marathon feeling slightly drunk. I genuinely don't know where to begin when it comes to writing a review on this series. 

Of the thousands of mangas published in Japan, only a handful of them are well-known to the Western Society. Fruits Basket holds a prized position amongst other household titles such as Naruto, Bleach and Dragon Ball Z. And having read the series, it is easy to see why. This is not just some average shoujo manga about high school and romance. Fruits Basket tells a story of life, love, accepting the past and moving on, facing your fears, and growing up. Sounds like a lot, doesn't it? But trust me, this series does touch on all of these aspects.

In the event of her mother's death, Tohru Honda has resorted to living in a tent. Until one day, Yuki Sohma - the prince of their high school and a classmate of Tohru's - finds out Tohru's living situation and offers her the chance to live with him and his uncle on the Sohma property. There, Tohru discovers Sohma's terrible curse - some of the family members are cursed with the spirits of the twelve zodiacs (plus the cat) and whenever they are hugged by a member of the opposite gender or are under a great deal of stress or illness, they get turned into the zodiac animal. Hijinks and chaos ensues.

The premise of the story may sound whimsical and silly. But once you get past the initial couple of chapters, you just come to accept the fact that the Sohmas change into zodiac animals. And the quick acceptance comes because it is so easy to get into the story. For one thing, the artwork is absolutely amazing. To this day, Fruits Basket remains one of the most beautifully drawn mangas I have read. Secondly, the characters that you get introduced to are just so different from one another and they are all funny in their own way. The situations that they get into are hilarious and humour is one of the main proponents of this series.

Scattered throughout the humour though, Takaya is able to touch on the many triumphs and travails of life. One of the recurring themes is the need to face the past, no matter how difficult it may be, and move on to become a stronger and better self. Memories can be painful. But no one should try and run away from it. Because with the pain comes an appreciation for joy.

Another theme that I love, which I think is not as often mentioned, is the impact parents have on their children. The characters within Fruits Basket have all been raised by their parents differently and it is easy to see how their personality and behaviour have been shaped by that. Many of them are still carrying scars from their childhood well into their teenage years.

Of course, Fruits Basket cannot be a shoujo manga without high school romance. There are so many ship-worthy pairings in this series that I have difficulty picking just one as my favourite. Each couple is different and have to go through their own battles to reach happily-ever-after.


Fruits Basket is one of my favourite mangas of all times. It is humourous yet heartfelt. For lovers of shoujo manga, I cannot recommend this one enough. For people who are not familiar with Japanese manga, this is definitely a great manga to begin with.

1 comment:

  1. Love this series, and I like that you touch upon a main theme that a lot of reviewers do miss entirely. The parental interaction and how it shapes the children as they grow seems like it's under a microscope here. While I feel the majority of the pain these children suffer are because their parents refuse to let go of the past and continue to fuel the dissension when it furthers their gains. A beautiful story of family, romance and heartbreak, but one that does come with some great happy endings too.