Review: Fruits Basket – Season 1 – Volume 1
March 6, 2022
Fruits Basket is one of the milestones of the shōjo genre. peppermint anime secured the rights to the anime reboot and is releasing the popular series in German for the first time. The first volume was released on November 18, 2021. Let's see what kind of character Fruits Basket still makes more than 20 years after its initial release… Lisa Murauer
ATTENTION: Any statements in this review only reflect the personal opinion of the author and not (!) those of ITweakIT and its partners.
The beginning of a long journey
After the sudden death of her mother, Tōru Honda finds herself on the street. She actually stayed with her grandfather, but she has to leave his house at least for a certain time due to renovations. In order not to be a burden to anyone, Tōru now camps in a tent in the forest. On the way to school, Tōru notice small figures in front of the Sōma family's house, which represent the twelve Chinese zodiac signs. Through this, she remembers the story of the thirteen animals that her mother used to read to her, and so she starts talking to Shigure and Yuki Soma.
And of all people, Yuki, the so-called "prince" of the school, finds out about Tōru's current accommodation in the forest. Tōru refuses any help, but when her tent is destroyed by a landslide, she quickly finds shelter with Yuki and Shigure. Living together could have been so peaceful if it weren't for Kyō Sōma, who suddenly appears and challenges Yuki to a fight. Tōru is drawn into this a little later and when she accidentally bumps into not only Kyō but also Yuki and Shigure, the three Sōmas promptly transform into animals!
The Secret of the Soma Family
So Tōru now knows the closely guarded secret of the Sōmas: the family is under an ancient curse that transforms some members, if they are weakened or embraced by the opposite sex, into one of the thirteen animals of the story for a certain time. After Tōru gets over her surprise, she promises to keep the secret.
During her time with the Sōmas, Tōru gradually meets more and more members of the family. As Tōru gets to know them better, she learns that they are all struggling not only with the curse, but also with their own problems. In particular, Kyō, who is considered the cat and thus the 13th animal as an outsider, has a lot to deal with. Thus, despite her own troubles, Tōru decides to do whatever it takes to find a way to break the curse and help the Sōmas. In doing so, however, she is drawn into a conflict that goes back generations, and in doing so she is increasingly at risk.
image and animation
Fruits Basket by the author Natsuki Takaya is one of the most successful manga of the shojo genre and was published in Japan from 1998 to 2006. In German, Carlsen Manga published all 23 volumes. The anime of the same name, directed by Yoshihide Ibata at the studios TMS Entertainment and 8PAN, is the second anime adaptation, but the first to adapt the entire manga. The reboot includes a total of three seasons, the first of which started in April 2019 in Japan. In this country, all episodes can be seen in the original Japanese version on Crunchyroll . peppermint anime has now secured the rights for the German disc release, which will publish the first season in three volumes between November 2021 and March 2022.
Whether it's backgrounds or characters, the picture just looks superb. In particular, the design of the animals is not only cute, but also illustrates the different personalities of the respective Sōma members and combines just the right mix of human and animal aspects. The animation itself is also fluid – even in the admittedly rather few action scenes.
If there's anything to criticize in terms of animation, it's firstly some of the special effects that feel a bit out of place, and secondly the character design. Yū Shindō's character design is more than just appealing, but the characters look a bit too similar. And since a lot of characters are introduced in these first eight episodes of the first volume, it's sometimes difficult to keep track of things. Nevertheless, this is only a small shortcoming.
German translation and music
The dubbing company @alpha postproduction in Munich was commissioned with the German implementation. The dialogue book was written by Andrea Pichlmaier, while Katharina von Daake directed the dialogue. A large number of characters appear right from the start of the anime series, all of which have been appropriately cast so far.
Above all, it is Laura Jenni as Tōru, Maximilian Belle as Yuki and Max Felder as Kyō that deserve special mention. Not only are their voices excellently chosen for their respective characters, they also get the most opportunities yet to show many different facets of their characters. In the meantime, it remains to be seen how the secondary characters will develop. Of course, all those who prefer to see the series in the Japanese original sound are also taken care of: In addition to the German language version, the Japanese original sound with German subtitles is also available.
Masaru Yokoyama is responsible for the music. The episodes often manage without musical accompaniment in many places, mostly there are only soft, unobtrusive tones that underline the atmosphere. But that's exactly what this series does very well. And in the right places, the music knows how to convince and intensify the emotions.
Both the opening ( Again by Beverly) and the ending ( Lucky Ending by Vickeblanka) are well done and fit the tone of the series perfectly. The animation in both sequences is limited to still images. I think that's a bit of a shame when it comes to the opening, because it's less memorable. But the ending shines all the more. Because here a different drawing style is used that looks good as original.
The characters are clearly at the center of Fruits Basket and at least the main characters are given some depth already in these first few episodes. Something that also works is the mix of humorous and emotional scenes. All characters have their own issues and it's hard not to sympathize with them. The music does the rest to accentuate these serious moments.
The imagery is also appealing. The animation is fluid, even if there is little movement at times, and a few special effects are not entirely successful, but the picture itself is extremely nice to look at. Figures and backgrounds form a harmonious unit and some shots also score with an effective and impressive lighting design. Although the individual characters generally look a bit too similar, the German dubbing helps to keep track of things. In general, the German implementation was successful. With the amount of figures, however, it is to be hoped that the new characters will be cast just as ideally as is the case with the introduced ones.
Fruits Basket may have started in 1998, but the anime series is still convincing today due to its timelessness! A classic from the RomCom genre is offered here, which is partly typical and yet knows how to inspire with originality.
For the first time, the entire Fruits Basket anime will be distributed in German. And the start of the first season leaves little to be desired for old fans and newcomers alike!
Images: © NATSUKI TAKAYA.HAKUSENSHA/FRUITS BASKET PROJECT