Fruits Basket Review

Summary fruits basket

Fruits Basket is a slice-of-life manga with the supernatural thrown in!

Tohru Honda is just a normal high school student.  That is until a fateful encounter with one of her classmates leads her into the mysterious world of the Sohma family…

After her mother’s death leaves her orphaned, tenth grader Tohru Honda was living in a tent in the woods and working her way through school.  When she bumps into her classmate Yuki Sohma, one of the most sought after boys in school, and he discovers her living arrangements he offers her a place to stay with him and his cousin Shigure.

Although flabbergasted at first Tohru eventually accepts their offer.  The Sohma seem like a normal family…but Tohru quickly discovers the Sohma Clan is anything but normal.

Shortly after arriving Tohru meets another member of the Sohma family, Kyo, after he crashes through a wall and challenges Yuki to a fight.  Surprised Tohru grabs on to Kyo’s back…and finds herself holding a cat.  It is then Tohru Honda becomes the first person outside of the family to learn the secret of the Sohma Clan.  The secret of the Zodiac’s curse.

Fourteen are chosen.  Twelve respected.  One outcasted.  One God.  All cursed.  The cycle has repeated for generations.  Now one ordinary girl will be lead into the Sohma family, and perhaps change things for the better.  But the question still remains, can the curse really be broken?

Thoughts on Fruits Basket

Fruits Basket has got romance, comedy, and a cursed clan based on the legend of the Zodiac.  I couldn’t put it down.  This is one of those mangas that makes you wish the next one would just hurry up and get here.

The story itself is expertly crafted.  On the one hand we’ve got a story about a young girl who has become orphaned after her mother’s tragic death, and is working as hard as she can to finish high school.  She’s got friends, exams, and homework as well as a job; and does all this with a carefree optimistic attitude masking an inner pain.

On the other hand we have the Sohma Clan.  An ancient family with problems of their own.  This family carries the curse of the Zodiac and every few generations certain people are chosen to host the spirits of those sacred animals.

They must obey the person who has been reincarnated as “God”, and must be careful of any outside contact they receive.  For if they are hugged by a member of the opposite sex outside the Zodiac they will turn into the animal they hold within them.  The regular twelve have it hard enough, but the ostracized Cat has even more problems to deal with.

When these two worlds collide we end up with a story that is both heartfelt and funny.  One of my favorite scenes throughout the entire series is in the beginning when Tohru first finds out about the Sohma’s secret.  Somehow not only does she accidentally turn Kyo into a cat, she manages to turn both Shigure and Yuki into a dog and rat, respectively.  She freaks out and then Shigure, still as a dog, must explain (yes they can talk as animals).

It’s such a comedic way to explain a rather serious issue in the Sohma, and to introduce the reader to the main plot of the series.  Even when the story becomes more serious, comedic scenes are well placed to break up the drama and ease the tension.

This type of comedy continues throughout the story as Tohru meets the other members of the Zodiac, and their leader Akito. The one with the powers of God.

Tohru is a wonderful heroine, mostly because she doesn’t know she’s the heroine and would probably try to decline the role if she knew, claiming that there must be someone better than her to play it.  Then she’d probably go and make everyone onigiri (Japanese rice balls).

Tohru has a very hard life and a lot of painful things in it, but she always manages to be optimistic.  Which is why so many of the hard-edged Sohma who carry so many scars take to her, open up, and let her in.  Tohru gives them more than just kindness, she gives them understanding.

Romance was another big thing in this manga series.  I really enjoyed all the relationships, though I must be honest it’s very unclear just who will end up with who until the end.

There’s so much back and forth and proclamations of love that might just be over dramatic friendship, but might be more.  You really need to read the entire series to find out for sure.  Very clever Natsuki Takaya.

The main relationship is kind of a love triangle between the main characters Tohru, Yuki, and Kyo.  But like all the relationships in Fruits Basket this love triangle may not be entirely what it seems.

In any case the relationship between these three, whatever it may be, carries the story through to its completion.

Yuki as the Rat, the first animal of the Zodiac, and Kyo as the outcasted Cat, the one that didn’t make it to the banquet, have been hated rivals their whole lives.  A rivalry Tohru may be able to heal.  Just as she may be able to heal everyone in the Zodiac.  Maybe even heal the curse.

Follow Tohru, Yuki, and Kyo, along with the other members of the Zodiac as they work to break the curse, find their place in the world, and maybe even fall in love.  Fruits Basket is a funny romantic ride that you’ll never forget.

Other Details

My Recommendation:  This manga series is rated T, for ages thirteen and up.  There’s not really that much violence or sexual scenes (though there are a lot of innuendos), but with all the cursing I’d say that rating is probably accurate.

Manga-ka: Natsuki Takaya

Genre(s): romance, comedy, fantasy, slice-of-life

Publisher (in US): Tokyopop

Volumes Released (in English): 23; this series is complete

First Released (in English): 2004

 

 

+Anima Review

Summary +Anima

In this epic fantasy manga series you journey to the world of the +Anima, people who possess certain animal powers and abilities.  In this world regular humans and +Anima live side by side, however, not always peacefully.

Many humans shun the +Anima out of fear.  Hated by most of the population, +Anima often hide their abilities, even as they look to find those like them.

Enter Cooro, a young boy and a Crow +Anima, on a search to locate others like him.

After being captured by a traveling circus that uses +Anima in their acts, Cooro meets Husky, a Fish +Anima also forced to perform in the circus.  While at first Husky doesn’t seem inclined to be friends with Cooro, the two eventually escape the circus and set off together on an unbelievable journey.

Along the way they are joined be Senri, a Bear +Anima who is part of a tribe of people known as the Kim-un-Kur who take pride in being +Anima, and Nana, a young girl and Bat +Anima who although it saved her life would rather just be normal.

Together the band of four travel across the land getting into many adventures along the way.  From getting tricked into helping a town, to journeying across Moss Mountain with a caravan and even into the country of Sailand, where being a +Anima isn’t just looked down upon it’s illegal, the group must be careful of danger and betrayal at every turn.

And when they find out the real reason for their journey will this group that have become so close be torn apart forever?

In a world vehemently set against anything different, Cooro, Husky, Senri, and Nana will search, hope, and fight for a place to belong.

Thoughts on +Anima

I absolutely adore this manga series.  I read the first volume in one sitting, and then was very upset to realize that the second volume wasn’t even out yet!  They are all out now, so I really encourage you to get hooked!

The story is beautiful both in its writing and in its drawings.  The story itself warms your heart as you follow the +Anima on their journey for acceptance.  The truth is, it is a very serious topic but it is written in an optimistic way that gives you hope even in the darkest times.

There is always a lot of humor between the band of four as even when Husky and Nana try to be serious Cooro always has to be the goofball.  The heart-pounding adventures they get into are even laced with humor as they keep you on the edge of your seat.  You’ll always be wondering what’s going to happen next?

The story itself draws you in from the very first page with a mystery: Just who is Cooro?  That is a question that hangs over the entire story and is even asked by the other characters.

+Anima are not born as such, they become +Anima usually due to a stressful situation like having their lives put in danger.  Husky, Senri, and Nana all have experience with this.

Cooro, however, tells them he was born with his crow-like abilities.  The reader from page one sees that this is true, and this in itself is a mystery that it appears Cooro does not even know the answer to.

Another mystery emerges in the form of a man, wrapped in shadow, who is following the progress of the band of four…. and seems to know Cooro.

These mysteries were very strategically placed in the beginning of the story and then brought up again in specific spots throughout the story making you want to read more.  I just had to know these answers!  Very smart of Natsumi Mukai to place the answers at the end of the series.

The plot is wonderful, but it’s the characters you’ll fall in love with.  Husky, though a bit rough around the edges and agitated with the fact that everyone always thinks he’s a girl, steadfastly stands by his friends.

Senri may not say much but what he does say speaks volumes of his compassion.  Nana may seem like a frivolous girl at times but she knows what’s important and is there when it counts.

And Cooro brings them all together.  He may have a mysterious origin but he is the funniest of the group, and constantly blowing their cover as he spreads his wings at the drop of a hat!  As any group leader in manga he is always getting into some kind of trouble and is always eating.

Husky, Nana, and Senri always find themselves in situations where they are pulled into danger by Cooro’s actions, yet they continue to follow him.  Because also as any leader in manga, Cooro has the kindest heart of anyone and can’t stop himself from helping someone in need.

That attitude may be just what is needed to help +Anima be better understood and accepted.  That was a big reason I enjoyed this manga.  It deals with issues that occur in our world today.

It takes a look at world where those who are different are hated and feared before they even say or do anything.  How human nature is flawed.  It is a very relatable theme.

As you follow the story of Cooro, Husky, Senri, and Nana, you’ll laugh, be on the edge of your seat, and cheer as they go on an adventure with a curious end and just maybe find where they’ve always belonged.

Other Details

My Recommendation: This manga series is rated T for teen meaning 13 and up.  I would say that’s probably accurate (manga ratings usually are).  Younger children may not fully understand the underlying themes, but use your own discretion.  A mature 11 or 12 year old could handle it, but I really wouldn’t recommend it for anyone under 10.

Manga-ka: Natsumi Mukai

Genre(s): fantasy

Publisher (English): Tokyopop

Volumes Released (in English): 10; this series is complete

First Released (in English): 2006