Fruits Basket is a shoujo anime that was first adapted from Takaya Natsuki’s 1998 manga of the same name. It had its first anime adaptation in 2001 by Studio Deen. Growing up, Fruits Basket was one of the titles that I was able to watch in local television. I fondly recall asking myself once before what a basket of fruit had to do with a love story. Thankfully, the anime answered that for me. The dynamic of the animal-transforming Souma family was a concept that was developed enough that I found it interesting but it didn’t feel like weird voodoo. Now in the summer season of 2019, we have an anime remake by TMS Entertainment that revisits this pure-hearted story.
For those unfamiliar to Fruits Basket, it tells the story of an orphaned highschool girl, Honda Tooru. After losing her widow mother in a traffic accident, her adoptive grandfather tells her they have to relocate separately while his house is being renovated. Insisting upon independence, she decides to live in a tent that is revealed to be within the estate of Souma Yuki, the freshman prince of her school, and his cousin, Souma Shigure. She is then invited to cohabit with the two boys from the Souma household for their mutual benefit, since the boys lack the capability to maintain the house. She finds out later on that Yuki’s family can transform into animals from the eastern zodiac. Now she has to keep their family secret while keeping up with her highschool life.
This recent adaptation follows a similar pacing to the first anime series, with the first episode showcasing Touru’s first encounter of the animal transformation ability of the Soumas. Due to improvements in modern animation, the character designs, color schemes, and overall atmosphere exhibit a subdued amount of cheeriness and freedom that I consider calmingly pleasant. Iwami Manaka expresses Touru’s energetic and never-say-die personality very well, giving me enough incentive to empathize with her character’s plight.
While the story does not change between the two adaptations, this 2019 version of the anime adds a few improvements to the series. Scene transitions feel more fluid and snappy. This may be attributed to the environment remaining constant in the background, and not overwritten by fade-ins and character caricatures over color blocks. The space of the environment feels expansive and free, the voices feel more expressive now, and the bishies somehow look more attractive. A quick comparison between the old and new Yuki will definitely show subtle differences that confirm my bias.
But what the 2001 version had was style: movie reel flashbacks, static filters for intense emotions, and the dramatic flare found in similar anime of its time. It invited me to the grand and comedic atmosphere of a theatre setting, but this also made the anime feel constrained. Boxing tense moments into rectangles does focus into the characters, but the environment is left understated. The 2019 version attempts its own style as well by having extras with original commentary, but its strength lies more on the improved design conditions, giving way to better character expression and background detail.
If you are looking for an anime you can watch this season to inspire you to never give up, why not give Fruits Basket a try? The storyline is not so complex that it’ll hurt your brain, but it’s still fun and the transforming always lead to its own kinds of surprising hijinx. With the social climate that we have now, we may even be able to see this story in a new light as new episodes come up. Whether you have read the original manga and watched the first anime adaptation or you haven’t done either, this reiteration will definitely hold something special for you to see.