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Fruits Basket

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Distributor: FUNimation
Original Story: Natsuki Takaya
Volumes: 4
Rating: TVPG
Anime Code: C

12 year old Tohru Honda was living in a tent in the forest with only a picture of her deceased mother for companionship.  However, the forest she was camping in just happened to belong to the Sohma family, cursed to change into the animals of the Chinese Zodiac.  Next thing you know, Tohru is living as a live-in maid in a house where everyone grows fur and tails when they come into contact with a person from the opposite sex.

Review: Fruits Basket is rare even among harem anime.  I mean for one thing, instead of the main character being a guy surrounded by women, it's a girl surrounded by guys.  And while there were fantasy elements in the series, they either downplayed or totally ignored.  I mean I for one would like to know why it was the Sohma family and not another family who received the Zodiac curse.  I would've also liked to find out more about Tohru's father and whether or not Hana really has some kind of psychic vibe.  But what really appealed to me about the series was the characters, especially the main character Tohru.  She was a human with no special powers, no mysterious origins.  And the only "weapon" she had to solve the problems of the series were her voice and her convictions and somehow she was able to touch the hearts of (almost) all of the Sohma clan.  She was extraordinary because she was ordinary, something few animes do to their main characters, make them ordinary.  The Sohmas were all very colorful, not just in their art design, but in their personalities.  Although, I think the only two female Sohmas, Kagura and Kisa, were a little one-dimensional.  Kagura reminded me of every loud mouthed witch-with-a-b in anime (Naru from Love Hina, Asuka from Evangelion, Umi from Magic Knight Rayearth, or half the cast of Sailor Moon).  And Kisa had next to no personality at all, even after she started talking again.  I would've liked it if these characters could be developed a little more.  The music was very relaxing, and Ritsuko Okazaki had that lighter than air voice that had to make you strain your ears to hear her.  While I know FUNimation for doing mostly shonen and action-based anime, Fruits Basket is a rather successful attempt by FUNimation to appeal to the female anime fan as well.

Action Level: 1/5
The few fight scenes in this series were short and rather irrelevant.

Romance Level: 3/5
I've seen people racking their brains over which of the Sohmas Tohru would pick as her "significant other".  Personally, I was rooting for Yuki simply because Tohru choosing Kyo would've been taking the Hon Solo approach to romance (you know, having the girl end up with the brooding emo bad azz instead of the kind and understanding guy).

Comedy Level: 4/5
The first half of the series involved Tohru struggling to keep the Sohma's curse a secret from the outside world and that made for some rather hilarious antics (case in point: the jelly bun disaster).  The Sohmas interacting with one another was comical, but I enjoyed the antics of the non-Sohma characters more, like Hana scaring the Prince Yuki fan club or Tohru and the girls having lunch on Tohru's mother's grave.

Adult Level: 3/5
They really skated along the edges with having the Sohmas turn back to their human form naked.  But the animators did a good job of covering up the naughty bits.  I don't think I saw Tohru show some skin once in the series.  Ther is little blood and most of the hard-core violence appears as flashbacks.

Drama Level: 2/5
Here's where I think they could've improved a little bit more.  Tohru's moral speeches, while I understand were pivotal to teh series, got kind of annoying after a while, and at times it almost seemed like she was whining.  In contrast, the Sohmas were hardly at Tohru's drama level.  But the almost angst part towards the final two episodes were very well done.

Overall Level: 3/5
This is one of the few shoujo series that I hope gets made into a sequel.  They did it with Ah! My Goddess, so I suppose it's not totally impossible.  But all that shows is how much I enjoyed the series, so much so that I'm willing to sit through a few more episodes.  Plus there were a few areas where they could've gone into.  Still, if you're in the move for something non-violent, this is perfect.