Fruits Basket (2001)

Genre(s): Shojo, Romance, Comedy, Reverse Harem, School

Age-Appropriateness: 12+ (mild comedic violence, themes of family abuse)

Platforms: Hulu, Funimation

Episodes: 26

TheAwersome Rating: 8.2 / 10 (A classic, though not entirely timeless)

Premise: Tohru Honda, a 16-year-old whose mother recently died in an accident, is currently living in a tent while her Grandfather’s house is getting renovated. One night on her way back from work, she finds her tent buried underneath a landslide. Yuki Soma, the “prince” of her school, and his cousin Shigure Soma, a famous author, stumble across Tohru’s situation and invite her to stay with them until her grandfather’s home renovations are complete.

Upon arriving at the Soma house, Tohru discovers their secret: if a Soma is hugged by someone of the opposite gender, they temporarily transform into one of the animals of the zodiac! However, this strange phenomenon is no laughing matter; rather, it is a terrible curse that holds a dark history. As she continues her journey, meeting more members of the zodiac family, will Tohru’s kindhearted yet resilient nature be enough to prepare her for what lies behind the Soma household’s doors?

TheAwersome’s Thoughts: Despite the less-than-timeless aspects, I was surprised with how much weight and true human exploration this show had. That’s probably the primary reason it’s endured for over twenty years. While there are frequent over-the-top “shojo” techniques (dramatic pans of a pretty boy’s face with roses and pink bubbles in the background, etc.) and the comedy is often more on the childish slapstick end of things, there were plenty of truly endearing moments and comedy that holds up. As the show went on, I truly found myself getting invested, though the ending felt very abrupt and somewhat ad-hoc.

TLDR: While definitely an “Early 2000’s shojo anime” there is a lot here that really endures (and endears) that makes it worthwhile as more than just an important contextual piece, but an excellent exploration of growth through trauma.

There is a remake that was made in 2019 that goes into much more depth.

This is one of those classic shows that if you want to call yourself an anime/manga enthusiast that you really should watch. For me, it really solidified WHY anime fans (particularly girls) in the early 2000’s were the way they were, cringe and all. Glomping, fangirling, general hyperactivity, the simplistic design of anime/manga doodles (gigantic eyes that take up a quarter of face real estate each), overly pretty and feminine boys, all of it. It came from somewhere, and one of those ‘somewhwere’s is Fruits Basket. While I do believe that anime is for everyone and there shouldn’t be “Girls’ shows” and “Boys’ shows,” it was at least very interesting to see how different the directing felt here as opposed to other popular shows from the same era (Yu-Gi-Oh!, DBZ, Sailor Moon, etc.).

While I don’t care to dig up any solid confirmations, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was an inspiration for Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight,” as there’s a similar vibe of reverse harem/love triangle with supernatural enemies of one another.

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