Review by: Sophie Stevens
Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $59.98 US
Running Time: 580 minutes
Rating: TV PG
Release Date: Available Now
We all want to be accepted … even those who turn into cute animals.
Fruits Basket is one of those classic manga series that is still beloved today and even more so thanks to anime version that – despite the fact that the manga was still running at the time – faithfully captured the charm of Natsuki Takaya work. So there’s really no surprise that Fruits Basket got a Collector’s Edition release of The Complete Series and believe me when I say that this is the definitive edition of a series that continues to be just as endearing no matter how many times you see it.
The Collector’s Edition cover’s the series 26-episodes that initially would have been considered the series’ first season but a second season hasn’t been done despite the fact that there’s more story to be told but what we find here is a touching, sweet and comical tale about a girl named Tohru Honda who – after having lost her mother in a tragic accident – comes to live in a tent on a large plot of land that belongs to a prominent Japanese family. Despite the tragedy and her living conditions, Tohru is the kind of girl who still comes to class with a smile on her face and a cheerful demeanor that makes her two friends love her so much.
As fate would have it, Tohru encounters a house near her tent where a curious man named Shigure Sohma has laid out figurines based on the animals from the Chinese Zodiac. To the girl’s surprise, she also finds out that the “prince” of her school – the handsome Yuki Sohma – also lives there. When a landslide destroys her tent, Yuki and Shigure invite her to stay in their home. However, that day who she meets another Sohma family member, Kyo, she discovers the Sohma family secret when she accidentally grabs a hold of Kyo. You see, when they are embraced by members of the opposite gender they transform into the corresponding animals from the Chinese Zodiac.
With Yuki turning into a rat, Shigure into a dog and Kyo transforming into a cat, Tohru’s gentle kindness and her insistence that she will keep their secret makes her even more endearing to the three Sohma boys. So much so that they begin to trust her and come to rely on her as well as the girl takes on cooking and cleaning duties. It her very presence that begins to change all three boys as well as the rest of the Sohma family that quickly comes to know about her.
Little by little, members of this cursed family comes to the house to meet Tohru such as the adorable Momiji and the Kyo-obsessed girl named Kagura who shows her affection for Kyo by beating the hell out of him. Then there’s Hatori Sohma, the quiet physician whose skills include wiping away memories. In fact, Yuki becomes worried that the head of the Sohma family would give the order to wipe Tohru’s memory of having seen them in their animal form. Instead, Hatori comes to see Tohru as something of a rarity. He sees her as a person they can trust, a person who can accept their curse.
Tohru’s presence in the house makes Yuki less withdrawn and Kyo less hate-filled and that counts for something to Shigure who sees her as a chance to help heal the wounds of the other Sohma Zodiac members such as the white-haired Haru and the hilariously flamboyant Ayame (who also happens to be Yuki’s older brother). Tohru even comes to help Kisa Sohma, a cute young girl that refused to talk after having been bullied for so long. Even the bratty Hiro Sohma comes to accept her … and that’s not an easy thing for this kid to do.
The series has no shortage of lighthearted comedic moments that make the characters even more likeable as they are tossed into each situation. There’s more to the series than just Tohru trying to hide each Sohma’s animal form from unsuspecting people. The story focuses on Tohru’s high school antics that include her friends (the gang member Ou and the psychic Hana) and small group of Prince Yuki fans who see Tohru’s presence around Yuki as bothersome. There’s a trip to the hot springs and a culture festival day but neither episode relies on tired clichés.
There are also meaningful and beautifully handled scenes such as the scene where we realize why Momiji’s mother doesn’t know that the boy is her son or the story Hatori tells of the woman he loved who found out his family secret when he transformed into his animal form. The story takes a more serious tone in the final two episodes but it doesn’t stop from being interesting or fun to watch.
As far as Collector’s Editions are concerned, Funimation brings out plenty of extras as well as a neat little series guide book that’s a nice collectable item for fans of the series. There’s also a new audio commentary track as well featuring the excellent English dub cast as well as extras that include the even more wonderful Japanese cast.
The Collector’s Edition of The Complete Series of Fruits Basket needs to be in your collection and even more so if you’ve never gotten the chance to see this beautiful and light-hearted series. It’s not common to find a series where every character that pops up is a charming and welcome addition and where the comedy still makes you laugh after multiple viewings. Without a doubt, Fruits Basket is the kind of anime classic that will not fail to appeal to anime fans of all ages and genders.
DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN
After her mother’s death, Tohru Honda decided to live on her own in a tent that happens to be on the property of three members of the secretive Sohma family. Since happens to share the same classroom as Yuki Sohma, she comes to live with them only to discover the strange family secret that has each member of the Sohma clan transform into animals from the Chinese Zodiac whenever they are hugged by members of the opposite sex.
VIDEO QUALITY: A
A little over nine years later and the series still looks great and true to the manga so you’ll be glad that Funimation did a great job bringing it on DVD. The characters are still cute and the sight gags will still make you laugh out loud.
AUDIO QUALITY: A
The original Japanese voice cast was handpicked by the manga-ka and her choices were perfect with Yui Horie as Tohru being one of the highlights. Then again, you’ll love Laura Bailey in the same role as well as the other cast’s performances. The score is absolutely charming and the opening and closing theme songs are quite lovely.
The Collector’s Edition comes with more than enough extra to please even those who own past releases as this one includes a new commentary track for Episode 24 that reunites Eric Vale (Yuki), Laura Bailey (Tohru), Jerry Jewell (Kyo) and John Burgmeier (Shigure) after nine years. It also comes with a nifty case that includes a fifth disc and a 23-page series guide complete with character profiles, cast interviews and the story of the Zodiac Banquet and the Cat.
The fifth disc comes packed with extras like an Illustration Gallery, two separate Outtakes feature (the second one including rare audition voice clips) and textless opening and closing theme songs. Then there are three Fruits Basket Room features with Yui Horie interviewing three members of the cast. Speaking of interviews, we get one for Director Akitaroh Daichi and an interesting Behind the Scenes featurette. Finally, there are two Eyecatch Galleries that showcase all the art images you see before and after each commercial break as well as the “ka-ching wipes” (the cute scene changing images that flash quickly).
Fruits Basket is an enchanting, meaningful and heart-warming series and it’s the perfect candidate for a Collector’s Edition release of The Complete Series set. Filled with charming and loveable characters as well as containing a story with a lot of heart, you won’t find a more beloved classic that needs to be in your growing anime library. This is the kind of anime that will still feel rewards for future generations to come.
Review copy provided by Funimation Entertainment