Manga Adaptation by TMS Entertainment
Streaming on Crunchyroll
Tohru Honda is a hard-working girl with a tragic past. After her already tenuous living situation becomes upended, she starts living in a tent in the woods. She happens to set up camp in the land of the Soma family, including her classmate Yuki. After finding out about their situation, they decide to take her into their home, and Tohru quickly finds out Soma family has a bizarre secret.
Marlin’s verdict: Old School Charm
There’s a certain refreshing nature to this shoujo of a by-gone era. We’ve gone so far past the point of pretty boys with fan clubs and a secret past that Nozaki-kun‘s titular manga is purposely framed to lapoon these old tropes at every opportunity. There’s obviously something that worked about these themes. Is the plot before our main characters get together absolutely bonkers? Absolutely. Tohru’s backstory is so overwrought that it seems like a black comedy, and yet it keeps being serious enough about it that you have to take it as genuine. I’ll even admit that I had a pretty good laugh at the gags, which prove pretty much anything can work with the right reaction face.
As for the characters, they seem somewhat two-dimensional at face value, but they way they interact with each other helps make them feel more rounded. Tohru may be a bit meek at school, but she has an obvious drive and a sense of independence and responsibility that is very endearing. Her friends are huge hams, but it works with the larger-than-life personalities everyone in this show has. We didn’t get too much of the Soma family’s character, but through their interaction at home we know that Yuki has more to him than his bland goody-two shoes school persona. We’ll see if things get a bit more stereotypical as cat-guy gets into the picture and the love triangle kicks off in full gear, but if you’re like me and have been longing for a traditional shoujo show, it looks like this remake is doing its source material justice.
Artemis’ verdict: Angst With Sparkles
Fruits Basket is, for me at least, a really odd mix of nostalgia and low-key annoyance. On the one hand, the story is competent enough to tug at my heartstrings, and I always did love a good angsty shoujo drama. On the other hand, it’s not necessarily a show that otherwise appeals to my own inner fangirl – the drama is so overdone that it’s at times almost laughable, and to be brutally honest, none of the male characters strike me as inherently great people. I get that they all have severe emotional baggage, but holy crap do the patriarchal tendencies inherent to Japan ever rear their ugly head. Get back in that kitchen Tohru, there’s cooking and housework to be done, and the boys sure ain’t up to the task. That being said, I still have a weirdly soft spot for this show, especially given that I’m not a manga reader and have never been tempted to get into the source material. I’ve had most of the story thoroughly spoiled for me by this point even so, but I’m still intrigued to see the whole thing play out faithfully on screen, and I anticipate a solid, if not necessarily outstanding, weekly watch.