Anime Review: Fruits Basket Season 1 Part 2

By Drew Hurley 23.04.2020

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Fruits Basket Season 1 Part 2 (UK Rating: 12)


Natsuki Takaya's tale is an indisputable classic in the genre of shoujo romance, having inducted generations of fans to the magical beauty of manga and anime. Thanks to its acclaim, the series already received an anime adaptation almost 20 years ago in 2001 but now it is receiving a whole new lick of paint giving a new generation a glimpse at a progenitor to their favourites. This second part picks up around chapter 23, with a truly gut-wrenching first episode. Coming courtesy of Manga Entertainment, this conclusion to Season 1 is available from March 2nd.

That first episode introduces the background of the youngest of the zodiac to be introduced: Momoji. The little bunny boy follows Tohru to work, and speaks at great length about his beloved mother. Saying how wonderful she is in every way. Then, the hammer falls when Momoji's mother arrives at work. And she has no idea who Momoji is. It's revealed that when some mothers first hold a zodiac child for the first time, the subsequent transformation is something few can deal with. To give birth to a bouncing baby boy… only to see it transform into something inhuman? It can make some mothers insanely protective, but others reject the child completely. Like Momoji's mother. She went as far as to try and kill herself. The only way to save her was to remove Momoji from her memory completely. When this is offered to her, she reveals she'll lose those memories gladly. Something Momoji overhears. A toddler hearing his mother wishes he was never born… Since that day Momoji has followed her, though his father chastises him for doing so, hanging out where he'll catch a glimpse of the one he loves more than any other. The one who hates him, though she doesn't remember.

This is a perfect example of Fruits Basket. It pulls absolutely no punches, and can be emotionally devastating, but equally beautiful. The cast is all well acquainted with trauma, and many of the episodes delve deep into this. Gatherings of truly damaged and deeply hurt people overcoming their personal demons. This collection is less of a series of arcs, and more a bundle of standalone episodes. Tohru gets some company on the visit to her mother's grave; the family travel out to a remote cabin in the woods in an effort to help the good doctor relax; Kagura returns and wrecks the place as usual.

This new part adds more characters to the cast of zodiac. Including Sohma Ritsu, the zodiac of the Monkey. This young, transgender man has some severe mental health issues, constantly debasing himself and apologising over his clumsy behaviour. There's also the duo of the zodiac of the Tiger and the zodiac of the Sheep. These come in the form of a pair of elementary school children. A cute and constantly friendly blonde girl, and an obnoxious and arrogant little bratty boy. Their true forms not quite what one would expect.

It's not just the zodiac characters that receive an episode introducing their pasts, in this collection Tohru's friends get an episode each too. The school "witch" Saki's childhood is shown to be an absolute nightmare of bullying. A glimpse into a very real problem in Japan. Saki always heard the voices of people around her, seemingly, their thoughts. She gathered a reputation as a witch, and it's hinted she has powers to hurt others with her thoughts. Kids practically tortured her until she met Tohru and the Yankee troublemaker, Uo, whose backstory gets an episode here too. Both were missing from the 2001 release. Of all of these backstories, though, the very best comes in the final two episodes where the backstory of the Cat zodiac Kyo is brought into the spotlight. An absolutely beautiful pair of episodes. This is where the original anime ended too, so it's a fitting and wonderful conclusion to the season.


 

Fans of the original adaptation will be glad to hear that there are some key elements returning for this new instalment in the English dub. Whilst the Japanese dub is offering up an entirely new cast, the English dub sees Laura Bailey return to the starring role of Tohru, while Jerry Jewell and Eric Vale return as the duelling Kyo and Yuki respectively. This isn't always a good thing, as Mike McFarland's nails-on-a-chalkboard performance of Ritsu returns as well.

This latest adaptation looks vastly superior to not only the original anime adaptation but the original manga as well. Taking the designs and styles of Takaya, and giving them an overhaul to help it fit with today's aesthetics and not look so massively '90s. Best of all, creator Natsuki Takaya is providing a helping hand, providing guidance on every aspect of this adaptation.

On the extras front for this release, there is a featurette that provides interviews with the cast and crew. This clocks in at around 17 minutes, and includes ADR director Kaitlin Glass with three voice actors who are new to the show. There's Mikaela Krantz (Momoji), Jad Saxton (Saki), and Elizabeth Maxwell (Uo). There are also four 'Inside the Episode' shorts that give brief behind the scenes glimpses with the cast and crew, each about five minutes long or so. Finally, there is the omnipresent episode commentary, trailers, and clean opening and closing that are tacked on to every anime release these days.

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10
The very best version of Fruits Basket, there are so many extra elements compared to the 2001 release, not to mention the improved presentation in every way. An absolute classic reborn, and better than ever. Best of all, while the 2001 adaptation closed the book at this point, there's more to come here, with Season 2 hitting Japan later this year. Fans will finally see the Bird and the Horse animated. Now with Takaya assisting in the production of this adaptation, there's plenty of promise in what's still to come.

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