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Given that I've been surrounded in tragedy in real life, I decided to mark my return with a review of one of the most life-affirming mangas I've ever read. It's not really obscure, but I know there are a lot of people out there who haven't read it even if they're heard about it.
Title: Fruits Basket
Genres: Shojo, Slice of Life, Fantasy, Romance
Author/Artist: Takaya Natsuki
Publication: Hana to Yume (Hakusensha)
Start Date: 01/1999
End Date: 11/2006
Number of chapters at review: 136
Number of chapters read by reviewer: 136
General Overview: Honda Tohru is a young High School student living in a tent in the forest, and working as a cleaning lady to pay for her tuition. One day, as she is walking to school, she discovers a house nearby to her tent, and to her surprise, the "prince" of her school, Sohma Yuki, lives there with his guardian. When they find out she is living in a tent, they take her into their house to live, and so end's Tohru's "normal" life.
For the Sohma family is filled with dark secrets, and Tohru is slowly drawn into a world far different from any she has ever known. What will happen to her eternal optimism in the face of evil? Or what will happen to evil in the face of her eternal optimism?
Category Ratings: (1-10 scale)
Simple, but at times heartbreakingly beautiful. Takaya captures subtle emotions very well.
I really enjoy the plot of Fruits Basket; while Tohru's role may be predictable at times, overall the twists are many, and the ending is one of the most satisfying ends I've read in a long time.
Fruits Basket has a truly large cast, and most of them end up with a fairly important role in the story in some way or another. Character development is incredibly well done, I don't think there's a single static character in the whole series.
Destiny vs. Free Will, Duty vs. Right, The Power of Love, they may be common, but in Fruits Basket you will find them as well done as they ever have been. Takaya writes so that the themes enhance the plot and character development, rather than substitute for them as is common in a lot of theme-driven works.
Tohru is a pretty standard archetype, and several of the other cast members start off as pretty standard too, however, what saves them is the original way that they interact and grow. The plot is also quite original.
One of my favorites, not just in shojo, but overall. Even fans who only read shonen owe it to themselves to have a look at Fruits Basket at least once.
Similar Titles: Ouran High School Host Club (though they don't really resemble each other that much, for some reason, everyone who enjoys one seems to enjoy the other)