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"Fruits Basket": Take a Break From Superpowered Fighters

Tohru Honda, a warrior from the Saiyan race… no, that’s not it. Tohru Honda, after awakening from cryogenic slumber… no, that’s Blue Gender.

Accepted into the Galaxy Police? Nope.
A legendary thief? Too goody-goody to steal.
Super-powered officer armed with lipstick? Er, not going to happen.

Fruits BasketTohru’s just a girl. No special powers. When her mother passed away, she chose to live in a tent down by the river rather than intrude upon her grandfather. Turns out that she’s been living on land owned by two sons of the Sohma family: Yuki, the school “prince,” and Shigure, a novelist who never seems to leave the house. Being genuinely good guys, they allow her to live with them after a landslide destroys her tent. Soon after, Kyo, the fiery redhead scion of the Sohma clan, returns home and the four live together. Later on the disc, another Sohma member shows up; Tohru suffers doubts about living with her biological family; and two friends (one a Yankee and the other a psychic) come to check out her living set-up.

It’s almost an animé version of Three’s Company, but without the adult sensibility.

Yeah, that’s the plot.

Yeah, it’s not like anything else FUNimation has done.

And yeah, it’s pretty entertaining. Entertaining enough that Toon Zone’s Animé Forum voted it as Animé of the Month for April 2004.

Could I be forgetting something? Oh, yes: When someone in the Sohma clan is hugged by a girl, they turn into one of the thirteen Chinese Zodiac animals (well, twelve… and a cat). Here’s the thing: That plot point could have been left out entirely, and it still would have been a fun watch. Sure, the situations that arise are funny, but take them away and you still have a nice story about a girl wanting to feel accepted–she’s a rice ball in a fruits basket. (Trust me, it’s clear after you’ve watched the show.) That’s what makes the story work: it’s a series of loose stories about attractive, well-written characters. It’s even rather clean; take out a few “objectionable” words (nothing that you wouldn’t hear on Fox or Adult Swim), and you have family entertainment.

THE VIDEO
No problems with a soft image or anything. The actual animation is also quite good, and, barring Tohru’s coaster-sized eyes, character designs are even believable: no green-haired, ultra-buxom space aliens or three-foot-tall noseless monks.

THE AUDIO
Gave a listen in English (yes, I’m a dub fan). The voices fit the characters, there’s no audio screw-ups. it’s perfectly fine. They even dubbed the theme song, which some may hate, some may like. Given that there’s also a Japanese language option, nobody should complain.

THE EXTRAS
You know, six episodes on a disc is great. But putting extras on the disc? Even if they’re light, it’s always a welcome inclusion. This disc comes with a Japanese an episode-length preview for the show with interviews covering the popularity of the graphic novels in Japan, the production of the animation, the character designs, and the creation of the opening. Outside of the preview, you get the standard extras: trailers (Blue Gender Box Set, DBZ Movie Trilogy Box Set, Lupin the 3rd: The Pursuit of Harimao’s Treasure, Yu-Yu Hakusho), character profiles, and a text-less opening.

THE PACKAGING
Nothing to write home about, it’s just a white Amaray case with a shot of Tohru on the cover and an insert detailing the episodes alongside the actual disc on the inside. Guys, take note: the pastels on the box art WILL look out of place alongside the rest of your animé. Ashamed of liking a series aimed towards girls? You’ll get over it.

ALL IN ALL
Looking for a light series? No super-powered heroines, no “fate of the world” on the balance, not even a World Tournament to take part in? Go grab Fruits Basket, Vol. 1. This disc is a great bargain, and it’s a fun story of a girl and her animal shape-shifting adopted family.

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