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Fruits Basket: Crystal Clear "Puddles of Memories"

Tohru Honda, while living alone in the woods after her mother dies, is invited to move in with the Sohma family—a family that suffers under a strange disability: When hugged by a member of the opposite gender, a Sohma turns into an animal of the Chinese zodiac. The Sohmas seem like generally nice people, but is there a darker side to their family seen in “Puddles of Memories”?

Fruits Basket is a very character-driven series. Given the barely linear nature of the series—one episode doesn’t directly affect the next, but an event in one episode might be referenced six episodes down the line—it’s more logical to look at the current release character-by-character rather than plotline-by-plotline.

Tohru Honda, star of the series, is still somewhat of a ditz. A genuinely sweet girl, will she be able to deal with the first anniversary of her mother’s death? Will she stop apologizing for every little thing?

Yuki and Kyo, the princely and fiery Sohmas, respectively, are still at odds with each other, and each shows a new side of himself. Yuki freaks out about someone stealing from him, while Kyo actually becomes considerate and sacrificing.

Shigure’s still his crazy, editor-avoiding self but is newly complemented by the equally crazy but more extravagant Ayame, a new member of the Sohmas who turns into a snake. Shigure still wants to go with Tohru to the hot springs; Ayame wants to mend his relationship with younger brother Yuki; and Hatori, the doctor of the family, is still scary as hell.

Hatsuharu’s still his tough-guy self and has a disturbing scene at school. (How do you prove to another guy that your hair isn’t dyed?) And Momiji’s still his almost-girl self. Yes, Momiji’s a boy, but the sheer fact that he wears the girl’s school outfit and cries a lot would make you think different. Also, he certainly has a dark past, which you’ll get to see.

Completely new to this disc is Kisa Sohma, a little girl who has quit talking. Easily one of the diabetes-sweet characters, her episode is a true highlight.

The Prince Yuki Fan Club also has a great episode. Investigating Hana’s electricity powers, the episode is almost completely played out through a Handy Cam POV, while others have live-action backgrounds or CG first-person view. A great episode, if not just for the unique animation used.

Hana, the creepy Wednesday Adams/electric girl, and Uo, the former gang member/Yankee get some good moments in. Hana has to deal with the Prince Yuki Fan Club, which is a nice introduction for her equally-freaky little brother. Uo gets a little sentimental when they visit Tohru’s mom’s grave.

And Tohru’s mom? She’s dead. No character development or plotlines here.

As usual, you really care for Tohru’s situation. She’s really the heart of the series, and she better well be, as she’s the star. Some situations are laugh-out-load funny (Shigure and Ayame’s scenes), others are sorrowful (Momiji’s past), others are disturbingly happy (hey, let’s have a picnic at your mom’s grave, Tohru!).

Extras on the current disc include character bios, trailers, an Eyecatch Gallery, and “Fruits Basket Room 2″, where Tohru’s Japanese VA interviews Kyo’s Japanese VA, including a funny story about flatulence in the recording room.

Fruits Basket continues to be one of the best releases from FUNimation, throwing seven episodes and interesting extras on one disc. The story is solid. Despite its episodic nature, it really makes you care for all the characters throughout the course. Go grab it. Even if you don’t have the previous volumes, one has a nice recap of the plot.

Fruits Basket Volume 3 “Puddles of Memories” includes episodes 13-19.

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