By Sam, age 19, Massachusetts
Sweet Designs Staff Intern
Sweet Designs Featured Writer
The Fruits Basket series is a popular Japanese manga (or comic book) series written by Natsuki Takaya. Fruits Basket is about a teenage girl named Tohru Honda, who recently lost her mother and her house. Deciding to not impose on estranged family members, Tohru takes up residence in a tent in the middle of a forest. This forest, however, is located on the property of none other then the infamous Sohma family, a clan of beautiful and mysterious people. In exchange for cooking and cleaning, the Sohmas let Tohru stay with them. Everything goes along great until she discovers the family's greatest secret: the exclusive members of the Sohma clan all turn into zodiac animals (plus one cat) when they're hugged by a member of the opposite sex!
Thus begins Tohru's adventures with the variety of characters that make up the Sohma family. The 23 volume series blends a typical Japanese high school life (exams, part-time jobs, cultural festivals, student council elections, summer vacations, Valentine's Day, White Day*) with comedic shenanigans created by the Sohma family curse. As the volumes continue, however, the stories between the characters become more intense, dramatic, and addicting.
Essentially, Fruits Basket is a teenage romance novel with the pictures already provided for you. It is the first manga series I've ever owned, and it is one of the first Japanese comic books that got me into the genre of "anime". I am not usually the type who enjoys lighthearted love stories, but I love Fruits Basket. I think it's fantastic.
The overall problem with Fruits Basket, however, is that it's long - 23 whole volumes long. In the first few volumes, Tohru meets other zodiac members of the Sohma family, so the overarching plot doesn't really pick up in the series until volume 10. Not only that, but mangas are predominately more expensive than regular books. And since there are a lot of volumes, it can cost well over 200 dollars to purchase the entire manga collection.
Overall, Fruits Basket is a heartwarming, original storyline that is expensive to acquire. If you're interested in reading this series I would suggest buying used copies of the volumes, or try finding them at a library.
I give Fruits Basket 3.5 out of 5 stars.
* White Day on March 14th in Japan is like Valentine's Day a month earlier, only the tables are turned in terms of gender - on White Day guys are on the receiving end.