The series is done. After three or so years, this legendary series has come to a close. Something that fans have been wanting for a long time, and that people like myself have heard about, but went along for the ride for the first time. A series full of ups and downs, great animation, wonderful music, and sometimes that monkey zodiac. It’s time now though, to give you my final thoughts, at least at this stage. So after the cut let’s jump into it. This is Fruits Basket.
The truth is, I really don’t know what to think about Fruits Basket.
Before this series had even reached it’s final season. I knew that I would have to watch it again. That I would need to sit down and re-dive into the series, cover to cover, to really get a proper viewing of the series. Because as I have watched this series piecemeal, episode by episode, I have always felt that I am not seeing it as it was intended.
On one hand, there is so much to love here. An shoujo classic that could be considered their version of Full Metal Alchemist, or Dragon Ball Z, this show has been remade with the care, emotion and dedication few series could dream of. It has always looked amazing, with spectacular music, wonderful character designs, a remarkably strong English dub and when it hits with its story, it hits. There are so many good episodes, and character that just pulled me in. Whether it was Hatori finding love again, or Haru, and his on-again, off-again relationship with the unbalanced Rin. Kureno and Arisa’s whirlwind romance, Kagura coming to terms with her feelings, Ayame being a god, Saki owning every scene she is in, or Shigure’s multiphase, multilayered, ninety-nine step plan to nail Akito like a two-by-four that would make Aizen from Bleach pause. These characters kept me coming back each week, always eager to know more, always happy to see them in this transformative chapter in their lives.
But it is not all good. As you’ve probably guessed, I have not mentioned any of the ‘main’ characters in that last paragraph, and there is a reason for that. While there is much about the series that I love. The main characters have frustrated me to no end. Three seasons in, having seen everything that was on the table, that feeling hasn’t changed. If there is anything that I can level against Fruits Basket, it’s that it is the perfect example of ‘The Bleach Problem’ I’ve seen in years. In that the entire secondary cast vastly outshines the main characters in terms of interest, importance and really, just character. Three seasons later, and I can barely find myself caring about Tohru, Kyo, and especially Yuki, who I’ve said before sucks up the show’s time and attention like a sponge. This inability of the show to me make care about them, beyond a passing level of empathy (I was a teenager too once, I get it) has been something that had annoyed me to no end. None of which is helped by those same characters vanishing for episodes on end while the show gives attention to the far more interesting secondary characters. By the time the climax rolls around, as Tohru comes to terms with her feelings for Kyo, or Yuki with this place in the world, I feel like I haven’t been there to see it. Even if the final episode sticks the landing superbly.
Perhaps it is because, at almost thirty-two, I am finally removed enough from my teenage years. It is quite possible, and yet, I can absolutely see and appreciate what Fruits Basket is about. This is a story about change, the fear of change, the refusal to change, and the inevitability of change. It is a story about love, true love, unconditional love, unrequited love, sacrificial love, and love that can sometimes be suffocating. It is a show about loving yourself, seeing you for you, and being proud of what YOU are, not what people expect of you. When Fruits Basket zeroes in on these themes through its stellar secondary cast, and passable main one, the series shines, and there are many standout episodes that will remain on my personal ‘best of’ lists for a long time. Even when the show descends into a level of angst and parental drama that borders on the unrealistic.
I plan on returning to this series next year. To sit down and watch the series full on, from beginning to end. Because right now I do not think I can give the series the fair shake it deserves. Fruits Basket has both been one of the most enjoyable and frustrating shows I’ve watched in the last three years. So much to love, but so much that drives me up the wall. I could sit here and nitpick the series to death, but that would accomplish nothing. Time and distance I think, will allow me to re-dive into the series with fresh eyes, and a new perspective, and I don’t doubt that my feelings will change when I do. What I can say is that Fruits Basket is probably the best version of what it is. A remake that stands proudly beside Full Metal Alchemist as one of the definitive examples of its genre. It will be something that remains in the hearts of its fans and viewers for a long time, and absolutely a show that people will think of as the years go on. Entertaining, touching, humorous, sad, and damn fucking frustrating. Fruits Basket has done it all, and regardless of my feelings, it is a show worthy of praise and respect. We’ll see you next year.
Until then, play us out, Again.