What They Say:
Every day with the Somas brings new surprises, and Tohru’s resilience shines through it all! Her mother s beautiful lessons slowly reach everyone, from Yuki’s self-absorbed sibling to a tiny, timid tiger. Even Tohru’s childhood friends were changed by the kindness of the Crimson Butterfly. But for Kyo, is any heart big enough to accept his deep dark secret?
The audio has a HD Dolby Surround 5.1 release in English and a 2.0 in Japanese for the series– I watched the first disc in English and the second disc in Japanese to compare, despite not saying 5.1 the Japanese release was high quality to the point there was no adjustment to the volume, there were no other issues regarding sound quality, echoing, synching with subtitles, etc – the quality is high overall. What is really interesting that the dub uses many actors that were in the original release (which was dubbed late 2002 into 2003, this gets more of a look in the extras) and pretty much sound mostly identical to their original voices despite the obvious aging and changes to their lifestyle (Kate Bristol was 11 when she voiced Kisa in the original and yet still is the most adorable voice on the show!) – the Japanese on the other uses a whole new cast, which in some voices cases does make a harder adjustment (Ayame, Yuki) whilst some are just darn perfect (Momiji) so as someone who watched the original Fruits Basket in both languages am very happy how it has come out on both ends.
As of this writing the anime that has had the latest release and closest to the Japanese air, the UK release was done in February 2020 when the show in Japan first aired in March 2019 (this being the second half it aired between July and September 2019, considering the 1st half was released in the UK in November 2019 it shows how sort after this show was) – the video is a full screen showing which has no issues syncing with the audio or subtitles when watching in Japanese – the new vibrant colours and animation gives it an updated style from the original but still has the charm that the original does – it flows beautifully and does feel it is back in the early 2000s but more colourful (the extras mention the change in animation a lot) – it feels a bit more basic in that regard but that doesn’t make the visuals any less appealing and easy on the eye.
There was no packing for this test release however the special DVD/Blu-Ray combo pack comes with collector’s packaging.
On each of the discs, the menu is the same –clips from the show with some catchy music in the background– like most Blu-Rays it has popup menus during the show – on the main menu, however, it is basic yet unique as your selection is on a white bar with the selections being Play All, Set Up, Episodes and Special Features. Very basic but eye-catching.
On the 1st disc we have an episode commentary on episode 18, a.k.a the Kisa debut, a.k.a squee with cuteness. Featuring Justin Cook (VA of Hatsuharu), Kate Bristol (VA of Kisa) and Eric Vale (VA of Yuki), all three of this actors were involved in the first Fruits Basket release in the early 2000s, but Kate mentions that she was only 11 when she voiced Kisa so had to go into that route of innocence to make her sound like a young girl again (she succeeds) – Eric mentions appropriately that he managed to pet a baby tiger when he was at an Australian zoo for emphasis and Kate mentioned how she got into the manga that her friends all had Fruits Baskets ‘boyfriends’ (ah, the younger days of shipping…also hers was Shigure and considering I’ve cosplayed as him, I approve 😛 ) – they talk about Kate’s evolution into the role and also ask for a spin off with Kisa as the same age as Tohru and seeing her go through life…I would definitely watch that.
The second disc has an interview with the cast and crew involving Caitlin Glass (ADR Director), Michaela Krantz (VA of Momiji), Jade Saxton (VA of Saki) and Elizabeth Maxwell (VA of Arisa) – they mention that whilst they have got a lot of the original cast, they do have a lot of new ones too, so they discuss what they know about Fruits Basket which is a good medium as you have the one who was a fan of the original and manga (Michaela), the one who knew about it enough (Jade) and the one who knew nothing about it (Elizabeth) for three different stories/opinions in their involvement with the show, understanding the characters and life in the booth.
We have the return of the Inside the Episode segments – first we have episode 16 featuring Elizabeth and Jad, but also Colleen Clinkenbeard (Akito) – Jad completely loves playing Saki (who is one of my favourites) as they mention their original experiences, and Colleen mentions how hard it is to categorize in a type of anime, with the focus on Tohru’s character and journey and that there is definitely more depth to her than first appears. All of the ladies also have fun asking who they would pair Tohru with in terms of Yuki vs. Kyo…
The episode 19 one also includes Caitlin, Jerry Jewell (Kyo), Eric, and Kent Williams (Hatori) which is mostly a discussion on the new animation, episode 22 talks about the story more (how it’s a human drama story with hints of fairy tale aspects) with Michaela and Justin joining in, and episode 25 is about the final episode with its conclusion of emotions, Kyo’s mindset and how sweet and precious it ends with.
Finally, there is the new opening and closing in textless forms. If you order the special edition version, you also get some art cards and some cute zodiac figurines (suggests it would be the tiger, rabbit and boar).
The new version of Fruits Basket still retains its charm that the original manga and anime series had and the end of this first season will be mostly familiar to those who saw the original series. However, those who have read the manga will know that the story continues with a different ending – and it also adds things from the manga that weren’t in the original series (Saki and Arisa’s backstories) and even expands on things the manga creator wanted to write more about (Ritsu and Micchan’s friendship).
We start on a sad note though Tohru does her best to make it happy as it is the year anniversary of her mother’s death. However, the true sad note is Momiji’s backstory when you learn about his mother and little sister and remembering Hatori having to seal memories away…this is one of the first of many tearjerkers this show has to offer as Momiji is such a likable and energetic character that you will want to hug him, rabbit or no. On top of that, Kyo and Yuki both seem to have conflicting feelings about Tohru which leads to some awkwardness when the trio along with Shigure and Hatori (and later Ayame) go on a trip – Tohru being Tohru things she has done something to upset then, and whilst unintentionally it is to do with her, the two realize they were being strange and as they start to argue with each other, it’s a weird relief as they are back to normal. The Kyo/Yuki relationship does seem to be softening but only on the account they won’t fight to the death, with even a bit of closure for Hatori as Ayame’s mentions he was at Kana’s wedding (and a hint about an old friend of Kana just happens to be Tohru, Kyo and Yuki’s homeroom teacher…hmmm…)
The next couple of episodes focus on Arisa, Tohru’s ‘yankee’ best friend and this surprisingly wasn’t in the original series as it was in the manga and considering how pivotal (and let’s be honest awesome) Tohru’s best friends are to her, it’s great to see how they met and how they changed their lives. In Arisa’s case, we see her delinquent self and is told that her idol, the Crimson Butterfly (a.k.a. Tohru’s mom) has a daughter her age. She seeks her out, not expecting the super polite Tohru to be the daughter of the Butterfly, and even more so when she actually met Kyoko and is a total dotting parent. This counters also with Arisa’s family life but slowly but surely the Honda’s begin affecting her, and she gradually falls out of her gang life, which leads to an awesome moment where we see Kyoko save Arisa from a gang beat down, and she piggybacks her back to their house, the two of them giving victory signs at Tohru when they arrive. I know there is more on Kyoko later in the manga and her backstory gets fully explored but here you see how much she has changed, but still remember quite the bad ass.
But the next episode is one which most people were looking forward to – the re-debut of one of the biggest fan favourite characters, Kisa. The 4th most popular character in the manga according to polls at the end of it (behind Kyo, Tohru and Yuki respectively), Kisa has a rather small role in comparison to many of the Sohmas, however she is just THE MOST ADORABLE PERSON EVER. Even Momiji struggles against this one – she is the tiger, and is discovered by Hatsuharu in her tiger form as she apparently ran away from home. On top of that, she has stopped talking. What is strange and people initially forget is that momentarily Kisa was hostile to Tohru, even biting her in her baby tiger form, but when Kisa’s mother (who fortunately still remembers her compared to Momiji’s) is clearly stressed about what has happened to Kisa and doesn’t know what to do, Tohru gives her a speech about how Kisa doesn’t know what to say to those that she loves, and it brings the tiger round, crying and hugging the older girl. Kisa pretty much then to even quote Kisas’ mother ‘smitten with Tohru’ and the episode is basically helping her smile and eventually speak, with Haru and Yuki also helping out – it is definitely a good episode not just for a wonderful character, but also an episode that a lot of people can definitely relate to, keeping things bottled inside and just needing someone that you can trust and be with to make you smile as you build the confidence to tackle the outside world…
Of course, this also brings in the jealousy of another Sohma, Hiro Sohma who clearly has a crush on Kisa and whilst intelligent, is very bratty and is clearly jealous of Tohru, but more for the fact she could do what he couldn’t – it is revealed that Akito, similar to when Hatori liked Kana, doesn’t like other members of the zodiac being with others and injured Kisa (making Akito even more unlikeable at this moment) and he seems to be taking this out on Tohru. Whilst I will admit Hiro is one of my least favourite characters because of him being way too mean to Tohru and just generally being a bit of a brat, Tohru does her thing and at least makes him tolerate her, and with a scene at the end of the series, he seems to be a catalyst in bringing in a Sohma who never debuted in the original…
The last Sohma to be introduced is Ritsu Sohma, a fun character who we find out is the son of the hot springs attendant that we meet and Tohru spoke to in the last arc. Ritsu as the monkey also wears women’s clothing and kimonos a lot, as a way to calm himself down as he is very nervous and apologetic. However Tohru again helps as whilst he thinks he isn’t a person worth anything, Tohru disagrees and in an improvement over both the original and even the manga, we get a little expanded story involving the friendship (and perhaps more?) between Ritsu and Shigure’s editor Mitsuru. It is clear Shigure likes meddling in things and you do wonder how far this extent will go as there are more than a few hints he maybe using Tohru for something…but what?
And we don’t forget the other best friend of Tohru getting her backstory arc – and Saki is one of my favourite characters in general so I was happy. Seemingly unemotional and yet emotional, the fact she has actual ‘powers’ with her denpa waves combined with her dry sense of humour makes her one of the most fun and actually most powerful characters in the show. A famous episode is redone where the Prince Yuki fangirls try to infiltrate her house as they see her as someone they have to defeat if they are going to bother Tohru, who they see as monopolizing Yuki, but Saki pretty much shuts them down, and is also debuted her fun little brother Megumi as well to boot. Saki clearly knows she has flaws as well, as she admits she is a bit jealous of Yuki and the Sohmas maybe taking Tohru from her, but she doesn’t want to stoop to the Prince Yuki fangirls level.
Her actual backstory episode however is another moment where the tears could show. Her powers were actually very burdening on her as a young girl, where she could hear things in her head which were hurting her, and with people bullying her and calling her a witch, she accidentally nearly killed a boy with her powers because of it. She becomes emotionless, trying to stay away from people so that she won’t subconsciously use her powers but when she is worried people are trying to hurt her on purpose, her family (who might be the nicest family of everyone bar maybe Kyoko) move to another area, where of course, she bumps into Tohru and she and Arisa drag her to socialize. Of course Saki starts to warm up to them and when it feels like she wants to be friends with them, but is worried about her powers, the two clearly don’t care and it marks a turning point where her powers are subdued for her to be fine with…but also able to use in case anyone causes any trouble. In short, I love Saki.
But the series ends with quite a famous mini arc. This half has mostly been bringing in new Sohmas but it all comes back down to the core cast. And we see Kyo’s master and adoptive father, Kazuma, make a return to see how he is doing. Seeing him smile around Tohru makes him wish that Kyo should stay with the Sohmas despite promising he can return to live at his dojo. He then makes a decision that Shigure (and out of earshot Kagura) manages to concoct to see if Tohru can truly be some sort of catalyst for him. So in front of her, he removes some protective beads from his wrist…which showcases the cat’s true form, a large, hideous cat like creature.
Fortunately, Tohru is Tohru and all ends well. Other things however show at the end, as Yuki is about to take over as class president, and we get at least 3 interesting new characters, a boy and a girl who take a decided interested in Yuki and Tohru, and a new Sohma recovering in the hospital, who seems wanting to break the curse….hmmm….
Obviously if you have read the manga you know exactly who these are but if not….hoo boy….
This arc is interesting because whilst characters like Kyo, Yuki and Shigure are still very prominent, the focus is on bringing in a lot of the new Sohma’s into focus, and also giving backstory to Tohru’s best friends, all the while focusing on how Tohru influences their lives. Pretty much everyone involved has a story to tell – Momiji whilst established we learn of his family vs. Kisa’s family who is much more caring but the character struggles, whilst Momiji doesn’t want to repress his memories, even if they are sad. Both confide and adore Tohru, and her influence clearly is spreading to everyone, as Ritsu and even Hiro to a minor extent are helped by her. Kazama, whilst not a family Sohma, also benefits from Tohru’s kindness and you sense he is eternally grateful to her and will be relying on her for Kyo’s development…especially as a trademark hat is still prominent in many episodes with heavily suggestions it could belong with either Yuki or Kyo, suggesting they have met Tohru in the past….
The charm factor with this gorgeous animation really makes it stand out from the 2001 series, as with a fan favourite debuting in Kisa, combined with Tohru’s best friends history getting a full mini arc (Saki also in particular a very popular character), it still wets your appetite as you know the new stuff is coming but the reworked stuff with new things added (I was pleasantly surprised that Ritsu’s character got a bit more expansion) means this is a delight to watch, and can’t wait for Season 2 to begin this year….
It is hard to fault Fruits Basket much as it is part comedy, slice-of-life, and drama and fits all of it in well. With genuine sad moments like with Momiji, Kisa, Arisa, and Saki, with some fun comedy moments (Ayame and Shigure continue to be hilarious) and some more in-depth expansion, Tohru’s influence continues but not in an annoying way. Whilst there are a few moments which may annoy you (Hiro’s character may put you off definitely) it doesn’t take away from the high level of charm, beauty and character development that Fruits Basket has. And with the newer stuff on its way, it whets your appetite fully.
Content Grade: A-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: A
Released By: Manga Entertainment UK
Release Date: March 2nd, 2020
Running Time: 300 minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 – 1.78:1 Widescreen
Playstation 4, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.