Dear folks of anime community in WordPress, I’m glad to have brought the news that Fruits Basket—over the span of 53 episodes, dragging three seasons of joyous and dramatic events—on June 29, 2021, has reached its final.
Today, for this review, I’ll be your host as we flip through the last pages of Fruits Basket, created by Natsuki Takaya, and animated by TMS Entertainment studio.
Let’s get into it.
In romance troupe, especially in the setting of slice of (school) life, with ensemble characters, we would usually get love rectangles. This stays true unless we get a case where all the girls fawn over the male character (harem) or the reverse of it (reverse harem). One-on-one is a rare case, and even more so, if this one-on-one is manifested, grown inside the field of all the plain characters that exists to only add tension to the romance.
But yer’ see folks, Fruits Basket does this differently.
It doesn’t just add some dramatic shouting, slapping, running, crying scenes here and there, or let all the characters confront each other at the end of 11th episode and just be done with it. It doesn’t just expose all the inner feelings and hidden truths in one go, calling it the final showdown. Not all the conflicts can be resolved by the character, and not every ending deserves a happy closure.
And it all starts with…
Both the core of the story, portraying kindness and maliciousness respectively.
hero girl, and the villain.
The ensemble cast of zodiac members, is each and every one, the folks. They are meticulously portrayed, represented by their own quirks and words, driven by their own ideals and emotions. They are, each of them, shaped to be a person. A real person that you can understand, and resonate with. A person united with each other by a curse—and a gift—living in a small town ruled by the villain, right until a carefree girl barges into their little worlds.
Merrily, kind-hardheartedly, courageously, she cared for them, weaving their unknown stories into her perspectives. Into ours. She helped a rat out of his depression and identity crisis; she helped a horse out of her parental abuse and emotional trauma; she helped every zodiac member that she can, even if she’s not obligated to. But, she needed to.
Because only then she can help herself.
She cried for anyone, but herself.
She brought selflessness and kindness into everyone’s heart, vaporizing the sea of rage that the zodiac members harbor over the heinous evil villain who leaves emotional and physical scars. This villain is good at what she does: everyone hates her.
So, why? Why does anyone ever think of accepting or forgiving the villain? Why redeem villain? She is evil. Evil needs to stay evil. There’s no other alternative. She’s done unfathomable things. She needs not exist. Not as one that we can resonate to.
Yet the girl disagreed.
It is in the nature of the girl to believe second chances, to be kind to a fault, and to accept good as they are, but most importantly—evil as they are. Even if the villain wanted to only protect her little world, with her only means. The girl doesn’t care.
Her selfless, reckless actions have made many of the zodiac members to embrace acceptance by themselves. She thrives on her belief, because it is the only thing that she holds on dearest to. Her world would collapse once she stops believing. If she ever does.
Because she, amongst them all, is the loneliest.
And as such, she knows how alone and desperate a villain is, if the villain can only cling onto her power of bond to tie the zodiac members, to terrorize them into submission.
The girl craves people’s kindness, as much as she’s given it away herself. It is the overwhelming affection and tenderness that she shows to others, that contradicts her genuine feelings. She creates a world for others to save themselves, but she herself is lost inside it.
Because even though we don’t show it, everyone, anyone wants to be cared for. It’s inside our core. That’s why we connect, make bonds. That’s why we empathize with characters, and resonate with their emotions, actions. That’s why we stay strong, even if we are weak.
And that is why folks, sad, melancholic music tracks don’t do the tricks for Fruits Basket.
No no no. They adapt a much heart-wrenching, orchestral music that elevates the emotional drama, to bring out people’s desire to connect, to emphasize that we’re experiencing that scene at that moment, to let us know that we are not alone. It’s horrifying how influential music and songs can be, until you are relishing it in that particular moment.
The sound director, Aketagawa Jin has done a truly intricate, endearing job at this, drawing lines on tension and warm between the girl and the villain. I cannot think of how many times the music has brought me on the brink of tears; and edges of smile with those cute chibi style changes.
Accompanied by the elegant piano play, with zodiac members’ wholehearted interaction, comes this wave of warm, lingering feelings. It’s a feeling particularly enhanced by the clever use of color tone and the crafty dialogues that are as bare as they get. The ingenious scene transitions using black and white and space, the deceptive teary eyes under a heavy downpour, and the silence that allows tension to creep in.
These are all not supposed to be felt, but it added much more merits to the whole story itself. Making it much more heartfelt.
If the zodiac members can be portrayed as different forms and shapes of snowflakes, then the girl would be the spring. The snow captures, traps all the insecurities, pride, identity, trauma, anxiety and nightmare that they can’t let go of; waiting to be melted away by their own passion, convictions, ideals, actions, and acceptance. Waiting for spring.
Because spring will come when the snow… melts away.
And then we are in for a whole new season of blooming flowers.
Lastly, as a personal note to Natsuki Takaya, for creating a warm and sad story like this, I thank you but I’ll never forgive you for it. Ever.
This has been Anime as a Cup of Tea. Thanks for staying with me throughout this final journey of Fruits Basket. Good day.