Fruits Basket 23

July 19, 2009

Natsuki Takaya – Tokyopop – 2009 – 23 volumes

Despite my crusty, bitter opinions to the contrary in the last post, the thing I like most in this series is that each of the 25 characters has a bit of personality.  I still think that’s way too many, and I would have enjoyed the series a lot more had the numbers been pared down, but the fact that a joke from Ritsu, a character that literally hasn’t appeared since his introduction, made me laugh in this volume says a lot about the sense of humor and the writing behind the characters.  The jokes from Uotani and Hanajima always make me laugh, and there’s a few good ones in this volume for the road.

My prediction from last time was mostly correct though, in that I wasn’t too terribly interested in the loose ends here.  Most of what goes on is exactly what I imagined happening, except here I don’t get a lot of satisfaction in seeing the characters go through the motions as I did with the Kyo and Tohru scene in last volume.

This volume also has a good example of another thing about this series I kind of don’t like.  The event that is somewhat significant, and can be happy, or sad, I guess, but is blown horribly out of proportion by everyone involved in a way that causes a failure to connect on my part.  Kyo and Tohru go traveling, and there are scenes and scenes and scenes of everyone in the series tearing up because they are going to leave town.  I just… didn’t understand.  Maybe I just wasn’t as into it as I should have been, though.

For the record, I thought it was super-creepy to end the regular storyline on Tohru’s mother like that.  I know that it was supposed to be inspirational in its way, but it was horribly depressing, and those last two pages just didn’t erase the rest of that long scene from my memory.  Alas, not a good way to leave things.

But here you are, the end of Fruits Basket.  I said most of what I wanted to about the series in the last review, so I’ll just leave it at that.  I’m sorry, Fruits Basket, I think you’re just not for me.

Also, why Fruits Basket and not Fruit Basket?  I don’t care what the original title was, something that simple not getting fixed BUGS ME TO NO END.  Maybe that’s the real reason why I couldn’t get into it.

One last thing, too, because I have a hard time shutting up: You remember those zodiac profiles that the volumes had in them when the zodiac characters were featured on the cover, so Shigure’s volume had the Year of the Dog profile in the back?  I seem to remember that starting after the Yuki cover.  Did… did the Year of the Rat profile ever appear in another volume?  I don’t think it did.  Maybe volume 2 is just reprinted with that in it (which would make sense).  Or maybe people born in the Year of the Rat are just doomed to never know their Fruits Basket fortune now.  Alas. I’m wrong about this, there was a Year of the Rat profile in volume 2.  I apparently just slept through it.  Thank you, Badtzphoto!

Fruits Basket 22

July 19, 2009

Natsuki Takaya – Tokyopop – 2009 – 23 volumes

I waited to read this until I had the final volume.  I kind of wish I hadn’t, because everything I was looking forward to was in this volume.  It ends in a really good place, and I find I’m not very curious about the lives of the characters after this, or how Akito is going to live with himself or whatever.  Everything just ends here, and now I’m not really looking forward to the final volume.

Though I’ve been pretty caught up by the ending the past few volumes, and I tend to be pretty positive when I write these reviews, I’m still not all that fond of Fruits Basket.  I was reflecting on the series after I finished this volume, and it’s kinda… I don’t know.  A dozen characters who are depressed because they are cursed to turn into animals when people hug them?  A horrible, dark core to the series based on the head of their family, driven by… selfishness?  Cursed with selfishness?  Nobody else can love them, because they’re cursed to be loved only by Akito, who abuses them instead?  The dark past and the bad blood between Akito and his mother is because… they fought over who Akito’s dad loved more?  I guess as the series got more and more serious, it was kind of easy to forget that the horrible, ostracizing curse that everyone always talked about was to turn into a cute animal (except in Kyo’s case).  And as engrossing as some of the stories were, I frequently found that I wasn’t terribly interested in the sadness of side characters.  Even though I probably was when I was reading the story, which is proof that the writing style is at the very least addictive.  I think I would have liked it better had there been less characters, but the fact that the emotional trauma was spread out over 25 or so characters made things far less interesting and believable for me in the end.

Again, I realize I’m saying this after a slew of positive reviews for the later volumes of the series, and I’m about to talk about how much I liked this volume.  But it’s more or less how I’ve always felt about the series.

This volume pretty much wraps everything up.  Everything about the curse, a lot of things about the relationships between all the characters, but especially everything for Kyo.  He speaks to his dad, and then has to take care of this business with Tohru.

The scene between Kyo and Tohru is just about perfect.  The whole series led up to it, and it does everything you would expect.  Everything, everything, everything.  And it’s wonderful.

And that’s why everyone loves Fruits Basket, I think.

Fruits Basket 21

February 6, 2009

Oh, Kyo.  That’s not what a shoujo manga hero says to a nice girl.

This series continues to pay off as far as all the foreshadowing it’s been dishing out all this time.  We get the full story on the antagonistic relationship between Kyo and Yuki.  Kyo actually explains it himself.  I’m not entirely sure that Yuki feels the same way Kyo does, especially since Yuki gets angrier that I’ve ever seen him in this volume.  It’s scary, but to be fair, Kyo is being a big jerk.  But it’s made clear that Yuki is probably the best friend Kyo has.  A lot of the volume focuses on the two of them, and it really got to me.  This series has been trying so hard to get to me all this time, and the last volume and this one succeeded.  Between the conversation Tohru and Kyo have and all the stuff between Yuki and Kyo, it will be hard to top these two with much of anything else in the next two volumes.  There’s certainly a few things I’d still like to see, but I suspect the next two volumes will just be a massive wind-down and another really awesome scene between Tohru and Kyo.

Speaking of awesome scenes, Hanajima and Uotani put in an appearance towards the end of the volume.  I prefer the two of them not being serious, because they are extremely funny and/or scary.  Here, they’ve found out what Kyo said to Tohru, and when Kyo turns to glare at Yuki, the latter says something along the lines of “Sorry friend, I guess I told them, I didn’t think they’d get angry!”  Hatsuharu is also pretty funny whenever he appears, and he’s got a few good lines in this volume.

Akito finally has the freak-out I’ve been waiting for.  The last volume hinted at this when he ran away from the Sohma estate with a knife after stabbing someone, but he times his re-appearance tragically well.  His freak-out is actually less his doing and more him having to confront unpleasant situations that he would just rather not face.  I found his conversation with Tohru and Tohru’s powers of persuasion highly, HIGHLY unlikely, but I did like the scenes in the hospital later.

Oh dear, and now I’m caught up.  I’ve got a long wait for the next volume, something that’s not bothered me about Fruits Basket until just this moment.

Fruits Basket 20

February 4, 2009

Argh. I had almost an entire entry written for Vagabond 2, and the draft mysteriously deleted itself.  I’m so upset.  So here’s a Fruits Basket review instead.  I don’t think I can muster the will to re-write that Vagabond review tonight.

I haven’t read this in forever, mostly because I’m just not a fan of the series.  But it figures I left off on one of the most key volumes in the series.  With three more volumes after this and a ton of characters to wrap up side stories for, I figure this is just the beginning of the end.  The beginning is quite fantastic though, and deals mostly with Momiji.  He seriously broke my heart.  He basically admitted his feelings for a lot of things.  He expressed them pretty clearly when he was tearing into Akito, but a lot of other things went unsaid.  The scene with him at the school was just sad.

Lots of Akito and Ren in this volume.  We get the background story on Akira, Akito’s father.  He sounds like a decent guy, and it’s actually kind of surprising that Akito and Ren are such twisted people given what it sounded like his personality was like.  Ren in particular is kind of a psycho.  She matches Akito perfectly.

Akito does something he can’t take back at the end, too.  I wasn’t at all clear what he was yelling at Kureno for, since it seems like Kureno is literally the only person who cares.  But this thing happens anyway, and now I have to read the next volume tonight to see how this resolves itself.

Most importantly, TOHRU AND KYO.  TOHRU AND KYO.  TOHRU AND KYO.  Oh my God, how long have I been waiting for this?  Twenty volumes?  Yeah, it seems like twenty volumes.  Prior to this, there are only the barest scraps of hints about the relationship between the two.  Here, we get more.  A lot more.  So much more, in fact, that yes, I’m going to read the next volume right now.  In addition to what it was that I’ve been wanting all this time, we also get a really sad story about the relationship between Kyo and Tohru’s mom.  It leaves off on a cliffhanger, but I seriously doubt that this will change Tohru’s opinion of Kyo any.

So, yes.  The Fruits Basket endgame is turning out to be quite compelling.

Fruits Basket 19

July 20, 2008

I never really know what to say about this series. I’ve put off talking about this volume for about two weeks, and really, there’s no reason why I shouldn’t get this out of the way.

I think my problem is that it’s never quite what I expect, except not in the way where everything that happens is a pleasant surprise. I’m always sort of mildly disappointed with things that are going on, I realize. I don’t really like Machi, so I’m not really liking where things are going concerning her. On the other hand, the fact that there’s now more of a romance for Tohru was something I’ve been looking for the entire time I’ve been reading the series. But Tohru’s sort of been shoved into the background for the time being, and she’s also very nearly made into a bad guy at one point, which didn’t agree with me.

I don’t like Machi, and I don’t like her relative, Yuki’s friend, either. I guess I just don’t like any of the student council characters. I did appreciate the focus on Yuki, but it was at the expense of Tohru and Kyo… I don’t know. I think there’s just way too much going on right now, and way too many characters. For instance, there was some focus on Machi’s relatine’s girlfriend, which ties into Tohru’s past. As nice a story as that is, why was she introduced? Why wasn’t the time that nonsequitor story took up spent on advancing the plot? It’ll be tricky to wrap things up in three volumes, but we’ll see.

I’m sort of being unfair. There’s a whole chapter of Tohru/Kyo at the beginning, and it’s very cute. Shigure reveals why it’s important to keep the cat imprisoned at the main house, and Tohru’s grandfather has a talk with Kyo about the way Tohru talks. I approve heartily. There’s also a chapter with Ayame, which I approve of in theory since I love Ayame, but it’s another case of a story telling Ayame’s backstory and… not really advancing the plot. Why go into these things this late in the game.

Bah. I’m just being unfair. It’s a fine series, and the digressions are what it’s been doing the whole time. It does them well. It’s just not my thing.

Fruits Basket 18

February 27, 2008

I read this a little over a month ago.  It’s been sitting on the floor with Enchanter, gathering dust.  I’m not sure why I’ve been putting off talking about it.

Things still haven’t moved back to Kyo and Tohru yet, which is kind of a bummer.  They are brought up at several points, but a lot of the volume focuses on Yuki, who has clearly split from the above pair.  Machi and Yuki seem to be drawing together.  Yuki and Kakeru seem to be the only two who have the patience to deal with Machi, which is a shame.  I kind of like her, even though I’m almost the exact opposite as far as neuroses are concerned.  We may also be rid of the Yuki fan club since the president is graduating.  Maybe not though… there will be members to replace her.

There is some creepy business with Rin.  She goes missing, and much of the volume is spent trying to figure out what happened to her and where she is.  Of course Akito is behind this, and Rin wound up taking some physical abuse and being thrown in solitary confinement after being tricked by Ren.  It hadn’t really occurred to me how horrible Kyo’s lifetime punishment would be until the results with Rin were shown.  It’s hard to watch the characters tearfully taking physical abuse from Akito and not really standing up for themselves, but the scenes with Rin were almost too much.  At least Haru finally did some standing up.

What else… there is much talk of breaking the curse, but I know there’s about five volumes left.  The curse isn’t going to break anytime soon, unfortunately.  Here’s hoping things will meander back to a more direct telling of Kyo and Tohru’s story next volume.  Actually… I don’t even know if that’s necessarily what I want.  I kind of like some of this family drama, but I still think there’s a bit too much going on and the story is a little too indirect.  I also think I’m in the minority with my opinions, so that shows how much I know.

Fruits Basket 17

December 23, 2007

I’m also behind on this series, which is amazing since it’s quarterly and I only have to read it once every three months or so.  I was even looking forward to this volume since I knew a huge bombshell was being dropped, but I think I just cannot get myself fired up about this series.  Even with all the plot development, I just feel like it moves so slowly, and we get so few scraps dropped to us as far as romantic development goes… and there’s a lot of story time spent on the huge cast of minor characters.

I complain, but there was more plot in this volume than in any other volume of Fruits Basket ever.  We basically find out all about Akito and how his life has been, and we find out Akito’s mother is alive and well and really likes to berate him, which is amazing.  Akito needs more characters that stand up and defy him.

We also get to hear a bit about Kureno and what his deal is… or is not, as the case may be.  He spills the truth about his relationship to Akito, and the possible relationship between he and Arisa is dealt with as well.  It is all very sad.

Kureno actually tells all of these things straight out to Tohru (about both himself and Akito), and in the aftermath of this conversation, Tohru is devastated and has to spend the night at Hanajima’s house feeling sorry for everyone.

In case this wasn’t enough plot for you, we also find out the nature of the relationship between Shigure and Akito, and why Shigure has been a jerk all this time.  I actually quite liked this bit of explanation.

Amidst all these explanations, Yuki and Kyo are buried, their story continued in later volumes.  Kyo barely appears at all.  I was pleased to see the explanation for Shigure though, who is not a minor character.  The minor/side character stories needed to be told in order for the plot to make sense… but I think that’s one of the other reasons I lose patience with this series, too many minor characters.  But I’m faulting it for something that’s in its nature, it handles this huge number of characters better than any other series I’ve read.  I just hate having to constantly switch between them all.