Fruits Basket: Volume Three

Raelle

Background:

Tohru continues to deepen her bonds with the Sohma family in the third volume, covering episode thirteen through nineteen, of the anime adaptation of the shoujo manga by Takaya Natsuki. In the previous volume, Tohru learns more of the darker nature of the burden those cursed by the Sohmas have to carry, several new members of the family were introduced, and Yuki and Kyo’s feelings towards her continue to build in an interesting love triangle.

Review:

The most interesting development presented with these episodes is further tantalizing hints about Akito, head of the Sohma family, and what he may or may not be plotting with Tohru; to that end, we also get a disturbing look at Yuki’s past with him. Also nice to see was how Kyo’s character in particular has visibly grown up since the beginning of the show; his clumsy attempts to be considerate to others achieve just the right amount of balance in contrast to his attitude at the start.

As the episodes roll on, we’re naturally introduced to more new characters, which of course includes more members of the Zodiac. Hands down, best addition to the cast is Ayame, Yuki’s unknown older brother, who is hilarious in and of himself and especially in his interactions with others. The chemistry between he and his two high school friends, Hatori and Shigure, is brilliant. Something I continue to appreciate about this show is its delicate balance of standalone episodes and the natural continuity of character development–I didn’t expect to hear more about Hatori and Kana after the episode focusing on them, but the writing goes the extra mile to show that the impact of that situation hasn’t been forgotten, and that Hatori still bears scars from it–and more impressively, uses it to prop up the development of other characters in a very natural way as well.

One notable episode–which is distinct in terms of style–deals with Yuki’s fangirl club, who finally start making their move in an attempt to get rid of Tohru once and for all, and choose to attack first through her friend Hanajima. A good chunk of the episode is shot as though through a handheld camera, and is just a fun and refreshing break from the main cast, as well as providing some nice insight into one of the most likable side characters in the show.

The show is still excellent by any standards, but here and there throughout these episodes it’s finally starting to stumble into a few trappings–Kisa and Momiji’s stories, while not uninteresting in themselves, felt comparatively strained in their presentation in a way not characteristic to the excellent storytelling the series has upheld so far. They also mostly rehash information we already knew–the tragedy that can befall the Sohma curse through their loved ones (explored more effectively with Hatori), and Tohru’s ability to inspire hope into the people who have fallen victim to it.

English performances continue to be strong. The actors for the new characters introduced keep up the level of high quality, and the script continues to be flexible when necessary while staying true to the spirit of the original Japanese. Momiji continues to be somewhat weak, but it’s forgivable in such an otherwise praiseworthy effort. Notably, even the insert songs have been impressively redone in English–another sign of how much care went into creating the adaptation.

Content:

Still thoroughly entertaining, and the characters are as likable as ever. The pace slows down another notch, however, as the series begins to recycle themes and situations already presented to the audience, just in different packaging. The buildup to what promises to be an interesting climax involving Akito, however, remains fascinating, and it’s undeniably fun just to watch the cast interact with each other in a variety of situations.

Technical:

Consistent with the other volumes. Extras include another eyecatch presentation by Yui Horie from the latter half of the series, another fun edition of “Fruits Basket Room”, this time featuring Kyo’s Japanese actor, and as usual previews, character profiles, and the textless opening.

[font size=”4″]Overall Score: 8.5

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