Fruits Basket: Volume Two
Fruits Basket, based on the popular manga series by Takaya Natsuki, continues in its second volume released by Funimation, covering episodes seven to twelve.
In the first volume, Tohru Honda met and ended up moving in with the House of Sohma, a wealthy, expansive family of whom twelve members are cursed to transform into the twelve animals of the Zodiac when hugged by a member of the opposite sex. After several hurdles, she finally manages to settle in happily with her newfound friends, and remains eager to learn more about them, the other members of their family, and their strange curse.
While the first six episodes introduced us to Tohru, the Sohmas, and established them as surrogate family, the next volume settles more into demonstrating the gradual but significant impact Tohru’s presence has on the people around her, teaching them the value of kindness and inspiring them to slowly overcome their own flaws and the scars left on their history.
To illustrate this point handily (as the way this ties into the central characters obviously has to be paced throughout an entire season) and to keep things fresh, three more members of the Zodiac are introduced–Momiji, Hatori, and Hatsuharu. All three are in line with the Fruits Basket pattern of not necessarily being anything we haven’t seen before, but still being deeply charming in execution and in their interactions with the other characters. Each of them, though their air time is limited, add interesting layers to the web of the relationships in the series and seem to fit in handily. With Hatori in particular, the audience is treated to several hints as to the nature of Akito, head of the Sohmas, the darker workings of the family, and the possibility of Tohru somehow being the key to finally break free of the curse.
Impressively consistent is its ability to invoke strong emotion, even (and sometimes especially) in circumstances and with characters we may have been aware of for only a very short time. The story is sweet and explicit in its themes without becoming unbearably preachy or saccharine. Hatori’s story with Kana stands out as deeply moving. The humor continues to be clever and energetic; Shigure dealing with his editor was a riot. Tohru’s naivety is also the butt of several jokes, which helps a lot to keep her positive influence on everyone around her from becoming unbearably over-the-top.
The show remains engaging and delightful to watch, and the sense of progression–in both individual character development and in terms of relationships–is maintained, although the energy has slowed down a bit since the first volume. As fun as it is just watching the cast bounce off of each other, there are several characters by the end of these six new episodes with the quirk of ‘polite most of the time, comically psychotic once they snap’, which does threaten to become a bit worn by the time we hit the fourth instance of it happening as a gag. That line hasn’t quite been crossed yet, though, and in all cases it’s remained entertaining thus far.
The English language version remains high quality; the cast from the first volume continues to be strong, and most of the new characters successfully maintain the level of quality set for them. One unfortunate exception is Momiji, who just wasn’t convincing as an older woman acting the role of an energetic young boy. Otherwise, however, the show is still perfectly enjoyable under either language.
A strong continuation of the character development and hints of an underlying story from the first, introducing several appealing new characters and hinting more extensively at the nature of the curse and the possibility of breaking it. Hopefully as the show continues we’ll see more light shed on this, with a bit more tangible development, to prevent things from becoming a bit stale, as enjoyable as they still are now.
High quality, consistent with the first disc. The extras are impressive once again, featuring an updated set of profiles for the main cast and their English actors, a collection of the show’s eyecatches hosted by Yui Horie (the Japanese voice of Tohru), an informative interview with the director, and a fun, relaxed interview of Aya Hisakawa (the Japanese voice of Yuki) by Yui Horie once again, discussing their takes on the characters and fellow actors on the show.
Overall Score: 9