Review - Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya

Friday, March 20, 2015

Fruits Basket Vol. 1
By Natsuki Takaya
Release Date: February 10th, 2004
Genre: Manga
Source: Purchased


So, back when I was in high school, I went through a few misguided and rocky relationships, one of which occurred when I was a sophomore. While it wasn’t a particularly nasty break-up, the relationship itself needed quite a bit of work (we went to separate schools and lived in separate towns and this was before either of us could drive) and we eventually decided to it was best to call it off. 

But one great thing I got out of it (aside from my first real kiss) was an introduction to manga. 

Before this time, I’d never picked up manga and wasn’t particularly interested in doing so. At this time, I was into contemporary romance and historicals, so reading a book that consisted mostly of pictures? And had to be read backwards? Meh, I wasn’t too interested. 

That was, until, my ex told me about one he thought I would like – a girly manga called Fruits Basket. Fruits Basket centers around an orphan girl, Tohru Honda, who – while her grandfather is renovating his home – lives in a tent. That is until the Sohmas discover her on their land and invite her to live with them. Little does she know, though, that the Sohmas are afflicted with a curse. A curse that, when they are hugged by the opposite sex, they transform into a Chinese Zodian animal.

So, my interest was piqued. I went out to the store and bought my first graphic novel ever. And I swear to God I devoured that thing in thirty minutes. I instantly fell in love with Takaya’s creative premise for a series, as well as her humor and beautiful prose. You wouldn’t think that a manga could invoke such emotion, but she manages to do so with ease. Before too long, I fell in love with Tohru, Yuki, Kyo and all the other Sohmas. I found myself shipping certain characters and practically crying at certain parts in the series. 

So it goes without saying that I begged and begged my mother to go out and buy the next book in the series right after I finished one. She grudgingly humored my fascination, complaining all the while about a ten dollar “comic”, but before long I had all the books in my possession and completely fell in love with the world Takaya created. I bought Fruits Basket wall scrolls, Fruits Basket plushies, Fruits Basket DVDs, calendars and even had a Fruits Basket cake for my sixteenth birthday. I was crazy obsessed – and I still have all those mementos to this day! I even roleplayed it over the internet with friends from all over the world – many of which I’ve known for several years now.

Not too long ago, I decided to pick up the series again. It had been close to ten years since I last read it and I figured I was well overdue for a reintroduction. So, I dusted off the first volume and cracked it open again. 

The crucial question here: does it hold up? 

And my answer: you better believe it does. 
It’s just as magical and romantic as I remember and it was great getting to know the characters again, at least how they were at the beginning of the series, before they had a chance to grow and change. And while I’ve read a few other mangas since being introduced to them, this will always remain my favorite and have a special place in my heart. If you love fluff and romance, as well as manga, this is a great series to look into!  


  1. I have never read manga before but it looks like this would be a great place to start!

    1. It is! Though after reading this series, you'd be hard pressed to find a better one. ;)

  2. Great review! I've always wanted to check out this series! :)

    1. You definitely should! And if you do, be sure to let me know what you think. ^-^

  3. I was 18 years old when I discovered this manga, just as I ended high school; actually, I discovered the anime first, thanks to one of my little sisters who was totally into mangas.
    And at first, I really thought Yuki was a girl, with such a voice. :D

    Do I need to say how much I liked it? I was deeply touched by the story, the characters and their terrible pasts; Takaya-sensei has an amazing ability to make you feel the characters' traumas and suffering, thanks to her writing AND drawing skills.
    Whether it's sad or happy (and it's more often the first than the second), every flashback she does puts a new and powerful impetus to her story; she also knows to be unpredictable.
    Thanks to this, you never get bored of reading her manga. ^^

    But of course, she also has a great sense of humor!
    I totally agree with you, to invoke so much emotion is something very few mangas manage to do, let alone books. It's only through a very good use of her pen and pencil, of her prose and drawings, that Takaya realizes such an exploit. The two truly make a powerful combination, able to strike even the most jaded among us. :-p

    Mangas, and especially this one, aren't the least bit "second-rank litterature", I even tend to think they draw stronger emotions than average books; there may be less writing, but the pictures are a powerful tool; and it takes a lot of skill to handle both. ^^

    To make it short, I had my first major online experience thanks to this manga; I could read a now-extinct forum where we talked about the characters, the story, the new chapters and the many themes: curse, difference, guilt, horrible past, happiness, conditioning, scapegoat, acceptance of the other, and so on. This manga brought me back together with reading and writing. ^^

    Although I was very disappointed by the last chapters, the overall manga is one of the greatest I've ever read. And, as you correctly point it out, it has grown old quite gracefully. :-)

    1. Aww, I always love it when you visit my blog. *Hugs*
      Perhaps I should have enlisted your help to write this review? Your comment was a fantastic addition to the review. And I certainly agree with the special way in which manga's go about story-telling. Sometimes the drawings convey more feeling that the words ever could and Takaya's work is simply beautiful. She's definitely created a series that will stand the test of time. ^-^

    2. You're welcome!

      I'm sorry, I'm late to answer you; writing a review of Fruits Basket together sounds like a good idea!
      But this story is so rich, that we might have to review it following some themes.
      It's an idea to keep in mind. ^^

      Hopefully Takaya will soon recover from her disease and resume her work! She kept writing after finishing Fruits Basket and her other works are very interesting too. :3