Fruits Basket” was a very popular shoujo manga that was published from 1998 to 2006. It received an anime adaptation of the same title that aired, and ended, in 2001. This meant that there was obviously no way for it to have covered the entirety of the manga’s story. But like what happens to many popular series after a certain number of years pass, “Fruits Basket” was remade into a multi-season show with the promise of—I’m sure you’ve guessed it—exploring all of the original content! This season’s finale just aired on September 21, 2019. So, what’s the story about anyway?

Ctrl + F “Spoiler-Free Wrap-Up” to get a quick summary!

Well, “Fruits Basket – 1st Season” introduces us to our teenage heroine Tohru Honda—a kind, patient girl who works hard and remains hopeful in the face of hardship. She’s also basically homeless: although she is supposed to be living with her grandfather, their home is currently going through renovations and due to several varying reasons, Tohru has decided to live in a tent until further notice. Now, that “further notice” I was talking about actually happens almost immediately as soon as we start the series! As it turns out, our sweet, lost child has been camping on the grounds belonging to the Soma family. After they discover her less-than-savory situation, the family insisted that she lives with them instead, and she eventually succumbs to their request. Thus, the start of our shoujo story!

The Soma family is actually no ordinary family. They are possessed by the Chinese Zodiac, and strangely enough, being embraced by the opposite sex will even make them transform into their corresponding animal. Oh my! Is this all sounding a little absurd? That’s because it is. Don’t get me wrong, I actually like the first season of “Fruits Basket“. But one of its biggest flaws is not running with the serious impact this curse brings upon the family more often and instead, only allows us glimpses of the abuse, sufferings, and scheming. You wouldn’t have thought something like that was going on from my description of the series before, would you? In fact, after all of this interesting set-up, I’m shocked it still relies on so many of the typical shoujo shenanigans that genre-familiar consumers are used to seeing. I guess you could argue that we’ll eventually get to the bottom of it in the second season. But I can’t help but be frustrated, especially when it feels like the time spent with characters like Tohru‘s friends at school—who I’m admittedly not interested in—could have been used to flesh out the mysteries related to the Somas more instead.

Yuki Soma, for example, is one of the main characters (and serves as the Rat in the Chinese Zodiac). Yet, I still don’t understand all of what happened to him before the start of the series, or why some of what I do know happened occurred at all. Kyo Soma, another main character, had a large reveal but only after they made it incredibly obvious just shortly before the season finale. The problem I have with this anime, and how it chooses to use its time, is then only amplified by the sheer amount of characters it introduces. By the time you get to know a new character, a literal couple of episodes—if even that—later, and they’ve already been brushed aside indefinitely. A favorite character of mine is seen in maybe three episodes—three out of twenty-five!

Spoiler-Free Wrap-Up

Despite my complaints and frustrations that they’ve mismanaged their twenty-five-episode-count and underutilized the characters I’m interested in, “Fruits Basket – 1st Season” has still succeeded in charming me just enough that I want to know what happens next. Hopefully, with what I assume is the bulk of the cast already introduced, we can get into the bigger drama that I very much want to see—the bigger drama that they kept building up to in brief moments played out over and over again. But even if they don’t, and I end up disappointed, I anticipate that this series will still be regarded—not just by me but by others as well—as better than the typical twelve-episode-count shoujo anime that those familiar with the genre are used to watching. I should give credit and also mention that this is probably the nicest animation I’ve ever seen from a shoujo, and its usage of beloved, talented voice actors and actresses like Yuuichi Nakamura (Kuroo Tetsuro in “Haikyuu!!” and Guren Ichinose in “Owari no Seraph“), Maaya Sakamoto (Ciel Phantomhive in “Kuroshitsuji” and Haruhi Fujioka in “Ouran Koukou Host Club“), and Takahiro Sakurai (Shoujo Makishima in “Psycho-Pass” and Suzaku Kururugi in “Code Geass“)—just to name a few—is a huge plus!

Story: 6/10
Characters: 6/10
Music: 5/10
Animation: 9/10

Overall Rating: 6.5/10