This is the penultimate volume of Fruits Basket, so that means a lot happens story wise. It just takes its time getting there.
Title: Fruits Basket
Genre: Drama, Supernatural
Publisher: Hakusensha (JP), Yen Press (US)
Artist/Writer: Natsuki Takaya
Serialized in: Hana to Yume
Translation: Sheldon Drzka
Original Release Date: March 21, 2017
Review copy provided by Yen Press.
It’s the penultimate volume of Fruits Basket, and so you’d expect a lot to happen here.
Well, a lot of things do happen. They just happen slowly.
Think of it this way: you’re finally going to someplace you’ve always dreamed of going. You’re in the car, only a short trip away, and… your driver takes the long way. The very long way. The scenery is beautiful, but at some points, you look out the window and swear you’ve just been passed by a pregnant woman jogging.
That’s Volume 11 in a nutshell. Tohru prepares to face Kyo while Akito has to face the weakening bonds. When both girls are at their lowest points, Akito confronts Tohru. It’s an encounter fans have been waiting for, but just when things start to look like they may be changing for the better, disaster strikes. And by disaster, I mean poor, forced drama. Somehow Tohru just so happens to end up at the edge of a cliff, and it just so happens to crack under her. Of course, this incident stuns everyone, Kyo most of all. Tohru’s fall makes everyone reexamine their life, and time marches on for almost everyone.
I say almost because despite her depiction on the cover, Ren does not appear here. You would think she would considering Akito’s growth as a person and her newfound relationships. Instead, the omnibus mostly spends its time with Yuki, Hana, and Arisa harassing Kyo as he tries to confess his feelings. Other characters confirm or reaffirm their feelings to the ones they love.
We also get the story about the birth of the curse, and I can’t help but think Fruits Basket would have ended beautifully with that story and some final shots of the cast. Volume 11 includes many scenes fans have been waiting this whole time for, but I definitely feel like Takaya tries to get an extra volumes’ worth of material out of the story. The fall may be a ridiculous plot device, but having Kyo wait until Tohru is out of the hospital before seeing her makes the story feel like it’s on the long side.
I’m also surprised Takaya didn’t wrap up Fruits Basket sooner because it does seem like her hand was bothering her again. A lot of the characters look very much alike. If you did close-ups of Kyo/Tohru and Yuki/Machi, it would be nearly impossible to tell them apart. Fortunately, the story prevents a lot of the visual clones from appearing together. I can understand why Takaya didn’t want to make alterations to the art, but I wish we could have seen more of Collector’s Edition cover Machi instead of Jr. Tohru Machi.
I also want to add a key line that was adapted in an… unusual way considering when it was said in an earlier volume is now translated directly this time around. Of course, this means that this creates an inconsistency in the translation. This is a disappointment considering this manga has been finished for years. Maybe the final volume will try to time them together?
Really, if you have even the slightest interest in Fruits Basket, you really need to pick this up. The final volume will actually wrap up the series, but it also only really contains half an omnibus’ worth of story. This one may not be the official happily ever after, but it certainly feels like it. It just takes a little longer to get there than it should.