An "in-between" volume that still has something for everyone.
Title: Fruits Basket
Genre: Drama, supernatural
Publisher: Hakusensha (JP), Yen Press (US)
Story/Artist: Natsuki Takaya
Serialized in: Hana to Yume
Translation: Sheldon Drzka
Original Release Date: November 22, 2016
Review copy provided by Yen Press.
A lot is going on in this world of Fruits Basket. Yuki deals with finding independence and being the student council president, Rin struggles to try to break the curse and be with Haru, and Tohru wonders why Kyo has such an impact on her emotions. Plus Momiji and Uo-chan both are dealing with the fact that they can’t see people important to them, and Vice President Kakeru has an interest in Tohru and is connected to “The Destroyer” Machi.
Whew, I know these Collector’s Editions are two-in-ones, but that’s still a bunch of different storylines happening at once. The good news is that there is a little something for everyone: several romances (including the main one) are budding or blooming, Tohru actually does stuff besides being the resident angel, characters are trying to look forward to the future while struggling with the past (especially Rin), and the manga is setting up for a very unconventional version of Cinderella. Fruits Basket fans will almost assuredly find a chapter or two that they will cling to as the highlight of this volume.
The downside is that the this volume feels like an in-between volume. A lot happens, but nothing truly important happens. Everything is a setup for the next volume and beyond. The play just casts the parts. Tohru just starts to realize she can’t easily name what’s most important to her. The mysteries surrounding Kakeru and Machi are only slightly revealed, and nothing is really revealed about the curse. Rin’s depression also seems to go overboard at times. Regardless, readers will probably find some scenes to enjoy, but I don’t think this is going to a volume that will stand out unless you really, really want to see why Rin loves Hatsuharu or the moment when Yuki realizes how he feels about Tohru.
The art continues to be simple. You can see Takaya struggle with the fact her hands can’t always keep up with what she has in her mind. I like some of the images like the leaves falling on Yuki, but the characters tend to have oversized eyes and identical faces. You can plainly see the differences between Takaya’s old and new styles in the color pages. The volume opens with an adorable image of Tohru with cat-Kyo and rat-Yuki. The splash page for Chapter 72, however, is a headshot of Yuki with lifeless eyes and a wide face. Quite frankly, it looks like one of those pictures we all had to draw in school where a person traced us and then we colored it in. Fortunately, though, the art doesn’t drag down to this low level very often. Personally, I thought Momiji’s chapter was really well-done. I could feel his emotions in his violin.
I won’t say much about the translation because, coming from the TOKYOPOP translation, Yen Press’ version feels off to me. I mean, how often do you see the word “manacle” chosen over “chain” or “shackle”? I still don’t get why Kyo’s father is called “master” but terms like “oba-san” are kept. It’s little things like that that just throw me off. Again, though, that’s because I’m not coming into Fruits Basket blind; most readers probably won’t even blink twice.
All in all, the almost 400 pages in this volume feature a good dash of all the genres Fruits Basket blends: balancing love and loneliness, psychological trauma, internal and external drama, and comedy. However, despite all this, there’s really no major developments in this volume. It’s enjoyable, but it’s not critical or the best the series has to offer. Because of this, I was a bit torn on the rating. However, with an image like this opening the volume:
Even my cold, Fruits Basket-disliking heart had to give this volume a good score. It’s almost impossible not to find your heart moved by something, and that’s what makes Fruits Basket so loved by fans around the world.