Yuki and Tohru are the stars of this volume.
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: December 20, 2016
Review copy provided by Yen Press.
Ultimately, I think a lot of your enjoyment of this volume of Fruits Basket will come down to one thing:
Do you like/believe/agree with/choose-a-verb the fact Yuki sees Tohru as a mother?
If you do, then you’ll probably find this volume not half bad, pretty good even. That’s because here’s the entire volume in under 10 words:
Kyoko and Katsuya.
Yuki and Machi.
Notice anything? Yuki is really the only one who moves forward in this volume. Kyo insists there’s no way Tohru likes him. Tohru… smiles a lot I guess? Shigure smirks, Rin hides, and Hana tries to hit on Kyo’s dad. Somewhere in between we see a strange version of Cinderella and Tohru’s parents’ love story.
For those who want to see Yuki get his own happily ever after, you will be happy to see some small developments with Machi, his fellow student council member. As you may have picked up, I have never been a big fan of quick change from “Tohru’s like my mom” to “I found someone who sees the real me”. Not a big fan of that romance? Don’t worry! We have the wonderful tale of a junior high student who marries a student teacher! (That’s sarcasm by the way.) In Katsuya’s defense, he was only in training, but he’s still significantly older than her. For those interested in the main romance (which by now couldn’t be any more obvious), it’s minimal here.
Even the major comedy source, the play, goes exactly how you think it would with its cast. It takes a while before they realize they need to rewrite the script (Duh!), but unfortunately we don’t get a lot of extreme reactions from the audience. Come on, neither the prince nor Cinderella like the narration! Send the story into a spiral!
It doesn’t help that the art is pretty weak in this volume. Just about everyone has the same face: plain. Yuki in particular looks as if he’s aged several years over the course of the series. (He hardly has any girly-beauty anymore either.) The images in the front cover are nice as usual, but the actual volume really shows how Takaya was struggling with her hand injury. Faces are too similar and the pages are rather empty. I feel bad for her, but there’s no doubt most of the older color images are superior.
On the bright side, while I have been torn between the Yen Press’ and TOKYOPOP’s adaptation, this outing’s translation notes provided some additional information. Ayame’s comment at New Year’s, for instance, is almost the same as TOKYOPOP’s translation, but here we get a note explaining Ayame’s pun in Japanese. There was one key line (which will come into play later) that seems much harsher than TOKYOPOP’s version, but I guess you could argue that Yen Press’ is more natural considering who’s saying it. It doesn’t make-or-break the volume, but I’m sure some die-hard Fruits Basket fans will raise their eyebrows.
All in all, most Yuki fans will be pleased with all the attention he gets despite his less-than-typical exit from the love triangle. Even then this is a a very slow volume. There’s good-slow and bad-slow, and the latest volume of Fruits Basket falls into the lattery category. I was bored, and even as a non-fan, I know the manga can do better.