Fruits Basket 2001 Series Review – Cute But Lacking a Conclusion

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Fruits Basket 2001 Overview:

Honda Tohru’s mother died and she went to live with her grandfather. Unfortunately, he needed to move in with other family members and while the house was being renovated Tohru was asked to stay with a friend. Rather than troubling her friends, she moves into a tent.

Then, one morning she comes across a house where the Prince of her school lives, Yuki Sohma. It turns out her tent is on Sohma land. After a landslide destroys the tent, Tohru finds herself living with Yuki but the Sohma’s have a little bit of a secret.

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Fruits Basket 2001 Review:

Alright, if you don’t like sweet, slow shows or fairly effeminate looking guys, you are probably going to pass on this one from the outset. However, if those elements aren’t going to make you walk away, you will probably find a really charming anime to watch filled with interesting characters who are all just a little bit (sometimes a lot) emotionally damaged and you can watch them grow closer together, or turn into animals.

Then you can suffer from the absolute lack of resolution given by this series. At least until you watch the reboot.

Characters from Fruits Basket 2001.

It is one of my pet hates when anime just stop without finalising anything. While one small bit of Kyo’s story is resolved, the greater mystery surrounding the Sohma’s is still completely a mystery, as is the vast majority of what is motivating some members of the family to act the way they do. And we don’t even meet all of the zodiac. For a story where members of the family are possessed by the spirit of the zodiac, to not introduce them all and not to continue the story is just purposefully leaving us hanging.

As a result, this is one of the very, very, very few anime where I did go and read the manga after watching because I just couldn’t stand leaving the story where the anime dropped us. That said, I didn’t completely finish reading it. I read enough to start piecing together some of the mysteries that were bugging me and then cut my losses – still the rebooted anime series got me very excited and honestly has kind of made Fruits Basket 2001 irrelevant (though still pretty cute).

The main cast of Fruits Basket 2001.

So with that said, how do I review Fruits Basket 2001?

It’s adorable.

Visually it kind of looks dated even for 2001 with very simple backgrounds and character designs that would look right at home in the 90’s, but it works well enough for the story unfolding here. However, be prepared for a lot of stillness on screen.

From a character point of view, Tohru is an air-headed protagonist who pretty much functions in ‘be sweet and don’t annoy anyone’ mode while voluntarily cooking and cleaning because she quite likes it.

I really wonder if this is actually a thing in Japan where teenage girls actually enjoy cooking and cleaning for others who seem to be completely inept at living or whether this is a not so subtle message to the youth of Japan that typical gender roles should be maintained. Either way, it is something that generally irks me when watching anime, particularly in characters that don’t have much else to offer.

Tohru does offer a little more in that she does have moments of emotional insight and acts as a catalyst for the other characters to change, but still, she’s not the most fascinating of the bunch.

Tohru does love cats though - Fruits Basket 2001.

Fortunately, Fruits Basket 2001 as a whole offers more than what our protagonist brings to the table. Her two best friends are fantastic. Yeah, they are equally stereotypical (one is a standard reformed delinquent and the other the weird girl who senses vibes) but the balance they offer and their interactions with Tohru work really well. They also offer some of the more comedic moments during the school scenes.

Fruits Basket

The Sohma’s are also pretty interesting as a family. Individually, they all have scars from being part of a cursed family. Scars because of the way others outside the family deal with them and scars because of the trauma inflicted by the family.

It’s interesting to watch and in honesty I would have preferred more focus on this at times during Fruits Basket 2001. It was also this aspect that pushed me to go read some of this series because there’s a lot going on with the family. Again though, I’ll have to wait for the reboot to really get more of this or actually just read the manga properly.


Tohru’s mother also needs a mention. For someone who is dead prior to the start of the series, she has a definite impact all the way through Fruits Basket 2001.

Whether it is her lingering advice to Tohru about how to live, the inspiration she gives Tohru and her friends, or just the way characters who have never met her begin responding to her because of their interactions with Tohru, she’s a tangible force that moves the characters and plot. Not bad for someone who is dead and isn’t even appearing as some sort of spirit.

It does however give the whole series a very human feeling as the loss of a parent should leave lingering traces.

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The opening theme to Fruits Basket 2001 is fantastic. Admittedly, it is slow but it sets the tone for the show and if you aren’t finding the theme engaging and sweet, while just a little bit wistful and nostalgic, you probably aren’t going to be the right audience for the show in the first place.

All and all, this was a great anime to watch but there just is no excuse for the lack of ending. If you are watching it just for the characters, you will love every minute of it. If you are hoping for the overall story with the curse of the Sohma’s to go somewhere, forget it.

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Karandi James

Fruits Basket Review Episode 12


Akito Appears At Last

Yuki and Akito - Fruits Basket 2019 anime - Episode 12

Fruits Basket Episode 12

Now we’re kicking things into gear with the first clear appearance of Akito in Fruits Basket. A new school year has begun with Momiji and Haru joining the others at school and the opening ceremony brings a less than welcome visitor to the school and into contact with Tohru. Given Tohru gets on with pretty much everyone it seems Akito’s vibe is bad enough that it sets her on edge and once she realises the impact Akito’s visit is having on Yuki she moves to take action.

At last we meet.

I must say though that for an anime that does emotional impacts as solidly as Fruits Basket usually does, Akito’s arrival here was somewhat less than moving. They got the point across through the reactions of the other characters but to be honest, Akito was not actually all that impressive. That said, Kyo and Yuki’s reactions more than made up for it in getting the point across and Honda’s out of character response certainly sealed it.


However, prior to the arrival of Akito we have some silliness in the school with the Soma’s and the current student council president. Amazingly enough he doesn’t think Momiji should be wearing the girl’s school uniform and doesn’t believe Haru’s hair is actually naturally white and black. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, his carry on calls out Black Haru who swiftly brings the discussion to a close.


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Well, maybe not so swiftly, but we do get some amusing moments as Haru paints a mental image of Momiji grown up and Yuki wearing the girl’s school uniform. He then settles the argument about his natural hair colour with the president before he pushes his luck by accosting Tohru and both Yuki and Kyo put him down hard.

Black Haru makes a move on Tohru Honda - Fruits Basket anime

The contrasting nature of the early silliness and the quiet and sinister calm of Akito’s visit, followed by the lightness as Tohru organises a game between friends to release the tension all work beautifully well and the episode as a whole fits very nicely together. While I may have wanted just a little bit more from Akito, everything else worked supremely well so yet another fine episode of Fruits Basket.

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Karandi James

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Images from: Fruits Basket. Dir. Y Ibata. TMS Entertainment. 2019.

Fruits Basket Review Episode 6


More Somas and Tohru’s Friends

Nothing to look at here, just a guy in a dress with a younger boy sitting on his shoulders.

Episode 6

It isn’t often that I’ll criticise the translation in the sub-titles. Whether they are direct translating or just translating the intent, I kind of expect some changes are going to happen for various reasons and until my Japanese is good enough that I don’t need to read them I’m just going to have to accept them for what they are. Yet episode 6 of Fruits Basket 2019 on Crunchyroll has a ridiculous ‘macaroni and cheese’ line during Hatori’s photo op moment that utterly threw me out of the episode and was mostly a completely unnecessary change. However, that will be about my only complaint for this otherwise beautiful episode of Fruits Basket.

Yuki Soma - Fruits Basket 2019 Episode 6

This episode is a little more fragmented in that we have the school festival that they had been planning for, we meet Momoji and Hatori, Hana and Uo find out Honda is staying at the Soma’ and the girls go for a sleep over, and we cap the episode with Hatori inviting Honda to come see him on the next day off, though invite is probably the nicest way to put it given he implied a threat without actually threatening her. I didn’t even get onto the part where Shigure goes to see Akito.

This is the biggest problem with showing up unannounced, of course.

Yet, despite everything going on, nothing feels rushed, unnecessary, or dull. Every scene and interaction just feels so rich and the episode as a whole was thoroughly enjoyable.

Tohru and Kyoko - Fruits Basket 2019 Episode 6

At the core of episode 6 is Honda. Whether it is her relationship with Yuki and Kyo, her relationship with Hana and Uo, her meeting the other Soma’s, or the flashbacks of her mother, each scene is about the warmth Honda spreads simply by being there. Everyone around her is buoyed by her good nature and optimism and while I really don’t like the overly sweet, good-girl character trope, there’s just no way to dislike Honda. She’s fun to spend time with and I think what really balances her out is that she acknowledges the bad things that happen but chooses not to dwell on them. It is a conscious choice rather than being oblivious to pain and suffering.

Have to agree with Hatori’s assessment here.

Throughout it all, each of these characters got a bit more fleshing out and they continue to be adorable. There’s just no other way to describe it. Watching this show is just so cathartic and fun.

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Karandi James

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Images from: Fruits Basket. Dir. Y Ibata. TMS Entertainment. 2019.

Fruits Basket Review Episodes 4 + 5


The best and worst on offer.

Fruits Basket - Tohru and Kyoko

Episode 4

Kagura certainly was quite the storm as she blew into Shigure’s house this episode of Fruits Basket. I was never entirely sure how I felt about her in the original Fruits Basket anime and that feeling remains here. On the one hand, she has some truly adorable moments, but on the other-hand she really is too over the top in her absolute destruction of the house and beating up Kyo. Admittedly, I assume the exaggeration is both to emphasise her zodiac affiliation with the boar as well as to be amusing, but I really just find her a bit of an odd character, and let’s be honest, violence as affection isn’t overly funny.

Kagura hits Kyo - Fruits Basket Episode 4
There’s just something off about this.

With the more action and comedic focus early in the episode, the visuals took on a bolder and more cartoonish look at times, but it worked quite effectively with the subject matter and made a nice contrast when it returned to its softer style and we had the night scene with Tohru and Kyo on the roof. There’s very little to criticise in terms of the visuals and as normal for anime they make simple food look absolutely amazing.


Something that didn’t occur to me previously in Fruits Basket kind of stood out as I watched this episode and that is how passive Shigure really is at times. His house was being destroyed but other than a few lamenting comments he barely budged from reading or sitting as the destruction continued. As the token adult in the house, Shigure sometimes offers some great insight and his commentary about Tohru after she ‘figured out’ which animal Kagura is was plenty amusing, but at times you have to wonder what his goal really is and the kids run wild.

However, this episode advances the plot nicely giving us a few more bits of information about the curse, introducing another member of the family, and dropping a hint about Kyo’s storyline. Not to mention the ending of the episode which sets up the next real hurdle for Tohru.


I really can’t complain about this adaptation so far. It has been pretty, sweet, and is conveying the story nicely. Really enjoying it even if it is a fairly laid-back affair.

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Episode 5

This was perhaps my favourite episode so far. Kyo and Yuki are adorable as they mourn Tohru leaving the house and while we’ve only had four previous episodes, the flash backs of the three’s encounters so far were suitably sweet. Also, Fruits Basket gave us some great glimpses of Tohru and her mother, Kyoko.

There’s a very understated manner in the way Tohru both announces her leaving the Soma house and then leaves. It feels very realistic. No big show or fanfare. Just the reality that the reason for her being in the house has passed and so she packs her things away and off she goes. But the hole she leaves in the house is massive and you can see in all three of the remaining residents that Tohru’s absence is keenly felt.

Shigure - Episode 5 Fruits Basket

It was awesome watching Shigure watch Kyo and Yuki. Honestly, Shigure had some great moments in general this episode. Whether he was observing, stirring the pot, or just providing commentary, he’s such a great character sitting behind everything else that happens.

Tohru - Episode 5 Fruits Basket

But, the best of the episode, as with the original anime series, goes to Kyo and Yuki retrieving Tohru and then walking home together hand in hand. It might be cheesy beyond belief and yet it just hits you in the feels and works so well. It was also great to see that even though they have a common ground where it comes to Tohru, that doesn’t help them communicate or work together in the slightest, leading to some fairly amusing results.


Overall, this one was a very solid episode and one I really enjoyed watching.

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Karandi James

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Images from: Fruits Basket. Dir. Y Ibata. TMS Entertainment. 2019.