Fruits Basket Review Episode 10

A Different Kind of Shigure

Fruits Basket 2019 - Shigure

Fruits Basket Episode 10

Wow, Shigure is a much greyer character in the 2019 Fruits Basket than in the older version, and I think I love it. He was always a little morally ambiguous and his motives were never overly clear but he seemed more playful than manipulative in the older anime. However, this episode brings his personality to the forefront for the viewer and it leaves me wanting more.

Fruits Basket Episode 10
We still don’t know what Shigure’s goal is or what his relationship with Akito actually is but they are definitely making me interested.

Underpinning Shigure’s expansion as a character is the silliness of Valentine’s Day and Kagura seeking out Kyo, but as has consistently been the case with this adaptation the humour is down played to allow the drama come through. Kyo’s genuine pain and fear, Yuki’s hesitation, Tohru’s desire to help but not knowing how all get moments to shine. Even Kagura seemed more solid in this episode than in her introduction even though we still had one sequence where she pursued Kyo at the school.

The real victory of the episode is the ground work it is laying down for the future. The Soma curse sits behind everything playing out here including Shigure’s duplicitous nature and the vague threats to Tohru’s future happiness. While nothing specific is revealed yet there is a definite heavy atmosphere hovering over every line of dialogue, every look, and every pause as the Soma’s keep their silence.

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The double date between Kagura, Kyo, Yuki and Tohru was suitably cute and Tohru’s enthusiasm for the idea was adorable to see. I loved the scene at the cinema where the girls got very caught up in the movie meanwhile Kyo and Yuki looked like they’d rather be anywhere else.

But the scene that will really stick with me, and probably most viewers, is Shigure speaking with Akito. They are really building tension beautifully around Akito and I can’t wait to see where they take it.

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Fruits Basket Review Episode 9

The True Strength Of Words

Fruits Basket - Kyo

Episode 9

Haru has finally properly arrived, tracking down Kyo given the latter didn’t attend the New Year’s gathering and so Haru wants a fight. With the exception of Tohru’s excessive concern about a cold (which isn’t really excessive given her history but of course she won’t bother to say that) this episode is pretty light and more focused on action and gags than heart but it still manages to drive the emotions home hard in the second half.

I’ve definitely come to the conclusion, not just this time round with Fruits Basket, that the biggest issue all of these characters face is that they don’t ever say what they need to say. Yuki is getting sick but instead of turning Kyo down for the race he stays silent even though it clearly wasn’t a good idea to be running around in the cold. Tohru is concerned about Yuki but doesn’t actually try to stop him. Shigure also is aware of Yuki’s condition but does nothing to stop him even though he cautions him that if his body weakens it could be a problem holding his human form.

Fruits Basket - Shigure warning Yuki

Kyo is naturally oblivious to anything outside of the idea of ‘fighting’ Yuki and beating him in the race and it takes a hard face plant orchestrated by Haru to get Kyo to see anything else. I feel a little bad for Kyo in that moment, but we’re quickly diverted by the next situation.

And that situation is Haru.

Haru - Fruits Basket Episode 9

He’s an interesting character even for one of the Soma’s and his personality being broken by the childhood that he bore is one of the more obvious and yet equally one of the more entertaining. Once triggered he turns ‘black’ and it is almost as though an entirely new personality has taken hold of him. While Haru in his normal state is a little bit spacey, almost more directionally challenged than the Red Blood Cell in Cells at Work was, yet relatively polite, Black Haru is arrogant, demanding, and violent and not above using fairly underhanded methods to get what he wants.

Black Haru - Fruits Basket Episode 9
You gotta have some confidence to call Kyo a kitty-cat.

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While the fighting chaos reigns between Kyo and Haru, Yuki finally succumbs to his cold and it is while caring for Yuki that Haru reveals to Tohru why Yuki is special to him. It is such a small thing and yet to a child so damaged it was the life-line he needed. The right word at the right time that saved him. There’s a message in that for all of us really.

Yuki may not have realised its significance, but his words saved Haru.

Then of course we end the episode with a laugh as Tohru, at Haru’s prompting, calls Yuki by his first name and he transforms into a rat. I didn’t even know rats could blush.

It is super adorable though.

Another super cute episode.

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Fruits Basket Review Episode 8

Alone/Not Alone For The Holiday

Yuki and Kyo race home - Fruits Basket

Episode 8

The thing I remembered most about Fruits Basket is that every episode of the original had some part or another that either hit the right emotional note, was utterly charming, or was just fun to watch. I would have been hard pressed to say that the school festival episode was better or worse than the episode where we met Tohru’s family or even the episode where we saw Hatori’s backstory which was a personal favourite of mine.

Fruits Basket 2019 has this same consistent charm.

Arisa and Hana - Fruits Basket

Eight episodes in, and while I’ll still say that Kagura’s introduction wasn’t as great as it potentially could have been with a few minor changes, every episode has given us enough charm and emotion to make the experience as a whole fairly unforgettable and yet individual episodes just kind of blur together as a series of moments in the lives of these characters.

Shigure, Yuki and Kyo - Fruits Basket

Episode 8 of Fruits Basket focuses on New Year’s and we learn early on that Tohru is going to be alone for the holiday as she has turned down the invitations of her friends, not wanting to intrude on their family time, and the Soma’s are returning to the main house and will not be around. Tohru takes this is typical Tohru fashion which, as Yuki points out early in this episode, is fairly inscrutable.

Yuki observes Tohru - Fruits Basket

It isn’t that Tohru is hard to read. She’s pretty obvious. But the problem is given she’s always looking out for others and trying to protect them, calling her a liar when she says she’ll be fine is difficult even for the closest of her friends.

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The episode is full of delightful Yuki and Kyo moments though the MVP of the episode, as it was in the original anime, is Hana.

Hana - Fruits Basket
Definitely the MVP of the episode.

Hana takes it upon herself to guilt trip the other two into abandoning their plans and returning to Tohru for New Years giving us a delightful emotional ending to the episode even if the future implications need to be considered.

Tohru wishes Kyo and Yuki a Happy New Year - Fruits Basket

Fruits Basket continues to be a beautiful and emotional affair and honestly I have very few complaints about how this is progressing. I really enjoyed every moment of the episode even knowing where it was going as this one is all about the feeling it constructs in getting there.

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Fruits Basket Review Episode 7

Changing Emotions Like the Seasons

Hatori and Kana - Fruits Basket 2019

Episode 7

The story of Hatori and Kana was one of my favourite moments in the original anime series so I will admit to being both excited and nervous as to how it would play out in the 2019 version of Fruits Basket. Fortunately, this episode was everything I could have wanted and all the characters, Momoji, Hatori, Honda and Shigure just shine throughout their interactions.

Hatori and Honda - Fruits Basket 2019

I loved that this episode gave us a real sense of the size and wealth of the Soma clan. This is something I felt was missing from the original anime and it always felt like we were told about the clan rather than seeing it. However, in a few brief moments and a little bit of dialogue Fruits Basket manages to impress upon Honda just how big the Soma’s are as well as give the audience a sense of the family. The visuals while Momoji and Honda are walking to Hatori’s house begin the process and then as Momoji explains about the inside and outside people the rest of the picture falls into place.

However, the true star of the episode is Hatori. I always really enjoyed his character and his backstory is great. He’s a character I wanted to know more about in the original, because even though we know about his first love there’s so much we don’t know about him and his ability to erase memories that was just never explored in the original anime. I really feel the way he was set-up in this episode was fantastic and I’d love to see more of this Hatori in future episodes.

Shigure’s appearance was timely and amusing as always and the relationship between Shigure and Hatori was delightful to see. With the story so often focusing on the younger members of the clan, seeing Shigure and Hatori and realising that they’ve gone through a lot of the same things that Soma and Momoji are going through was great and I look forward to more of them as well as some of the other characters we’ve yet to meet.

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While this episode didn’t have any explosive moments it focused very much on the family and what Honda’s presence may mean in the future. It gave the whole episode a subdued tone but one that leaves you wanting more. Absolutely lovely episode.

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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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Fruits Basket 2019 First Impressions

It’s finally getting a reboot, but has it delivered on fan expectations?

Another remake of a classic and like previous ones (the Sailor Moon reboot and the Cardcaptor continuation), I cannot help but be excited while at the same time feeling a little wary about what the results might be this time around. I’m pleased to say that episode one retains all the charm of the original anime series, with superior character designs and animation in general, and it even toned down the silliness of the fan club. So, you could say so far so good.

Fruits Basket - The Prince's Fan Club

In point of fact, it is a gorgeous first episode. Very screen capable as it introduces the core cast and establishes their base line relationships. The music and sound should also be applauded as being very affective and overall this is a first episode that manages to deliver for anyone who is already a fan of the franchise and has been wanting to see the reboot.

Fruits Basket - Tohru and Hanajima

What it perhaps doesn’t do so well is have any real hook for those new to the story. The happy girl down on her luck is a trope seen many times (even before the original Fruits Basket anime) and Honda Tohru here works well enough but isn’t charming enough on her own to be a selling point within this first episode, nor pitiable enough to invoke any kind of empathy. Instead she’s very much just being set up in her role which those who know the story will anticipate her growth and development but those who don’t will simply see a fairly standard and maybe not-so-interesting lead character.

Fruits Basket - Honda Tohru

Likewise the mystery of the Soma’s is established here and I’m very keen to see this version of the anime as the original really dropped the ball here (leaving me with a read the manga conclusion which I certainly did but I’d love to see the story actually play out in anime). But again, I’m not certain this first episode really does justice to where this story will go.

Fruits Basket - Yuki and the rats

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Is a beautiful but by-the-numbers opening necessarily a bad thing?

Not really. It was a wonderfully pleasant introduction to the series and the conclusion with the ‘reveal’ for the handful of people who didn’t know all works quite well. However, most of my excitement here is still coming from my general anticipation of what is coming rather than what was delivered in episode one. Everything here works but it isn’t anything exceptional.

Fruits Basket - Honda and her mother.

Here’s hoping this adaptation grows into the charming and emotional experience this story could easily become and at this stage I’m still very optimistic. I did however take a lot of screen caps because it is really good looking.

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Juni Taisen: Zodiac War Series Review – No Twists, No Turns, Little Excitement, But Not Fatally Flawed

Overview:

12 Zodiac themed warriors have been chosen to take place in the Juni Taisen (big death match) where the winner will have a wish granted. That’s pretty much it.

Review – There will be spoilers:

If you are looking for an anime with a clear grasp of the big picture (the how and the why and all those things) than Juni Taisen is not for you. Then again, if you are looking for an anime that treats its characters as more than just fodder for increasingly less shocking deaths, is consistent in pace and action, and occasionally manages to seem like you should perhaps care about the characters, you probably aren’t making it very far into Juni Taisen anyway.

Maybe that seems ‘overly pessimistic’ as one person told me I was being after my review of episode 1 where I raised concerns that killing off the only character the audience had any connection to was probably not a stroke of narrative genius and I wasn’t really sure how this show would manage to be interesting given it seemed locked into a 12 episode/12 hour fight sequence with fairly telegraphed deaths (okay, I wasn’t that specific in my episode 1 review though in hind-sight I should have been). So it might seem like I was being pessimistic then and now, but I actually have no reason to change that view. While there are some good things to be found in Juni Taisen, my main impression as I finished the series was one of relief because to be honest this was a chore to finish by the end. Crunchyroll advertising insisting there were twists and turns to be found just kind of bugged me given there wasn’t one twist from start to finish in a story that ended up being ridiculously linear and vague.

Juni7b

Despite everything, I still would recommend this for a watch if it had explained why the war was taking place. And I mean, really explained. Not just some vague rich guys/countries are gambling on it and somehow we’ll redraw the map after it is done. The audience never sees the weight of the contest or the outcome in terms of the effect it has on the world so basically we just watch 12 characters try to kill each other and hope it amuses us. And again, that could work. I like horror. I don’t mind the occasional brutal death. However if you want to know who is next just know the order of the Chinese Zodiac (which unfortunately I knew all too well because it is the basis of a board game I played as a kid) so after week 2 it was more of less locked in who was next to die and who would win the game.

Does that mean it couldn’t be fun? We could still get some great action, couldn’t we? Episode 1 had an amazing display of animation where we saw the Boar training and becoming the awesome warrior she apparently was. It was spectacular. Yet everything after just seemed to have less energy and drive. None of the fights last any particular length of time so if you want to know what you will mostly be watching it is characters sitting around running an internal monologue. Usually this is closely followed by their death.

Juni2c

One or two of the characters were interesting enough. I didn’t mind the Chicken or the Tiger and Rat (when he appeared) was always making me curious even as he slept through the tournament, but mostly the characters were characterised by arrogance or pride. None of them seemed concerned enough about their potential deaths and almost all of them died after severely underestimating an opponent. Once or twice this might be seen as an okay move but the repetitive nature of this became truly dull viewing.

The character designs are quite well done (if a little insane and I’m sure many people will have issue with the fan service like nature of the female warriors’ outfits (they certainly aren’t designed for defence), but they nicely exemplify the zodiac and at least there is no issue with distinguishing the characters. Besides, if you start throwing rocks at the girls you would have to wonder just what the Rabbit was wearing and that is a question that I think many people will have after just one episode. Again, that isn’t designed for defence.

Juni3a

Visually, Juni Taisen is kind of interesting as the actual tournament is taking place at night with all the scenes being quite dark. By contrast, almost all of the flash back sequences are brighter as is the final episode when the victor is trying to decide what to do with their prize. This kind of attention to detail is appreciated.

Juni6d

Basically, I loved the concept this show had and was looking forward to it, but found that the actual story and the execution was lacking even though it looks great and it is clear a lot of effort has been put into it. I don’t think I have any real need to ever revisit this series and it isn’t one I can overly recommend given what it is lacking, but it isn’t a complete train-wreck either. Basically it ends up being just kind of average.

Episode Reviews:


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