Fruits Basket Vol. #04 (Mania.com)

By:Megan Lavey
Review Date: Thursday, March 10, 2005
Release Date: Sunday, August 01, 2004



Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Natsuki Takaya
Translated by:Alethea and Althena Nibley
Adapted by:

What They Say
When the infamous Akito makes an in-class appearance at the start of the school year, the Sohma family worries that his arrival will be an uncensored show and tell about Yuki's past. Meanwhile, when Ayame vos to rekindle that you can choose your friends but you can't choose your family - especially when they're acting like animals!

The Review
Packaging:
Fruits Basket continues to have some of the best covers in manga on these shores. We get an absolutely yummy picture of a lounging Shigure looking somewhat seductive. This image is repeated in a tranparent bar behind him with the logo above. A cute image of Shigure's Zodiac form reading a book is on the back with color plates of Tohru, Kyo and Yuki on the inside cover. Extras included this time include a Fruits Basket side story, part two of the Takaya interview, Zodiac information about the year of the dog, fan art and ads for other TOKYOPOP series. Thiis series contains more extras than many DVD releases!

Artwork:
I have grown to where I'm really liking Takaya's style, even though the eyes have a tendency to bug me at times. Backgrounds are still minimal, but are made up for with lots of action.

Text:A glossary is provided in the back for sound effects that were not translated, although there are plenty of panels with translated stuff sprinkled through the book. I felt the translation was solid throughout and applaud TOKYOPOP for their strong use of honorifics in the series. It winds up making some of the scenes absolutely hilarious, especially when class president Makoto is freaking out. The way he says "Honda Tohru-kun" and other names was making me roar with laughter.

Content (may contain spoilers):
It's the start of the new school year and Tohru, Yuki and Kyo are now in their second year of high school. There are more members of the Sohma clan there now as Momiji and Hatsuharu join the school. The result is hilarious as the class president goes nuts over Momiji earing the girls uniform and Hatsuharu's hair.

But the hilarity dies when the gang discovers that Akito has also joined them at school. This causes both Tohru and Yuki some distress as Akito formally meets Tohru and puts the pressure on Yuki to return to the Sohma compound - giving some insight into the abuse that Yuki suffered.

We get back to the humor with the appearance of Yuki's older brother, Ayame - the snake in the Zodiac. Th result manage to unite Yuki and Kyo for a change as both of them do theibest to get Ayame out of the house.

The book ends with two very touching chapters. One concerns Momiji's past and reveals how he came to be in the compound and why he was removed from his mother at such a young age. The second has Tohru introducing Kyo and Yuki to her mother's grave and Kyo begins to realize that he has feelings for Tohru.

Comments
After a strong start to the series, I found volume three to be pretty lackluster, despite the introduction of Hatsuharu. It was to the point where I wasn't quite sure if I wanted to try out the fourth volume, and I'm very glad I did. The content in volume four immediately gets off to a hilarious start and I found myself laughing out loud several times. The amazing thing is the staying power of the work. I started reviewing this title six months ago and got sidetracked. When I picked it up again to finish recently, those same scenes were just as funny as they were when I read them the first time. It's followed by a dramatic punch with the Akito scenes. That guy is just plain creepy. But the series easily slips back into the humor again with Ayame's introduction.

The chapter surrounding Momiji and his mother nearly made me cry, because of how sad it was. Despite seeing Hatori's heartbreak with his fiancee earlier in the series, it was much sadder to see Momiji's mother treat him the way she does because of his being a member of the Zodiac. It's one thing for lovers to do this - at least the fiancee was willing to give it a chance. It's another completely for a mother to reject her child. It makes the chapters just prior to that, with Ayame's attempts to reconcile with Yuki, more touching.

I found myself starting to like Kyo a lot more over the course of the book, especially as the attention is diverted from the conflict between himself and Yuki and they are in agreement for a change. I never imagined Kyo to be much more than just a character to play off Yuki while allowing for a relationship to develop between Yuki and Tohru. Now I'm seeing Kyo start to emerge in his own right, not just as a lead character but for a contender to see who winds up with Tohru as well.

With the seamless transition from humor, to a bit of horror, back to humor, then to extremely touching and sad moments, Fruits Basket had me captivated for the entire volume and has reinstated my faith in the series.



Mania Grade: A+
Art Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: A+
Text/Translatin Rating: A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Released By: TOKYOPOP
MSRP: 9.99
Pages: 216
ISBN: 1-59182-606-3
Size: B6
Orientation: Right to Left