Fruits Basket Vol. #03 - Mania.com



Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B+

0 Comments | Add

 

Rate & Share:

 

Related Links:

 

Info:

  • Art Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: TOKYOPOP
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 200
  • ISBN: 1-59182-605-5
  • Size: Tall B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Fruits Basket Vol. #03

By Eduardo M. Chavez     June 19, 2004
Release Date: May 01, 2004


Fruits Basket Vol.#03
© TOKYOPOP


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

What They Say
A family with an ancient curse...

And the girl who will change their lives forever...

It's Valentine's Day and you know what that means - lots of chocolates for the cutest boys at school! In this case it's a pretty close tie between hot-headed Kyo Sohma and "Prince Charming" Yuki Sohma. Of course the kind-hearted Tohru, guest of the Sohma family, has chocolates for everyone! But when White Day comes around, what will the Sohma family give her in return?

The Review
Let's see... Dog, rat, boar, dragon, rabbit and cat. I wonder who will show up next in TOKYOPOP's Fruits Basket?

Packaging:
Similar to the presentation of the first volume, TOKYOPOP uses the original character art (this volume features Kyo) with some original concepts. Gone is the flowery background of the Hakusensha version, in its place are small images of the animals of the zodiac and a purple panel containing a shadowed reproduction of the character art. I was also impressed by how they used the original back-cover image (Kyo is the cat) underneath the blurb for this volume. It's a wonderful way to use space and cute character art.

Logo Check!! (2003 Megs).... the logo is very simple and looks quite appropriate for this series. A purple times roman font is used for both logo and mangaka listing. Same logo is used on the light-blue spine.

Inside the covers, there is the original dust jacket art. All of the chapter headers and volume headers are present and TP's version features some exclusive extras: character introduction, interview with Takaya-sensei, school uniform detail and "Fans Basket", the Furuba fan art page.

The printing has improved quite a bit. On a side-by-side comparison, my copy looks almost exactly like the original printing (by Hakusensha). The images are blown up a bit to fit TOKYOPOP's taller and wider sized books, so there are a few minimal alignment issues. Still things have improved quite a bit.
This volume also features ads for: Girl Got Game, Kare Kano, Faeries Landing, Comic Party and Suki.

Artwork:
As much as I like the sleek looks of these characters, I am not too thrilled with most of the eyes. Kyo's eyes seem to be much more gentle and complex even though they can often be drawn very simply (narrow with smaller irises). Still as individuals these characters look great. Takaya might have these characters a little on the long side but they always look great as she has great costume sense. Costumes are stylish and unique, really showing off individual taste and personality.

Backgrounds are okay but as in certain type of shojo can go completely missing for pages in favor of emotional patterns (flowers, shapes, sparks, lightning...). Fortunately, the layout makes up for dull backgrounds by being quite active and presenting the manga with a good mix of presentation techniques (panels just for soliloquies, panels for perspective and panels for mood and tone).

Orientation/SFX:
This tall B6 GN is presented in right to left format and has all of its SFX translated in a glossary. I have to admit I was surprised to see TOKYOPOP try this in the second volume of this series but I am really happy to see it. I hope this will be done with more TOKYOPOP titles.

Text:
The translation is very good in this GN. There are a pair of situations where I felt the translation was questionable, but even then the context was still appropriate. Honorifics are used all the time. The tone is also very good for all characters present.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Another volume and another member of the zodiac to meet. We could have been introduced to Sohma Hatsuharu in the previous volume if he had a better sense of direction. Like a few other manga/anime characters (Hibiki Ryoma from Ranma is a good example) what would take minutes or hours for most would take days or even weeks for Hatsuharu. Simple things like navigating his own neighborhood can be a chore. This problem could be caused by is zodiac curse, as his sign is known to be slow and stupid. Hatsuharu does not let any of this get to him anymore, though. Inspired by other members of his family he has been able to overcome stereotypes and become his own person.

Some who know Hatsuharu would say he might be two people. When Tohru first met Hatsuharu, while running cross-country for P.E. class, she got to meet the gentle side. "White Haru" might be sweet, sensitive and a little curious; "Black Haru" is violent, loud and an instigator for trouble. Even though it was the first time they met, it did not take very long for Tohru to experience both sides of Hatsuharu. In typical Sohma form, he was soon fighting with Kyo and being gentle with Yuki and most importantly, he was comfortable with Tohru when he needed to change into his zodiac animal... the cow. Actually, like all most members of the zodiac that we have been introduced to, Hatsuharu was not only comfortable about his curse but he was able to open up to Tohru in regards to his past and his downfalls. White or black like almost every other Sohma he just wants to be accepted and Tohru can do that.

On Valentine's Day, the hope is to have someone accept your gifts, in Japan it is usually dark chocolate. Tohru, even though she may not have the money to support herself, would like to have all of the men in her life to accept her gift this year. In part to express her thanks for taking her in when she was in need and also to share her feelings towards her many "princes." The loving does not stop there. Hanajima and Uotani would also receive chocolate this year, but this is obviously for the love they share as friends. It does not take much for the men in Tohru's life to accept her gifts, but one might wonder if her feelings will be reciprocated. Kyo, Yuki and Shigure all tend to like her company, but is there anything else to their relationship? What about Momoji, Hatori or Hatsuharu; what can she expect from them?

Most of the responses should be expected, but it is Shigure's and Momiji's may come as a surprise. Shigure appreciates Tohru for what she has done for his family. He considers her as a "tranquilizer" for Yuki and Kyo's outbreaks. In many ways, she is their buffer and tends to keep them in check. As someone from outside the family, the boys are not as unruly in front of Tohru. At the same time, it has set up a situation where they are starting to relax a lot more in other situations. This works well for Shigure. He likes to see his plan is working and even if it does not appear to be done with malice, he feels that he is taking advantage of Tohru. Funny way to show someone you care, huh.

Momiji's response is out of kindness and out of curiosity. On white day, males give gifts to those they care for. Momiji decided to take Tohru on a well-deserved trip. Momiji sees first hand how hard Tohru tries at work and at home, so a trip to the Sohma family onsen would be a change of scenery and should provide some fun experiences. Of course, for someone like Tohru going to an onsen is out of the ordinary - a luxury that she could not afford. She was excited to go, but considered her social status before even accepting the offer. In the end, she would have a wonderful time, even though there would be the usual fights and unexpected Sohma family surprises (who would have known Momiji is only a year younger than Tohru... didn't he sleep in the same futon as her??!!) And most importantly, she got to do this with her mother (who's photograph was wrapped in plastic so she could go to the outdoor baths) and was able to experience the kinder sides of her princes - Yuki, Kyo and Momiji.

Comments
With the theme being Valentine's Day/White Day, I expected the focus to turn to Tohru and the guys? reaction to her. Instead, we got some more development for characters that we have not gotten to know very well - Hatsuharu, Shigure and Momiji. Experiencing their motivations and their difficulties is great, but right now, I really wonder how Tohru can take all of this. One can see that she is not all together at times. There are times where she sacrifices herself too much to make others happy, eventually causing her stress and more work. There are other times when pleasing her dead mother would have Tohru doubting herself, to the point where she would rather not have new experiences to give the impression that she is humble. At some point, I would expect her to crack. Unfortunately, with Takaya working on the development of her zodiac characters she has ignored Tohru and used her in ways similar to how members of the Sohma family have.

When taking that into consideration, I have to say Takaya has possibly created a situation where Tohru through her efforts to be humble and hospitable could be in for a major fall. If that were the case, working on the supporting cast to create a sense of comfort would be a great way to get readers to relate to a heroine like Tohru. Who wouldn't want to get attention from bishies? Furthermore, with a stronger supporting cast there is more chance for plot development as they could carry the story themselves (as Shigure did in his chapter with Hatori). So even when chapters may start to feel like filler, there is usually a bit of character development being worked on. This is always a good thing.

Even so, I cannot help but wonder much more can this family lean on you Tohru? Finding out every volume could get old if something does not change soon.

As this title progresses the fact that this title was one of the more popular series in Japan becomes clear. The characters get a lot of love. You get to experience them when things are good, as well as when they are struggling. The pacing is perfect. There is a good mix of comedy, fun filler, drama and action (something for everyone). In addition Fruits Basket is easy to relate to. With all the different personalities and the different signs of the zodiac, there is always someone to associate with. There are few titles that can do all that well, Fruits Basket puts all of these aspects together and makes a tasty treat that is presented in a nice package by TOKYOPOP.

Recommended.

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES



Be the first to add a comment to this article!


ADD A COMMENT

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Please click here to login.

POPULAR TOPICS