Fruits Basket Vol. #05 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B+

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  • Art Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: TOKYOPOP
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 194
  • ISBN: 1591826071
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Fruits Basket Vol. #05

By Sakura Eries     March 24, 2006
Release Date: October 01, 2004

Fruits Basket Vol.#05

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

What They Say
The Sohma household takes to the lake for a vacation at their summerhouse. However, the peaceful silence is deafening, as Yuki and Kyo are once again not on speaking terms. Will Tohru's klutzy kindness get the dueling duo back to their old cat-and-mouse antics once again?

The Review
Tokyopop continues to feature a different Sohma Juunishi on the cover and extras of each volume, and Volume 5's Juunishi is Kagura. She's kneeling in a demure pose (having a calm moment!) in her school uniform. Her image is repeated behind her in a transparent green bar, similar to the designs of the previous couple of volumes. Above her is the Fruits Basket logo. The back cover is comprised of the Fruits Basket logo, a brief summary in green text against panels in different shades of green, and a sleeping Kagura boar.

The inside of the front cover has a picture of Tohru, Kyo, and Yuki with what I'm guessing is Hatori in seahorse form, and the inside of the back cover sports a picture of a flustered Tohru. These pictures are in black and white in my copy; however I've noticed that the inside cover pictures in earlier and subsequent volumes are in full-color and not black and white. I'm guessing that whether you get color on not depends on which printing you purchase so it's something to look out for. Extras include Zodiac information about the year of the boar, embedded author's notes (much of which has to do with Takaya-sensei's video games), an excellently designed characters guide, original cover art in black-and-white, part 3 of an interview with Takaya-sensei, the "Fans Basket" section, and the "Special Intern Alley" (and yes, Tokyopop has had at least four sets of otaku-twins interning with them "I actually met one of the pairs).

While I do enjoy Takaya's character designs, I do wish her characters were more distinct. Without the benefit of color (which is an advantage that the anime has), I often get confused between Akito and Yuki, Kagura and Tohru, and Shigure and Hatori. There's a lovely title page for Ch. 34, and for the life of me, I can't figure out if it's Ayame or Yuki or another character. Backgrounds are wonderfully detailed, but her speech bubble placement could use a little work. Sometimes it gets difficult to tell which character is talking, and whether or not they are speaking aloud or just thinking. Takaya-sensei occasionally clarifies speakers by placing a tiny little drawing of the character's corresponding Zodiac animal in the bubble, but because they are so small, sometimes it is difficult to differentiate between animals as well.

Unlike earlier volumes, this one does not include a glossary of terms. Newly introduced honorifics (as well as cultural notes) are explained in footnotes; however the text is very tiny. Tokyopop keeps all honorifics (and any other funky nicknames) which is great for manga purists, but may be a little confusing for new readers. Hatori, for instance, is referred to as Haa-san, Hatori-san, Tori-san, Hari, and Hatori oji-chan in this one volume alone. A couple of sound effects are translated with overlays or with tiny side text, but the majority is left untranslated.

There's one area where the text looks like it was misplaced in the wrong bubble. Other than that, the translation is pretty solid. There is a nice variety of fonts to go with varying situations and moods.

Content: (may contain spoilers)
This volume opens with Golden Week and yet another outing (this time to a lake) for our 3 main characters. On this trip, they are accompanied by the older Sohmas, Shigure and Hatori- and, much to Kyo's and Yuki's chagrin, Aaya crashes the trip. At first, it seems like Shigure's just using the trip to cause trouble for his relatives and his editor, but then we learn that he actually has a more selfless motive--Hatori's former fiancé is getting married and taking Hatori away for the week is his way of trying to support his cousin. The 3 older Juunishi have an uncharacteristically serious conversation regarding the curse, its impact on them, and their concerns for the younger Juunishi.

Upon their return from the Sohma lake vacation home, a new Juunishi is introduced- Kisa, the tiger. Kisa has caused trouble for her family by running away, and Tohru and Yuki come across Hatsuharu shortly after he's found the missing Kisa, who is so weak, she's transformed to her animal shape. Despite the fact that Kisa doesn't want to have anything to do with anyone (Tohru's gets bitten twice because of that!), Tohru instantly understands Kisa's predicament, and Kisa latches onto Tohru. It is later revealed that the source of Kisa's trouble is teasing from her classmates because of her hair and eye color (you can't tell from the black and white pictures, but in the anime, Kisa's hair is orange). Things have gotten so bad that she's stopped talking altogether. Through Tohru's affection and support from Hatsuharu and Yuki, Kisa is able to find the strength she needs to speak again and return to school.

Next comes a ridiculous confrontation between the Yuki fan club and Hanajima. In an effort to discover Hanajima's weakness, the Yuki fan club venture to her house to search for clues. They get nowhere, of course. This chapter gives deeper insight into Hanajima's feelings for Tohru, and we meet Megumi, Hanajima's younger brother.

Finally is a chapter where the Sohmas take care of Tohru for a change. She's physically weak from a cold and emotionally distraught from not passing one of her exams. The Sohmas rally to help and each does his/ her part to get Tohru back to her old self.

For those familiar with the anime, the chapters in this volume very closely match the corresponding episodes in the anime. (To my disappointment, the part involving Kyo cooking leeks for Tohru's soup was not a part of the original manga story line "aw, shucks.)

When I first saw the Fruits Basket anime, I thought, "Oh no, it's a Ranma ½ knockoff." While the Ranma ½ transformation concept (hot/cold water) was kind of cute given that the curse came from a "cursed spring," the whole "being-hugged-by-the-opposite-sex" idea is frankly quite stupid. However, if you can accept (or get over) this aspect of Takaya's world, Furuba is a very nice shojo with extensive character depth and development. I think that the most compelling thing about Takaya's story is the array of characters all struggling to function in the midst of dysfunction (some of which is their own doing but most of which is the heritage they are born into), and, of course, stories about dysfunctional families are always more interesting than functional ones.

While Tohru (and probably many Furuba readers) find the Zodiac members fascinating in a "cute" way, she is learning as she spends more time with the Sohmas and meets more family members that the curse is more than an inconvenience. Kisa's introduction exemplifies this quite beautifully as Takaya brings her into the story at an all time low in her life. What I like about this particular vignette is that, while Tohru does do a bit in catalyzing Kisa's recovery, Takaya turns it into a group effort by having the Zodiac cousins support one another. And it's also nice in the final section to see the tables turn on Tohru and having all of the Sohmas take care of HER for a change.

The confrontation between the Prince Yuki fanclub and the "Wave Girl" Hana was the weakest of the section. The anime used a lot of effects to make it obvious that the fan club is just complete over-the-top silliness. That level of humor doesn't translate as well in the manga, and that chapter comes off as a battle between "STUPID" and "WEIRD."

This manga is rated age 13+, mostly for Kyo's foul language, but also because of the complexity of the story.


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