Fruits Basket Vol. #2 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: A
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
  • MSRP: 19.98
  • Running time: 123
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Fruits Basket

Fruits Basket Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     September 02, 2007
Release Date: September 04, 2007


Fruits Basket Vol. #2
© FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.


What They Say
It's once again time for the school's annual Cultural Festival, and Class 1-D's rice ball stand is a success " thanks in large part to Tohru's delicious home-made treats. But what should be a day of fun turns tense when the festival is visited by two unexpected guests " Momiji and Hatori Sohma! Akito has sent them to the school to do some checking-up on Yuki and the others. The only question is, why?

The Review!
After an exceptionally solid first volume, the follow-up manages to keep up much of the same as well as providing one of the best episodes of the series so far.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. The show features a good stereo mix, but it's not a mix that's real active in general as this is a very dialogue based show with only a few "action" moments here and there. Dialogue is crisp and clear and the opening and closing sounds sound excellent. We listened to the English track in a few places and found that to be about the same level of quality, which is solid but not terribly active. One of the things that Funimation does that I love is they dub the songs, and the one for this release is fantastic. I'm continuing to hold out hope for an actual soundtrack release or maybe a single of some sort or compilation.

Video:
Fruits Basket continues to use dual-layered discs and providing wonderful results. There's a full six episodes of show here as well as over thirty minutes of extras and numerous menus and other little bits. And it only uses about 7.5 gig of space out of the 9 gig available. In terms of the transfer, it's just about as flawless as I can find it to be on my setup. Colors are beautifully saturated, aliasing is extremely minimal and cross coloration is only noticeable in a few areas during pause/step movements. Like past releases, the opening and ending sequences display an angle based on menu selections, so if you select Japanese with or without subtitles, you'll get the original logo and original untranslated credits. Selecting English with or without (close captioned) subtitles, you'll get the English translation of the credits and the English logo as well as the English opening song.

Packaging:
The second cover for this four volume series features a nice if somewhat bland looking piece, where we have Yuki standing confident set against a yellowish background as some cherry blossom petals blow across the cover. The back cover features a few animation sots and a summary of the shows premise. The discs features and extras are clearly listed as well as the basic production information. The insert provides another shot of the front cover without the Funimation or DVD logos while it opens up to provide summaries for each episode as well as two screenshots of each. This is a good package all around.

Menu:
The menu layout is done in a fake widescreen feel, with the bars at the top and bottom being filled with soft colored flowers that are different in each screen while the center area features character shots and the actual selections. While there is nice relaxing instrumental music playing in each menu, there are no actual animations slowing anything down, which allows for nice fast access and load times.

Extras:
As if the first volume wasn't loaded with extras, we get another heavily loaded round here. The character profiles here are done up in my favorite way with one for the character and then a selection for the English voice actor. A textless opening sequence is available which also includes soft subtitles as well as the ability to switch to the English language version of the song. There's a fifteen minute Akitaroh Daichi interview taken during last years Big Apple Anime Festival and it's just a lot of fun listening to him talk about this show. Listening to him, one of the few "young" directors that's done a lot of onscreen interviews is such a difference from the older directors. The amount of energy and punch to his speech and as animated as he is makes interviews a lot of fun to watch.

While that's an original extra, there's also some Japanese extras that have made their way over as well. There's a fifteen minute segment called "Fruits Basket Room 1" that has the voice actress for Tohru sit down with others from the show in one of the rooms similar to the show and they talk about various things while stifling giggles. There's also a fourteen minute segment called Eyecatch Gallery No. 1 that explains the origins of the eye-catches, why they were done with a calligraphy pen and goes on to explain a huge number of them and their meanings. This is a wonderful extra!

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As soon as this disc arrived, it was in the player as fast as I could unwrap it. Having fallen in love with the shows first six episodes, we were eager to see how it would build and whether it would be able to keep up the momentum. With us now just at the halfway point of the series, I'm only hoping that the ending works out, because this first half has made us quite happy.

With six episodes here, there's a wide variety of stories told here as well as a lot of background information provided on the Sohma family. There's also the introduction of a number of new characters that build out the family and adds more amusing Zodiac transformations. But they manage to do it well enough that it's not overdone and you don't have them poofing into their Zodiac form all over the place. My greatest fear is it turning into a running Ranma � gag.

The show starts things off lightly with a school festival event and Yuki and Tohru's class going to do an Onigiri stand of sorts, where they have three very tasty types and a fourth "free" one that could be something good or something strange. There's nothing like play roulette with your fellow classmates taste buds. A lot of the focus here is on Kyo though as Tohru and Yuki start to realize just how much he's changing as he continues to live with them and Shigure. They're even startled to learn he's got a talent for making Onigiri. It's a slow and subtle episode for the most part, but the way it works the characters over and explores them is just very well done.

One of the things Daichi talks about in his interview is his favorite episodes, and one of them appears on this disc. Episode 8, which deals with some of the darker side of the Sohma family, is an exceptional episode that had me choked up as it played. The cast grows here with two new folks in the form of young Momiji, a boy who looks a whole lot like a girl, and the Sohma family doctor named Hatori. Both of them are Zodiac members, but it doesn't come into play too much here other than to point the story in one direction.

Hatori's the one to mainly care for the family, in particular Akito whose subject to frequent illness as well as wild mood swings. Hatori's also the family member with a truly special ability, the ability to erase memories from people. Hatori's invited Tohru to come visit as he intends to try and get her to leave the Sohma lands as it will only cause her grief, but the others are more afraid that he'll simply wipe her memories away instead. So Tohru makes sure Momiji is with her as much as possible to try and give her some support. But her meeting with Hatori isn't quite what she expected.

Hatori's talk of the Sohma family provides some interesting facts, such as the large extent of the clan and how much land they really have. It's also made known that not all members of the family know of the transformation abilities, as the family is much larger than expected. With Tohru now in his office, he begins to explain some of his past and why she should leave. His past and past love is a very tragic piece, and one that likely has large ramifications on the future episodes of this series. The way the story plays out brings out such emotions in the characters that it surprised me. For the duration of nearly the entire episode, I simply sat enthralled by it.

The New Years Holiday plays out in a later episode, where Akito demands family loyalty and has everyone show up for the festival, but only family. Tohru seems unaffected by it and wishes them a good time when it comes time for that, but she's actually hiding more of herself from them than they realize, as this is yet another first for her, a first time without her mother to spend a precious holiday with. The strength of the family unit that's growing in Shigure's household becomes the highlight here with Kyo and Yuki.

There's so much going on in these episodes, from the Valentines day event where everyone is giving chocolate to the one where most of Tohru's friends come over for spring cleaning and everyone's working hard while Shigure is avoiding his agent who's demanding more pages for his books. The episodes play lightly for the most part but there's that somber tinged edge to all of it, keeping in tune with the time of year and the moods of the characters.

While the cast grows rather big here, the main focus on the primary characters continues to be strong. The secondary characters are used very well in providing support and encouragement for them as well as being blunt in providing an outside view to them of what they see, as opposed to just keeping it to themselves. This show, even while just listening to it while writing here, continues to be a treasure. The dialogue is so evocative of emotions that sometimes it's easy to forget what it is your watching and to just get wrapped up in all of it.

I find it hard to really describe the show and the appeal to me, as it resonates with something deep down. The simple music, the looks of the characters and their emotions all play a large part in drawing me into it. I'm more and more fascinated with it the further into it I get, something that normally happens further along in a series as opposed to the first half.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Character Profiles,Textless Opening,Daichi Interview,Room No 1 Special,Eye-Catch Gallery

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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