Fruits Basket Vol. #3: Puddles Of Memories -

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Mania Grade: A

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  • 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: 39.95
  • Running time: 144
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Fruits Basket

Fruits Basket Vol. #3: Puddles Of Memories

By Chris Beveridge     March 28, 2003
Release Date: March 25, 2003

Fruits Basket Vol. #3: Puddles Of Memories
© FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.

What They Say
As the one year anniversary of her mother's death looms on the horizon, Tohru Honda is forced to take inventory of her life. Over the past 12 months she remained strong and focused despite her personal tragedy by becoming a valued member of the well known but mysterious Sohma household.

But with the arrival of a new school year comes even more turmoil. Tohru soon discovers that the love and care she gives others is exactly what she needs in the most difficult time of her life.

The Review!
Fruits Basket continues to amaze me with its simple yet effective storytelling and an ever growing cast that simple continues to amuse as opposed to infuriating me.

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.

Fruits Basket continues to use dual-layered discs and providing wonderful results. There?s a full seven episodes of show here as well as about thirty minutes of extras and numerous menus and other little bits. 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.

The third cover for this four volume series features a good shot of Kyo in a basic outfit and jacket with that slight almost condescending look that he manages to pull off so well. 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.

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.

With seven episodes here, I was surprised to see as many extras as I did. In addition to another round of the character profiles, the textless opening song gets another play through here. The Fruits Basket Room No. 2 is the main extra through, with Tohru?s voice actress this time interviewing Kyo?s voice actor. The two are most appropriately silly throughout most of it and it?s very infectious, with a running time of about fifteen minutes or so. There?s also another Eye-catch gallery here that?s setup much like the previous volume and that covers episodes 13 through twenty six and runs for about fifteen minutes.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With this volume doing seven episodes and bringing us through all the ?teen? episodes, I watch it full well knowing that something in my head is likely screaming that I should hate this. Not only do we have the ultra cute Momoji character that would normally drive me insane, they continue to add new cast members this late into the series. That usually smacks of character good sales as opposed to actual story development.

Fruits Basket manages to avoid the pitfalls though by still heavily concentrating on the core cast of characters and using the new cast to build upon the larger image and story of the Sohma family itself, which is something that?s very pervasive in the core story of the love triangle between Tohru, Yuki and Kyo. They very carefully weave all the elements here together to provide a very enjoyable overall tale, even when certain elements would normally frustrate my sensibilities.

With seven episodes here, we?re just going to skim things a bit and talk about some aspects of it as opposed to a full breakdown. There?s just so much goodness here that we?d be writing all day. The disc does kick off with the new school year getting into session and the new dilemma the main trio faces in now having Momiji and Haru in the school. What makes things even more difficult is that Momiji, who we?ve definitely classified as a boy in past episodes, continues to wear girls clothes, including a girls school uniform. And, of course, all the girls in the school love him for it. Between that and the current class president trying to win Yuki over, things mostly focus on the getting back together at school concept.

One of the best new character introductions comes not long after this when a snake suddenly finds itself up Tohru?s skirt and blouse, though she quickly realizes that it?s one of the Sohma clan and puts on her usual happy to help face. Once the snake turns back to human, we get a mid twenties silver haired gentleman by the name of Ayame Sohma. His claim to fame in the zodiac family? He?s actually Yuki?s much older brother, and the two are obviously not on the best of terms, which is almost expected with that kind of huge age gap. But Ayame has a goal in mind with his return to Yuki?s life, and that?s to become more involved with him.

What?s really amusing is that Ayame, Shigeru and Hatori are all a real little clique of their own, with Ayame and Shigeru being complete goofs with each other, but Ayame will become dead serious and answer anything that Hatori asks of him. The dynamic of the group is one of those you rarely see in anime, since the close-friends from high school theme never gets explored ?ten years later?. This brings a new twist to the character being added and helps bring out new aspects of those two characters and their own issues. So Ayame becomes more than a one-trick pony.

One of the best characters of the show, and almost topping the main trio for me, is Hana. Her look, her speech style, the entire vibes gig of hers? it?s all just so masterfully played out. The way she simply tilts her head slightly and then her eyes swivel to look at you just sends the right creep factor. Hana gets some seriously good screen time in this volume and her relationship with Tohru as well as her own needs with Tohru get very nicely explored. With one aspect of this volume being that it?s been a year since Tohru?s mother died, Hana manages to put in some truly excellent subtle moments of dialogue that really enhances the character. Never mind that we get to meet her equally interesting younger brother.

There are many revelations in this volume that brings more deep sadness to the forefront of some of the characters, though I think Hatori?s story still is the saddest of them. The two main ones here as well as the continual hints of Yuki?s own dark secret give this show an amazing amount of depth to balance out the humor. That it?s pulled off so well is a real mark of greatness, and this series is definitely hitting that category. Very recommended.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Character Profiles,Textless Opening,Room No. 2 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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