“Apples And Oranges” – Fruits Basket (manga) – 10/10 Black Cats

It’s surprising how many persons go through life without ever recognizing that their feelings toward other people are largely determined by their feelings toward themselves, and if you’re not comfortable within yourself, you can’t be comfortable with others. ~Sydney J. Harris

Mangaka: Natsuki Takaya

Genre: Romance/Comedy/Drama/Supernatural/Shoujo

Review Status: Complete (23 Volumes/23 Volumes)

Licensed: Formerly licensed by Tokyopop, it has not been relicensed yet.

Art: Somewhat generic character designs, but then again that might be because a lot of shoujo now take after FruBa as the model. Uncluttered panels that are easy to follow, with occasional heavy and blunt uses of toning.

Summary: Tohru Honda was an orphan with no place to go, until the mysterious Sohma family offered her a place to call home. Now, her ordinary high school life is turned upside down, as she’s introduced to the Sohma’s world of magical curses and family secrets. (Amazon.com description)

Review: This is a manga I avoided for the longest time simply because I wasn’t a fan of the anime. I deeply, deeply regret this now (and love my local library- yay for having the entire series at my fingertips!). There is a reason this is considered one of the best shoujo manga out there.

The first seven volumes consist of getting you introduced to the characters and the appearances of the Sohma family. This is what the anime covers. What comes after are the depths of the emotional instability and abuse that perpetuates within the household as the curse slowly unravels. At the heart of it is Akito and his relationship with his parents and the members of the Zodiac that keep him from venturing into the world and being true to himself.

Circling him are the members of the Zodiac, caught up in their forced love (and subsequent loathing) of their “God”. Akito manipulates and uses them to cure his own loneliness and self-hatred, while the parents of most of the Zodiac members fear and revile their children, leaving them with guilt and scars that they seek to heal in myriad ways. Tohru is caught up in it, with her love for Kyo and the others driving her to comfort them and befriend them, comforting them in any way she can.

Her journey in this world of conflicting roles and dark histories brings its weight to bear on her. When she finds that sometimes, there is nothing she can do, it starts making her feel that she could break. She Tohru goes from Mary-Sue-esque character to believable, real person in a heartbeat in this manga, and all the characters around her are as damaged but loveable- even the worst of them becomes sympathetic as the story unfolds.

There may not be any huge fights or adventure to distant lands, but this is nevertheless an epic story about people- coming together, moving on, and earning their happy endings.

Overall, this is a beautiful manga that deserves all the praise it gets.

Recommended: 15+. The language is really heavy in the first three volumes (Kyo has a mouth on him!) but rarely does it get worse than the d-word. There’s implied sexual relations between several characters.

Other titles you might enjoy:
Searching for the Full Moon (anime and manga)
Cat Street (manga)
Karakuri Odette (manga)


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