“Didn’t that Librarymama used to read?” you ask. We first started watching the dvds of this from the library. When there were no more dvds at the library (tragically soon), I turned to the books. I haven’t been sure if I could do an adequate job of describing their appeal. But now that I am turning down three other legitimate already started books to check out more Fruits Basket, I thought I should probably try.
Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya This is the most popular series of shojo or girls manga so far. Tohru Honda is a Japanese high school girl. Recently orphaned, she finds herself unofficially adopted by an isolated household of the large and wealthy Sohma clan. While everyone knows of the Sohmas, only a very few know of their curse: every generation, one person will represent each of the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac, plus the cat, who was tricked out of attending the banquet. When they are hugged by a person of the opposite sex, these cursed people transform into their animal selves for a while. Tohru, despite the many misfortunes that have befallen her, is relentlessly optimistic and always believes the best of everyone. (How does she sound too good to be true and yet remain absolutely appealing? Her struggles to pass class must be part of it.) Now she’s living with the older Shigure, the dog, as well fellow high school students Yuki the rat and Kyo the cat. Naturally this situation gives ample opportunity for suggestive but chaste humorous interludes as people bump into Tohru and transform. But the character drama is what makes this really addictive. The otherwise quiet and polite Yuki and the rude but soft-hearted Kyo are constantly getting into fights – but find themselves spending more time together to spend it with their adored Tohru. Tohru just wants to get to know them better, and meet the other members of the Zodiac. The fan letters published in the book are always asking if Tohru will choose Yuki or Kyo. It’s not going to happen. The beauty is in the attraction, where a slight and otherwise innocent gesture carries more tension than your average explicit scene. Somewhere in the volumes I haven’t read yet – I think it’s up to 20 or so now – they might try to break the curse. For right now, it’s mostly personal drama, with the occasional drops of information about the curse slowly accumulating in the background. I could say more, but I have two more books to read tonight.