Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Fruits Basket, Volume 1

1999 first published in Japan, but published in comic form in 1998, and this TokyoPop translation from 2004 
Natsuki Takaya
Fruits Basket, Volume 1
Bought newish for $9.99
Slightly worn paperback

When I first saw the anime, I loved it so much, I watched the whole DVD (six episodes) in a row.  I got the manga not long after, and enjoyed it less, partly because I missed the wonderful American voice-acting.  I also quit maybe a dozen volumes in because there were too many side characters, and I wanted the focus to stay on Tohru Honda and the Sohmas.  (In contrast, I read Kare Kano to the end, getting it from the library, and finding it about equal to the anime, although I only bought the anime, not the manga.)

As the dates at the top indicate, it was hard to know where to place this chronologically, especially since this edition contains an interview with the American actress for Tohru.  But I decided that the way it was originally packaged as a book matters most, especially since we get what presumably wasn't in the comic form, Takaya rambling about various topics, including what sound like rather boring video games.  Occasionally she'll offer insights into her characters, but not often enough.

As for the story itself, it's a good one, with Tohru learning the secret of the Sohma family, that thirteen of its members turn into animals of the Chinese zodiac (including the exiled cat).  If I recall correctly, these first six chapters roughly correspond to the first five episodes, with Tohru meeting, moving in with, and then briefly leaving Shigure (dog), Yuki (rat), and Kyo (cat).  The mix of personalities offers interesting contrasts.  I do have to gripe about a couple of things.  One, I don't find the violence of Kagura (boar) towards her "beloved" Kyo funny, although it sort of works in the anime.  Two, I don't mind reading back to front (TokyoPop's "authentic" format), but I don't like how it's not always clear whether to move down or right.  And three, some of the font is incredibly tiny (not only translated but shrunk down from the comics), so I ended up skipping the smallest.

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