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Fruits Basket - volume 2
August 2004 SITE MAP   SEARCH

Fruits Basket: Volumes 1 + 2

director: Akitaroh Daichi

240 minutes (PG) 2004
Funimation DVD Region 2 + 4 retail

RATING: 6/10
reviewed by Debbie Moon
High school student Tohru has a pretty odd life already: after her mother died, she's ended up living in a tent, keeping up appearances at school while working all night to pay her tuition. Then she discovers that Yuki, the boy everyone fancies, has a secret. He and all his rich and sinister family are under a curse that causes them to turn into animal forms when embraced by members of the opposite sex.
   Tohru moves in as housekeeper, joining Yuki and his brothers, an effete novelist and a wildcat martial arts expert whose sole purpose for living is to challenge Yuki to fights. Having a household who are liable to become talking animals at any moment certainly makes for an interesting life - but the curse has its dark side, too, and as Tohru unravels the history and the personal secrets of the family, she begins to break down the wall of isolation that has always surrounded them...
   Yes, it's the pre-teen girl's ideal fantasy: a cute boyfriend who's also an adorable furry animal. With that nasty sex thing neatly removed from the equation, money no problem, and child protection apparently turning a blind eye, life becomes a parade of comic scrapes. The plots are simple: a school fair, a visit from yet another cursed relative, a family revelation, New Year or Valentine's Day, all providing excuses for touchy-feely life lessons.
   And what's wrong with a little fantasy? The show may come across as a sanitised version of Buffy, minus the trauma and the sexual tension, but it's strangely engaging. The visual style, using symbols and flashes of light to indicate characters' emotions, and slapstick visuals for our heroine's frequent moments of self-effacing panic, takes some getting used to, but at least it shows imagination.
   Tohru's shrill modesty can get annoying, and the eldest brother's jokey but distinctly prurient interest in schoolgirls is a little near the bone, but there's little else to actively dislike here. Whether you're really going to enjoy this depends largely on your age and gender. Adults will find it rather sugary and bland, younger girls will probably love it - so if you're under 13 and female, add two points to the rating above.
   DVD extras: season one has a subtitled behind the scenes documentary and character profile; season two makes more effort, with the first in a series of special guest interviews, a director interview, and a gallery of the distinctive test-card images used around the ad breaks.

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