Fruits Basket will return on Funimation and Crunchyroll, simulcast dubbed and with subtitles respectively n the 5th of April 2021 for its third and final season. The previous 2 seasons were extremely well-received, making Fruits Basket Season 3 one of the most highly anticipated anime of the Spring 2021 Season. But what is it that makes Fruits Basket worth watching? Here are some reasons why you should start watching the shōjo slice of life anime if you haven’t already:
Even if you think Tohru Honda is like any typical shojo heroine – goofy, idealistic and mostly adhering to traditional gender roles – she’s better-written than most. Behind her plucky demeanor, Tohru hides just as much pain as the other characters, and her failure to address it and take care of herself too is one of her major character flaws.
Her two best friends, Arisa, a former gang-member, and Saki, a gothic girl who has been bullied due to her unique abilities are also well-developed, complementing one another. While the show focuses on Tohru’s relationship with the Sohmas, many of whom are male, her relationship with her female friends is supportive and heart-warming without unnecessary complications or competitiveness, making it refreshing to watch.
Yuki and Kyo are also very well-developed, each challenging teen male character stereotypes in unique ways.
The charismatic Yuki, who is considered the “Prince” of his school and is popular with his female classmates hides a troubled past. Traumatized from the psychological abuse and isolation he suffered as a child, Yuki has no self-esteem and he’s afraid of showing his true self to anyone. Finding his voice is a slow process that spans over the entire anime.
Kyo, on the other hand, starts as a stereotypical “bad boy” who is aggressive and shows no emotion, but things soon turn out to be much more complicated for him. By the end of the first season, we know exactly why he has been keeping everyone at a distance. It takes a lot for Kyo to start opening up and accepting help, but this makes his development all the more satisfying.
Even Akito, the abusive head of the family, turns out to be more than a purely evil, controlling figure. Akito’s actions are impossible to fully justify, but many perplexing behaviors will have made sense by the end.
The strong characterization and development are not a prerogative of key characters alone; all the Sohmas and almost all the characters that surround them show hidden depths at one point or another.
Most of them have tragic backstories with one thing in common; their desire to move past their circumstances and start living as their true selves. Momiji, Hatori, and Hatsuharu are only a few of the secondary characters whose backstories will stay with you.
An anime show about a girl who realizes her new flatmates transforms into animals of the Chinese Zodiac Cycle when hugged or unwell might sound like a funny premise, but not one you would consider relatable just by hearing about it. Yet, this is exactly what Fruits Basket is.
While Fruits Basket can and should be considered a fantasy anime, it’s a slice of life at its core. Fantasy is not the main focus, but rather a vehicle to explore very human problems: from simple misunderstandings to abuse within the family, from moving on after a lost relationship to grieving a loved one, all characters have experienced something that holds them back and they can only move on with help from friends and loved ones.
With such a diverse cast, you are bound to relate to the struggle of at least one character. On the surface, the Zodiac curse might seem like the root of all the characters’ problems, but interacting with one another shows them this is not the case. Even without the supernatural elements, the anime would still work because the characters are human.
The relatable content, however, isn’t limited to big problems; it can be found even in the little things, in the characters’ enjoying food and going on holidays together or cases of comic relief such as Shigure’s avoidance of deadlines and Saki’s insistence to wear black. The focus on the little things gives the impression that the characters live and breathe beyond the story we’re shown.
The manga by Takaya Natsuki is well designed and conveys all sorts of emotions. The 2001 adaptation is fair for its time, but for contemporary audiences, the first anime probably can’t compare to the more modern aesthetics of the new Fruits Basket anime.
The characters’ clothes and overall appearance have been adapted to fit the late 2010s/early 2020s anime standards while being true to the characters and the spirit of Takaya Natsuki’s world.
The colors, design, and overall aesthetic manage to convey the same emotion as the manga while being more relatable to a younger generation of fans. Fruits Basket is an anime that celebrates life and friendship and the art does a good job at showing that.
As for the music, each opening and closing song is beautiful and fits the show perfectly. There’s a nostalgic quality about most songs, evoking both the beauty and the sadness of life – just like the story.
Remember when Tohru was drowning in stress due to schoolwork, her job, housework, and her future, and Shigure gave her the metaphorical advice to focus on the laundry at her feet? This is a metaphor that has stayed with me when I have a pile of anything, be it deadlines, life decisions, or a literal pile of laundry.
As we’ve established above, Fruits Basket is about humans and their problems; their ability to overcome them might have something to teach us.
Of course, some shojo and shonen anime tend to be overly idealistic, full of faith in humanity, and, at times, unrealistically optimistic. While Fruits Basket is definitely optimistic and very comforting to watch, it’s also honest about pain.
In addressing realities such as bullying, grief, and domestic abuse and providing very slow, realistic, rather than immediate character development, Fruits Basket avoids being overly didactic.
The show doesn’t claim that problems will disappear through optimism and the power of friendship. Rather, it suggests that leaving abusive situations, going through grief, regaining self-confidence, and becoming who you were meant to be are long, arduous processes – but you can still make memories with your friends and experience some moments of joy in the meantime.
The title Fruits Basket is a great example of this. As Tohru explains early on, Fruits Basket is a game played by children in Japanese elementary schools. In this game, each child is assigned fruit and the player in the center calls different fruits’ names to require specific tasks. Tohru, who was bullied at school, was named an onigiri or rice-ball by her classmates.
At first, she was delighted to be included, until she found out this was another cruel way to bully her: as an onigiri is not a fruit, her classmates used this as an excuse to never call her name, highlighting her outcast status. By the time Tohru reveals this story to her new friends, she’s in a better place than she used to be without this meaning that her life is easy.
The anime can be very therapeutic. It reminds us that while we may not have the life we want right now, we might still have it one day – even though it will require hard work. At its heart, Fruits Basket is about characters who have a hard time fitting in the world's fruits basket; so they create their own.