Well, this is kinda exciting! Fruits Basket is one of those series that anyone who has been an anime fan since at least the early 00s probably needs no introduction to – it’s arguably one of the most popular shojo series of all time. But while the manga was quite lengthy, the original anime was quite short. Not finishing the story wasn’t really the only thing the anime left a lot to be desired in, so after all this time it’s nice to have a brand new adaptation that promises to adapt the entire story. But there’s been an awful lot of anime reboots lately, and their quality is wildly inconsistent. So how does Fruits Basket 2019 look so far? Let’s find out.

Like visiting old friends.

Tohru Honda has a heart of gold, but some of the worst luck of all time. Until only a few months ago she had been living with her widowed mother…until she was tragically killed in a traffic accident. Her other relatives except for her paternal grandfather refused to take her in – but when renovations are being done in his house, she is asked to stay with a friend while he stays at his daughter’s – where there isn’t enough room for two guests. Because Tohru cannot bear the thought of imposing on anybody, instead of staying with either of her school friends she ends up buying a tent and camping – until a landslide destroys her tent.
However, she does have one stroke of luck : the land belongs to the Sohma family – namely Yuki Sohma, a popular boy at her school – and Shigure Sohma, his uncle… and they offer to let her stay with them in exchange for household chores.
But the Sohmas have a secret – their family is under a powerful and bizarre curse. Each of them is possessed by one of the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac (plus the cat, who was left out in the legend) – and they are transformed into their corresponding animal if they are embraced by the opposite sex. Obviously, it doesn’t take Tohru very long to stumble across this after Kyo Sohma – the cat – suddenly appears and causes a scene.

Yuki is still just as needlessly dramatic as he was before.

Ahh, Fruits Basket. The ridiculous premise somehow played straight. The plushies dominating early 00s anime conventions. The memories of internet fights over whether Kyo or Yuki was Best Boy. (Personally, I was on Team Shigure) The feelings it wrung out of highschool me. It’s a series I’ve admittedly not even thought about for 10 years, and yet I still couldn’t  help getting excited over the prospect of this remake.
For me, it’s not just the idea of a more faithful retelling (and one with an actual ending!) – although that’s also a plus because I admittedly never actually got around to finishing the manga back in the day. It’s also the fact that it gets an updated art style. Now, this decision really ruffled a lot of feathers and I’ve seen a lot of people complaining about the different way the characters look, especially Tohru. The thing is, people never seem to mention that the Fruits Basket manga also underwent a drastic style change throughout the series, so that the way the characters look at the end is vastly different to how they looked in the beginning. This new anime style seems to have traces of that in it, although I guess I can kind of understand why people think the new art style lacks personality.

Here’s the thing, though. I honestly can not stand the original art style of the old anime to put it bluntly.. especially Tohru’s design. With her giant bug eyes and triangle mouth, she always looked – to me – like some kind of caricacture of anime, or something from a low-grade How to Draw Manga book. I know people have fond memories of it and all, but I really think that people’s attachment to it is purely nostalgia. It just…did not age well. So, personally, I am completely in favour of the updated art style, and it didn’t take me very long to get used to it.

As for the story itself – so far, it still holds up. The premise is goofy – but there’s a gentle earnestness to it that’s hard to dislike. Tohru is instantly likeable as a protagonist, if not somewhat doormatty, the Sohmas are a varied bunch of oddballs that make it easy to choose a favourite, and Tohru’s school friends Hana and Uo are honestly some of the coolest supporting characters around. If you’re new, however, don’t be fooled. Behind its cuddly exterior and comedy, Fruits Basket is a lot darker than it lets on, because the Sohma family has all kinds of problems and trauma associated with it. I look forward to seeing how the new anime will be able to capture the emotional rollercoaster the story becomes.

It’s still a little early to judge how good this adaptation is, but it’s off to a faithful start…although some people have been a little disappointed in exactly how faithful it is. Shot for shot, it’s almost identical to the original first episode of the old anime. I actually don’t mind this too much – it makes for a great way to compare things. And since it’s basically guaranteed we’re getting the entire series this time (it even reveals itself as ‘series 1’ at the end), comparing the two anime is going to be a moot point eventually. I was at first worried that the characters wouldn’t emote as much as they did originally, but luckily they still do – some of the goofier expressions have that old-style charm to them and there’s even a few anime sweat drops popping up (we really don’t see those much anymore, do we?). My main concern would be the show pulling a Sailor Moon Crystal and flying off the rails in terms of animation quality, but for that we can only wait and see.

I still don’t get how she managed to transform Yuki and Shigure as well, given that she only touched them and didnt embrace them.

Out of 5,