Fruits Basket

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Fruits Basket
Fruits Basket manga.jpg
Cover of the English release of Fruits Basket volume 1 (Tohru Honda)
GenreFantasy, romance[1]
Written byNatsuki Takaya
Published byHakusensha
English publisher
Tokyopop (former)
Yen Press (current)
MagazineHana to Yume
Original runJuly 1998November 2006
Volumes23 (List of volumes)
Anime television series
Directed byAkitaro Daichi
Written byHiguchi Tachibana
StudioStudio Deen
Licensed by
ABS-CBN (2003-2004)
TV Series
MVM Films (2004–2006, 2012–present)
Revelation Films (2006–2009)
Original networkTV Tokyo
English network
Original run July 5, 2001 December 27, 2001
Episodes26 (List of episodes)
Fruits Basket another
Written byNatsuki Takaya
Published byHakusensha
English publisher
MagazineHanaLaLa online
Original runSeptember 4, 2015 – present
Volumes2 (List of volumes)
Wikipe-tan face.svg Anime and Manga portal

Fruits Basket (Japanese: フルーツバスケット, Hepburn: Furūtsu Basuketto), sometimes abbreviated Furuba, or Fruba (フルバ), is a Japanese shōjo manga series written and illustrated by Natsuki Takaya. It was serialized in the semi-monthly Japanese magazine Hana to Yume, published by Hakusensha, from 1998 to 2006. The series was also adapted into a 26-episode anime series, directed by Akitaro Daichi. The series tells the story of Tohru Honda, an orphan girl who, after meeting Yuki, Kyo, and Shigure Sohma, learns that twelve members of the Sohma family are possessed by the animals of the Chinese zodiac (十二支, Jūnishi) and are cursed to turn into their animal forms when they are weak, stressed, or when they are embraced by anyone of the opposite sex that is not possessed by a zodiacal spirit. In the anime it is possible to transform through torso contact.

The word "Fruits" in the title is always plural; the spelling originates from the transcription of the English word "fruit" into Japanese, where because there is no "tu" sound, "tsu" is used instead. The title comes from the name of a popular game played in Japanese elementary schools, which is alluded to in the series.


When high school student Tohru Honda's mother dies in a car crash, Tohru decides to live with her grandfather. Renovations on the house and unsupportive and unkind family members cause her to move out of her grandfather's house temporarily and, since she has nowhere else to go, Tohru begins living in a tent and supporting herself. That is, until she finds a home in the least likely of places, inhabited by her popular classmate Yuki Sohma and his cousin Shigure. The first day Tohru moves into the Sohma house, an orange haired teenager crashes through the roof of her new bedroom and starts attacking Yuki. This newcomer is Kyo, Yuki and Shigure's aggressively angry cousin. Once Kyo loses quickly to Yuki, he tries to fight him again. When he's about to attack, Tohru tries to stop him, but slips on an article of clothing, making her fall onto Kyo's back. When this happens, Tohru discovers something big about the Sohmas.

The Sohmas live with a curse. Twelve members of the family (not including Kyo, who is the cat) are possessed by spirits of the Chinese zodiac and turn into their zodiac animal when they are weak, under stress, embarrassed, or when hugged by someone of the opposite sex.

When Tohru discovers the Sohmas' secret, she promises not to tell and is allowed to keep living with them. Although the Sohmas' curse is deeper and darker than Tohru realized, her presence and her acceptance of them soon becomes a large, positive influence on those possessed by the zodiac. She sets out to break the curse and, on the way, meets and discovers the Sohma's vengeful zodiac spirits. Each has a different personality, just like the animals in the Chinese zodiac. One by one, Tohru's existence changes the Sohma clan's lives forever.

Differences between manga and anime[edit]

The anime is based on the critically acclaimed manga.[2] As the manga was ongoing during the anime's production, the animated series makes some changes to the story. Several events are combined; some events, such as Tohru's first meeting with Momiji and all references to Tohru's baseball cap, never happen. The anime makes no mention that Yuki and Kyo have met Tohru's mother or that Kyo blames himself for her death. Many of the events surrounding the revealing of Kyo's true form are greatly changed in the anime, including adding an extended chase sequence and Tohru meeting Akito in the woods,[3][4] none of which happen in the manga.[5]

While the anime faithfully adapts most of the characters from the manga series, it does make some changes. In the manga, Momiji is half-German and half-Japanese and regularly speaks German, particularly when he first meets Tohru. In the anime, no German is spoken.[6] Shigure's darker side is toned down in the anime; many remarks he makes in the manga that hint at a hidden agenda are left out, along with most of his early scenes with Akito.[6] In the anime, Akito is biologically male and will die at a young age because of the curse,[7] while in the manga, Akito is biologically female but brought up as male and is not dying. This served as a shocking plot twist in the manga, since almost everybody thought that Akito was male.[8] Additionally, Isuzu "Rin" Sohma, the Horse, and Kureno Sohma, the Rooster, are never mentioned or shown in the anime. Finally, the curse is not lifted in the anime because it only covers the first third of the manga, at the most, and the happy ending does not occur until the series is finished.

Main characters[edit]

As it relates to the anime, the characters heavily focused upon are the following.

Tohru Honda
Tohru Honda (本田 透, Honda Tōru), aged 16–18, is an orphaned high school student who, at the start of the story, lives in a tent before she encounters the Sohma family. More specifically, she begins living with Shigure, Yuki, and Kyo Sohma in exchange for housekeeping. She loves to cook, describes herself as an excellent housekeeper, and has an after-school job as an office janitor in an effort to pay her tuition fees and avoid being a burden to her grandfather.[9] Throughout both the manga and anime series, it is noticeable from those around her that she has a good heart and genuinely cares about those in her life. Although knowing the Sohma's curse, Tohru embraces the family and their secret.
Kyo Sohma
Kyo Sohma (草摩 夾, Sōma Kyō), aged 16–18, is cursed by the cat, an animal not in the Chinese zodiac, but which legend says would have been if it had not been tricked by the Rat into missing the induction feast (see Zodiac origin stories).[9] In an author's note, Natsuki Takaya described the character of Kyo as a powerful force that pulled the story of Fruits Basket along.[10] In spite of his cold and aggressive nature, Kyo's heart later softens upon realizing Tohru's care for him be sincere. Their bond not only encourages Kyo to have a change of heart, but it also allows Kyo to trust in Tohru when he's to expose what it means to be excluded from the zodiac.
Yuki Sohma
Yuki Sohma (草摩 由希, Sōma Yuki), aged 16–18, is the Rat of the Chinese zodiac and younger brother of Ayame. Yuki is depicted as an attractive, reserved, and accomplished young man with many admirers, but who finds being friendly difficult. He's been able to confide to Tohru without problem and has expressed vulnerability as one who has the Sohma curse.


The title of the series is taken from a children's game, Fruits Basket (フルーツバスケット, furūtsu basuketto, where the 'tsu' represents the 't' in "fruit", making it plural in an incorrect way), in which the participants sit in a circle, and the leader of the game names each person after a type of fruit; when the name of a child's fruit is called, that child gets up and has to find a new seat. When the protagonist, Tohru Honda first plays this game in kindergarten, she is assigned "onigiri", by her cruel classmates, but she does not mind because she thinks onigiri are delicious. Once the game is finished, and all of the children but Tohru are called, Tohru realizes that onigiri are not a type of fruit at all, and she realizes that she does not belong. Tohru comes to associate this game with the Sohma family, and that she does not fit in among them any more than an onigiri does in a basket of fruit. In volume 1 of the manga, after Yuki and Kyo bring Tohru home from her grandfather's house, she begins to feel like she belongs with the Sohma family. After this, she imagines herself as a child hearing "onigiri" called in the game, symbolizing that she has finally found her place.[11]

Natsuki Takaya named most of the twelve Sohmas cursed by zodiac animals after archaic names of month in the former Japanese lunisolar calendar that corresponds to their zodiac animal.[12] The exceptions are Kureno and Momiji, whose names were swapped by mistake;[13] Kyo, because he's the cat, is not part of the official zodiac.[14]



The 136 chapters of Fruits Basket were originally serialized in Japan by Hakusensha in Hana to Yume from July 1998 to November 2006. These were collected in 23 tankōbon volumes, with the final volume published in Japan on March 19, 2007.[15]

The series is licensed in English in North America and the United Kingdom by Tokyopop[16] and in Singapore by Chuang Yi.[17] The Singapore edition is licensed to be imported to Australia and New Zealand by Madman Entertainment.[18] All 23 English-language volumes have been released in North America and Singapore. In addition, Tokyopop released a box set containing the first four volumes in October 2007, and started re-releasing earlier volumes in "Ultimate Editions" combining two sequential volumes in a single larger hard-cover volume with new cover art. The first Ultimate Edition release met with mixed reviews, however, because they exactly reproduce the first two volumes without correcting changed page numbers or prior errors.[19] As of June 2008, six Ultimate Editions have been released, covering the first twelve volumes of the series. After Tokyopop ceased publication, the series was relicensed by Yen Press, with plans to release it as twelve omnibus editions corresponding Hakuensha's collector's editions.[20]

Chuang Yi also publishes in Singapore a Simplified Chinese edition as well as English. In Europe, Fruits Basket is licensed in French by Delcourt, in Spanish by Norma Editorial, in Italian by Dynit, in Dutch by Glénat, in German and Swedish by Carlsen Comics, in Finnish by Sangatsu Manga, and in Polish by Japonica Polonica Fantastica, and in Danish by Mette Holm [Carlson Manga]. In Latin America, Editorial Vid has released the complete series in Mexico in Spanish, and Editora JBC has released the complete series in Portuguese in Brazil with the first volume released in April 2005.

On September 4, 2015, the first two volumes of Fruits Basket: Collector's Edition (愛蔵版 フルーツバスケット) were released in Japan under the Hana to Yume Comics Special imprint. It is to extend to twelve volumes in total. On the same day, a sequel series, Fruits Basket another (フルーツバスケットanother), began serialization in HanaLaLaOnline. The series is planned to run for 2-3 volumes.[21] Starting in June 2016, Fruits Basket: Collector's Edition was released in English by Yen Press.[22]


Directed by Akitaro Daichi, the twenty-six episode Fruits Basket anime series was animated and produced by Studio Deen. It premiered on TV Tokyo on July 5, 2001, with the final episode airing on December 27, 2001. The series aired in France on France 4, in Spain on Buzz Channel, and in Vietnam on HTV3. FUNimation aired the series, in dubbed English, on their anime television channel as well as on Colours TV.

The series was released in Japan in nine individual DVD volumes by King Records, with each volume containing three episodes except for the first volume, which contained two.[23] The first volume was released on September 29, 2001, with subsequent volumes released on a monthly basis until the final volume was released on May 22, 2002. A series box set was released on April 25, 2007, containing all twenty-six episodes, as well a message card from Natsuki Takaya, a 60-page deluxe booklet, and a bonus Fruits Basket CD soundtrack.[24]

The series is licensed for Region 1 DVD release by FUNimation Entertainment, which released it in the form of four individual volumes containing 6-7 episodes and a complete series box set. On November 20, 2007, FUNimation re-released the series as part of their lower priced Viridian line, with the new release containing the complete series in a thin-packed box set.[25] In the United Kingdom, FUNimation originally distributed the series through MVM Entertainment, but then changed distributors in November 2006 to Revelation Films.[26] Revelation re-released the four individual volumes under their label. They also released the series box set on January 22, 2007.[27] In Region 4, the series was released as a complete series box set by Madman Entertainment on October 15, 2003.[28]

A new anime adaption has been announced.[29]


In 1999 the magazine Hana to Yume released a special Fruits Basket drama CD which had a four-chapter original story and short talk sections between each section. Released before the anime came out, this CD had a completely different voice cast. The CD was a promotional item with a limited run and is now unavailable.[30] As well as the drama CD, there have been two music CD releases of Fruits Basket to coincide with the anime adaptation, Memory for You and Four Seasons (also known as Song for Ritsuko Okazaki).

Natsuki Takaya has created one art book and two fan books for Fruits Basket. The art book, containing 101 pages of illustrations, was published by Hakusensha on April 16, 2004.[31] The first fan book, Fruits Basket Fan Book - Cat (フルーツバスケットファンブック〈猫〉, Furūtsu Basuketto Fan Bukku (Neko)), which contained 192 pages of story summaries, character biographies, and activities, was published in Japan on May 19, 2005.[32] Tokyopop released it in English on September 11, 2007.[33] The second fan book, Fruits Basket Fan Book - Banquet (フルーツバスケットファンブック/宴, Furūtsu Basuketto Fan Bukku /En), was published in Japan on March 19, 2007 and contained 187 pages;[34] it was scheduled to be published in English by Tokyopop on April 27, 2010.[35]

Fruits Basket has also resulted in the creation of a variety of merchandise, including plushies of the various zodiac animals, wall calendars, clothing items, key chains, wall scrolls, buttons, figurines, and school supplies. A collectible card game based on the series was also created and published by Score Entertainment which can be used for playing Dai Hin Min as well as other games.[36]

In 2008, the all-male theatrical troupe Gekidan Studio Life announced it would be producing a theatrical adaptation of Fruits Basket, using only performers who would be making their stage debuts. The production is expected to run for two weeks at the Galaxy Theater in Tokyo starting February 25, 2009.[37]


The Fruits Basket manga series is one of the top manga series in both Japan and in the US. More than 18 million copies have been sold in Japan.[15] It is Tokyopop's best selling manga series, with more than 2 million copies sold as of 2006.[38][39] The fifteenth volume of the English release rose to the 15th position on the USA Today Top 150 Bestselling Books, which is the highest position ever achieved by a volume of manga in the United States.[15] The eighteenth volume debuted at the top of the Nielsen BookScan sales list, while the nineteenth volume was the second bestselling graphic novel in March 2008.[40][41] Despite a slow manga market, Fruits Basket remained the second highest overall selling manga series among the Bookscan companies in 2007.[42] The final volume of the English adaptation was a New York Times manga bestseller from June 28 through July 25, moving from #2 to #1 in the list in the week of July 19–25.[43][44][45] The volume dropped back down to second place the following week, then dropped to 4th place in the week of August 8.[46][47] The final volume remained on the best seller list for 12 weeks.[48]

The Fruits Basket manga received the 2001 Kodansha Manga Award in the shōjo manga category[38] and the "Best Manga" award at the 2007 American Anime Awards.[49] In 2001, the Fruits Basket anime won an Animage Anime Grand Prix award.

Critical reception[edit]

Critics have praised the overall story in Fruits Basket as being intellectual, with even the relatively light-hearted first volume giving hints at something darker in the background that makes the reader "question everything that happens."[50] Some felt the series was getting close to overloading readers with angst in later volumes, and questioned the credulity of the sheer number of bad parents in the series. As one reviewer noted: "in the world of Fruits Basket, good parents are as common as penguins in the Sahara—every single one is either neglectful, smothering, unfeeling, abusive, misguided, or dead."[51] Takaya manages to balance the series' comedic elements with the more dramatic and heartbreaking moments, making it a captivating and engaging story.[52]

As this title progresses the fact that this title was one of the more popular series in Japan becomes clear. The characters get a lot of love. You get to experience them when things are good, as well as when they are struggling. The pacing is perfect. There is a good mix of comedy, fun filler, drama and action (something for everyone). In addition Fruits Basket is easy to relate to. With all the different personalities and the different signs of the zodiac, there is always someone to associate with. There are few titles that can do all that well, Fruits Basket puts all of these aspects together and makes a tasty treat ...

— Eduardo M. Chavez,[53]

Takaya's artwork is considered to be more than artistically appealing, with Takaya's skills in detailed art, shadowing, and shading allowing her to convey the character's moods and emotions without the character having any dialog at all.[51]

The real strength of Natsuki Takaya's artwork isn't that that it looks good—though it definitely does, from its beautiful characters to the intricately rendered textures of their clothing—but how well it communicates mood and emotions. Not content to rely on facial expressions, though she does them well, Takaya is particularly apt at using shading and shadows to indicate character's mental states ... The details of character's emotions—the disparity between Tohru's private emotions and her public front, the punishing intensity of Kyo's feelings for Tohru—are not only discernable but tangible, all without a word being spoken.

— Carl Kimlinger, Anime News Network[51]

In Manga: The Complete Guide, Jason Thompson gave the manga three and a half out of four stars. While finding the series to be "surprisingly sad" and praising the well-defined characters, he felt the series was "neither particularly well drawn nor incredibly witty". As a whole, he considered it "a fascinating manga, like a sweet, melancholy dream."[54] Animerica reviewers felt the anime adaptation was similar to Ranma ½ in terms of premise and its using a similar musical score. Julie Davis found the characters to be "superficially pretty" and "so-clean-they-look-almost-like-paper-cutouts" with "really, really gigantic eyes", though she notes that the animal alter forms of the zodiac members were "cute and cuddly". Fellow reviewer Urian Brown disagreed, stating that "the characters are designed in a sleek stylish manner that is classy" and felt the animation was "refined".[55] A factor in the success of Fruits Basket in English-speaking countries was that the books were being sold in bookstores, rather than comic book shops, which are considered to be a predominantly male domain.[56]

The Fruits Basket anime adaptation has also been well received, ranking third in Anihabara's list of top televised anime series in Japan for February 2002.[57] In the June 2002 issue of Animage magazine, the series was first in a list of the best twenty anime series in Japan.[58] In 2006, five years after the series finished airing in Japan, it was 93rd in TV Asahi's list of Japan's 100 favorite animated TV series.[59] Though it only covers part of the manga, critics felt the ending brought the story to a good stopping point while making it clear that there was much left for the Sohma and Tohru to deal with, including the curse and Tohru's future choice between Kyo and Yuki.[60][61] Though some felt the plot was lacking in development, they also praised the series for the strength of its character relationships.[61]

The entire series of Fruits Basket proves to be a true emotional roller coaster, hiding truly deep and heartfelt drama behind a candy coating of fun and humor. Deep down, it explores many aspects of emotion as the various characters search for their place in the world, gaining strength from each other.

— Allen Divers, Anime News Network[60]

In April 2005 Funimation Entertainment started a project calling for convention attendees to help them fold 1000 origami paper cranes. In Japanese folklore, folding 1000 paper cranes would grant someone a wish. When they had at least 1000 cranes, Funimation sent the cranes and pictures of the events to Studio Deen and Hakusensha to try to convince the company to produce a second season of the Fruits Basket anime.[62] Fans successfully folded the required 1000 cranes by the end of the 2005 convention season; however, at this time[when?] there is still no sign that a second season of the anime series will be forthcoming.[63]


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  63. ^ "Fruits Basket News: Fruits Basket Paper Crane Update". Funimation Entertainment. 2005-10-13. Retrieved 2008-03-14.

Further reading[edit]

  • Choo, Kukhee (November 2008). "Girls Return Home: Portrayal of Femininity in Popular Japanese Girls' Manga and Anime Texts during the 1990s in Hana yori dango and Fruits Basket". Women: A Cultural Review. 19 (3): 275–296. doi:10.1080/09574040802137243.

External links[edit]