Nobunaga ShimazakiMakoto FurukawaManaka IwamiFruits Basket
Fruits Basket: Season 2 (2020)
Episode 1 also reviewed here: Anime 1st episodes 2020: F
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2020
Director: Yoshihide Ibata
Writer: Taku Kishimoto
Original creator: Natsuki Takaya
Actor: Aki Toyosaki, Atsumi Tanezaki, Hitomi Nabatame, Jun Fukushima, Kazuyuki Okitsu, Kengo Kawanishi, Maaya Sakamoto, Makoto Furukawa, M.A.O, Megumi Han, Manaka Iwami, Nobunaga Shimazaki, Reina Ueda, Rie Kugimiya, Satomi Satou, Shizuka Ishigami, Takahiro Sakurai, Toshiyuki Morikawa, Yo Taichi, Yuichi Nakamura, Yuichiro Umehara, Yuma Uchida
Keywords: Fruits Basket, anime, fantasy
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: Episodes 26-50
Website category: Anime 2020
Review date: 14 September 2022
Fruits Basket 2019
It's very good, with much to admire. It's often funny, tragic, dramatic and other impressive things. It's an adaptation of a best-selling, award-winning manga series that I love.
At heart, I don't think this season really works.
The problem's Akito, who's a show-breaking piece of shit. Magic link or no magic link, I lose all patience with the Soumas when they keep putting up with Akito. This is a sadist who's happiest when destroying the happiness, self-esteem and (in extreme cases) sanity of others. Saying something healthy or having a normal relationship will turn Akito into a screaming ball of rage who'll try to gouge out your eye.
There are real abusive relationships this bad, or worse. I don't deny that. In addition, the show provides a mythological reason why the Soumas feel tied to Akito. I don't deny that either. What I will say, though, is that the show doesn't justify any of this in a way I can relate to. If Akito were real, you'd call the police. Or quietly deal with the problem and bury the body in the garden. Or, alternatively, recoil from the pathetic little piece of nothing and ignore everything it did or said, as if it didn't exist. Why would you listen? When the Soumas put up with Akito, they're not just being idiots but actively assisting in regular, ongoing attacks on other people's relationships and mental health.
It's not even as if Akito's imposing or scary. We're talking about a thin, needy, self-obsessed teenager who whines incessantly and would lose a fist fight with a march hare. It also really, really doesn't help to know that the show will end up forgiving Akito way too easily and that we're expected ultimately to sympathise.
All this is straight from the manga, of course, but it changes a story to have it moving and talking in front of us. A TV or film adaptation creates a stronger illusion of reality, which isn't always beneficial. Comics have more control over the reader's focus. They have more smoke and mirrors.
Thus, for example, Kyou's manner and body language are hitting you in the face with his character transformation, whether or not he's an important character in the current scene. I still find Manaka Iwami's high-pitched voice as Touru slightly off-putting. The all-important Arisa-Kureno meetings in ep.30 don't quite do enough and it seemed implausible to me that this Arisa could be that much in love with that Kureno for weeks and weeks afterwards. And I think the anime's version of the Cinderella-ish school play in ep.23 is far less funny than the manga's, which is brilliant. (Even the school council hijinks in the same episode were funnier, although in fairness the play preparations in earlier episodes were hilarious.)
Ep.11 contains a good example of this show not always hitting its mark, I think. This episode is a huge deal for Kagura. She has a mega-confession. She should have torn my heart out... but no, it's Kyou who's the episode's real focus. Kagura doesn't get enough focus and acting weight, either from the animators or the voice actress. It's just not good enough, really.
The show's also not even trying to hide who'll end up with Touru. Kyou mostly exists to follow our heroine around and Understand Her Better Than Anyone, whereas Yuki's most important character relationships are with his student council. (Personally, though, I think Touru's best partner would be Momiji.)
All that said, though, the show's still essentially strong.
It's got a huge, deeply messed-up cast. Even ordinary human supporting characters can have horrifying backstories. (You could wipe out a city with the poison from this show's mothers. Parents in this show will be either abominations, temporary substitutes or dead.) Machi, for instance. Ouch. Hatori's story never stops disgusting me, no matter how often I hear it. Rin... my word, Rin. This is very strong material.
The character development is strong, especially from Yuki and Kyou.
At the same time, though, the show's also funny. Ayame is glorious at all times and his rescue of Yuki in ep.15 is one of the greatest things ever. The student council are a joy. Even Touru herself is a comedy character, which is surprising for an all-loving empathic heroine who's theoretically the straight man to this cast of freaks. (She's got the brains of a summer breeze, which on reflection makes sense of her ending up with Kyou. Put together, they might add up to a halfwit.)
I'm fairly confident in calling this the worst version of Fruits Basket, but it's still Fruits Basket. I watched it all eagerly and I'm now waiting for Season 3. My criticisms are from the viewpoint of someone who doesn't think the show's achieved its full potential... but it's still achieving a lot. Despite my problems with certain aspects of it, I still like this show. I'd recommend it.