July 25, 2006

No, I haven’t forgotten about this.

Books 5-14/12: Fruits Basket, v. 1-10 by Natsuki Takaya; Los Angeles: Tokyopop, 2004-; ISBN v. 1 1591826039, v. 2 1591826047, v. 3 1591826055, v. 4 1591826063, v. 5 1591826071, v. 6 159182608X, v. 7 159532402X, v. 8 1595324038, v. 9 1595324046, v. 10 1595324054.

Yeah, so I broke my third rule of series. Not intentionally; I’d heard of Fruits Basket a while ago, and other than the handful of Cowboy Bebop books, I’d never actually read any manga, so I was just guessing vaguely that it was a completed series. So Friday I picked up the first two volumes, got done with those, and got 3-10 Saturday. I finished those Sunday. I’m still waiting to get my hands on 11-13. Wikipedia says there’s 20 volumes out in the Japanese, with two more expected. Whoops. That’s undoubtedly going to take a couple more years to translate and get out. (The rules of series, by the way, are 1. Read them in order; 2. If you buy one, you have to buy them all (good thing I got these from the library >.>); 3. Don’t start them till it’s ended. This is why I’ve scorned The Wheel of Time for years.)

Anyway, being a fan of romantic comedy, I was easily hooked. The main characters in Fruits Basket (limiting to Tohru, Yuki, and Kyo) are about 15 when the series starts, and are at about 16/17 by the time of v. 10, where I’ve been temporarily cut off, so the romance part is mostly limited to the standard adolescent angst. (In the interest of not ruining things for my husband, I may end up cryptically vague. We’ll see.) Yuki and Kyo (and a large chunk of the supporting characters that appear over the course of the series) are from the Sohma family, which has a Zodiac curse (the Chinese one, not the Western one). They go to the same school as Tohru, the series’ recently orphaned heroine. Her grandfather’s apartment is being remodeled at the beginning of the series, and she eventually ends up staying with Yuki and Kyo, who live with one of their older cousins. As the series goes on, it mainly deals with Tohru’s continued introduction to more and more of the Sohma family, with the Sohmas’ own tangled web (they’re a family with issues), with Tohru’s own past and her friends, and with all the romantic angst of high school kids. The two main boys (Yuki and Kyo) are obvious rivals for Tohru, though they both deny it and she’s oblivious to it to a great extent. (I’m rooting for Kyo, but he’s got an alternative pre-made, so it’s probably going to end up Yuki and I’ll be disappointed.) By volume 10, the reader has met all of the Zodiac except the horse and the rooster, and the Sohmas that likely have those have been introduced briefly. This leaves the rest of the series to reconcile the Sohma family’s issues, as well as whichever of the romantic relationships are going to get resolved.

As it’s published in serial (I don’t know what magazine it comes out in Japanese in) and is then collected into volumes, reading it all in one go makes it sometimes seem a little repetitive (characters that haven’t appeared recently getting a brief reintroduction and such), and being unfamiliar with the stylistic nuances and the names occasionally makes gender identification an issue (though physical masculinity is an in-story issues for some of the boys – Yuki especially); it also took until the author started drawing herself in some of the filler sketches to figure out she was a she. The covers go through the main characters in color one at a time, which is nice when the series is in black and white – Sohmas who are members of the zodiac tend to have unusual hair/eye color. (And though she probably would be if the author were American, Tohru is not blond.)

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