I’m entering a time in my life where I’m becoming aware of how old I am. This typically happens when studios release anniversary editions of shows I enjoyed in my middle school days. Fruits Basket is now one of those shows where if it was a person, it could legally drive. Our friends at Funimation are celebrating this occasion by releasing a Sweet Sixteenth Anniversary Edition box set. They were nice enough to send along a set so I could enjoy the celebration too!
Tohru Honda is your typical high school student. She gets good grades, has friends, a little drama…and lives in a tent. Okay, maybe the last one is atypical of high schoolers, but Tohru makes due. In the aftermath of the death of her mother, Tohru goes to live with her paternal grandfather. When he suddenly needs to renovate his house to take in more family, Tohru decides it’s easier to live in a tent.
This all changes when she realizes she’s camping in the backyard of her classmate, Yuki Sohma, aka Prince Yuki. The two become friends, and Yuki offers Tohru a room at his house where he lives with his cousin, Shigure. Tohru declines, then hastily accepts when her tent is destroyed in a mudslide. She is joined by Yuki’s cousin Kyo, and after tripping into them, learns their family secret.
The Sohma’s have a family curse, which has been passed down through generations. Each generation, a Sohma family member is cursed to turn into an animal of the Chinese zodiac. The twelve animals are joined by the God figure and the forgotten thirteenth animal, the cat. The members of the Sohma family transform into their animal counterpart when touched by a member of the opposite sex, or when under extreme stress. Yuki is the rat, the animal which tricked the cat – Kyo – out of going to the Zodiac feast.
With the figurative cat out of the bag, Tohru continues to live in the house as a maid, while keeping the Sohma secret safe. Along the way she meets other Sohma family members, including Akito, who is the family figurehead. Between proving herself to Akito and keeping her suspicious friends at bay, it’s a wonder Tohru has time for her schoolwork!
Fruits Basket is I think the only reverse harem anime I’ve ever seen where a relationship isn’t the end game. While Tohru definitely seems to have feelings for Kyo and Yuki, it isn’t the focal point of the show. It was extremely refreshing, and made the light-hearted feel of the show much more enjoyable.
Animation and Music
The sweet sixteenth edition is a remastering of the original series. The show looks much cleaner than it would on an old VHS or standard disc. That being said, there’s a lot of things that didn’t stand the test of time. The pointy chin is certainly a dated anime style best left in the past. There’s also a couple of transition scenes that look like they’re filmed on a camcorder. Or transition scenes with weird tv static. I don’t remember this being a popular style in the early 2000s, and like it even less now.
In regards to the soundtrack, there isn’t much to say. The background music reminded me of my old Harvest Moon games. That is, it’s nostalgic, but not really memorable.
The English dub of Fruits Basket is full of a ton of talented voice actors. Laura Bailey (Dragon Ball, Full Metal Alchemist) voices protagonist Tohru Honda. She does an amazing job of sounding like a high school girl without sounding too whiny or shrill. Eric Vale (Hetalia, Tokyo Ghoul), voices Yuki while Jerry Jewell (Hetalia, Full Metal Alchemist) voices Kyo. Looking at all three of their histories, they all worked on Yu Yu Hakusho and Gunslinger Girl together as well. This might explain why they had such good chemistry together in this show.
Packaging and Bonus Features
Fruits Basket fans and collectors alike will definitely want to purchase the Sweet Sixteenth Edition solely for the swag it comes with. Four Blu-ray Discs come in a display worthy slip box. The edition also includes twelve art cards of Tohru and the other characters. The discs come loaded with extras as well, including behind the scenes features, an image gallery, and episode commentary. Given all that the set comes with, it seems to be worth every penny.
Despite some issues with animation, Fruits Basket is worthy of a rewatch or two. It’s a sweet and wholesome anime that leaves you feeling good at the end of each episode. The characters are interesting and the plot is unique enough where you won’t feel bored watching it again.
Fans looking to add the Fruits Basket Sweet Sixteen Anniversary Edition to their own collection can purchase it here on the Funimation website.