Friday, December 7, 2007

A funny, sweet manga series

A friend at work suggested this series to me a few weeks ago (we both happened to be in the YA manga section - I recommended xxxHOLIC, my favorite, and she recommended this one, and we are both happy with each other's recommendation). I don't know why, but I'd never gotten around to trying this one - there are just so many to choose from!

I love the premise: Tohru Honda is an orphan who, unwilling to impose on distant relatives, is living in a tent while her grandfather's house is being renovated. When her camp disappears in a mudslide, she is taken in by the Sohma family. She is slightly acquainted with Yuki Sohma, who goes to her school, but he is an enigmatic character who carefully maintains a distance from everyone at school (much to all the girls' dismay).

Tohru is an eternal optimist - even when things aren't going well, she tries to find something positive to take pleasure in. She is intrigued by the Sohmas - and also very surprised to discover their secret. The Sohma family have been cursed - they are possessed by the animals of the Chinese zodiac. Whenever someone hugs them, they turn into an animal from the zodiac. In the first book we meet the cat, the dog, and the rat...and later on, another one (I'm not telling which). It is fun to meet the different characters and try to guess which animal they are, based on their personalities.

This is a lighthearted, humorous series, but it also covers more serious issues, such as Tohru's sense of loss in the wake of her mother's death, and while she is perky beyond belief, her enormous optimism is countered by her occasional moments of grief, and that, to me, makes her a more believable, sympathetic character. I look forward to reading about her further adventures!

Fruits Basket, Volume 1 by Natsuki Takaya (Tokyopop, 2004)


  1. Ok, This is one of me and Megan's favorite anime series :) Yes, it's incredibly "cute", but it has a really great story too. I think it was wonderfully done and they have some of the coolest merchandise out there! My favorite being the Kyo beanie that Megan bought me one Christmas with cat ears on it...of course, I'd never be caught dead wearing it, but it's cool :p Great series though! Glad you're reading it!

  2. hi, thanks for stopping by Book Barker. I like finding other book sites now and again, too. :)

  3. Oh I love Fruits Basket! Kyo is my favorite character. You should try the anime sometime, too. It's just as good.

  4. Chris - a Kyo beanie - I love it! I think your next avatar pic should be a photo of you wearing it. :-)

    Alicia - I enjoyed looking through your book reviews! I always love discovering a new book blog.

    Dance Chica - here's a dumb question for you: I've been wanting to get some of the anime series to watch with my girls, but are they mostly subtitled or dubbed? I don't think my 1st grader can read fast enough to keep from getting frustrated, so I've been waiting to rent some. It's hard to tell from the descriptions on Netflix. Thanks!

  5. Darla, I'll jump in and answer that question just cuz I'm here. The DVD's give you the option of subtitle or dub, so you can watch the english dub with 1st grader. But of course, I'm going to say the Japanese is much better, but I totally understand with a 1st grader ;) You'd love the series I'm sure though!

  6. Excellent - thanks, Chris! I think I'll go reorder my Netflix queue now...

  7. I agree, the Japanese version is much better than the English version--the actors are just so much better--but I, too, can understand watching the English with a 1st grader. And it was not a dumb question at all! :-D

  8. Sounds quite fun. I am just getting into Manga so I will keep an eye out for this series thanks for the recommendation.

  9. Thanks, Dance Chica. I'm sure my girls will be interested in hearing how it sounds in Japanese, so it will be fun to compare the voices.

    And Rhinoa, you are very welcome!

    Here's another question for anyone who has an opinion - do you think there is value in reviewing each of the subsequent volumes of a manga series (like Fruits Basket) one by one, or is it better to read a few and write a "lumped together" kind of review? I'm not sure how to approach it, if at all. Any thoughts?

  10. That's up to you ;) I'll read whatever reviews you write, though! And you never know...a first volume might not catch me, but a later one might...I blog my books mainly as a record for myself on what I read, so in my case I'd blog every volume. I'm a big help, huh? :p

  11. Actually, that is a help. I kind of do it for the same reason (but imagined a group eye rolling, not another one of THOSE! reaction). I was leaning towards just doing them as I read them, so thanks for the little push!

  12. hello fellow surfers.
    I have come to wonder when watching this series thanks to my somewhat irritatingly anylatical mind,who this series was targeted torse? I mean it couldn,t be targeted to men and most young boys thats fearly obviouse.
    Its most likely far to childish,and inocent for most of the adult population,yet again could be targeted torse young children trying to teach good moral valiews ,but does indeed
    deal with some issues and sitiuations that don,t seem entierly appriopiote.Then figured maybe teenage girls who would probly enjoy this happy funloving series ,but after carfull analazyze,ruled out that as well.
    The elements in this series are far to contridicting for me to figure.
    Just a thought I thought fun to
    share well ta,ta for now ,
    just something to think about.
    so solong for I really must be going.

  13. Oh yes me again,
    yes this is indeed my second comment .
    though now am commenting on a diffrent element to this series.
    My favorite above all the characters absoulutly has to be the snake,now what was the name of that character Iam seem to have forgotten.
    I do though find it ironice that hes older brother to the mouse.
    also too that the cat ,rat and dog are all living in the same house. oh yes and to the one i sugest doing reviews ,just do an overall review of the series, unless of course your simply reviewing episodes one by one.which ive seem to be noticing all over the internet.

  14. Thanks for stopping by and leaving your interesting comments, anonymous! I know what you mean about the target audience - it is actually one of the things I am coming to like about manga - a different sensibility than you'd find in most American stuff, that's not quite so blatant and straightforward. It leaves me scratching my head in puzzlement at times, but I like that it's not the same old predictable stuff I've seen a million times before.

    I recently finished reading #3, in which the snake is first introduced, and you are right - he cracks me up!

  15. hello,darla D
    thankyou you ideed for responding to my comment ,I appreiciate it ever so much.
    ,oh and her is another thought,ive
    cant stop anylyzing this series nomatter,how I try like stated before its one of my irritating habits which I can never seem to break but oh well.
    So I was just thinking Kagura the bore whos so fixated with kyo the catis cursed by the zodiace aswell,
    this maeningboth of the same family and if this being so would be resaulting in the fact that the one that she is so wishing to betroughth is auctully a reletive.

  16. It's funny you should say that, Anonymous - I have often wondered what exactly the relationships are among these zodiac-cursed people - it's kind of glossed over, aside from the ones who outright say they are brothers. I suppose I had in my mind the idea that they are a sort of loosely related clan, and that Kagura and Kyo are second or third cousins, something like that. Otherwise - yuck!

  17. SO Darla d you figured that aswell. how iteresting hmm frankly iam suprised you havnt tryed to burn me yet usaully someone probly would by now.
    I do have one more thought but, not shere its appriopiote to post on line plaese respond to this if you will.

  18. hello,
    Dance Chica
    I like that name is it spanish
    as in girl lol joking of course so
    youve seen my other comments I seem to be the only anonymous on this site ,how odd.

  19. my,my
    I spelled the word anonymous correctly its a miricle.
    LOL I cant spell to good.

  20. so Darla D what audience do you think this series was targeted torse whats your opinion.

  21. hello,
    well this is to anyone reading
    deos anyone know of the famous poet Veronica Micle and if so do any know were I could possibly find a book on her,now please note I do mean about her not by here somthing like a biography.
    If so were could I find it I can,t seem to find anything at the libraries ive been to and I really don,t wish to spend money purchesing one do any know a alternative option to my predicaminte.
    please do respond and post if you have any suggestions you see helpful in any way ,plaese this imformation is needed urgently ,and your help is greatly appreiciated and yes it does need to be an auctual book not online info.
    I thankyou ever so much and fear I must now bid farwell.
    to all of you till tomorow.

  22. so Darla d your a liberian mother and writer.
    hmm well, no wonder you didn,t sound like any of the other posters I should,ve figured as much.

  23. oh I do indeed love this series
    so why oh why did I have to be placed with such a mind and such a irritating habit.huh really now I could be a detective if I wished to.

  24. Anonymous - I think the series is targeted at kids maybe 12 and up but has enough subtlety and interest that it also appeals to many adults. I did watch the first series disc with my kids, and they loved it, but I was a bit taken aback by some of the strong language (Kyo's, unsurprisingly) - so I told them that if I caught them using those words I wouldn't let them watch the series anymore. Seemed to work! :-)

    I'm sorry, but I am not familiar w/bios of Micle. I don't know where you live, but maybe your public library subscribes to databases that might have information that you could use - I'm talking books that have been digitized, not just online wikipedia-type information.

    Since you love this series so much, you might want to check out this blog I found when I was reviewing Vol. 3: (there is a link from that review if this one doesn't work - I still have trouble getting a direct link into a comment form - duh).

  25. hello,
    darla D thankyou for your suggestains.
    and thankyou ever so much for respondind to all my comments.

  26. hello,
    just a thought but, how they come out with a seahorse I get the cat and the others but whats the explination for this

  27. someone respond I dont care who.

  28. do tell deos anyone here know of the hellsing series and yes I am indeed spaeking of the aired on adult swim.

  29. Anonymous - I'm not sure about the seahorse thing - I does look a bit like a Chinese water dragon, I guess (or is it that a Chinese water dragon looks a bit like a seahorse?). Maybe a big huge scary dragon wouldn't have been as convenient!

    I'm sorry, I haven't seen the Hellsing series, although I've heard of it. If you look on Wikipedia there's some info" Hope that helps!

  30. I am so hoplessly pathetic I have nothing other then this to do Iam so sad why,why iam such a loser oh well Iam so much more interesting online or am I just imagining.
    cry, Iam so Depressed I think iam going through midlife ,this is a sign'iam not even midlife.
    I think iam going to log off now.
    sorry if you found any of my comments or reviews ubsurd don,t
    respond to this don,t read it block it,its idiotice anyways.
    so farwell.
    I really need to get a life.
    farwell from the only Anonymous speaker currently on.

  31. farthee well.
    I gonna go try sports I
    spend half my life here
    I need to find something constructive but, what?

  32. terribly sorry about that.
    my freind thought she,d make fun and start messin with my computer ,shes being ubsurd
    ,how childish I just stoped her
    don,t worry shes nolonger going to be a problem.


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