Book Review: Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya (all 12 volumes)

Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya (all 12 volumes) Translated by Sheldon Drzka :: 4 stars

During my lack of ability this week, I needed fluff and comfort to stave off depression. When I’m medically low because of the all the trauma given to me by the medical world, society, family, and friends, I sink very readily. To stop it, I need to use distraction techniques until I have a level of functionally.

So along with playing games on my phone (my levels vastly improved there too), I read the entire Fruits Basket series. That’s all twelve volumes while I am trapped in bed.

This was not my first time reading them. I bought them a while ago.

I know it has a dark tone to several, but I still see them as so light hearted and fun. (So many I am a little too broken to understand fluff.)

I wonder if I’ll even give a decent review.

The story revolved around the Lunar New Year’s story of the god inviting the animals and the cat staying home instead. In this story, the cat was told it was the day after. Fruits Basket was the first time I heard of the story actually. I knew about the animals of the calendar and the why it was used instead of numbers, but I didn’t know the folklore around it.

So the thirteen animals of the zodiac appear within the Sohma clan randomly since the beginning. (Why was this family picked? Who knows? There’s historical questions completely left open.) And when the story begins all thirteen animals were alive and “well”.

I use quotes around well because you find out not a single one of them is well. In some way, they are all dealing with trauma. Some of it from being cursed and some from how the head of the household treats them.

Tohru is the main character. Her sweet and open nature is like a bright ray of sunshine for the clan filled with secrets.

But enough about plot.

There are a fuck ton of triggers. Like, um… If you have triggers, it may be best to skip this one. The main character is sweet, loving, and good natured. She’s such a true white knight with basically zero skills to back it up. And because of her purity, the color of the work is skewed. It is filled with darkness, and a light is shined on it, but you aren’t taken in like horror would typically. The book isn’t making you try to be scared or fearful. It’s trying to grant hope. It’s trying to make you feel for the characters and the world.

Still, the triggers are vast. Don’t get deluded by the positive beginning. It gets really dark.

The ending is very much happily ever after. Everything works out. All the characters make it out in the end. Everyone pretty much is given a significant other.

The genres are a bit of a mix. Suspense, romance, fantasy, adventure, political intrigue. It would be good enough to classify as a romance, but the darkness makes me not want to classify it as a romance. I’ll go fantasy: urban fantasy at that. Using myth. Mythical urban fantasy with undercurrents of suspense and romance.

I love the series. It’s one of those series I go back to. I first saw the original anime, which had me pick up the manga. I prefer manga normally. That was back in… ’07? ’08? I can’t recall if I was in college or just after. It was in one of these moments like I had this week where I needed distraction. I cleared the entire series back then. It was later I found the manga; having enjoyed the series, I began reading.

This series has won the Kodansha Manga Award. I guess there’s little I need to say, though. What can I say to increase or decrease your reading of a work well known to this level?


These book reviews of famous works aren’t really meant to get you to read or not. This review is just saying I read the work. And really a book review is meant to prove that and give reason why you’re offering certain stars.

Hmm… Stars…. 4 stars.
I’ll pull back from five because there’s LGBTQIA+ refusal and there’s no trigger warning which hits like a ton of bricks.

I can’t give five stars to a book that suggests opposite sex. The magic fixes the sex like my werewolf magic does? An intersex person wouldn’t set off the magic? Or would always set off the magic? Would someone who knew deep down they are the “opposite sex” only act as the one assumed or the one they know they are?

And I can’t give five stars to a triggering book that never says its triggering. And this is very dark at times.

I love it. But I’m not going to tell others to read it. It has its problems. And since it’s translated, I can’t point out plot holes or the such like. I cannot make comments on the original story because the translation could destroy or create issues.

Challenge marks (now wiki doesn’t say the gender or sex of the mangaka; using she/her doesn’t relate to anything; assumptions are dangerous)

  1. Meant for teens. (although…. I question… It is marked to young adult.)
  2. More than hundred pages w/ pictures.
  3. Just for fun.
  4. Set in another country. (Japan, shockingly)
  5. That has a movie adaption. (this can go either way, but there are three animes)
  6. Considered a classic. (If it won that award this is a possible mark too)
  7. In the fantasy genre.
  8. In the fiction section.
  9. In the romance genre.
  10. Marked graphic novel. (all mangas are graphic novels)
  11. With sport. (not a sport manga, but there is sports played within the 12 vol)
  12. With a POC MC. (Japanese in Japan makes me think I shouldn’t mark it)
  13. With more than three hundred pages. (each one even)
  14. That was translated. (from Japanese)
  15. That contains math. (school setting shockingly adds math)
  16. With more than one language. (German and Korean and I believe another is used)
  17. That has a deity involved. (this is a give or take; the god in the story exists in the books)
  18. That contains magic.
  19. With food. 
  20. With references to hygiene. 
  21. With political undertones. (within the clan there’s a lot of political undertones, but it doesn’t hit higher than that)
  22. Set in the suburb. (It may be more city than suburb, but lets go with it)
  23. Switches settings. (almost tradition to have a vacation home when rich and they use it)
  24. Realistic time setting. (for the 90s anyway)
  25. With product placement. (Japanese products)
  26. A bestseller.
  27. That has a disability. (the curse would classify as a disability, but it’s ….)
  28. Low class MC that stays low class. (Yup. she doesn’t change)
  29. With students.

So that’s 29 possible options for the 12 book series. I need to cut down to only twelve.


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