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‘Fruits Basket’ Challenges You To Be a Better Person

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Fruits Basket Remake

Whenever an older piece of media is remade as a modern work there’s always the question of “Why?” What makes this work worth being reintroduced to a modern audience over the countless others in the sea of entertainment? When it comes to anime remakes, most are from the shounen genre that benefits from the improvement in animation technology since their original run, such as Madhouse’s Hunter x Hunter. This season’s remake of Fruits Basket, on the other hand, is a shoujo, an archetypical shoujo at that. While it is certainly a pretty show, the increase in animation quality doesn’t necessarily pay dividends when compared to its shounen compatriots. So the question remains: Why is Fruits Basket worthy of receiving the remake treatment? The answer, it turns out, lies in the timeless message it tells and the lessons it teaches that are just as important today, if not more so, as they were nearly two decades ago. 

Making Important Connections

To bring those who are unfamiliar with Fruits Basket up to speed, the story follows high school first-year, Tohru Honda, after certain circumstances have left her in the care of her classmates’ household, Kyou and Yuki Souma. The catch is that some members of the Souma family are “cursed” by the spirits of Zodiac animals and will transform into their respective creature when hugged by the opposite sex — the rat and forgotten cat in Yuki and Kyou’s cases, respectively.

These supernatural elements aren’t utilized in a comedic sense as much as one would expect given the setup and instead are used more as a pretext to create an unusual family situation for Yuki, Kyou, and all the other Soumas. It’s this family situation that takes the usual worries and insecurities of a high schooler and exacerbates them ten-fold. How Fruits Basket — more specifically Tohru — addresses those insecurities, however, is where the show’s true beauty lies.

Fruits Basket Tohru and Kyou

Tohru is a bit of an oddity as far as main characters go. Where many dramas and slice-of-life’s will create protagonists that the viewer can relate to on some level, that’s not what Fruits Basket is asking the viewer to do with Tohru. She’s kind and understanding to a fault, a veritable saint that sees all the good in humanity that borderlines naivete, which can be a little difficult to find common ground with.

Instead, it’s everyone around Tohru that is relatable. Whether it’s Kyou’s inferiority complex, Yuki’s innate fear of making real connections with people, or something as complex as Hatori’s complicated grief over his loved one — there’s at least one character in Fruits Basket that anyone can sympathize and connect with to some degree. They are all believably flawed and it’s not unlikely that their worries were your worries at some point in time or even possibly right this very moment.

Then there’s Tohru, who comes along and does more than just accept those flaws. It’s through her eyes that the viewer can see what happens when someone believes in you unconditionally, flaws and insecurities and all. When someone speaks more than just hollow words of encouragement but has wholehearted faith in your potential it has an incredibly potent healing effect. Tohru has that capacity to soothe the anguish of those around her and by extension the viewers who connect with those characters. She serves as a reminder of the compassion we can show for our fellow human beings.

A Call to Action

The thing is, it’s not easy to be like Tohru. It’s not easy to have that kind of unflinching faith even with the closest of friends, to fully believe in your own belief in another person. Indeed in a world that sometimes seems to grow bleaker by the day, many have been conditioned to doubt more readily than believe. That doesn’t mean we can’t try, though. 

Fruits Basket Tohru and Yuki

Tohru may be more of an unattainable ideal, but she still challenges us to strive for that ideal. The next time you find yourself in the position of encouraging someone, take a moment to ask yourself how much you believe in your own words of encouragement. However much that is, take the effort to put even more faith into them. That’s a very unscientific way of putting it, certainly, but the sheer warmth of genuinely good intent can mean the world to the recipient, even if you find yourself unable to find the best words to say. We can see this demonstrated around the world, not just in a shoujo anime.

A recent study by The Guardian shows that gun violence in the Bay Area of California is at a record low, having dropped nearly 40% in the past decade as opposed to the national average of 7%. At the center of this effort is a fellowship program aimed toward individuals at risk of committing violence, particularly those who suffered from it themselves and feel compelled to return it in kind. One graduate of the fellowship commented, “To have somebody who believes in you, and knows you’ve got the potential to go for it, stuff like that makes you want to keep going right.”

That is exactly the kind of faith that Tohru shows in her own friends. To acknowledge the flaws of someone as part of who they are, rather than simply accepting those flaws as an inevitability, and believing in all that they are, good and bad, can be a difficult thing to do. Yet doing so can have an undeniably positive effect on another and being able to have that kind of impact makes it a lesson from Fruits Basket well worth learning.

Fruits Basket Tohru and Kyouko

Watch Fruits Basket Remake on Crunchyroll (subbed) and Funimation (dubbed).

Heralding from the rustic, old town of Los Angeles, California; Matthew now resides in Boston where he diligently researches the cure for cancer. In reality, though, he just wants to play games and watch anime, and likes talking about them way too much. A Nintendo/Sony hybrid fan with a soft-spot for RPG’s, he finds little beats sinking hours into an immersive game world.

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Anime

Anime Ichiban 33: Coming into Maturity

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Anime Ichiban welcomes our anime waifu overlords, old and new. Join Matt and Kyle this episode as they discuss the return of the Goddess of Anime, Haruhi Suzumiya herself, then hop on over to the new virutal sensation that’s finally sweeping English-speaking nations: Hololive Vtubers!

For this episode of Anime Ichiban, the SHITSUMON! topic will have the duo diving into recently released Aggretsuko Season 3 and The Great Pretender and explore how the two shows work with mature themes.

TIMESTAMPS

0:00 – Introductions and what we’ve been up to
23:33 – The Return of Haruhi Suzumiya(‘s light novels)
37:23 – The Debut of Generation 1 of Hololive English Vtubers
53:07 – Minor news roundup: (Shenmue anime announced; Fate/Stay Night Heaven’s Feel Part 3 movie debuts to huge success; KyoAni fire updates)
58:35 – SHITSUMON! How does anime portray mature themes in its storytelling?

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Anime

Anime Ichiban 32: The Art of Following a Formula

Corporate shakeups and Galapagos Syndrome spell omens of a changing global landscape for the anime industry.

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diary of our days at breakwater

Corporate shakeups and Galapagos Syndrome spell omens of a changing global landscape for the anime industry and that the crew digs into along with how a series can effectively perform within its genre conventions.

TIMESTAMPS

0:00 – Introductions
12:28 – Legacy piracy site KissAnime shuts down
28:45 – AT&T reportedly looking to sell Crunchyroll
43:27 – Galapagos Syndrome: Is anime in danger of losing its global identity?
58:41 – News Reel
1:02:20 – SHITSUMON! How do shows perform effectively and still entertain in genres whose formulae are already well known and expected?

TRACKS

Intro – “Cagayake! GIRLS” by Houkago Tea Time (K-ON! opening theme)
Outro – “Tsuri no sekai e” by Umino High School Breakwater Club (Our Diary at the Breakwater ending theme)

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Anime

‘One Piece: Stampede’ is an All-Star Behemoth Buckling Under Predictability

Does One Piece: Stampede sail all the way to Laugh Tale, or remain anchored in an East Blue of mediocrity?

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As the fourteenth film in Eiichiro Oda’s One Piece saga, One Piece: Stampede was released in 2019 to critical and financial success. As a big-budget commemoration of the anime’s 20th anniversary, Stampede has lots to live up to, from successfully stamping a momentous two decades, to satiating the hype of a passionate global fanbase. Does it sail all the way to Laugh Tale, or remain anchored in an East Blue of mediocrity?

It’s party time at the Pirate Fest!

The Pirate Fest, a grand gathering of the sea’s most infamous individuals, is underway! At the festival, the Straw Hats compete with their Worst Generation rivals to retrieve a treasure of Gol D. Roger. But behind the scenes, festival organiser Buena Festa and legendary pirate Douglas Bullet are scheming something sinister.

Cutting to the chase, One Piece: Stampede soon kicks into an all-out battle against said Douglas Bullet, with Luffy working with friend and foe alike to fell his opponent.

Much like Dragon Ball Super: Broly, also animated by Toei Animation, each frame of One Piece: Stampede is a treasure to behold. Fluid animation and colors spell eye-candy magic, and the odd bit of 3D animation isn’t (too) visually jarring.

One Piece: Stampede nails its mission statement of lightning-paced popcorn entertainment to a tee. Goofy shonen films don’t have to transcend ‘awesome action and silly superpowers’. Rather than shooting for the moon and coming up short, Stampede settles for smashing the sky. With white-knuckle fights and satisfying character moments conveyed with a zippy pace, One Piece: Stampede assuredly brings what fans want. And whilst not as developed or memorable as other film baddies (One Piece: Strong World’s Shiki or One Piece: Z’s titular Z), Douglas Bullet is terrifyingly tough enough to tick the boxes.

Playing It Safe

Whilst the ‘playing it safe’ ethos of One Piece: Stampede succeeds on the surface, the imaginative innovation of One Piece: Baron Omatsuri and the Secret Island is missing, and the excess of characters prevents the possibility of channeling the simplicity of One Piece: Dead End Adventure. Stampede works as anniversary celebratory bombast but isn’t the series’ smartest, and with the core of the film occurring in a single spot and under dull skies, location fatigue rears its head.

For some, the draw of One Piece: Stampede is its constant character cameos. From the instantly recognizable to the deep cuts, it’s a fun gimmick for fans, although the absence of big names like Kuzan and Jinbei are noticeable. Some cameos fall on the side of groan inducing-ly forced, shoehorning a requisite Zoro fight, or overtly shouting to audiences “Remember them?!” Having no effect on the story, these cameos are clunky and break narrative immersion.

Far from the worst of One Piece’s wildly varied films, Stampede is what it needs to be. It lacks the creative spirit of One Piece’s heights and is dampened by its inconsistent cameo execution, but it’s a fine anniversary celebration for one of manga and anime’s, if not the world’s, best works of fiction. For the uninitiated, it’ll be like an avant-garde acid trip, but for those clued-into Luffy’s antics, it’s a barrage of ballistic glee!

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