Fruits Basket (2019) Key Visual

Source: CrunchyRoll

Ok, so Fruits Basket (2001, Studio Deen) is getting a remake (TMS Entertainment), and one that will apparently cover the entire length of the manga. I think this is the first time I’ve had the chance to look at an anime remake where I remember the original release.

So, time to pull out the Madman DVDs[1] and run a weekly comparison. For at least a little while.

The First Episode

Tohru Honda has started living in a tent due to the deaths of her parents, and due to some awkward relationships with what passes for her extended family. On her way to school she discovers a traditional house[2] in the forest with twelve zodiac ornaments drying in the sun[3]. She strikes up a conversation with the uncomfortably[4] flirty Shigure Sohma, before his cousin Yuki Sohma rescues her.

The first episode is basically a fair bit of infodump about the Chinese Zodiac and the story of the Cat being lied to by the Rat so that it missed the banquet. The 2019 edition does a slightly better job here of explaining that because the Zodiac was built to a 60 year cycle that there was never room in the math for the Cat anyway.

There’s also introductions to her friends at school, and the fact that Tohru is essentially burning herself out working part time jobs to pay her various bills such as tuition at school. This leads to Yuki and Shigure discovering her stumbling back to her tent late that night, and essentially taking her in.

Then Kyo Sohma turns up at which point hilarity and mayhem ensue. And Tohru discovers that contact with the opposite sex causes some members of the Sohma family to transform into animals of the Zodiac, plus the Cat.

Comparing the Versions

The first episodes of both versions are, unsurprisingly, very similar, often to the point of near identical translations.

The 2019 version is visually sharper, particularly in the backgrounds, and really exploits that around the Sohma house[5]. Against that I think that the 2001 version had better comedic timing.

At least initially I suspect that the main differences will be mostly tonal for want of a better word. Fruits Basket Deen felt like it was played for comedy more, particularly with the Prince Yuki Fanclub at school. In contrast I get the sense that Fruits Basket TMS will be striking a more serious tone earlier. For example Shigure’s tone as a character seems to be a touch edgier, a touch darker.

So far we’ve only seen the new ED, which seems OK, but I’ll wait until next week before I take look at both OPs. That is one area where Fruits Basket TMS  is going to have to work really hard since the Fruits Basket Deen OP really was a very pretty song.

At this stage I’m curious to see how the variations add up over time.

Question of the Post: Have you seen both versions of Fruits Basket? What were your thoughts on the comparison?

[1] Yes I still have them. And they’re old enough to have a “Madman Propaganda” menu with individually selectable trailers.

[2] A free standing house? In the middle of a forest? DING, DING, DING, we have serious money here people.

[3] Presumably they’ve just been painted.

[4] She’s a high school girl… and he’s very much NOT.

[5] It really works as a subtle visual cue for the wealth behind the Sohmas.