Fruits Basket follows a young girl named Tohru Honda who gets mixed up with the Sohma family, and their complicated drama. Since the manga’s debut in 1998, two anime adaptations, a movie, and a sequel manga have been brought to life. With so much content, it can be confusing to know where to start. Fortunately, fans can rest assured that whether they start with the manga, the 2001 anime, or the 2019 anime, they are in for a tragic yet romantically beautiful story.
Though they appear to be very different, Fruits Basket (2019) is not a sequel to the 2001 anime. It is a reboot. The first series relates to the manga’s first arc, while the 2019 anime tells the whole manga’s tale. There is also a movie called Fruits Basket: Prelude that is a prequel for the 2019 series, as well as a manga spin-off to the original story entitled, Fruits Basket Another. The Fruits Basket franchise is full of heartbreak, hope, and romance that old and new fans still enjoy to this day.
Which Series Should I Start With?
When it comes to the two anime series, audiences cannot go wrong. Fans can technically start with either show, but it would be wiser to begin with the 2001 adaptation. The original anime has a much lighter tone than the reboot. Plus, it provides a good background for many of the characters who are introduced in both shows. Not to mention that the 2001 anime is shorter, so it will be quicker to take on before the three seasons of the 2019 reboot.
Additionally, the reboot’s heavier tone elevates the original anime’s story with more cunning characters and stronger insinuations about the true nature of the Sohma family. Plus, the reboot is a more faithful adaptation of the manga, therefore manga readers would be wise to watch the first show before moving on to the second to see the story differences.
Original Fruits Basket Story
In the original 2001 Fruits Basket anime, fans meet Tohru Honda, a young girl living in a tent after her mother dies, and her grandfather has to have renovations done on his home. Little does Tohru know that she is camping on land owned by the mysterious Sohma family. When she is discovered by the Sohmas, they reluctantly take her in. Tohru is both humbled and shocked that the most popular boy in school, Yuki Sohma, is now one of her housemates, but she vows to work hard to be a participating member of the house and uses all of her spare time to either work or keep the house immaculate. They are joined later by another Sohma family member, Kyo – a brusque, angry teen who has a personal vendetta against his cousin, Yuki. Shigure (a writer), Yuki, Tohru, and Kyo all decide to cohabitate until Tohru learns of their dark family secret: they transform into the animals of the Zodiac when they are hugged by someone of the opposite sex.
The story then follows Tohru and the Sohmas as they entrust her with their secret, and she learns more about whom the Zodiac members are, and what makes them all so somber. Entranced by her kindness, two of the Sohmas (Kyo and Yuki) cannot help but be drawn to Tohru and begin to fall for her. The 2001 anime concludes with Tohru discovering Kyo’s true nature as the hideous Cat Zodiac, and she proves to the Sohmas that she is determined to be their friend, no matter how frightening their secrets. The story is never truly resolved, as the manga was still coming out at the time, and the anime, unfortunately, fell by the wayside.
Fruits Basket (2019) Story
The Fruits Basket (2019) reboot begins the same way the 2001 anime does. A homeless Tohru Honda is taken in by Shigure and Yuki Sohma, Kyo joins them later, and Tohru discovers their secret. However, this anime continues long after Tohru discovers Kyo’s true form, and delves into the lives of each of the other Zodiac members as well. Though most of the Zodiac members were introduced in the original show, the 2019 anime also includes Rin and Kureno Sohma. Plus, fans finally get the reveal that the head of the family – Akito – has been hiding a secret.
Romance also blooms more fruitfully in the 2019 show, as not only do Yuki and Kyo develop feelings for Tohru, but their cousin Momiji does as well. Plus, the romantic relationships of the other Zodiac members are put on full display, giving fans even more couples to root for (or against). The show culminates in a bittersweet, but heartfelt, ending where all the Zodiac members finally find peace and happiness.
The Major Differences Between Fruits Basket (2001) and Fruits Basket (2019)
There are many differences between Fruits Basket (2001) and Fruits Basket (2019). Though there are obvious differences such as length and additional characters for the reboot, the way each show presents its story varies greatly in tone. The 2001 show is a lot brighter, focusing heavily on typical shojo tropes. Yuki was exceedingly princely – seemingly having no faults – and Kyo was made to look like the handsome bad boy. It was also not-so-subtly billed as a reverse harem with Tohru as the central love interest.
By comparison, the 2019 show focuses more on the story’s darker notes. Many of the characters are much more broken than they appeared in the original. Plus, Shigure in particular is no longer portrayed as the lovable yet perverted uncle, but rather as the manipulative monster he is. Even Yuki has a terrifying moment early on when he merges with a hoard of rats to go out and look for Tohru’s lost things amidst a mudslide. Yuki is shown to be much timider than in the original anime, and Kyo is also a lot kinder and surprisingly gentler in the 2019 version. Momiji also has a glow-up of sorts in the second show, as it displays his affection for Tohru, and shows him to be the only one to stand up for Tohru against Akito.
Furthermore, Fruits Basket 2019 puts more emphasis on Tohru’s relationship with her two best friends, Saki Hanajima and Arisa Uotani. The girls are shown to be a much tighter group in the second version of the show – with one of them always just visible in the background – watching out for their dear friend. Hanajima and Uotani often speak about how they are protective of Tohru, and that they, like her late mother, will always be watching out for her. Finally, fans also learn the truth of Tohru’s mom’s death, and how even that was tied to the Sohmas.
All in all, there is no going wrong with any of the shows based on Takaya’s works. Fans would be wise to begin with Fruits Basket (2001) and Fruits Basket (2019) before moving on to Prelude or Fruits Basket Another, but the order is not hard and fast (though Another would be confusing if readers did not already know the original characters). The story of Tohru and the Sohmas has become such an iconic tale that fans would be remiss in passing by such a gem. Viewers who love heartbreaking stories mixed with romance and supernatural elements are sure to love any Fruits Basket property.
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