A Look at Takaya-sensei’s “Fruits Basket another”

A Look at Takaya-sensei’s “Fruits Basket another”

Fruits Basket anotherJust prior to learning that Yen Press was bringing Fruits Basket back to print in the U.S., I was shocked to discover that Takaya-sensei had created a sequel to her very popular Fruits Basket manga, entitled Fruits Basket another.  As such, I thought I’d give it a gander.

Through the first five and a half chapters, the story takes place in the same school as Fruits Basket.The lead character is MITOMA Sawa, a timid, clumsy, unpopular girl who’s made it a point to avoid others to keep from being  a bother to them. As such, she apologizes all the time whenever she feels she’s been a bother. After SOHMA Mutsuki meets her, he elects her to be the first year representative on the student council. With both Mutsuiki and his cousin SOHMA Hajime having taken an interest in Sawa, she suddenly finds herself receiving all kinds of attention she’d attempted to avoid.

I found Fruits Basket fairly easy to get into because the main character Tohru was such a likable, cheerful character, Fruits_Basket_another-CH05-PG04even if it was faked. She may have had a hard time with her life, but she cheerfully pushed forward, aided and protected by her two best friends, one of whom was a former yankee thug and one of whom had psychic powers. The story took its time before the angst stuff came in, allowing me to care a great deal about the characters so that the angst stuff didn’t bother me.

With Fruits Basket another, the character of Sawa is a pitiable character who has great angst from the start. She’s always been shunned and verbally abused so that she’s withdrawn. Add to this is the fact that her mother apparently is never home. So naturally, their female landlord blames Sawa for not paying the rent and not supporting her mother by getting a job (I guess that’s a Japanese thing). Add to that Sawa’s on internal thoughts of self loathing and her complete discomfort, and for me, it made for uncomfortable reading. I pitied Sawa, but the angst was so heavy, it was just hard to deal with.

Fruits Basket anotherTakaya-sensei capitalizes on her limited character designs by reusing Yuki’s and Kyo’s character designs. As such, it is clear that Mutsuki is Yuki’s son (in addition to being the student council vice president) and Hajime is Kyo’s son (and the student council president). And if that weren’t clear to old Fruits Basket readers, Hajime makes a comment about how he can be hugged by a member of the opposite sex and not turn into a cat. The two cousins get along quite well, but they otherwise have very similar personalities to their fathers. What their connection to Sawa is remains to be seen, but it seems she might be family and not know it. (I could be wrong though.)

There’s a third Sohma who’s been introduced so far — Riku, who appears to be Hatsuhara’s son.

The connections to Fruits Basket continue beyond the Sohma family as KAGEYAMA Ruriko, the fanatical president of the Sohma Fanclub, is apparently the daughter of MINAGAWA Motoko, the president of the Yuki Fanclub during her high school days. Ruriko’s main function, aside from insulting Sawa for not knowing anything about the Sohma family, is to educate the audience who’ve not read Fruits Basket as to the important plot elements regarding the Sohma family, sans their animal connections.

Fruits Basket anotherSo far, only two characters actually from Fruits Basket have shown up. First is the bombastic, former student council president MAKOTO Takei is now a teacher at the school, still just as bombastic as ever. Second is HANAJIMA Megumi, who’s Sawa’s homeroom teacher.

So far, there’s not a lot to base a large opinion on, but it is rather heavy on the angst because of Sawa. I will admit to some curiosity as to Sawa’s connection to the Sohma’s, and there’s a part of me curious to know about the children of the characters I came to love in Fruits Basket.

Takaya-sensei’s character designs still have that sharpness in some of the faces, but she seems to have improved from when Fruits Basket ended. They aren’t anywhere near as good as volume 8 of Fruits Basket, where I feel that Takaya-sensei reached her peak. Still, I felt the characters had more personality here, even if they are borrowing a lot from their ties to Fruits Basket.

I’m lead to understand that there will only be three volumes in this series, and that Tohru, Yuki, Kyo, and the other main and major supporting characters from Fruits Basket will not appear in Fruits Basket another.

So while the manga is a little too heavy on the angst, I’ll likely keep reading it. I’m not sure I’ll do a chapter review, but if there’s a lot of interest, I may. Let me know. 🙂

Fruits Basket another

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26 Responses to “A Look at Takaya-sensei’s “Fruits Basket another””

  1. arimareiji says:

    Thank you for the heads-up… I didn’t know Takaya-sensei was such a fervent environmentalist.* (^_~) Sometimes it can be interesting for an author to revisit old themes with a twist, but I was hoping for more of a Genshiken approach (i.e. new faces and new stories, with a touch of getting to see a little more of what happens to old characters “after the credits roll”).

    Not to mention, thank you for the heads-up that it doesn’t follow very soon after the end of the last series (as I’d heard).

    Finally, thank you also for the limited taste of what’s going on in this preliminary look, not truly spoilery. I do plan to read this, I just want to let Sensei get a bit further ahead so there’s less risk of “meh, what’s the point?” if character intro drags and there’s no actual story yet. (I’ll steer clear of the full-on reviews until I’ve actually started reading.)

    * – Even for Japan, who’s much more conscious of caring for the environment than we are in the US. (Kinda hard to avoid when you have a tradition of animism and spend decades too poor to waste anything, not to mention have very limited land to bury garbage and are much more conscious of the sea as your source of food.) Interesting link I stumbled across while looking for a logo, here.

    • AstroNerdBoy says:

      I do plan to read this, I just want to let Sensei get a bit further ahead so there’s less risk of “meh, what’s the point?” if character intro drags and there’s no actual story yet.

      I can understand that. With her only planning three volumes, she’s not telling any huge story, though if it is popular enough, that could always convince someone to change their mind a bit. 😉

  2. dihahmf says:

    I like that you’re so aware and precise about the whole series though haha and I guess Fruits Basket can never be as long as Naruto or One Piece. I hope Natsuki Takaya realizes that so many people still love Fruits Basket and is still waiting for the sequel and hopefully it will continue more than 3 volumes. Well, we can only hope for the best. Keep up the good work!

  3. WMC says:

    Sawa sounds very much like Sawako from “Kimi ni Todoke.” Shunned by schoolmates, apologetic, but trying to be positive, etc! Yes, I admit it. I read and love KNT because Sawako is such an unusually good, complex character.

  4. WMC says:

    “kimi ni todoke” apparently very popular in Japan, to the extent of having a successful live action TV version. The author, Karuho Shiina, portrays herself as something of a ditz in her sidebars, but that is just the usual Nippon polite, unnecessary reticence . She, and especially her characters, are not ditzy at all. Her intensely developed teen girl characters Sawako, Chizu and Ayane stand carefully and consistently different from each other. I find them extremely interesting and adorable, and Sawako’s mother looks like an accurate version of herself! Her forward/backward time and place jumps and references, even the remote ones, are always consistent. She uses simultaneous speech and thought balloons to great effect. Moreover, she gets the teenage guys, Kazehaya, Ryu and Kento, right.

    If you’re curious about shojo manga, this work would be a great place to start. I’m a spycraft, dark ops kinda man, but “kimi ni todoka” grabbed my interest and held it when I carelessly picked it up at the bookstore.

    • AstroNerdBoy says:

      I haven’t done much shoujo. Fruits Basket is obviously a big one, as was Cardcaptor Sakura. I think there may have been three other shoujo titles I’ve read (at least in part), maybe four. I’ve read one josei title (Honey & Clover>/b>).

    • WMC says:

      “kimi ni todoke” has an animated TV series, not live action TV. The live action version is a movie, which was very popular. In one of her sidebars the author, Karuho Shiina, talks about going to see it among throngs of high school girls. She happily collects all the small plushies and modeled versions of Sawako she receives from readers.

      She accurately captures the roiling emotional upheavals of teenagers, girls especially — the self consciousness, insecurities and fears that a lot of us had to go through. Her lead, Sawako, remains one of the most attractive girls in shojo. Intelligent, hypersensitive to the feelings of herself and others, positive, strong and gradually growing out of her naivete. Her tentative attempts at spontaneous humor are really funny. Since babyhood she has unconsciously growled when she was angry, so when some of the kids tease her about it, she growls and they think she is reverting to Sadako, the evil. She was faking anger as a joke, teasing back, and they finally get it.

  5. WMC says:

    Sawako from “kimi ni todoke” beautifully personifies the very shy, but very intelligent girl who can’t make friends but would love to. Her appearance, which is so close to a terrifying character named Sadako from a horror movie, prevents other students from even looking at her for more than three seconds lest they be cursed. So they call her “Sadako” as a snarky nickname. She good heartedly goes along with it, unaware of how snotty they’re being. Sawako’s also unaware of how her grin looks so evil, but she smiles and says “Good morning” every day in an attempt to makes friends, to no avail. (Great initial scenario by the author, Karuho Shiina)

    Karuho-sensei sets the major theme by letting Sawako give directions to Kazehaya, the most popular boy in school, on the first day of high school. He falls in love instantly but hides it. Their story surges ahead with all kinds of the usual, but very well presented complications. For one, Sawako isn’t ugly. She’s just got lots of that gorgeous black Japanese hair that often hangs down over her face when she politely nods and grins. She’s really a yamato nadeshiko, a nipponese beauty. Her best subject in school? Mathematics!

    Two other girls, Chizuru and Ayane, who are outcasts also, but not as shy or burdened with unappealing appearance, befriend Sawako along with Sawako’s male friend Kazehaya. These three, distinct characters possess appealing and interesting personalities that produce lots of beautifully done adolescent vagaries. Along the way several other very interesting characters appear.

    Lots of fun to read for this retired male high school teacher.

  6. WMC says:

    One of the best features of Sawako is her courage, which can be defined as taking action in spite of one’s fears. In Volume 20 on Valentine’s Day she continues to dither about giving Kazehaya her homemade, from-the-heart chocolate cupcakes because of her fears that he won’t accept them. In the prior year he hadn’t accepted them from any girl at all, and she had failed to deliver her own to him. That’s just one of her fears. These fears radiate powerfully off the page because of Karuho-sensei’s excellent presentations in the artwork and Sawako’s inner dialogue. At the end of the school day, when she STILL hasn’t given them to him, she runs into Kurumi, her chief rival for Kazehaya. Harumi scoffs at and scolds Sawa for her lack of action. Finally, it suddenly occurs to her to visit Kaze’s home to deliver the chocolates — an unprecedented move, especially since Kaze’s unreasonably strict father will confront her. But she does it. Successfully.

    In another great scene, in Volume 10, after much confusion and misunderstanding because of both of their fears, interruptions and completely wrong interpretations of context and speech, Sawa chases after Kaze to their empty classroom with the intention of telling him directly how much she likes him. It has taken three volumes of misdirection in the manga to get to this stage! She stands just outside the door, which is mostly closed but not quite, hides her face and tells him, “Don’t move. Just listen.” Then she recaps how happy it made her that he had talked to her like anyone else, instead of being put off by her appearance as “Sadako,’ at the beginning of their high school careers, more than a year ago. Then, at long last, she says, “I like you. I like you. I like you.” Millions of readers sent up loud cheers.

    These apparently trivial scenes way over transcend the ordinary in the hands of Karuho-sensei.

    • AstroNerdBoy says:

      Thanks for the info.

      • WMC says:

        Ah geez. Another mistake. In my entry of April 10 above when Sawako encounters Kurumi, NOT Harumi, after school, Kurumi derides Sawako for being so gutless. Kurumi is genuinely beautiful and Sawako’s chief rival for Kasehaya, though she had been rejected by him. She had lied and schemed to discredit Sawako in order to detach her from Kazehaya. It ended in disaster for Kuirumi, but Sawako tries to understand and befriend Kurumi! Oh course that doesn’t work, but leads to a lot of intense developments.

        Karumi is a very interesting character. She’s not just beautiful. She changes from a coniving, too sweet to swallow princess to a truthful, hard working, tell-it-like-it-is girl struggling to study hard enough to get into university, which apparently isn’t a given. She comes from a family of teachers and is not at all good at studying, but is obsessed with becomoing one. So she opportunely edges into asking Sawako for help. As you might expect, Sawa is very good at it and inspires Kurumi to get the right mind set. Kurumi’s intensity inspires Sawako to be more serious about her own habits. By Vol. 24 they have decided to do a “study camp” together at Sawako’s house this summer.

        Together they comprise the usual duo of heroines in Japanese manga: the beautiful blonde half-Japanese, half-American or “half” girl, Karumi, and the beautiful but fully Japanese yamato nadeshiko girl, Sawako. Karuho-sensei’s development of these two is the best I’ve seen.

    • WMC says:

      An amendment: I didn’t quite explain the intensity of this confession scene, and without it I haven’t done justice to Karuho-sensei’s craft. In this Chapter 10, called “The Confession,” Sawako has heard the hallway gossip that Kazehaya has a girlfriend and thinks it’s not herself. This is devastating news because they have spent much time together, including neighboring seats in the classroom. She has finally realized that she loves him, though she never uses the word. In a terrible scene Kaze tells her he’s not going to change in an attempt to reassure her, but she freezes because she thinks he’ll never like her over the other “girlfriend.” After he leaves, she falls to all fours in the empty pathway outdoors and cries her eyes out. Later, in spite of her anguish she runs desperately to their otherwise empty classroom where Kazehaya is waiting for someone else. Even though she thinks it’s hopeless and crying all the while, stands just outside the door, hides her face so he won’t see her tears and says, “I like you. I like you. I like you.” Sawako’s expressions of anguish are drawn so well that they grab the reader and flash her pain into him. However, Karuho-sensei takes pity on us and shows him opening the door all the way, grabbing her and enfolding her in his arms. Great stuff.

      The fact that I have to use all this verbiage for this simple scene might give you an idea how complex and interesting Karuho Shiina’s work is.

  7. WMC says:

    I very strongly recommend the manga “kimi ni todoka.” The attraction is the characters. They’re complex, changeable and attractive. The villains are not just bullies or heart breakers, and the heroines are not just beautiful princesses. For example, pretty Ayane is cynical but not at all dark. Her direct, acid comments sound not at all Japanese, but she’s also very good-hearted with severe self doubts. The heroine, Sawako, is genuinely virtuous without being obnoxious — a very difficult trick — but the author Karuho Shiina-sensei pulls it off. Sawa’s jealousy prevents her from acting on her love for Kazehaya sometimes. Finally, the distinguishing trait here is that they all evolve. The reader can truly see how Sawako and her friends change over three years of high school. Great stuff. I eagerly await Volume 25.

    • AstroNerdBoy says:

      I’ll have that added to the list. Not sure when I could get to it though as the list is quite long. ^_^;;;

      • WMC says:

        Volume 11 would be a good sampler. It recaps the very beginning and visits Sawa and Kaze on a date, in which she finally gives him her Valentines Day chocolates, albeit about three months late! At first it appears that the text is going to be sparse and fast, but Karuho-sensei packs in so many mental gymnastics for the characters that it rereads very well. Even without knowing their histories. The author includes episodes from the other two main lines, for Ayane and Chizuru.

  8. xgirl109 says:

    Did you know that there is another complete series Takaya-Sensei has made? It’s called “Hoshi wa Utau” or “Twinkle Stars like Singing a Song.” It’s really cute and I feel has the same lovable vibe as Fruits Basket, but it does touch on some sensitive materials more harshly than the material Fruits Basket had. It’s a really cute story that I feel is underappreciated and should get more attention. If you liked the lovable vibe that touched on some sensitive materials like Fruits Basket did, but with new characters and a interesting story, I recommend you check it out.

    • AstroNerdBoy says:

      I read the first two volumes, but the translations were rocky, making it difficult to read. I don’t believe I got beyond that. I never looked to see if it got licensed.

  9. WMC says:

    Volume 25 of “kimi ni todoke” out. Chizu finally commits to Ryu in a great, intimate scene at the warehouse dock of the bay. She will work at his father’s ramen shop and wait for him, and he has always been in love with Chizu. They have decided to be a permanent couple.

    On the other hand, Sawako’s indecision about where she’s going to college is causing all kinds of confusion and misunderstanding between her and Kazehaya. Also, he has always been reticent and solemn around her in contrast to his behavior around other kids, which is outgoing and gregariously popular. She has always tightened up because of his act, and she tells him that he is “dark’ around her.” She often doesn’t say exactly what she wants because “I coudn’t say anything because I had so much to say.” She’s actively pursuing entrance to the college of education in Sapporo, which would separate her and Kazehaya, but at the same time telling him she doesn’t want to be separate from him so she will go the college in their home town with him. Very confusing

    More interesting hints about Ayane’s attraction/repulsion to their strange teacher Pin. I think Karuho-sensei’s setting us up for their getting it on!

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