Wednesday, October 26, 2005


A few days ago I finished reading Fruits Basket vol. 18. Once again, there's a major revelation in the last chapter. (Am I gloating? Yes.) This is followed by one of those "emotional gut punches" that David Welsh described so well. Unfortunately, vol. 19 won't be out until January 2006. And chapter 114, which apparently caused a lot of buzz on the internet when it appeared in Hana to Yume (the anthology where Fruits Basket is serialized), won't be collected until the volume after that.

I've seen reports that there are rumors in Japan that Fruits Basket will end with vol. 22 or 23. (I don't have a link handy, unfortunately.) I'll be sorry if this is true, because the book just keeps getting better. But the revelation at the end of this volume does give me a sense that things are drawing to a conclusion. And the pace of action does seem be picking up, beginning with vol. 17.

The other day I was thinking about a post I'd once read, in which the behavior of some of Fruits Basket's characters is compared to the behavior of members of an abusive family. (Sorry, I don't remember where it was.) Anyway, it occurred to me that an important theme of Fruits Basket is the pain and psychological damage caused by being unable to protect someone you love from an abuser. This was showed up back in vol. 2, with Hatori and Kana's story: another example of how integrated the series actually is. Of course, this isn't the only source of psychological damage among the Sohmas, but it's a major one. (Unless I've missed something, we don't really know yet why it's so difficult for the Sohmas to oppose Akito.)

But it's also possible to overemphasize the darkness of Fruits Basket, as some of the posts on this thread demonstrate. As ayumu-chan says on page two of this thread, while the darkness is there, so far at least the overall tone of the manga has been hopeful. While many of the characters are severely damaged psychologically, there are also many who have overcome, or are in the process of overcoming, this damage. And while I'm sure there will be more suffering before the series ends, I'll be surprised if Akito's gloating predictions in volume 11 come true. (I'm not basing this on anything I've read in the as yet untranslated volumes.)

For those who really can't wait to find out what's going to happen, this thread on the AnimeonDVD Manga Views, Reviews, and Recommendations Forum discusses the Japanese releases, with spoilers. (I haven't read it myself, since I don't want to spoil the chapters that have been serialized but haven't been collected into books.)

Finally, a note on the translation of the title. This is something Tokyopop has no responsibility for, since Fruits Basket is the "official" English-language title in Japan. But in the Japanese-English dictionaries I've looked at, "furuutsu," which is the word in the Japanese title, means simply "fruit." Thus, "furuutsu keiki" means "fruitcake" -- and "furuutsu basuketto" means "fruit basket," not "fruits basket." It's possible that Takaya or the Japanese publisher deliberately mistranslated it, because they liked the sound better or for some other reason. It's also possible that they just made a mistake.

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