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Fruits Basket, Vol. 1 - Natsuki Takaya Fruits Basket was one of my "firsts" for TV series anime and to this day is still one of my top 10 animes. In fact, it was so great that by the time I was done with it, I had to seek out the manga. Which for me is a big deal. I'm a picky reader, and with manga I'm extra picky. Sure I can watch anime that's basically recycled garbage ti'l the cows come home, but if I'm gonna read it the thing better be GOOD! So with that said this review is not a comparison of the anime vs. manga, nor will any other review following.

This is the one series that I can recommend to anyone, no matter if they like anime/manga and never hear a complaint from the recommended. Which says a lot about it. It also says a lot about Fruits Basket that it's the top selling Shojo in the US and second top selling in Japan. It's no wonder why! Within the first volume characters are introduced and immediate growth occurs. By that final page not only do you feel like you know the characters, but you care. You want them to succeed and find happiness.

Tohru Honda is the star of Fruits Basket, and we're following her adventures. After her mothers death she finds herself living in a tent in the woods. Clearly this could take a turn for the depressing, but Tohru isn't that kind of person. She always believes that her life is full and wonderful, and things could be worst. It's amazing really. Sure she has many qualities that make her like many heroines in manga. Ditzy, check. Kind of stupid, check. Endlessly smiling, check. Unlike most, her joy seems real. Happiness, is definitely a huge part of the story. Fruits Basket focuses on how people don't, or do, see themselves. In understanding others.

"But she said that kindness is something that grows inside of each person's body . . . but it's up to us to nurture that kindness in our hearts. That's why kindness is different for every person."

There are a lot of hijinks in this one. One of Tohru's friends has the ability to sense "waves" and even give someone black "waves." (Personally I think it's an aura thing.) The whole manga centers on Tohru living in a house with two boys and there "guardian." Soon she stumbles upon their terrible secret, when touched by a member of the opposite sex they transform into the animals of the Chinese Zodiac. This also incorporates a myth I had never heard of before involving the cat and the zodiac animals. Truly, it's tons of fun. FB feels like a beautiful comedy, but it's obvious that there's a darker side to the curse.

The art is fairly simple, but beautiful. Natsuki Takaya loves to draw girly girls, and her men tend to look skinny and elegant. A joke through out the whole series is how beautiful the men look. Sometimes it's hard to realize what actions or movements the characters are doing in manga, but Takaya really makes it seem effortless. Over all I'm pleased by the art, the style suits the feel of the manga perfectly.

Fruits Basket is a great coming of age story, or for readers looking to be inspired. The idea behind the name of the manga is a beautiful story in itself, and I always get a little nostalgic thinking about it. Tohru is a healer as she helps others and impacts their lives. It's wonderful to read any kind of book that by the end it's affected you somehow.

“Just be yourself . . . and do things at your own pace.”

Sexual Content: Some homosexual jokes, and a few sexual teasing under tones. Pretty clean for the kiddies and adults.

5/5- Fabulous, a beautiful obsession!

Originally reviwed at Book Whispers.