As one of the most beloved shoujo manga series, Natsuki Takaya’s Fruits Basket holds a special place in the hearts of many, particularly with American fans of a certain age. It’s a series with a delicate balance of emotional complexity and light-hearted fun that’s held the test of time. The original 2001 anime series, however, has a bit of a complicated legacy; arguably held back by its production values and divergence from the source material that angered manga fans and author Takaya herself!
Fast forward to 2019 and TMS Entertainment has created a new series, with Natsuki Takaya as Executive Producer might we add, that promises to tell the full story with all its depth plus the visual flair of a modern anime! Funimation even gave us a special premiere of the first two episodes in theaters across America! How was it? Read on to hear our thoughts on the new adaptation, the theatrical premiere, and events like this in general!
Fruits Basket (2019) - First Impression
First and foremost, wow it really is interesting seeing a classic series like this done in a modern production. Fruits Basket is certainly a product of its time but we mean that in the best possible way. Seeing this sort of goofy school comedy brought to life in 2019 will bring a feeling of warm nostalgia to both fans of the series and anyone who grew up with this style of anime/manga.
That aside, Fruits Basket is still very entertaining in its own right and is already showing some of the deeper aspects of the story even in its first two episodes. Art-wise, while this isn’t a sakuga-heavy show like Nichijou, Fruits Basket has high production values with nice backgrounds, fun animation, and pleasant character designs that feel like the perfect middle ground between retro and modern. We also need to mention the voice cast which really suits the characters wonderfully, including some great talent like superstars Yuichi Nakamura and Nobunaga Shimazaki and rising seiyuu like Yuuma Uchida and Manaka Iwami. Fans of the English dub will also be happy to learn that the original cast has returned and sound as great as ever!
Overall, this new Fruits Basket adaptation feels like it’s going in the right direction to please both fans of the manga and newcomers to the series. We’re excited to see the rest and glad the legendary story is getting the faithful adaptation it deserves!
Theatrical Experience - Extras and Exclusivity
While seeing anime in the theater isn’t too unusual nowadays (although we wish they’d give us more than the usual one-or-two-time showings!) the Fruits Basket premiere is something rather rare as it was an early screening of the first two episodes of the TV series rather than a film or short. While that might sound a little strange at first, it actually worked out quite nicely! Seeing this anime on the big screen was a treat and really shows how artwork holds up even at that scale. The first episode seamlessly continued into the next one and felt perfectly natural besides the somewhat abrupt ending where it faded to black at the end of episode 2 without an ED or even a “to be continued” or whatever.
Speaking of which, we did not get to see the OP either, which was maybe slightly disappointing but not a huge letdown. Plus, it might have broken up the experience a bit much for this screening. We did, however, get some great bonus content before the show which consisted of a long, mostly uncut interview and discussion segment with some of the Japanese cast where they talked about their exposure to the series, working together, and how they personally related to the characters. This was really fun, especially all the little anecdotes they shared and gave us a greater appreciation for their performances afterward. There was also a slicker cut segment from Funimation that introduced the English staff and touched on the legacy and reverence for the series they have. Both offered a lot and let you know how much care was put into this series.
We’ll also mention some bonus physical goods that were included, a cup, lanyard, and a set of can badges/pins which were all okay but not spectacular. The lanyard will certainly make a good substitute for the default at your next anime convention! We got duplicate badges instead of the full set but can’t complain much since these types of things are rarely included in showings anyway.
Altogether, this event felt pretty unique and was a lot of fun! The bonus video content before the showing added to the experience and seeing the premiere in a theater definitely made it more exciting than the usual home video or TV watch. We think this approach works particularly well with a long-awaited revival like Fruits Basket and could be used again for future series with similar hype.
Seeing this sort of event outside of an anime convention is cool! What do you think? What series would you want to see early in the theaters? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below and be sure to stick around Honey’s for more of all things awesome, anime and otherwise! See you at the movies?