Manga the Japanese style of graphic novel has become a big sensation in the United States, but where is a beginning reader to start? Some manga can be graphic and intense in a variety of ways. For someone who wants a little of everything, love, drama, fighting, ancient prophecy, animals, Fruits Baskets is the starting place to begin.
Written by Natsuki Takaya, in Fruits Baskets we enter the world of the main character Tohru, who has lost both parents to tragedy and is living on her own. One fateful day she meets the Sohma family, one of the most influential and popular family around, and her world would never be the same. She soon learns the story she grew up listening to about the zodiac animals are true. Not only are they true but the Sohmas’ are the reincarnates of them. All with a curse upon them, they turn into talking animals when hugged by the opposite sex . One whose is much darker than the rest and is looking toward a lifetime of imprisonment, by his own family.
As the story progresses Tohru and the Sohmas begin to change. Tohru continues to be the positive force in the lives of the Sohmas. Which eventually allows them all to break free from their curses and path their own lives. She shows the black sheep of the family that isolation isn’t his only choice, as well as he is capable of accepting love. In return the Sohmas show Tohru how important she is and that all her hard work and struggles are going to pay off.Fruits Basket is a mix of classics, coming of age, star-cross lovers, overcoming adversity or curses, what have you. But it also seems to have some other commentary threads within it as well.
One can be seen through Tohru and her story. Both her parents dead from tragic circumstances and she is cast out of her uncle’s house, is living alone in a tent in the beginning of the story. She is alone, and penniless, but she is still positive, motivated, and driven. For most of her life in her in double digits she has been her only supporter. She has to figure out and learns things by herself, no one is there to show her the way. Her teachers think she is not very bright. You can see them put her down a few times within the series. They do not know her circumstance or they do not seem to care. No one reaches out to help her until she meets the Sohmas.
How many kids are out there today live this same scenarios. Having no other support in the world except themselves. Perhaps daily we pass someone who needs to know someone else believes in them. Someone that could need just one person to lend a helping hand. Make their lives a little better. But in today’s society people don’t want to be burdened with asking. They turn their heads, avert their eyes and pretend they saw nothing. Helping another person takes away from them. It’s rare now that someone seeks to help someone other than themselves, when there is no promise of reward.
There is so much lost potential in this world because of lack of support. Sometimes a young person facing hardships has the ability to pull themselves out of the dark and rise above, and others do not. For some if the world keeps beating them down, they quite trying to stand up. Some need that person to step in and help them get back up and dust them off. Fruit Baskets is a story with many plot lines and layers. It also is a commentary on treating people as people. Helping them out when they are struggling. Instead of turning away because it’s too hard to help, taking the time to know someone. Spending the energy to see if they need a friend or supporter. Fruit Baskets shows the reader what can happen when they take this time. Not only can they break ancient curses, they can make someone’s life and the world a better place.