Oh man, friends. Oh man.
The entirety of Fruits Basket: 1st Season has aired, and I enjoyed it so much, as you have probably noticed on my Twitter. This is one of the best adaptations of a manga I have seen, honestly. It would have been difficult to do worse than the original Fruits Basket anime adaptation, to be fair, but the creative team behind this adaptation didn’t settle for just doing better. They aimed for excellence, and they got it.
I’ve talked before about adaptations, and it’s no secret that they are difficult. There’s a couple of things involved, of course. The first is the sheer density of the fandom for something that gets an adaptation or a reboot. Sometimes, an adaptation to a visual medium can spark a whole new influx of fans, and this tends to drown out the original content and its followers (example, ASOIAF versus Game of Thrones). Sometimes, an adaptation falls totally flat, and I would say the first Fruits Basket anime adaptation is a good example of this. People show up only because they were fans of the manga (or book) and not because of any exceptional quality of the product. In either case, there will be people who just want to support the adaptation regardless of how good it is or how much like the book it is, and then there people who are such die hard fans that they want everything to match just so to the original content.
The best adaptations walk a fine line between sticking to the original and putting their own spin on things. Take, for example, the animation style in Fruits Basket: 1st Season. It is a lovely, crisp style that melds beautifully with the manga’s character designs – something that adds to and supports the original art, but nonetheless maintains its own independent quality. This is a good example of the method that the creative team used for the entire work. This anime adaptation hits all of the beats of the original plot, and manages to do this at its own pace and flare in a way that is subtle and at times imperceptible.
I ended this 25 episode show with a feeling of care. Which is the ultimate ethos of the manga, and one that I don’t think the creative team missed. They were careful and caring in their adaptation of this work, and you can feel the love that this team had for what they were doing, and for their viewers. I only hope they can keep it up in the next season, which by all accounts will air in 2020.