Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Fruits basket: "Really All That?"

Well, on the upside, it's on the hairy edge of being too bishonen pretty, but stays on the "I can stand to look at this" side of that edge. Panel and page composition is pretty good, the supporting characters are adequately interesting, and Tohru, while not exactly as 3d as some shoujo manga leads is a lot more believable than, say a Watase Yuu character.

And there are plenty of characters! If you don't like one, you're sure to like two or three others...

On the downside is that there is a big cast of characters (the whole Sohma family) and they're all drawn pretty much alike. And Tohru (to look at) is the same almost-generic pale-chibi-heroine character we see all over in shoujo lately (Tsubasa in Kare Kano, Hagu in Honey and Clover). And, because there's so much ink spent on the Sohmas arguing over what biscuits they'll have with tea today, we never learn all that much about Tohru's friends.

Then there's place: the whole story happens in three locations...well, maybe five, but there's a very definite ukiyo-e (floating world) feeling about it because nobody ever goes to a noodle shop, gets a bag of taiyaki, or watches a movie. Compare to KKNJ, where they go to Kyoto on a class trip and visit the temples, or Mahoraba, where several shop owners have recurring roles in the manga.

Oh, and can we have establishing shots when we switch scenes between these three places, please? The inside of Shigure's house looks a whole lot like the inside of the Sohmas' house...

I've got to say that I like the character development in Kare Kano better, for all that I was bored by the Tsubasa/stepbrother arc in the middle. Both of the leads in KKNJ seem to be reasonably close to fully human. I'm not sure I could say the same of anybody in Furuba but maybe Shigure and Yuki. I don't think it's possible for a real human to be as happy about housework as Tohru seems to be through all 23 volumes...

And, while it's early in the scanslation process, I'd have to say that, unless the animators invented the depth we see in Honey and Clover, it's got to be significantly better than either KKNJ or Furuba. Of course, it's josei, so it'd likely be more complex anyway.

All that said, I put Furuba on the cuddle-with-milady and read manga list instead of KKNJ because it's a more interesting plot than yet-another-teen-romance and we'd just finished up Midori no Hibi and are working our way through Chobits.

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