REVIEW: Fruits Basket the Final Bids Farewell in Emotional Season

Season aired: Spring 2021

Number of episodes: 13

Genres: Drama, Romance, Supernatural

Thoughts: Fruits Basket the Final season aired this year, and it was an emotional experience. Since the beginning of the remake, old fans of the manga had sprouted from the ground in excitement for a proper adaptation of a story that talks about toxic relationships and how to heal and move forward, sometimes through romantic love and other times through platonic. However, since the airing of the first two seasons, its fandom has grown considerably to include new fans across all age spectrums and countries, which only serves as a testament to this story’s ability to rope people in.

Fruits Basket is the story of a girl named Tohru Honda. She lost both parents at a young age and volunteered to live by herself in order not to inconvenience her aging paternal grandfather. She soon finds out that the forest she was living in actually belonged to the esteemed Sohma family  — a clan that lives and operates by older traditions. When her tent collapses under a landslide, two of the Sohma members offered to take her in. There, she learns of a strange curse that had inflicted the Sohma clan for centuries. This is the final season and the conclusion to the nature of the curse and the future the Sohma clan had fought for.

I have reviewed two seasons of Fruits Basket, and I can’t really say much has changed for the third. The only critique I have for this season is the pacing. While it wasn’t horrendous, there were certain episodes where I felt the plot push forward too quickly — especially in comparison to the deliberate pacing that had taken place in the prior seasons. Akito’s arc probably had the biggest hit. While I never expected her arc to ever exonerate her actions fully, and neither should they be exonerated fully, she is portrayed a little more unsympathetic compared to the source material due to the rushed explanation of her past and the abuse she suffered at her own mother’s hands and her father’s expectations.

Final farewell

However, even as a manga reader, I think the adaptation did well as a whole. Though I felt disappointed at the skipped material, I do not think they were vital to tell the story Fruits Basket told, which is ultimately the deciding factor of whether the skipped materials were necessary or not.

The biggest arc that they skipped, the backstory of Tohru’s parents, was actually an arc I had wanted the adaptation to skip. Unfortunately, in the original story, Tohru’s mom was only a middle schooler when she fell for and got together with Tohru’s dad, a teacher at the middle school. With Kureno and Arisa’s relationship already pushing boundaries of an acceptable age gap, I simply found it wiser for the story to not be included — especially in context of today’s culture where we better understand the dangers of age gap romances.

The biggest improvement, on the other hand, goes to Manaka Iwami’s performance. In the first season, I had felt her too generic for the “nice girl” voice and paling in comparison to her male co-leads, who performed with more complexities in their tone intonations. In the second season, I felt she improved and provided more personality to Tohru’s character outside of “nice girl,” but this third season, she has made herself a star of her own right. 

Tohru goes through the biggest character development this season, and Manaka Iwami has arrived to back that arc up. From her uncertain moments to her fiercely protective moments, Manaka Iwami had to shout as Tohru in personal passion rather than for other characters or panicked moments, and I finally understood why she was chosen to voice this character. To have to play Tohru in her most aggressive state is tricky, especially since aggression tends to get associated with a type of anger. However, Tohru is never truly angry at anyone due to her empathetic nature, and Manaka Iwami’s ability to still portray that empathy even out of Tohru’s stubborn proclamations of love is what made her so special this season.

Strongest performance from Manaka Iwami

Everything else carried forward from the prior seasons. The music still hits the right emotional strings for the scenes they accompanied, the other voice cast continues to maintain their level of skills with their characters like they had in prior seasons, and the art still lends itself gorgeously with careful attention to light as the symbol of hope.

This season is the conclusion of its biggest conflict and the resolution of all the relationships it had gradually built from its prior two seasons. Its biggest focus was the reason and the solution of the zodiac curse that afflicted the Sohma Clan, a metaphor I had already extensively praised and analyzed in a separate article. It sets off to tell a complete story of a tortured family and an orphan girl who through patience, hope, and the right supportive people — platonic, familial, or otherwise — found their strengths to accept what trauma has done to them but also move forward without letting that trauma become the only thing to define them.

Is it a perfect adaptation of an incredibly strong source material? No. However, it did succeed in its mission. Even with its flaws, Fruits Basket’s final season is a proud showing of the hope that its story had set out to tell in the first place — even more than ten years after the first unsatisfactory adaptation of the manga, Fruits Basket made the most of its second chance to do it right.

Rating

Plot: 8.5 (Multiplier 3.5)

Characters: 8.5 (Multiplier 3.5)

Voice acting: 9

Art/Animation: 8

Soundtrack: 8

FINAL SCORE: 84.5

Leave a Comment!

Leave a Reply