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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Fruits Basket 4 the Clearing Sky
Fruits Basket 4 the Clearing Sky
FUNimation // Unrated // February 20, 2007
List Price: $19.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Todd Douglass Jr. | posted November 12, 2007 | E-mail the Author
Buy from Amazon.com
C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
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P R I N T
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The Show:

Like Gunslinger Girl, Desert Punk, Burst Angel, and Samurai 7, Fruits Basket is another one of the more popular FUNimation series that is being re-released as a more affordable brand. This is essentially a way of moving old stock but fans benefit big time. These are some top notch series at a significantly cheaper price and who can complain about that? In the case of Fruits Basket I personally missed it the first time around and thankfully with this release I was finally able to go back and check it out. As it turns out this was a fantastic series that I'm ashamed to have not seen until now; give it a chance and I'm sure you'll feel the same way.

The show originated from a manga that was created by Natsuki Takaya in 1999. Two years after the fact Fruits Basket was released in its anime form and was produced by Studio Deen (Fate/Stay Night, Law of Ueki). With 26 episodes backing its peculiar story, Fruits Basket became a success in Japan and it wasn't long until American audiences latched onto it. I personally stumbled upon a plethora of accessories, shirts, and the like from the series at 2007's Anime Boston and even caught glimpses of a few cosplayers.

Fruits Basket is, at its core, a shoujo romance tale. In many ways the story could be considered a reverse harem because a female stars at the center of a character roster with a bunch of boys. Sure there are plenty of other girls and some apparent cross-dressers in between, but no matter how you slice it Tohru Honda is the one in the middle of everything.

Things have come a long way for Tohru since the humble pie she was eating when we first met her. The girl's mother had just passed away in a car accident and after her grandfather had to renovate the house she decided to rough it in a tent. Lucky for her she bumped into the Sohma residence and they took her in. Her classmate Yuki Sohma is one of the cutest guys in school but something is strange within his household. The catch with Fruits Basket is that the Sohma family is cursed by the zodiac and they turn into their sign whenever they are hugged by someone of the opposite sex.

In the third volume the disc came packed with seven whole episodes and well over two hours of Fruits Basket goodness. Tohru, Yuki, and some of the other Sohma kids headed back to school, Akito made his terrifying appearance, and several other cursed family members were introduced. My personal favorite addition from the previous volume was Ayame who is cursed with the zodiac of the snake and is actually Yuki's older brother. Tohru also celebrated (if you want to call it that) the anniversary of her mother's death and in the process we discovered some similarities between her past and Momiji's. Overall it was a strong release with a lot of fun times and powerful emotion. Can the final disc live up to expectations?

Once again FUNimation has gone above and beyond expectations and packed seven episodes onto the fourth volume. Like the previous efforts you can expect these episodes to follow a particular pattern as more Sohma insanity unravels on the screen. New members of the family are still being introduced and in between it all Tohru finds herself in the same predicament as always.

As this installment begins Yuki and Ayame start forming a relationship of sorts and kind of patch things up. If you followed the exploits of the previous volume then you'd know there was some turmoil between the two of them. It would seem that Ayame has created a business of repute for himself but Yuki doesn't quite believe him on it and calls his bluff. When he and Tohru arrive at Ayame's store they are shocked to find a custom dress shop that actually has turned out to be quite popular. Tohru falls in love with some of the items and Yuki seems to have developed a new respect for his older brother. The episodic pattern continues here for a few more episodes. The aforementioned new Sohma family members that pop up are Hiro the ram and Ritsu the monkey. Both bring a certain amount of turmoil to Tohru's life and it's safe to say that they definitely fit the Sohma clan's quirkiness to the letter.

As the final volume begins to wind down there is a final story arc that pops up in an effort to bring everything together and put a close on the series. Going into these three episodes I had a lot of expectations based upon what Fruits Basket has done with its standalone stories. With three episodes to work a complex plot into the mix everything is kicked up a notch and I was left guessing right up until the final moments. I don't want to spoil things for fans of the show but I will say that the storyline here has a lot to do with Kyo and Tohru. Everything hangs in the balance and the emotion here is absolutely fantastic.

In the end I was very, VERY pleased with Fruits Basket's finale. All along the show was a treat to watch but the final three episodes really got my attention. The powerful emotions, the fantastic writing, and the very concept itself kept me glued to the chair until the credits rolled. This is a show that should make its way into everyone's collection - no ifs, ands, or buts. Fruits Basket is the very definition of a modern(ish) classic and it should not be missed!

The DVD:

Video:

With the series being broadcast in 2001 it's not surprising to see a full frame aspect ratio attached to the DVD. The very surprising thing is that FUNimation was able to squeeze seven episodes onto this disc with no loss in terms of quality. As with the previous efforts for this show the picture throughout this volume remained vibrant, sharp, and clean. At no time did I spot defects such as compression blocking or artifacts and grain was kept very minimal. This leaves the show beautiful looking which helps to elevate the wonderful character designs and bright backgrounds.

Audio:

Also not shocking with regards to the presentation is the fact that both the English and Japanese languages are served up here as 2.0 stereo pieces. Technically speaking both audio tracks are fine with no flaw but they are just underwhelming in the grand scheme of things. The presence on the soundstage is nowhere near as dynamic as it could have been though I suppose it didn't have to be due to the abundance of dialogue rather than sound effects. Fortunately the dubbing quality for both languages is solid enough and I found myself enjoying both the English and Japanese dubs.

Extras:

Once again FUNimation has not only packed seven episodes onto this volume of Fruits Basket but bonus material is available as well. As usual there are character profiles, textless songs, trailers, and an image gallery. The third and final installment of Fruits Basket Room is featured here along with an English cast interview. A bevy of voice actors join in for some commentary with a gallery of still images playing in the background. To my surprise this interview actually provided a lot of insight into the actors and show.

Final Thoughts:

Fruits Basket may only be six years old but the series is arguably a classic. The subject matter feels somewhat fresh, the characters are endearing, and the story is a lot of fun. This final volume may have left some questions unanswered but overall it is just as solid, if not better than, the ones that came before it. The episodic content is well and good enough but it's the final three episodes that really turn up the quality. It was riveting and heartbreaking all at the same time and stood as a fine testament to anime as a medium. Shows like Fruits Basket are the reason I love anime and if you harbor that same passion then there's no reason for this series to go unseen. Highly Recommended


Check out more of my reviews here. Head on over to my anime blog as well for random musings and reviews of anime, manga, and stuff from Japan!

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