Originally posted: Monday, July 7, 2008 on Blogger

I’ve been getting a lot of reading done lately, and I’ve made quite a dent into my pile of yet to read manga. yuppie! This manga in particular has been lying around for quite some time. I just couldn’t read any more Fruits Basket due to Tohru Honda, but I finally gave the manga another shot, so onto the summary!

Summary


Fruits Basket is one of the few manga that has an episodic feel but also an exceptional sense of interrelatedness. This volume begins with Haru looking at a city map and then driving away on his bike (the author made it all dramatic too, so it was really funny but in a bad way since he looked so pathetic…) The scene then moves to yet another verbal fight between Yuki and Kyo, which ends with a bunch of leeks in Kyo’s mouth. Later at home, Kyo learns of the endurance run taking place at school the next day and threatens Yuki, that he better not try to skip it just because he’s getting a little cold.

The next day, the two of them are getting ready for the endurance run, while Tohru frets about Yuki and Kyo, as usual. Since the boys and girls are running separately (I don’t really understand why, but whatever), Tohru has to begin the race with Hana-chan and has to leave the sick Yuki behind. Hana-chan provides some much needed humor with her running, while Kyo and Yuki astound all the boys by running really fast. While running, Tohru happens to see someone with white hair laying on the grass. Thinking that its probably an elderly man in need of help, she runs up to the person, who turns out to be Haru. She is shocked and begins to apologize profusely, but Haru seems to be only interested in the Sohma family. He then pulls on a string he has set up and trips Kyo. Kyo gets anger, since this has interrupted his all important race with Yuki, but when he notices Haru, he seems to cool off a bit.

Haru then proceeds to ask Kyo for a fight to which Kyo responses with a quick no; he is far too busy with his race with Yuki to be fighting now, but after he will be able to. Yuki warns Kyo that he should just agree and fight with Haru, but Kyo is far too stubborn and soon enough Haru goes from being nice to just plain rude. Yuki explains to Tohru that Haru is now black Haru, and he becomes like this when pushed hard enough, and now Kyo has no choice but to fight Haru. During their fight, Yuki suddenly falls ill, and Tohru’s screams rouse the fighting Kyo and Haru. Haru tells Yuki he will call the main house, but Yuki doesn’t want him to do so. Tohru whimpers that she would do anything to help Yuki, and Haru takes her up on the offer. He gives her a nice little hug and transforms into a cow (which should really be translated as bull, because Haru is a guy *___*) He carries the unconscious Yuki to Shigure’s house, while Tohru keeps her arms around his neck so that he doesn’t turn back into a human being. Once Yuki is in bed, Shigure tells Tohru and Kyo to head back to school, but Tohru refuses, saying that school is important, but she is too worried about Yuki (I….can’t….take….any…more of ….this). Shigure allows her to stay home, but someone needs to call the school, Haru volunteers, but he is completely naked due to recently turning back to a human being. So Shigure decides to go instead, but his reasons for doing so are not all that innocent (quite a funny panel).

Kyo decides to follow after Shigure since Haru has turn back to normal. Tohru and Haru have a long conversation (it isn’t too long actually) about Tohru’s positive influence over Kyo and Yuki, and Haru’s love for Yuki. Tohru yet again annoyingly denies that she makes any impact whatsoever (must… refrain… from making… biased comments…till the “My Thoughts” section…) At the end of the conversation, Haru suggests to Tohru to call Yuki by his first name, and Tohru does so when he wakes up. Yuki takes notice and turns a bright red and then proceeds to transform into a rat. Tohru, yet again, tells Haru she can’t be that special.

The next chapter skips ahead again, and its now Valentine’s Day, or rather the day before Valentine, but since the school is closed the next day (Sunday), the whole school is celebrating a day before. Hana-chan and Uo-chan are looking through Yuki’s locker. It seems they want to see all the chocolates fall out like they do in manga. Surprisingly, Yuki has only one bag of chocolates, but Hana-chan quickly puts an end to this mystery by pointing to the over flowing garbage full of chocolates; seems each girls throws out the other girl’s chocolates before putting her own into Yuki’s locker. Meanwhile, Kyo gets his own bag of chocolates while seating in class, which makes him realize it must be Valentine’s Day. He decides he has to go on a “journey” to avoid Kagura, but the homeroom teacher quickly puts an end to his plans.

After school, Kagura is waiting for Kyo and as soon as she sees him, she begins chasing him down. It seems she has come to make plans for tomorrow (which is Valentine’s Day) with Kyo. Shigure suggests that Yuki and Tohru go with them on a double date. Tohru has an emotional overload, but she doesn’t seem to process the implications of agreeing to this. Later, when Kyo states in front of Shigure that he hates Yuki and doesn’t want to go anywhere with him, Shigure teases the cat, which seems to bring back traumatic memories and causes Kyo to run out. Tohru sees the frightened look on Kyo’s face and quickly runs after him. She comforts him by saying it’s alright for him to hate Yuki, she won’t mind.

The manga now moves onto the next day and Shigure is sitting in his office listening to the message his editor is leaving him. Yuki and Tohru come inside and Tohru asks if it really is alright for him to take the chocolates to Hatori, Haru, and Momitchi who are at the main house. After both Yuki and Shigure convince her it’s alright, and she leaves with Yuki and Kyo to pick up Kagura so the four of them can go on their double date. Shigure then makes his way to Hatori, and tells him he has some chocolate for him. After Hatori’s rejection, Shigure tells him they are really from Tohru. The two of them have a serious conversation in which it becomes apparent that Shigure has ulterior motives for allowing Tohru to come in contact with Yuki and Kyo and he won’t back down no matter who gets hurt in the process. In between their conversation, there are snippets of the double date; seems the four of them went to see a movie and then stopped at a coffee shop. When they come home, there is a lady sobbing in front of the house. She turns out to be Shigure’s editor, and thankfully, he shows up not long after the children do.

The next chapter once again leaps ahead and the gang has just finished their finals and they are getting ready for spring break. Momitchi shows up at Tohru’s work, telling her he has a surprise. It turns out that it was White Day not too long ago and he has brought his return present to Tohru, a trip to an Onsen (or hot springs). Yuki agrees to go along with them, but Kyo is reluctant. Momitchi then tells the other three (Kyo, Yuki, and Shigure) the tale of the foolish traveler and that he doesn’t think the traveler is really foolish, but rather the traveler was lucky, because he didn’t look back at painful things and only sought to make people happy. This stirs the sympathy of both Yuki and Kyo, who immediately think of Tohru, and Kyo tells her that he will come along with them to the Onsen.

The next chapter moves ahead again, and starts with the group as the finally arrive at the Onsen. The hostess of the Onsen is a very peculiar lady, who claims she has a weak body, but is in fact quite strong. Once inside the hot springs, the hostess informs Tohru that her son is also a part of the zodiac, he is the monkey, and she hopes that Tohru will treat him just as nicely as she has the others. Once Tohru comes out of the bath, she notices the intense ping-pong match between Yuki and Kyo. To relieve the pressure, Tohru asks to play, but she is horrible at it. Yuki then steps out and Tohru follows quickly after him. It seems he just wanted to laugh, but didn’t want to do so in front of Kyo. He then proceeds to give Tohru his White Day present, a beautiful ribbbon, which she puts in her hair. He then proceeds to pull on the ribbon and calls Tohru, princess, which makes her blush profusely. When she lies in bed, she is thankful about being able to meet the princes of the Sohma family.

The next day as they wait for the bus to come pick them up, Momitchi announces that both he and Haru will be coming to Tohru’s school next year. This extremely shocks Tohru who always thought Momitchi was in elementary school and that Haru was a lot older. As it turns out, both Momitchi and Haru are a year younger then Tohru. Just before this volume ends, the last panel depicts Shigure showing off his gift for Tohru to Haru, a maid’s dress. Haru just tells him not to get arrested. hehe.

My Thoughts


Ah, finally, I can say what I really think about fruits basket and its third volume, and believe me, I have a lot to say ^________^

To start off, I will say that Fruits Basket is definitely not a favourite of mine, and the primary reason is called Tohru Honda (or Honda Tohru if you prefer). But do not misunderstand me, my hate of Tohru does not stem from the fact that she gets in the way of any gay pairings. I am actually one of the few rare female manga readers that does not take well to shounen-ai or yaoi manga. That doesn’t mean I don’t like shounen-ai at all, just that it has to be well written and not too graphic, this holds true for shoujo-ai and yuri and any smutty stuff really. My prime reason for reading manga, and books in general, is character development and story development, not smut. It is just not my cup of tee.

Now onto the real reason of my dislike. As I have progressively read through Fruits Basket, my hatred of Tohru has only grown. Why you ask? because she is one of the weakest female leads I have had the misfortune to happen upon. Now I bet there will be a few fans who will be infuriated with me, and will say that I am wrong and Tohru is in fact really strong and her personality is necessary for the progression and resolution of the story. But I only ask that you hear me out and listen as to why I believe that Tohru is in fact a weak and submissive female lead. I will start out by saying I have only read three volumes, so I am basing the majority of this on the first three volumes, I may change my mind if the coming volumes change the direction of Tohru’s character, but as far as I know ( through Wikipedia and friends) she will stay the same.

Firstly, I wish to debunk the second claim that Tohru’s personality is necessary for the progression and resolution of the story. To the best of my knowledge, I have heard that Tohru’s kind heart is necessary in order to uncurse the members of the Sohma family, and in particular Kyo. I won’t go into details, because I don’t need to do so in order to state my point. Firstly I wish to make evident that the author is the creator and arbitrator of the manga that he or she creates. This means that they control absolutely everything. Now I also wish to point out that if the author had so wished, the softening of the hearts of the Sohma family could have been done by a spunky but ultimately kind girl. There is nothing inherently contradictory in saying that a girl who has a bit of an attitude cannot ultimately understand the feelings of others or cannot heal emotional scares. If the mangaka had so wished, Tohru could ultimately fulfill her role in the story without being so motherly.

Now that I have shown that Tohru’s personality could have been different, I will go on to present why it should have been different, in my humble opinion. First let me clarify what Tohru is like for argument’s sake; she is a mother figure that accepts everyone and doesn’t complain at all but takes all hardships with a smile. Her only good qualities are all associated with the household, and she has no talent in school or sports. Now many of you will be thinking that, “wow she sounds pretty strong, I mean who can take any hardship with a smile”, but alas, this isn’t really strength, per se, as I will point out soon enough. In addition to being portrayed as a mother figure, Tohru is also portrayed as a child. Now since Tohru is the main female lead, she is basically the ideal in the world of Fruits Basket. So the ideal female is either a mother or a child, I wonder why this sounds all so familiar, hmmm? I would not have been surprised if Fruits Basket was a shounen title, but a shoujo title that expounds the same male centric views on females is quite shocking. The child-like or mother-like female is a male created ideal for females, and quite frankly serves only to gratify their needs. How? Well a child-like female has to be protected and taught and always taken care of, in short, it allows men to feel manly by protecting the weak and childish female. Now the mother is also important because it ensures that the female is bound to the home to raise the children and take care of all the household work, while the man goes out and works. And no, I am not some radical feminist, but quite frankly, I am sick of such diminutive portrayals and by other females no less. I understand that the choice to be a stay at home mom is just that, a choice, and I understand that there are other women out there who feel that they want to be a mother figure, or like Tohru, but that doesn’t mean I feel the same, or that I will clap my hands and rave about how good this manga is when it gives me such a weak female lead and makes me want to hurl every time I see her.

Furthermore, Tohru is not given ANY talents other then ones that are deeply involved with being a mother or taking care of a household. She has no ambitions, she takes all insults and abuse, in short, she is submissive. Her so called strength comes from her submissiveness, rather then assert herself and make a claim, she is worried about troubling other people, so she just takes the hardships. She is able to overcome hardships because she is submissive and afraid of doing something different. I admit, at first I too, was charmed by her “strength” to overcome obstacles, until I realized the source of this strength. And do not misunderstand, I am not saying that Tohru should be rude and a total b*tch to other characters, on the contrary, she should be kind, but more active and not so submissive. If there was ever a perfect example of a doormat, it would be Tohru. And do not be fooled, the world isn’t as rosy as the mangaka paints it, remember that is all a construction, all is created and controlled by the author, the real world doesn’t work like that. Someone like Tohru would be quickly taken advantage of, and made to suffer pains far greater then she would expect. So at the root of my hate is the fact that the mangaka expounds such lies, she paints a perfect image of the submissive female; that she is loved, she is valued, she is wanted by all the cute boys. But I digress. Not all people are kind and more likely then not, the kind will be abused by the heartless. I am not asking for rude female leads, I am asking for female leads with some intelligence. I would not have hated Tohru as much as I do, if she only wasn’t so naive and submissive. Yes it’s a book, but books are read by young girls and young girls are easily influenced; I should know, I was once a young girl too. Its a very vulnerable age. Young girls need positive and active role models, not doormats like Tohru.

Someone once wrote that female readers need to relate with the main character in order to enjoy a story, and I agree 100 percent. I cannot relate to Tohru, she is what I consider a male portrayal of the female, something I often hear guys talking about; their perfect wife. I cannot fathom a person, male or female acting like Tohru, with no ambition or self worth (she lets anyone put her down), unless they have been verbally abused from a young age into thinking that they are worthless. Tohru isn’t a person, she is a fantasy, a male ideal of females that sadly some females also hold. Give me a heroine that is kind, but intelligent, give me a female lead that considers the feelings of others, but also her own. Tohru isn’t the type of person I can look up to or relate to, in my eyes she is a submissive and very weak character.

Now other then Tohru, the rest of Fruits Basket is actually quite entertaining. I really enjoy both Yuki and Shigure; Yuki, for his many mysteries and his charming nature, and Shigure for his comic relief. The other characters are not as interesting, Kyo is your typical bad boy with a good heart, Kagura your typical, “the other clingy girl”, and Momitchi your typical very girly boy. Even Shigure is your typical older perverted man, and Yuki your typical prince charming. If anything, Fruits Basket is a walking archetype, and the only thing saving it from falling below mediocrity is its devious humor. I can say with confidence, that I really do not understand why it is so damn popular in both the states and japan. There is nothing outstanding about it, and its only saving grace is the much needed humor. After hearing so much raving about it, I am really really disappointed. For the time being, this series will definitely be on hiatus until I decide whether or not to continue it since I already own three volumes.

*NOTE: Since the issue I have with Tohru really strikes home with me, I want to do a comparison of her and other female heroines that have kind hearts, but are not as weak or submissive as her. I believe if you read this comparison, it will illuminate some of the problems I have with her more clearly. *

–SW

[Update: I have permanently dropped Fruits Basket and will not be collecting any more volumes. I am also looking to sell off volume 1 & 2 and have already sold volume 3.]

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