Fruits Basket, Vol. 2

Cover of Fruits Basket: Volume 2, courtesy of Barnes and Noble

From the back cover of the volume:

“A family with an ancient curse…

And the girl who will change their lives forever…

Ever since Tohru Honda discovered the Zodiac secret of the Sohma clan, her eyes have been opened to a world of magic and wonder. But with such a great secret comes great responsibility. When her best friends Hana-chan and Uo-chan come to the Sohma house for a sleepover, Tohru has her work cut out for her keeping the “Cat” in the bag and the “Dog” on the leash.”

The Hoot Worthy

The more I read this series, the more it strikes me as a wacky rom-com. Tohru and the Sohmas stumble over themselves to keep Uo and Hana from discovering their secret and everyone’s dropping punny hints they hope no one else picks up. In a word: amazing! Meanwhile, romance may be budding between Yuki, Kyo, and Tohru. Everyone plays it close to the vest, but I predict some type of love triangle will start to manifest soon and it simply can’t happen soon enough.

The first half of the volume focuses on Tohru’s sleepover with her best friends Uo and Hana. This sleepover is partially a ruse by the pair to look in on Tohru’s home life and ensure the Sohmas are taking care of her. Tohru is notorious for not sharing her hardships with friends and their concern and love is genuine and candid. And not only do we learn more about the three girls’ friendship, we also find out more about the Sohmas. For example: Shigaru writes romance novels! Of the sweet AND steamy varieties. *happy flails* Gol-ly, I’m coming to really love this series.

The second half consists of several festivals and the introduction of Sohma family members Momiji and Hatori. Much more outgoing than the rest of his family, Momiji appears to be the youngest of the Sohmas and is possessed by the Rabbit of the zodiac. He’s lighthearted and fun-loving, very much an enthusiastic child amidst a group of adults and oh-so-mature teens. His fashion sense is a bit crazy but he takes to Tohru almost instantly and greets her like a favorite family member. His older brother Hatori, however, is whole ’nother angsty kettle of fish. Terse and imposing, Hatori is Akito’s right hand man, acting as both the family doctor and problem cleaner. The good doctor erases memories of anyone who discovers the family’s curse. In a surprising plot twist, we discover that Hatori was forced to wipe the memory of his fiancée after being nearly blinded by Akito. She blamed herself for the punishment Akito inflicted on her intended after learning of the impending marriage and, to spare her pain, her fiancé wiped all memories of their relationship.

Once his tragic background is revealed, it’s clear how Hatori views Tohru’s involvement: an inevitable path to heartbreak for everyone. But while getting to know her, he recognizes the light, hope, and happiness his expat siblings experience while with her. We also discover Hatori’s zodiac and the inevitable embarrassment it brings on. His unexpected transformation into an adorable sea horse lightens the pensive mood brought on by their initial meeting. For someone so solemn, his sweet, tiny sea horse state is wonderfully appropriate.

And is it wrong I find that pain a little attractive? Because if so, I don’t wanna be right. Don’t get me wrong, he has other admirable qualities: smart, tall, dark, with killer baby blues. Angst just adds to the dishiness.

Flashbacks pepper the volume and range from fun to poignant. The renderings of the tiny zodiac critters make me want to reach into the panels and snuggle them till I fall asleep. Though I don’t think any of the characters besides Shigaru and Momiji would appreciate that.

Owl Pellets (or what I had trouble digesting)

So in answer to my carping from the last volume’s review, this installment did contain a sound index at the end. But despite this addition, I’m still unhappy with it. There are so many sound cues in this volume that turning to the back of the book every other panel becomes tedious quickly. Given that the series is already translated to English, wouldn’t it have been possible to translate the sound cues too? The panels and artwork are unaltered from their original debut and I doubt translated sound cues would in any way dilute the authenticity and enjoyment of the story.

I get a little frustrated at times with the simpleness of our heroine – she shouldn’t be agreeing to clandestine meetings with cursed individuals who can erase her memory and was explicitly told that Shiragu was a novelist in the last volume– but she is genuine in her kindness and enthusiasm so I remind myself periodically of the manga’s intended demographic and that she needs to react in certain ways to make action happen.

Overall: 4 owls

A fun second installment filled with some intriguing backstories and the usual shenanigans. We find out a little more about the family and hopefully more about the volatile head of the Sohma family him will be revealed in coming episodes. Family revelations, quirkiness and light romance are always a great mix and Fruits Baskets: Vol. 2 definitely delivers on all three fronts.

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