Fruits Basket (2001): Subtle Romances and Fake Love Triangles

This piece has actually been sitting on my tumblr for a while now, but with the Fruits Basket reboot coming in March (yay!!) I thought why not post it on here?


Fruits Basket really surprised me with what it offered. I went into the show with a preconceived notion that it was going to be some average, flowery shoujo that gained its popularity out of nothing more than good timing.

Man

I was so wrong.

I mean, Fruits Basket isn’t even all that much of a romance in my eyes. There are romantic overtones, sure, but the show focused a lot more on the friendship that Tohru made with Kyo and Yuki than her possible romantic dynamic with them. To me, Fruits Basket is a lot more about finding good friends, trauma, and how those friends can help you heal from or move on from those traumas.

Fruits Basket is a lot of things.

A lot of things that make it so much more than any ole romance or shoujo.

The heart of the show is in the dynamic between Tohru, Kyo, and Yuki.

Fruits basket did a good job of getting me to like both, Kyo and Yuki, equally. I remember thinking around the tenth episode mark how I would be happy with Tohru ending up with either of them. As more episodes went on, however, the more I realized that Fruits Basket wasn’t about which guy she would pick and end up with. It wasn’t about her romantic feelings for them. It was about how all three of them shared similar struggles and how they could help each other through them and I wasn’t expecting that before getting into Fruits Basket at all. I feel like I’m repeating myself, but this is really crazy to me because I really thought Fruits Basket was going to be a regular romance shoujo with a love triangle. In the end, who was supposed to end up with who romantically wasn’t even important. What was important is that Tohru, Kyo, and Yuki needed each other. All three of them. I think in a way they were made for each other. The three of them were platonic soulmates if you will.

This is something that really frustrates me because I put off Fruits Basket for the longest time because I thought this was a going to just be a romance with a shitty love triangle. But the “love triangle” isn’t really even a love triangle, because Tohru never “picked” between the two, and I don’t think there would have been a point for her to pick between them. All I really wanted was for Tohru, Kyo, and Yuki to be happy. And I don’t think this could’ve been achieved without all three of them being together.  At least not in the anime (I haven’t read the manga, but I’m working on it. I am also aware that most people say the manga is way better than anime. Again, I’m working on it).

However, as I said, I ended up liking Yuki and Kyo equally. I would’ve been happy to see Tohru end up with either of them until I finished the show and actually realized it would’ve been a bad idea for her to pick sides (and wouldn’t have made much sense considering her character). When I was still looking at the three of them as a love triangle (this would be somewhere around the halfway mark), something that I really admired about it was how instead of the girl (Tohru) causing the two guys (Kyo and Yuki) to dislike each other, it’s actually the other way around. Kyo and Yuki have always disliked each other but it’s Tohru who builds a sort of bridge between the two. She’s the reason they get closer rather than the reason they’re relationship worsens.

So even when I look at Fruits Basket as a romance, and the relationship between Tohru, Kyo, and Yuki as a love triangle, it’s still really well done. Except for the fact that there’s no romantic endgame, that’s kind of a no-no in romances.

The three of them needing each other makes a lot of sense too. The dynamics of these three is amazing.

All three of them struggle with feeling alone, not belonging and you see the different ways they cope with those feelings. They have the same insecurities, just for different reasons.

I just…really love these three. Their characters work well off each other. They’re all already likable on their own, but together they have this charm that’s kind of hard to describe.

I think this might explain why it took me a while to watch Fruits Basket as well.

Outside of me avoiding it because I didn’t think it would be anything special, there were two times I tried watching Fruits Basket before in which I only made it halfway through the first episode. I was close to doing it again the third time I picked up Fruits Basket, but I kept watching and when Kyo showed up the way his energy contrasted with all the other character’s immediately gained my interest and then Tohru ends up falling on them and poof, Kyo and Yuki turn into animals and the first episode ends and by that point I’m actually invested and want to get to the next episode as soon as possible. Then I continued to watch and fell in love with our three main characters as well as being surprised with just how sad this show could get. The whole thing makes me feel silly now.

So if there’s one thing I’m trying to say in this it’s that Yuki, Tohru, and Kyo are a pretty good unit. (And also that Fruits Basket is more than seems)

However, this brings me to probably the one real problem I had with the show. There was too much time spent on side characters. It’s a fault of its time in all honesty. A lot of early 2000’s anime fell into that episodic trap of focusing on different side characters every episode. In Fruits Basket’s defense, the same side characters went back and forth through the episodes and they all had the same insecurities of not belonging as Kyo, Tohru, and Yuki and a lot of the times they would help reveal something new about the main three characters. While the only side characters I ended up genuinely liking were Tohru’s best friends, they all suffered from the same things Tohru, Yuki, and Kyo.

Everyone in Fruits Basket was an outcast. In one way or another.

And I think that might be why I and so many others love this series. We all know what it’s like to feel like you don’t belong somewhere, or that you don’t fit in, or that there’s no way you could be accepted for who you really are.

Some of us are like Tohru, who avoid bothering/annoying those around them at the price of their own wellbeing.

Some are like Kyo and lash out at everyone around them as an attempt to voice their frustration and emotions while avoiding being too vulnerable.

Some of us are like Yuki and constantly monitor our emotions to keep ourselves from feeling too strongly, just trying come off as a pleasant person while keeping in the fear that they might never make intimate friends.

I think everyone can relate to all three of these to some degree.

So yeah.

I cracked the code to why Fruits Basket is so beloved. And I’m a little annoyed about it. I’m annoyed it wasn’t marketed for the emotional and moving series that it was.

In the whole eight years that I’ve been watching anime, I’ve always thought Fruits Basket was widely liked because it’s a cute romance! And the boys are cute! Or drama! (because I thought the love triangle was going to be a big thing).

Now, this isn’t to say being a romance show or having romance in a show is a bad thing. I mean, what is this blog if that’s the case. There are even shows I can think of that would’ve been better off as romances than the genre they were. I’m not trying to say that Fruits Basket can’t be all these amazing things and a romance as well, either. Or that it can’t become a romance, or that there will never be a time in the story where Tohru could become romantically involved with one of the boys in a way that would make sense (I’m assuming there is an endgame in the manga). This post has to do a lot more with how I personally didn’t see it as a romance after finishing it when I had spent such a long time assuming this would be an average romance. I don’t want this to sound like I’m bashing romances. And the whole issue of calling something “just a romance” is a whole other issue that I don’t think I could cover in this blog post.

I just find Fruits Basket’s marketing strange. It’s not (just) a flowery shoujo. There isn’t that much flowery about the show. It deals with trauma from family and friends, and insecurities around being an outcast, and the extent to which Tohru tried not to burden others would actually scare me sometimes. Sure, it’s light-hearted at times, but I always felt this lingering feeling of sadness even during those scenes.

I could go on about all the other things I liked about Fruits Basket, but this is getting long. So, I’ll just leave by saying that I love Fruits Basket and if you haven’t watched it, I would seriously recommend it

Is this something that anyone else questions? I haven’t really looked at other reviews or other opinions people have on this show. There isn’t exactly a lively fanbase to fall on either. I can’t be the only one to come to this consensus, right?

I would love to hear what other people think of Fruits Basket. I’ve heard that the manga is a lot more depressing (as they usually are). To what degree would you consider Fruits Basket a romance? Do you think Tohru not ending up with Kyo or Yuki at the end was a pro or a con? Honestly, I’m really interested in people’s thoughts on this show.

My Complicated Relationship with ‘New Girl’

New Girl is a show I find to be very charming. The humor and characters are quirky without being too annoying. The premise is done pretty well even though it’s not all that original. I always enjoy watching New Girls. It’s easy and fun to watch. Despite all this, I’ve stopped watching this show about four times now. And I’m only through season 1.

And

And

And

I don’t know why I keep straying from the show. I can’t think of a reason why this phenomenon keeps happening to me and it drives me crazy. I’ve recently picked the show back up again and I really like it, and I always really like New Girl when I start watching it again. So why do I keep dropping it?

I said it’s easy and fun to watch. Is that it? Is New Girl too easy to watch? Is the reason it’s so easy to drop because the show doesn’t have stakes? I don’t think that’s it I mean one of my all-time favorite mangas is Azumanga Daioh, and I have no problem marathoning Friends either.

So

What is it

Maybe it’s not that there’s no stakes, but that there isn’t enough to keep me engaged? Maybe it’s not engaging enough so I don’t care when I haven’t watched an episode in a while. Maybe? I mean as of right now, I’m pretty engaged. I’m at the end of season 1 and I would like to see what happens to these characters. Maybe that was it, I never cared enough. I can’t really remember it’s been four times this has happened now. But maybe this time is different? Maybe I’ll finally pull through and watch the whole thing, who knows. Have any of you had this weird on and off thing go on with New Girl? Am I the only one? If so, do you have a better explanation as to why you do it?

Yea, I know. This was a weird, short post I just kind of wrote on a whim.

 

 

Original post here

Me Talking About Citrus Again

I meant to write  this sooo long ago. Like, while Citrus was actually airing- long ago. Bear with me it’s been a few months since I read the manga at this point.

Whether you like it or not, I think we can all relate to how easy Citrus can suck you in.

I’ve only watched eight episodes of the Citrus anime adaptation, however, I have recently caught up to date on the manga and I’ve gotta say that Citrus gets significantly better after Mei and Yuzu officially start dating. This makes me worry about the anime adaptation however since it’s run time is only 12 episodes and Mei and Yuzu don’t start officially start dating until chapter 18 in the manga (not to mention another worrisome thing to me being that the anime is categorized as a shoujo-ai while the manga is a yuri). And most of Citrus before that, while entertaining, was overall just kind of frustrating.

Okay, saying that all of Citrus before chapter 18 is bad wouldn’t be fair. Most of the really bad stuff is in volume one and two and even then it manages to be somewhat entertaining. It just…it just… it makes me sad knowing that the beginning could’ve been done better. Like, why did their relationship have to start through sexual assault? I don’t think it’s impossible to write a good, heartful incest romance. I’ve haven’t watched Koi Kaze, but from what I’ve heard it’s pretty well done and manages to feel realistic and…how do I word it…caring of the subject at hand?

For the majority of the beginning of Citrus, it felt like Yuzu and Mei being step-sisters was amped to just be something to make this yuri (shoujo ai if we’re talking about the anime) saucier.

It’s actually pretty strange how the relationship dynamic gets so much healthier once they start dating. The writing feels better, the characters feel more likable- everything just sort of improves after they start dating. It’s really shame the anime only showcased “the chase”.

There’s even some interesting commentary on what it’s probably like to be a lesbian in Japan. One part before Yuzu and Mei started dating that I really liked was when Yuzu met Sara (I totally did not just look her name up). Yuzu admired how open she was about being in love with another girl, leading Yuzu to confide in her about her own feelings towards another girl. It was a moment of bonding between two girls who had just met and yet served as a reason for neither of them to feel alone in their feelings. At the end of the conversation, Sara says something along the lines of  “we need to stick out for each other” and they both smile at each other.

Another scene that really stood out to me was when Yuzu met up with friends from her old school and was about to tell them about Mei, the girl she was dating. Before she could do so, however, her friends noticed a lesbian couple across the street from them and start making really crude remarks about them. Yuzu responds really intensely to her friends’ remarks. This scene is probably the most serious I remember Yuzu ever being. Her old friends then laugh at her and the manga cuts to Mei opening the door to a crying Yuzu.

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Then a little bit later she tells Mei what happened that night and Mei shows Yuzu what she had written in her date-plan notebook thing which said:

While the notebook only talks about them being step-sister I think this advice also takes in account that they’re two girls dating each other. This was a major turning point in how I felt about Citrus. It went from a story that gets better after a while to a story that ended up being amazing and made the beginning look like massive loss potential. It was no longer “huh, now that they’re dating the story isn’t as bad” but “this is actually really good, this is has gotten significantly better since the beginning”.

This isn’t without saying that the relationship between Yuzu and Mei isn’t flawed. The relationship can be very one sided at time, feeling as if Yuzu is doing all of the work. This is especially the case in the first 18 chapters, or better yet before they started dating. But the manga at least addresses this at one point, so it feels more like a flaw in the relationship the two are aware of rather than a flaw in the writing. I can’t say the same for the anime, sadly.

It’s too bad that the anime adapted the worst part of the manga, especially since it manages to get so good over time. That first chunk of Citrus is a serious blight for the rest of the story and it really frustrates me. With a better beginning and “chase” Citrus could’ve made for one of the best yuri out there.

originally posted here

A lesbian foreign film you all should watch

I gotta say, this movie pleasantly surprised me. I mean, I just noticed this movie sitting in the foreign film section of my college library and thought it would be a fun, corny watch.

I expected Spider Lilies to be corny and hypersexualized, but it was actually handled with a lot a care. I could tell the director wanted this to be a good movie, not just a lesbian film. Which makes sense after looking up who the director is, but I’ll get into that later.

I doubt most of you know what the movie is so I’ll give a brief synopsis before telling you why I liked it. Jade is a cam girl who wants to get a tattoo. More specifically she wants to get the tattoo she remembered her first childhood love having (if a question mark just shaped in your head, don’t worry. I understand. Jade’s first love looked at least six years older than her and even then they were probably too young to be having a tattoo. The feelings were not reciprocal). So she goes to a tattoo artist to get this tattoo and surprise surprise the tattoo artist happens to be Jade’s first love. This isn’t really revealed to the characters, but it shows that Jade just kind of knew. So yeah, Jade becomes obsessed with getting this tattoo done by the tattoo artist. However, that tattoo holds significant meaning to the tattoo artist so she isn’t all that willing to give Jade the tattoo. But Jade is determined! That’s kind of the premise of the movie.

Despite one of the girls being a cam girl and the cover of the dvd, the movie isn’t that sexual. It contains one make-out scene from one of the girls in a previous relationship when they were younger. The other was a sex scene between the two love interests which didn’t happen until the last 10 minute of the film.

Anyways, the movie is heartfelt. I cared about the girl’s past (yes, they both unsurprisingly have tragic pasts) and I wanted everything to work out for them. They were likable characters. The side characters were likable as well. Especially the guy (I forgot his name) that kept wanting to get more tattoos- he was hilarious. A lesbian film…with male characters that aren’t trashbags…imagine that.

I wouldn’t go as far to say that the soundtrack is good because there’s pretty much only one track that’s ever played in the film. But boy is it a damn good track. Okay maybe it’s not the same track, but each track is played in the same tune. Either way, it was effective and I want to buy the soundtrack now.

I did have a few problems with the movie, however, one of them being the last 30 to 20 minutes being really…weird and generally confusing. I had no idea what was going on for the last 20 minutes of this movie. Another thing is that although the two love interests are likable and have interesting backgrounds, there isn’t a lot of chemistry between them. They kind of like each other at the end of the movie and there’s a sex scene between them, but that’s kind of it.

I don’t know…there’s something about the way the movie is executed that made it really enjoyable to watch and make me care about what was happening.

Because I found this movie from my college’s library, I was able to watch the behind the scenes stuff on the dvd I watched it on and I was able to learn more about the director, along with searching some stuff up about her here on the interweb- and I think this is something you guys should get in on. So ready closely.

The director of Spider Lilies is a woman named Zero Chou who is most well known for directing documentaries- being dubbed the most talented documentary director. She’s also one of the few openly lesbian filmmakers in the world; she’s the only one in Taiwan. She is currently on something called the Six Asian Cities Rainbow Project, which she’s trying to get done quickly since many of these places don’t allow films that present LGBT+ content.

I’m intending to watch more things by Zero Chou, as while Spider Lilies was a weird film that sometimes didn’t make sense, it had a lot of heart in it and it’s clear that Zero Chou handled the love story with care. I think supporting her is of a lot of importance. So guys please go look into her films.

originally posted here

My Top Ten Romances of 2017

Hey uh sorry I took so long to write this list up. I was busy marathoning Avatar: The Last Airbender. This list includes shows that I, myself, watched in 2017. A lot of them did not air or come out in 2017. My goal for 2018 is to watch enough shows airing in 2018 to make a proper list.

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10. Love, etc.

This was pretty good. It was really interesting and investing. I love the structure of narration, which was unique and really worked for the story. But the ending….the ending was a bit of a, uh, shock to me and it really just didn’t fit and ruined most of the enjoyment I had reading the majority of the book.

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9. Annie on My Mind

Annie on My Mind is a lesbian young adult novel and it’s really just the sweetest thing. For the girls’ age, their innocence feels a bit over the top. They feel more like fourteen-year-old lesbians rather than seventeen-year-old lesbians. I’ll cut it some slack for being written in the 80’s I guess.

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8. Recovery of an MMO Junkie

It’s a cute romantic comedy starring a neet. I also just love the story- it’s like a gamer version of You’ve Got Mail. Please tell me I’m not the only one who sees the comparison to You’ve Got Mail. This show got me giddy multiple times: especially with that opening.

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7. Butterfly Soup

The only reason Butterfly Soup is lower on this list is that of it’s stronger focus on friendship than romance. I think there was still enough romance for Butterfly Soup to make this list, however. A very sweet and comedic visual novel revolving around a group of four girls who join a baseball club. It’s relatable and uplifting, and it almost made me cry tears of happiness.

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6. Snow White with the Red Hair

I talked about Shirayuki before so I won’t go on too much. It’s everything you could ask for in a fantasy romance in both storytelling and looks. However, there were times I found it hard to stay engaged.

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5. The Time Traveler’s Wife

This is the second romance involving time travel on this list, go figure. The Time Traveler’s Wife has to be one of the bluntest romance novels I’ve ever read. It doesn’t have pretty diction or a cute way to walk around sex scenes. And yet it’s more heartfelt than a lot of other romances. While the book generally doesn’t shy away from getting dark, it gets especially depressing halfway through.

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4. Pushing Daisies

I’m sure this is a name you haven’t heard in while for those of you who have already watched it. Well, today is your lucky day, I’m bringing it back full circle. Pushing Daisies is another romance that isn’t afraid to cover dark topics such as abandonment issues and carrying emotional baggage from childhood. However, the show manages to have an overall positive and light-hearted atmosphere.

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3. You’re the Worst

It’s a romantic comedy with dark humor, so it’s no surprise that I fell in love with it. I probably would’ve put it as number one if it weren’t for its underwhelming third season. Nonetheless, the two main characters are still a couple I find myself rooting to make it time again and again. I hope to write about this show later.

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2. Hello, My Twenties!/ Age of Youth

I almost cried many times. I remember the first episode being really depressing. It’s an interesting Korean drama about a group of five women in in their early twenties (hence the title). You see all these girls make different decisions and live different lifestyles in close proximities and how they contrast. It’s really cute and fun when it wants to be, but also fairly sad when it has to be. And dude, that track…I looked it up; it’s called Butterfly. That track made me feel things.

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  1. Your Name

Look. I know what you’re thinking: Your Name as first place?? How basic can you be? I actually didn’t love this one as much as everyone else seemed to and I didn’t really understand all the hype. Or at least this is how I felt right after watching it. After a few weeks though, I’ve developed a lot more love for it for some reason. Your Name was beautifully animated, had a good soundtrack, and the story surprised me a few times. Despite all this, I was still a bit hesitant to put Your Name as first simply because I liked 1 through 3 almost equally (minus You’re the Worst’s third season).

I’ll probably look at this list next week and want switch things around again but it’s already January the twelfth so I’ll settle for this.

Poppin Bottles, Pushing Daisies

What I really liked about Pushing Daisies is that Chuck and Ned had very real relationship problems. It’s not like “oh their love is so strong and they have to conquer the outside forces to be together!” Which easily could’ve been how their relationship was written considering their circumstance. Their relationship is not perfect and not just because they can’t touch but because of the internal problems that it causes. They don’t conquer the number one problem (them not being able to touch)in their relationship, they simply find ways to make it work along with that problem. Ned and Chuck argue often, but without getting frustrating for the viewer. I think this is because the arguments usually don’t make one or the other come off as an asshole. Their arguments are always from a place of love. All of their fights have some relation to Ned’s power in one way or another. So while they might resolve the argument at hand, they never and will never be able to fix the big problem- they can’t touch. It’s like real relationships- sometimes there are problems you can’t fix so you either decide to give up or move along carrying the problem with you and finding ways to make the problem more bearable to live with. Also, Ted and Chuck both, learn things together and individually. They work through their problems, sometimes together and other times on their own

Pushing Daisies also handles dark topics like the effects of childhood abandonment and being shut out from the world. Ned and Chuck carry a lot of baggage from their childhoods, which I think probably has to do with why they connect so well as adults; they’re both some of the only good memories they have of it. Emerson relives the mourning of his daughter being taken away from him and Vivian lives with the shame of having an affair with her sister’s fiance. And yet the show still has an overall positive and light-hearted atmosphere.

This show is honestly just such a great watch.

 

original post here