One thing I will sometimes do during these weekly ramblings is pick a show from my anime history and look back at it. (In other words, like Annalyn's Rewind posts at her blog.) This will be separate from my Hall of Fame Inductions as the focus is less on recommending the show to others and more on what it means to me personally. Of course, I will very likely induct eligible shows I cover here properly into the Hall of Fame.*
For my first post of this nature, I thought I'd pick a show that was particularly influential to my anime history. I had a number of options, but after reading this article on Anime News Network on some "gateway anime" choices, as well as some other blog posts on the show (beware spoilers!), I decided on Fruits Basket.
Now, while Fruits Basket was among my first anime series I finished, it was not truly a "gateway" show in that it neither introduced me to an anime (or even to the shoujo genre, as Cardcaptor Sakura took that technically) nor was it the show that got me particularly interested in anime; nevertheless, it was a pivotal show that I watched during an important period of my anime history, and to this day it remains a show that holds a dear place in my heart.
I'll be doing a proper Hall of Fame induction of this show soon, so I'll be talking more about the show's qualities then. As for what the show means to me, there are a number of things that this show did for me.
Probably what really made this show so important to me was its various messages about life. They were very nice and positive messages that show that there is good in this world, and really helped me enjoy the show on a greater level than I had for most other shows I had watched until then. It helps that those messages were naturally incorporated into the show itself, thanks to a very nice protagonist in Tohru Honda, an optimistic and cheerful girl that sees the good in everyone. (She is also one of the major reasons I'm a big fan of her Japanese voice actor, Yui Horie.) She's one of my favorite characters in anime (although I like her even more in the manga; more on that later).
Of course, I have to talk about the other characters in the show, specifically the members of the Zodiac. They're a fun and varied bunch (well, most of them; Hiro was pretty insufferable in the anime), from the cool but soft-hearted Yuki to the tsundere Kyo, and fun side characters like the cheerfully childish Momiji and the crossdressing Ritsu and the absolutely adorable Kisa (one of the few girls among the Zodiac members). In addition to them, Tohru also has some good friends that play significant roles, too.
With a great cast, good messages, and a solid plot overall, plus some great comedy helped by some fun artistic direction, this show has pretty much everything it needs to be a top-tier show. I gave it a raw score of 9/10 (an A-) and a personal score of 9.7/10.0, both of which place the show cleanly among my favorites. If there's one particular thing I didn't like about the show, it was how it was cut short compared to the manga. While the anime does have a decent conclusion in and of itself, it is ultimately just a prelude to an even greater story found in the original manga. After enjoying the anime so much, I started reading the manga, and Fruits Basket also became the first manga series I bought in its entirety, even as it was being released in the U.S. by Tokyopop.
The manga is my all-time favorite manga series, and for good reason. It takes the foundation shown in the already excellent anime series and develops the characters and plot to further depths, introducing some Zodiac members the anime didn't have time to cover, providing more insight into the story's "villain", Akito, and showing that for all of Tohru's goodness, she is far from being "too perfect" (a complaint that is easy to make about the anime's Tohru, though it never bothered me too much). Unfortunately, it doesn't look like a reboot of the anime to cover the rest of the manga material will be coming, which is unfortunate, as if the anime could cover the entire story, it would probably be in my top 5 anime of all time. As it is... it's still in my top 20 and a show I remember fondly.
Sentai Filmworks has announced their December slate of releases. It includes a number of things, including some new licenses such as Reideen, the Queen's Blade OVAs, and The Ambition of Oda Nobuna, as well as the bilingual limited edition Blu-ray/DVD release of Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions! The releases are all available for pre-order on RightStuf, and will also start appearing for pre-order on other sites.
And in a particularly big bit of news, the original CLANNAD visual novel will be coming to Steam! Fans of the anime (which personally is my 2nd favorite anime of all time) will definitely want to check it out.