For a springtime treat, Shigure arranges for Tohru and the gang to spend Golden Week at the Sohmas' vacation home. On a rainy day, as the holiday draws to a close, who should make a surprise visit but Hatsuharu! But what's that he's hiding in the bundle under his arm? Why, it's the 5th volume of the super-popular Fruits Basket!
The first couple epsidoes at the lake house weren't riveting. Kyo and Yuki are ignoring each other, and Tohru worries unnecessarily until they break out fighting, and she is relieved! Except then they fight a lot, and she is worried for the opposite reason...not really enough of a story for me, I'm afraid.
However, it was nice to see Hari, Shigure, and Ayame acting like friends. Adult friendships in a teen story! That is of the good.
And then we get to Kisa, who is quite possibly the most adorable little girl/tiger ever. The way she would "tup tup tup" after Tohru, who would then spin around and bear hug her, exclaiming, "I LOVE YOU!" reminded me of how I act when my dog is especially needy and adorable. It was also nice to delve a bit more into Yuki's past via Kisa's current predicament. I am constantly amazed at how light-hearted a story that deals with child abuse is. The seriousness of the issue isn't compromised, but at the same time, there are funny things in life. Fruits Basket admits the good and the bad.
I was fully prepared to dislike Hana-jima's story (because I prefer to stick to the main characters rather than follow a side character's tangent), but I ended up loving it. There was hilarious paranoia and some really touching truths about friendship. I hadn't thought through the implications of what Tohru's life with the Sohmas must be like for her original friends, but Hana-jima just nailed what self-sacrificial love friendship ought to be.
"Actually, I was a little jealous, too. It felt like the Sohma family had taken Tohru-kun from me. It left me feeling...lonely. But 'respect the other person's feelings.' You are right. That's why I cannot be selfish."
And ending with Kyo cooking sick Tohru dinner? I'm a huge sucker for men who can cook, so major points there.
Four out of five tiger chomps.
Release Date: October 2004
Reading Level: Grade 7+
Where In Dunlap Public Library's Collection: Not currently part of Dunlap's collection.