The story is gripping, inventive, and very entertaining. The book itself was difficult, frustrating, and at times completely confusing. And the reason for this is that this manga was published in the original form (but with English lettering instead of Japanese characters), with the story beginning at the back of the book, and being read right to left. This proved very difficult, as the panels were not always horizontal, and the story jumped back and forth, in and out of flashbacks. The story follows Tohru Honda, an orphan who stumbles upon a mysterious family. The Sohma family, made up of three young men who are cousins, agree to let her live with them. She repays their kindness by cooking and cleaning for them. She soon finds out that the young men, Yuki, Shigure, and Kyo, had an ancient curse put on their family. The spirits of the zodiac follow them around, and whenever a member of the family is hugged by someone of the opposite gender, they turn into an animal from the zodiac calendar. Tohru is soon accepted into this family, and agrees to keep their secret. This story is very character-driven, as no real enemy was introduced. The characters are realistic, even in their animal form, and are drawn very well. I enjoyed the story and the new (to me) graphic design. I did not enjoy the book format, but perhaps I will acclimate myself to it, if I continue the series. This is the first book in a series that is at least 15 books long, most likely more. They are first published in Japan, and seem to sporadically find their way to America. This edition included information on the Fruits Basket history and following in Japan, and a brief lesson on the Chinese Zodiac, since much of the plot depends on the reader’s understanding of it. If I had to recommend a manga to a first-time reader, I might not choose this one because of the format and the time-jumping plot. One must be patient in order to read this book. If you enjoyed this book, please consider :
Fiction Recommendation #1 : Fruits Basket, vol. 2 by Natsuki Tayaka. Tohru attempts to lead a normal High-school girl life, but problems ensue when she invites friends for a sleepover, while attempting not to disclose the secret of the Sohma family’s curse of the Chinese Zodiacs.Nonfiction Recommendation #1 : Watching Anime, Reading Manga: 25 Years of Essays and Reviews by Fred Patten and Carl Macek. Patten, an anime scholar for decades, has put together this collection discussing the influence anime has had on American popular culture.