Monday, November 19, 2018

Fruits Basket Another Vol. 2 is for...lovers? (Manga Review)

Natsuki Takaya
No secret my favorite mangaka is Natsuki Takaya. I love her series Fruits Basket (although her series Twinkle Stars is my all-time favorite ever), so we find ourselves in a hell of a good week with both the release of Fruits Basket Another Volume 2 and some sort of announcement about a Fruits Basket anime reboot. (WHAT?!?!?!?!)

Fruits Basket Another Volume 2 (published by Yen Press) is the 2nd of three volumes set years after the original series. It's clearly meant for fans of the original. Much like volume 1, there are almost too many characters to remember, but each of them is linked to a favorite character from the original series, so even when not made explicit, trying to figure out the relationship is fun.

Volume 2 steps things up a notch with lots of time in the Sohma house, including references to Kyo falling through the roof in the original series. We also meet someone, someone who might be Akito's child? Maybe? I'm not good at figuring out the relationships, but I want him to be! His name is Shiki and he's in middle school. And...I think he's in love with our lead heroine, Sawa. And, she might be falling for him too? Or maybe I'm just writing fan fiction in my head as I read this...don't judge me...

What's fascinating is that I thought the central relationship (if there is going to be one) would be between Sawa and Hajime, but he didn't have much presence in this volume, and I don't get any chemistry there. Interesting. We do get a lot of time with Yuki's brother's children with some nice back story on their relationship with their father. It's also really cute to see how Takaya-sensei blends the looks and personalities of their two parents to make the two children.

But Sawa, our heroine: While the first volume was a rush of characters and events and fanservice (of the non-creepy type), we do finally get some background on her relationship with her mom. A very strained relationship. Her mom seems quite manipulative and self-serving, maybe even borderline personality disorder. She's quite like Shiina's step-mom in Twinkle Stars. No one writes an awful parent like Takaya-sensei. Poor thing, I hope her own family is nice to her.

Oh, wait, I didn't even try to summarize the story! There isn't much, other than set-ups for Sawa to meet more Sohmas or get cutely frazzled. Basically, she meets Shiki and they have some sort of thoughts about each other, she helps out in Ayame's shop, she has more awful interactions with her mother, she gets closer to the Sohma family, and maybe starts believing in her self-worth a little (basically a Takaya-sensei-type-story, in a good way!).

Like volume 1, the pace is super fast, big jumps in time, location, plot. We get tons of new characters, again all with relationships to the original series. So reading this, it's hard to imagine really loving it if you aren't already a fan. It's not that it can't be followed, or that the plot (what little of it exists) wouldn't necessarily be enjoyable to someone new, but it really seems highly tailored to fans.

With that, I don't even feel I can comment on volume 2's objective value as a story. The whole point of the series is about being nostalgic and getting some glimpses into the life of our favorite characters from the original series through the adventures of their children.

The art is fantastic! It's everything I could want from Takaya sensei's art. You feel the characters emotions, even with her highly unusual style of eyes. Her use of screen tones for sparkles, and skies, and mood are unparalleled. This is a beautifully drawn story, presented in slightly larger than normal tankobon size by Yen Press. (BTW my spell check wants to change that to "anklebone"!)

Basically, if you loved Fruits Basket, you'll love this (and volume 2 is just as good as volume 1). If you've never read Fruits Basket, you might like this although you won't get as much out of it (so why don't you just read the original already, silly!). My rating here is a fan rating, not an objective rating: 8/10 (the pacing is really fast, and I'd love more depth, but the art is amazing, I could look at it forever - she really is my favorite mangaka). I'm really really intrigued by Shiki and sad that we're only getting one more volume. But I'll treasure every last drop that Takaya-sensei wants to give


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