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Alethea & Athena
Fruits Basket another volume 1 
28th-Aug-2018 09:06 pm
Oh my goodness, is it actually time for our Fruits Basket another review? It seems like everyone's already reviewed this book and hated it by now. This is where I once again want to state my theory that Fruits Basket mostly grabbed everybody's attention for the gimmick. Every series Natsuki Takaya has done since then also has all the human drama that Fruits Basket did, but people are all, "It's not as good as Fruits Basket." They just want more auto-relatable characters.

But we actually enjoyed this book, so let's talk about it! Spoilers ahead!

Oh my goodness, this series, you guys! I can still hardly believe we're translating it! As some of you may know, we did the original translation of Fruits Basket for TokyoPop waaaay back in the day, and then Fruits Basket another started up, and we translated it for funsies and we thought back on our old Fruits Basket translations and thought, "Man, we were so inexperienced then. I don't suppose anyone would license rescue the series and let us fix our shoddy work..." And then! Yen Press did license it! What! We panicked. We immediately emailed our boss and asked if we could translate it!

...but they already had someone else. And they thought it would be better to have consistency with all the other things they licensed from Natsuki Takaya, so we didn't get to translate Twinkle Stars or Liselotte, either. And did you know! that TokyoPop was close enough to getting the rights to Twinkle Stars that they had already asked us to translate it? Oh man. Not gonna lie, that was a pretty sad day, when we found out we couldn't do any of them for Yen Press. Our understanding is that there were legal issues, probably with TokyoPop owning our translation or something (we would have done a new one from scratch, without even looking at the old ones (because those files are hidden deep, deep in old emails, in an account that might not even exist anymore, and the hard copies we have are lost in all our boxes, and would have been changed by English adaptation writers to the point where we would have been like, "No. We're changing that," anyway.)), so there were no hard feelings toward anyone, but we were sad about it.

We consoled ourselves by telling ourselves it wasn't meant to be, and it just meant there was something better in store for us. Lo and behold, a few months later, one of our Kodansha editors asked us to translate Sailor Moon. Tadah!

But this is supposed to be about Fruits Basket another. We actually have no idea what happened between us not getting to retranslate the original series and us getting to translate the sequel. We figure if it was any of our business, they would have told us. For all we know, all the other Takaya-sensei stuff just proved to be too text heavy to handle, because Fruits Basket, like Sailor Moon, tends to take up a lot more time than you'd expect. The difference is, since Fruits Basket is generally shoujo fluff, the time is mostly consumed by typing up the massive amounts of text, which are then easier to deal with in the edit. Sailor Moon edits are ridiculously hard, because sometimes it feels like all exposition all the time. King Endymion seems to speak in short novels, is what I'm saying. But the point is, one day out of the blue, our boss at Yen Press emailed and asked if we wanted to do Fruits Basket another, and we were like, "Are you kidding!? Of course we would!" And thus we have been reconciled with two series that we had loved but been estranged from.

So. What's it about again? Oh yes, Sawa. Sawa is...pretty much your typical Natsuki Takaya heroine, actually. I think she's like a combination of Tohru and Sakuya, but without any friends. She had a bad experience with friends when she was a kid, and has sworn off of them for the good of mankind. Some fleeting flashbacks with her mother indicate that her mother is also part of Sawa's confidence problem, telling her that Sawa just isn't likable, which certainly is not going to help someone recover from a situation where her friends just up and tell her they don't like her anymore, for no particular reason. And I have to say, the timing for us getting back to this series was amazing, because very soon before we started work on it, we had a friendship end abruptly when we inadvertently offended someone. (I've since come up with the theory that she wasn't really offended, just didn't think we were that compatible after all and wanted an excuse to not worry about the relationship anymore, but since I have no proof, I have to consider the possibility that she really was offended. Either way, I felt like I was being utterly innoccuous, so I'm just as confused about why she left as Sawa was about why her friends left.) So it was kind of nice to have this reminder that, just because people do leave their friends for reasons that baffle the person in question, it doesn't mean that everyone will hate them forever.

Of course, this wouldn't be shoujo manga if Sawa's life weren't in for a major change. She gets in trouble with her teacher for being late and is rescued by none other than the very son and heir to Yuki Sohma's glory. Of course they don't ever mention Yuki by name, but we all know it's him. And then basically the story revolves around Sawa meeting all the other Sohmas and learning life lessons along the way. None of the original characters are mentioned by name, but Natsuki Takaya makes sure to insert details into the dialogue to let us know exactly who descended from whom. And I like it, because it all makes sense with the story, instead of randomly having the Wicked Queen from Snow White have a daughter. You know who the Wicked Queen's daughter is? Snow White. Not Raven or Evie or whoever. But I digress. (If you want to get technical, yes, Snow White is her stepdaughter, unless you want to go with the original original Grimm's version, before they edited it, when the queen really was Snow White's biological mother.)

And...we like it. The end. Oh! That reminds me. The names! First, the most obvious thing we noticed was Sora and Riku. I mean, the names mean sky and land, respectively, so they make sense as twin names, especially fraternal twins, but we also know that Natsuki Takaya is a big Final Fantasy fan, so it seems highly unlikely that the connection to Kingdom Hearts is purely coincidental. Also, Mutsuki and Hajime. There's a character in Final Fantasy: Type-0 named Mutsuki, which, some of you may know, is the Final Fantasy that we actually got to work on. And here's the very interesting thing about it. It doesn't come up in any of the scenes we translated (which is weird, because we translated at least 90% of the game, I'm pretty sure), but there are hints that in the super secret super happy ending, Mutsuki and Ace end up as a couple. (There may be hints before that that Mutsuki is crushing on Ace; it's been a while, so we don't remember exactly.) And Ace, as we all know, is the first (or Hajime) in a deck of cards. So we like to think of Mutsuki and Hajime as a platonic Mutsuki and Ace, which we especially like to do because Ace is played by our beloved favorite voice actor, and oh my goodness, he would make such a good Hajime. He'd make a good Mutsuki, too, for that matter. And he can sound tall enough to be Riku, too, but he's not usually known for his tall voices.

Anyway. We were glad that Ruriko and Takei mostly showed up in the first half of the volume because...we sort of...cheated...a little bit on this volume because, if you were paying close attention at the beginning of this review, you will have noticed that we started translating this series for funsies back when it first started. (We stopped because our schedule exploded and never calmed down, and then Yen Press licensed the original series, and we were like, Who cares about anything anymore.) And so we had mostly already dealt with their overblown monologues. And oh my goodness, such an amusing job we did of it! We did tweak things, though. There were some lines that we thought worked better with more context, and there was a line of Ruriko's that had a pun in it that we apparently didn't even try for the first time around, which was silly in retrospect, because the English version was obvious (so beside myself that my side hurts).

The little extra chapters that take place between the main chapters are hilarious. "I found it to be quite bravo-worthy." "Wait, everyone?" Bwa ha ha. Poor Hajime. I don't really have much to add to that except that you should read them because they're great. And that I still love Megumi. Actually, I'm not sure if I liked him that much originally, although I'm sure he must have grown on me at some point. At any rate, he's super awesome now. I kind of want to direct the English dub, because when we write these lines in English, we imagine very specific deliveries. "I'm a teacher... I wouldn't do that..." You have to say it with the shifty eyes voice, but not with shifty eyes, and it's a very specific shifty eyes voice (there are different varieties).

Sawa remains the biggest mystery of the series. First of all, she wears her hair in two bunches throughout the entire volume so far, so why is her hair down on the cover? It makes me think that's not really her. Second of all, what happened to her elbow? Did Shiki push her down the stairs? Did all her friends dump her because the pretty Sohma boys liked her better? It's clear that the Sohmas all know who she is, and I kind of wish she would question that more. But I'm sure we'll find out all about it eventually.

I have to mention Amane! She's one of those manga characters that gives me hope for humanity until I realize they're fictional. But the fact remains that she is great. Also, she has the same name as Hanako from Hanako-kun, so we're like, "All the names!!!" I think there was another name that we were like, "There's another one!" Oh, right, it was Kinu, because that's close enough to Kinuha, based on the way names work in Noragami. There's a Sawa in Farewell, My Dear Cramer, too (and she's adorable).

Anyway. I think that covers it. I like the story, and just like with all of Takaya-sensei's works since Fruits Basket, I think there's a lot we can all learn about being human. So I'm excited for the next volume!

Aww, it's nice to read a review from someone who likes the series. I hope people are willing to give it a chance despite all the online reviewers hating it. You just have to remember that it's not Fruits Basket Part Two. It's Fruits Basket another. That's a different thing.

Anyway, this week we have two new releases! My Monster Secret 12 and Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun 7! And tune in on Thursday for our review of the first volume of The Voynich Hotel!

Today I'm thankful for the kittens all snuggled together in the cat carrier (if their mother had joined them, we would have snatched them all up and whisked them away to the shelter), fond remembrances of Fruits Basket, getting to make more progress in reading Karneval, getting to work on Land of the Lustrous today (oh my goodness it's been forever), and finally managing to finish the simulpub chapter we were working on that proved to be surprisingly tricky.
29th-Aug-2018 09:26 am (UTC)
I liked it, but it had been so long since I'd read "Fruits Basket" that I couldn't figure out who a lot of the different current Sohmas were the offspring of. I guessed that the sparklingly princely guy was Yuki's son right away--although since his personality is more like that of Yuki's self-dramatizing older brother the snake (I can't remember his name), at one point I started to wonder if he might be his kid instead. And the grumpy president of the student council was obviously Kyo's son, while the younger, antisocial kid who refused to come to the dinner at the end had to be Akito's offspring. But I'm still not sure who any of the others were, except for one guy whose father I think is probably Haru. So maybe there were some reviewers who had the same problem putting together the clues due to their imperfect memory of the original series, and objected to the fact that there were obviously a number of references and bits of subtext that you wouldn't get if you were insufficiently familiar with the first "Fruits Basket." And of course, if you'd never read or seen the anime of "Fruits Basket" at all, I'm not sure how much you'd be able to get out of "Fruits Basket Another." Although I suppose manga fans with that little exposure to the original series are pretty rare, and most of those people probably wouldn't pick up the sequel/spin-off series anyway.

Natsuki Takaya seems to be obsessed with dysfunctional families. In "Fruits Basket," this seemed like a natural corollary of the curse-induced stresses of constantly struggling to function in mainstream society without blowing your cover (or otherwise revealing the family secret, for those Sohmas who didn't actually transform), combined with the strain of continually jockeying for the head of the family's favor--or at least staying sufficiently in her good graces to avoid some horrible punishmen. But some of the backstories in "Twinkle Stars," where most of the families are of relatively modest status and don't have supernatural handicaps as an excuse--ouch. I mean, what the heck was Sakuya's stepmother's problem? Was she just a sadist who took an instant dislike to what she saw as Sakuya's hypocritically eager-to-please personality, or would she have treated any stepkid who might present some threat, however slight, to her role as queen of the household just as badly? And her father was so weak-willed and lacking in parental feelings that even though he basically knew his new wife was the one at fault, his idea of solving the problem was to simply dump Sakuya in somebody else's lap, apparently in preparation for writing her off entirely as soon as she graduated from high school. If that older cousin (Kanade?) who committed the cardinal sin of not getting into his top-choice college hadn't also had parents who basically wanted to get him out of their sight, and if the two of them hadn't managed to eventually bond and save each other by undoing at least some of the psychological damage inflicted by their respective parents, they both probably would have been doomed.

With Sawa, too, there seems to be no reason whatsoever so far that her friends suddenly turned on her and even her mother told her that she was useless and should just stay out of other people's way (albeit in a less overtly aggressively cruel way than Sakuya's stepmother psychologically abused her). Ironically enough, most of the next-generation Sohmas actually seem to be from much more well-adjusted backgrounds than the apparently ordinary Sawa. Luckily, it looks as if the Sohma kids will be helping Sawa heal and reintegrate into society the way Sakuya's friends and cousin did for her in "Twinkle Stars." Although at this point so many of the Sohma clan's originally "Game of Thrones"-level problems appear to have been basically resolved (with the probable exception of Akito and her nuclear family) that some of the critics may be wondering whether Takaya will be able to tease out enough plotlines from what's left to make the series work, or to come up with a convincing reason why the Sohmas seem to be taking such a noticeable interest in the currently downtrodden Sawa.
30th-Aug-2018 07:14 am (UTC)
The girl with the long black pigtails (Sora) is the twin sister of the tall, surly guy (Riku), and their parents are Hatsuharu and Isuzu (Rin). The tone-head with the ponytail (Michi) is Kakeru's daughter. The college student who's in charge at Hajime and Mutsuki's house (Kinu) is Hatori's daughter. And I think that covers all the volume one characters.

But I don't think that's the problem all the reviewers had, because at least one of them said that each of the children was basically a clone of their parents. And the vibe I got was that the reviewers had read Fruits Basket so many times that their own personal image of it was branded onto their memories.

Of course it's impossible for me to know because I am familiar with the first Fruits Basket series, but I think it's not too hard to follow along even if you're not. The main character is Sawa, so if you're paying attention mostly to her story, it doesn't matter if Hajime and Mutsuki had fathers who turned into a cat and a rat. When the series first started, we read an interview with Natsuki Takaya that said the idea was to have nods to the original for the longtime fans, but to make it a series that could stand on its own.

I think you must either have a higher status than "relatively modest" or you're very fortunate to have a loving family if you think that dysfunction only exists in aristocracy. There are horrible people in the world, and sometimes children have to grow up with those people. Sometimes the people aren't so horrible at first but something happens and they change, and then the children have to deal with that. For example, alcoholism is something that tends to affect the middle and lower classes. I think that Natsuki Takaya does an excellent job of portraying those kinds of people and relationships in a thoughtful, sensitive way, without excusing the horrible people for their horrible behavior.

Incidentally, people who survive dysfunctional relationships without being broken enough to perpetuate the cycle usually do turn out to be among the most awesome people around. They know what it's like to be a victim, and they do what they can to prevent it from happening to anyone else. So I don't think it's ironic at all that the Sohmas have raised their children to be such wonderful people.
30th-Aug-2018 12:18 am (UTC)
I am so very excited that you are translating Fruits Basket another! First of all, I am excited that someone has leased it, and it's being translated; and I especially wanted you to do it, since you didn't get to do the re-release of Fruits Basket (a big, fat BOOOOOO! to Yen Press for not choosing you!). This is very happy news for me, since I was a little *ahem* obsessed with Furuba, and I am very interested in reading the sequel (or whatever you call it). I was following your translations back when you were doing them, and I enjoyed them, and it. I don't expect it to live up to the specialness (is that a word?) of Furuba itself, but just having a link to the characters that I loved so very much makes me happy. So congratulations! I am another person who does not hate Fruits Basket another.

And FWIW, I can't imagine you offending someone to the point that they ended the friendship. I say this from the POV of someone who (as you know) does not always agree with your POV on certain things. We are still friends, nevertheless, and find common ground, and agree to disagree on the rest. So I don't think you have to worry about people hating you forever, or whatever. Since I don't know what went on, and have no desire to know, I suppose I should just mind my own business, but I just thought that needed to be said.

Edited at 2018-08-29 09:35 pm (UTC)
30th-Aug-2018 07:18 am (UTC)
Thank you so much for the support! We really can't blame Yen Press for not choosing us to redo the original series (but we can probably blame TokyoPop all we want!), but we're definitely very grateful that they chose us for the sequel.

And thank you for the reminder that it is possible to disagree on things and still be friends, and that we can still be likable. We think you're pretty darn likable, too! Thank you for being such a good friend♥ *hugs*
31st-Aug-2018 12:47 am (UTC)
Thank you. I'm glad we're friends, too. <3
12th-Sep-2018 08:58 am (UTC)
"the very son and heir to Yuki Sohma's glory"...this is a very good description and all around satisfying phrase to read :D I like it a lot. Also reading about your beloved favourite voice actor doing "tall" voices made me laugh. This was such a fun happy cute review!!! (too bad to your friend who doesn't read them.)

And yes, it IS nice to read a review from someone who likes the series! I'd gathered some hints that there was negativity... But I enjoy the series so far. Even as I occasionally wonder if there's a point beyond "Sawa meets more and more Sohmas&friends and they're (almost) all happy and amazing and slightly odd." But yeah, life lessons. And the hints at some sort of back story.

Reading the other comments on this post reminded me, I'm super amused at Mutsuki's (personality) resemblance to Ayame and I wonder if he drives his parents crazy... :D (and then there's his cousins, ohhh man. that's next volume though, isn't it.) I also appreciated your perspective on family/relational dysfunction, and about some of those who survive it and go on to be amazing people who make the world a better place. From that angle, it does seem like Furubana is doing something a little different than/beyond the original series (or other Takaya-series generally) and it's a pretty wonderful thing to see! (you know me, I'm always a fan of "let's just show people being happy together!" plots-or-lack-thereof.)
14th-Sep-2018 05:59 am (UTC)
We do come up with some good ones sometimes. XD We're glad you enjoyed the review!

Our theory about the negative reviews is that the readers hadn't been warned that none of the main characters from the original series would make an appearance. Whatever it is, it's almost certainly expectations that weren't met. This is part of why we like to go into things with as little knowledge as possible.

That's something I didn't put together, Mutsuki's resemblance to Ayame! We did hear a couple of times that our favorite nephew is so much like us he almost seems like our kid, so I guess that's a thing that happens.

Anyway, yeah, I don't know if we'll really know what this series is trying to do until we get to the end (but volume two does seem to make it clearer). I think it's nice to see how the Sohmas have affected their children, too, and in that sense I think it's more a continuation of the original series than people realize.
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