Friday, October 4, 2019

Writing Lessons from Anime: Fruits Basket 2019

I loved the first version of this anime that come out in the early 2000s but I’m surprised to say that I love Fruits Basket 2019 even more. It’s more loyal to the manga and it’s going to last far longer! This anime is one of my top favorites. It’s so heartwarming and it’s made me cry multiple times. 

For those of you who haven’t seen it Fruits Basket centers around a high school student named Tohru Honda who recently lost her mom to a car accident. When she doesn’t want to inconvenience her distant family members by staying with them she decides to live on her own in a tent until she encounters Shigure, Yuki, and Kyo Sohma who offer to let her stay with them.  She uncovers their mysterious secret: they are cursed with the animals of the zodiac which they transform into whenever they’re hugged by someone of the opposite sex. 

Warning: Minor spoilers. Bigger ones in point 5.

1.) Urban Fantasy Meshed with Slice of Life - Fruits Basket is set in modern-day and mostly focuses on the lives and traumas of the characters but it has a slight fantastical twist which is the Sohma curse. Much of the reason for the trauma of many characters is because of the curse while other characters have had to deal with hard circumstances surrounding grief, rejection, and anger. The urban fantasy element adds uniqueness to the story and gives an overarching plot to this amalgamation of character stories. It’s what ties it all together.

How this can be applied to writing: Sometimes a fantastical element can help add uniqueness to your story or tie it all together. It doesn’t have to be something big. With That’s So Raven it’s a show about character’s lives but Raven has a psychic ability.

Kyo Transforming
2.) A Unique Twist on A Mythological Legend - The Twelve Animals of the Zodiac are a common legend but many don’t know about the cat’s part of the legend. I didn’t know about it until I saw the show. The fact that a family is cursed with the ability to transform into these animals is also a fun twist. This is fun for the characters at times and used to comedic effect but it’s a big inconvenience when they have to avoid people of the opposite effect and they will transform involuntarily if they’re sick. To make sure the world doesn’t know about this secret, they can erase memories which is a gift granted to one member of the zodiac at a time. This creates a secretive dynamic to the whole show as Tohru has to keep the Sohma secret on pain of having her memories taken away. 

How this can be applied to writing: They are so many fun ways you can be creative with mythological legends. Bringing them to present date like in Percy Jackson and the Olympians and Grimm can add another fun twist. 

Yuki avoiding being hugged.
3.) Estranged Siblings - Yuki and Ayame are estranged not just because of their roughly ten year age difference and conflicting personalities but also because Ayame wasn’t there for Yuki during the darkest part of his life. Tohru encourages Ayame to bridge “the rift” despite Yuki’s rejections. At this point in the show their relationship isn’t repaired but Ayame is trying to do something instead of pretending the problem doesn’t exist anymore and Yuki can be in the same room with him at least.

How this can be applied to writing: When siblings get estranged it’s often for many reasons. Opposite personalities is one thing but bad history can be the reason that keeps them apart.

4.) A Group of Close Cousins - I know I love to talk about cousins a lot but I can help point it out here too! Hatori, Shigure, and Ayame are about the same age and grew up very close to each other. Their differing personalities somehow meshed together into an unbreakable trio that has lasted into adulthood. Their dynamics are so great as hilarious. Hatori is the only one who can make Ayame dial down his flamboyant personality and Shigure and Ayame joke about their undying love to each other though they’re both totally straight. 

How this can be applied to writing: I love cousin groups which are even rarer than cousin bonds between two people. I have personal experience with hanging out with a bunch of cousins that I was very close with. We would always stick with each other during family gatherings and we made lots of memories despite our many different personalities. 

5.) A Main Character Who Changes the Lives of Others - Tohru Honda is such an amazing character. She has her flaws but she’s also so inspiring to others. She’s accepting, she looks for the best in others, she’s considerate, sacrificial, and loves unconditionally. Much of the anime goes into how she changed the lives of characters in the past like her friends Uo and Hanajima but also goes into how she inspires Yuki and Kyo to become better people. Her traits better other people's lives.

How this can be applied to writing: Main characters are often the most flawed characters in the stories (besides the antagonist). But in this case, though Tohru has her shortcomings like she tends to worry herself in a tizzy and not want to inconvenience others so much she tends to get herself into not good situations, she is a shining gem to the other characters and often causes other characters to change more than she does. It works so much in this case because Tohru is such a wonderful person. You can't help but love her.

Conclusion - Fruits Basket is one of the best stories I've ever seen and this is just season one for the remake, so you may see a sequel in the future. ;)

Have you seen Fruits Basket 2019? Have you noticed these writing aspects? What anime have you noticed have good writing? Let's geek out together!

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