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Recently Natsuki Takaya has dealt with the relationships of some of the supporting characters... and now it's back to the main trio.

And the nineteenth volume of "Fruits Basket" focuses on Tohru's growing feelings for Kyo, even as she struggles to free him from his curse -- and the scorn of the other zodiac members. Though there are some funny moments (mostly from the wonderfully wacky Ayame) growing romantic feelings and past regrets are littered all through these chapters.

Heartfelt talks take up a lot of space -- when Shigure tells Tohru about the approaching "last banquet" and the cat's place, she is left struggling with her torn feelings. Kyo has a chat with her kindly grandfather about Tohru, and remembers his own talk with her dead mother. And Shigure has a soul-baring talk with Hatori about the increasingly reclusive Akito, and just what he wants from her.

But the romantic tension growing between Kyo and Tohru are stifling Yuki, so he goes shopping out on the town, and eventually ends up visiting his brother. While the brothers talk, Yuki stirs up memories of the first time Ayame realized that his careless words could hurt people. But he isn't the only one -- amid the usual school council hijinks, Yuki finds out about a past conflict between Kakeru and Tohru...

In the grand scheme of things, not much actually happens in this volume -- it's mostly about the characters and their feelings.

Don't worry. It's not boring, especially since Takaya continues to weave in some darker threads about Kyo's bleak past and future, and his half-hidden regrets about Kyoko. And she lets readers have a look at how the characters are changing as they approach adulthood (Momiji has become the new "prince"). There's a bittersweet flavour even to the lighter chapters, since everything around them is changing so quickly.

But don't worry -- despite the darker moments, we still get lots of comic relief like Kyo bashing his head against the wall in exaggerated shame. And there are some deeply romantic moments, like a beautiful flashback to the start of Ayame's relationship with Mine. These moments are exquisitely beautiful without having to be too obvious, and Takaya's delicate artwork only adds to the feeling.

But the biggest romantic moments come for Tohru and Kyo. Tohru's inner struggles are further revealed, since she turns out to have some conflicting feelings about her parents and Kyo. And Kyo shows that he's grown out of the angry, self-loathing cat-boy he used to be, while Yuki has become more patient with his brother, and very sweet and loving toward his new girlfriend.

And Takaya doesn't neglect the other characters -- Kakeru turns out to be a romantic, Ayame definitely isn't gay, and Momiji has some secret romantic feelings. And Shigure's darker side casts a shadow over the first half of this manga.

The nineteenth volume of "Fruits Basket" explores the changing feelings of the characters, even as it inches toward the end. A really stellar, polished little manga.
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You can really tell when a series is finally starting to wind down, and the plot threads are being tied off one by one.

Such is the case in the twentieth volume of "Fruits Basket," where Akito's dark family legacy and malign mother are finally exposed completely, and the curse comes further unraveled. There's a little romance around the edges, but not much comedy here -- only a lot of heartrending loneliness, and a bloody secret that has been torturing poor Kyo for years.

The whole story of Akito's mysterious box is revealed, as we see how Akito's parents -- beautiful, sheltered invalid Akira and his seductive maid Ren -- met and married, despite the family's protests. When Akito was born, Ren rejected her out of jealous hatred, and Akito clung instead to her loving father until he died -- leaving her a wooden box. Just what is in the box, and how far will the maddened Ren go to find out?

But her mother is not Akito's only worry -- as Shigure predicted, the curse is coming unraveled, and two more members of the zodiac are freed. Even worse, she turns against the one person who has always been there for her, when he tries to leave her for her own good.

Meanwhile, Tohru is struggling with her feelings for Kyo, with a few of her zodiac friends egging her on to just say how she feels (in particular Kagura, who is understandably annoyed by this). But when she finally confronts Kyo, he reveals a secret he's kept since before she came to live with the Sohmas -- a tragic story about the day her mother died.

"Fruits Basket" is often classed as a romantic comedy. But there's not much romance or comedy in the twentieth volume -- the love is painful or even illusionary, and the comedy is almost nonexistant. There are admittedly a few cute moments, like Kagura whacking Kazuma in the head, but more often the humor is dry and weird, such as when Shigure tells Ren why he slept with her.

But most of the time, Natsuki Takaya cloaks the story in a feeling of bitter reminiscence, and sorrowful loneliness -- of the broken curse, of being an outcast, of being rejected, or of being unloved. The flashbacks to Akito's childhood are both beautiful and tragic, especially the story of poor Akira and the revelations about how Akito became such a neurotic. And the final chapters are outright painful in their naked emotion, especially Kyo's despairing final lines.

Even the moments when certain people lose their curses are bittersweet. They are suddenly free, but they've also lost the connection that has been with them all their lives. Takaya doesn't resort to flash or dramatics, and her elegant, clean artwork only adds to the feeling of beautiful loss.

In a way this is Akito's story -- we get to see her from birth to the present day, and see how Ren's hate has warped her. Ren herself seems like a manipulative bunny-boiler, who hates all women -- including embryos -- and can't stand the idea of her sweet, tragic husband loving anybody but her. The scene where she stalks into Akito's room with a knife is pretty creepy.

And poor Kyo's much-foreshadowed grief is finally explained. Suddenly all his weird feelings, past breakdowns and gory dreams make sense, and you can see why the poor guy thinks Tohru couldn't love him.

The twentieth "Fruits Basket" takes the story into one of its darkest places, with a jealous Mommy Dearest and a crumbling curse. Not to be missed.
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on 23 June 2005
I'll start of by saying that I love the fruits basket series. I have all of them that have been published in english and can't wait for the next ones.
Now on to this Volume. Volume 9 contains what we as furuba fans have come to expect. Funny moments, touching moments and shocking revelations. So why only 4 stars? Although it is a great book, this volume is a little too hap-hazard for my liking. There are a few different story sections in the one book that have no relevance to each other. But they are good stories, especially Saki-chan's bit. The artwork is, as usual, amazing and the style of volume 9 is the same lovable series that we have come to love!
In conclusion BUY THIS BOOK! If you are a furuba fan then your collection will not be the same without it. (plus you will never find out who the red hat boy was!!)
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on 3 June 2005
I think I probably have high standards for Fruits Basket, because a four star here would be a five star anywhere else. However, this volume is composed of single stories that appear totally disconnected: Hana's past, A Kyo and Tohru moment, Uo's new crush, Yuki preparing to be Student Body President, and finally an appearence by Momiji & the usual chaos he brings. I think the problem is there were a lot of new characters introduced, but nothing explained. Argh!
As usual, the art is fantastic. One of the (many) reasons I love teh art is because the build of the characters changes as they age - Kyo and Yuki are getting noticably taller than Tohru, as they're now 17. Even Momiji!
For Fruits Basket fans, this is the usual amazing stuff expected. Also, there are two new(ish) Zodiac members...
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Out of the entire "Fruits Basket" series, the penultimate volume is the most important.

And the twenty-second volume is when Natsuki Takaya truly mingles transcendent love and joy with the bitterness of a troubled past. Assorted plot threads are quietly wrapped up in preparation for the grand finale, even as Takaya finally deals with the biggest problem that faces the Sohma family. Things will never be the same after this.

After years of bitter hatred and estrangement, Kyo finally has a messy, painful confrontation with his biological father, only to remember something about his mother's suicide and how she was driven to it. But his relief is short-lived -- Tohru thinks she's been rejected by him, and doesn't want to see him. Cue excessive teasing by Yuki, Arisa and Hana.

At the same time, Arisa grapples with her feelings for Kureno, and a repentant Akito arranges for the cursed Sohmas to gather in one week. And when Tohru is finally released from the hospital, Kyo pursues her across the town to tell her how he really feels about her. And their important meeting will change the Sohma clan forever... as well as the curse.

There are a lot of different changes in the twenty-second "Fruits Basket" -- at least one character's "happily ever after" is shown, surprising details of the curse are revealed, and the very heart of the Sohma family is changed forever. I won't say just what happens, except that it means that the series is really almost over, because there's few places left for it to go after what happens here.

And after many bleak chapters full of sadness, there's finally an even balance in these stories -- Takaya starts focusing on joy, uncertain love, and optimism as well as the sorrow and fear (especially Kyo's meditations on his late mother, and his feelings about her). There are some outright cute moments, such as Tohru's adorable reaction when Kyo reveals that this was their second kiss.

In fact, Kyo and Tohru experience some big changes in this volume. He finally faces his demons and his haunted past (including learning the REAL reason his mother committed suicide), and resolves to live for the future, while she struggles with her love and insecurities -- and the scene where they finally confess their feelings is beautifully awkward and heartfelt, as well as rather funny at times.

And the other characters are explored as well -- Akito's changing personality, her pain and fear, and her relationship with Shigure; Yuki gaining the strength to pursue his own love; Arisa finally connecting with Kureno.

The penultimate volume of "Fruits Basket" is a bittersweet experience -- bitter because it's almost over, and sweet on its own merits. And one more left to go...
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on 15 April 2005
In this volume Valentines Day is approching, which is a very bad thing for members of the zodiac. We see Kyo try to avoid it altogether but that doesnt work out and we meet another slightly scary member of the zodiac. And what will the Shoma's give Torhu on this emotional day. This volume is very funny and exciting.
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on 16 June 2006
Fruits Basket follows the life of orphaned high school student Tohru Honda. When her mother is killed in a car crash she is forced to go and live with her Grandfather. We join the story when she has had to temporarily leave her grandfather's house, unwilling to impose on any of her friends she opts to live in a tent. Despite working herself into the ground she remains cheerful and one day stumbles across a house in the woods in which live some of the mysterious of Sohma family. Feeling sorry for her (after the loss of her tent/home) they invite her to stay and immediately put her to work cleaning up the male dominated household.

Tohru soon learns that the boys of the house are not quite what they seem, they are possessed by the spirits of the zodiac. The story follows the lives of Tohru and the Sohma family, as they deal with each other and a society where neither quite fit in.

Fruits Basket is now finished in Japan and is collected into 20 volumes. In 2003 Tokyopop was urged under huge consumer pressure to translate the series for the U.S. audience and was first translated in 2004. By the fifth issue the manga had taken the title of 'Best Selling Shojo Manga' a worthy credit to this incredibly popular series. This series would form the backbone of any collection and while I'm no where near completing the set I would imagine that I'll collect them all.

Vol.9...

Finally summer has arrived! While Tohru struggles through bipolar days of hope and anxiety, what will happen when Yuki comes face-to-face with the new member of the student council?! And... is Uo-chan crazy in love?! Who's that she's hanging out with?! Plus, Hana-chan's past is finally disclosed in a bonus feature! Come join the party in the 9th volume of the super-popular Fruits Basket!
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on 23 May 2009
Fruits Basket remains to date the only manga and anime that has ever brought me close to tears and this volume was no exception, except that this time, they were tears of joy. The series has become increasingly dark, to the point I feared that all Tohru's good work and the striving of the younger generation had been in vain.

But the beautiful ending that all FB fans have been hoping for, and feared would never come, has finally arrived. All the couples you have been rooting for? They get their happy ending! (Yes, even Uo and Kureno!) The curse? What curse?! This volume is full of a sense of achievement wrested from the hands of defeat and hard-earned happiness, and you will feel both by the end of reading it. But there's still one more to come...
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on 20 January 2017
Tohru Honda's adventures in "Fruits Basket," are amazing I recommend this manga to anyone who loves adventure and a good story.
I was told the manga was used but in good condition. when I received the manga it was in really good condition and I couldn't have asked for a better quality, especially for the price. The story follows volume 2: introducing new characters and new twists into the story and following Tohru who moves into the Sohma household, where amazing and magical things happen to the family living there.
Takaya will not let the reader down in these manga, and it just keeps getting better.
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Valentine's day is creeping up on the Sohmas, and for a family that turns into animals when they're hugged by the opposite sex, this could be a problem.

Fortunately Natsuki Takaya doesn't resort to the obvious gags, in the third volume of "Fruits Basket." Instead, she introduces some new members of the Chinese zodiac, brings a couple back into the picture, and sheds some light on Shigure's shady motives for keeping Tohru in his house.

While on an endurance run, Tohru sees a white-haired man lying by the roadside, and rushes to help -- only to find that he's Hatsuharu Sohma, a punky teenager. He and Kyo soon get into a martial-arts (and verbal) free-for-all -- until Yuki collapses from an asthma attack. To get him back home, Haru uses Tohru to change into his cursed form.

Things get even more awkward when Valentine's Day rolls around, and Kyo finds himself being violently wooed by Kagura. And while the four teens go off on a double date, Shigure pays an old visit to his pal Hatori, and hints at the lengths he's willing to go to... for the sake of a "dream of love" he once had. When, of course, he's not torturing his suicidal editor.

And a month later, Momiji unveils a surprise for Tohru -- a trip to a hot spring resort, run by a very easily upset "concubine." Tohru and Yuki are given a chance to relax and unwind in the luxurious surroundings -- and Tohru makes a very surprising discovery about Momiji's future.

Having introduced five zodiac members -- plus the cat -- Takaya keeps introducing new characters, and showing us facets of the established ones. And that takes up most of this volume -- it's one of the lighter "Fruits Basket" volumes, with lots of comic relief ("LOOOOOOOOOOOOVE!") usually provided by Momiji, the violently adoring Kagura, and the sickly onsen lady.

Most of the plot is light, frothy character development with a crazy double-date, lots of chocolate, and Haru's story about how Yuki won him over despite his prejudices. But there is some melancholy meditation on how cruel people take advantage of selfless people like Tohru, and some of the secrets that older zodiac members are keeping from our teen heroes.

Of course, this volume also introduces us to Haru, a teen who looks like a raver, but acts like a dignified gentleman. Of course, he has a lecherous, gleefully violent dark side if he's pushed too far. We also get Mitchan, the long-suffering editor who threatens suicide of Shigure doesn't start turning in new books on time ("Then do your job for your own sake! Because if you don't, you're forcing me to make your life as miserable as MINE!").

Shigure himself shows some new facets beyond "lovable pervy troublemaker" -- his intentions are revealed to be almost sinisterly selfish, and though he feels regret he won't change his plans. It's a striking, almost haunting scene, and it shows us a lot about his true personality.

The third volume of "Fruits Basket" is mostly fluffy fun and new characters, but it also shows some of the darker currents that run through the series. Definitely a good read.
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