Two harem-style anime, both based on 90s source material but only one of which did not severely test my patience.
Kono Yo no Hate de Koi wo Utau Shoujo YU-NO/YU-NO: A girl who chants love at the bound of this world)
Well that certainly is a mouthful – and personally, I’m beginning to suspect that the longer the title is, the worse the experience. Such is certainly true of YU-NO; a seemingly hastily thrown-together show whose main character is a sexual harassing douchebag, and whose other cast members are primarily made up of half a dozen women, all of whom are defined solely on either how big their breasts are, how short their skirts are, or both. Moreover, every single one of these characters are introduced within this first episode, meaning that as soon as our womanizing protagonist finishes one pointless conversation with one of them, she exits the story so that the next one can take her place. The episode culminates in, what else, a naked woman appearing before Mr. Horn-Dog and kissing him, before disappearing in a flash of light and apparently transporting him back in time, for Reasons. It’s all about as cliché and derivative as it sounds (and I say that knowing the show is based on a visual novel from the mid 90s), and is every bit as painful to watch.
In terms of production values, YU-NO frankly also fails to impress me, though I’ll grant you that anyone who has a liking for those stereotypical 90s stock VN/harem character designs will probably be more drawn to the show than I am. You know the type – everyone has a different hair colour, and the girls each have their assigned generic outfit and otaku trope to go along with it (Hot MILF Professor, Hot Homeroom Teacher, Hot Tsundere High School Girl, Hot Mysterious High School Girl, Hot Elf, etc.). Meanwhile, the animation is average at best and the music is fine if you happen to be in to super retro JRPG-style material. I’m not. Guys, do yourself a favour and skip this one, it’s a waste of your 20 minutes, and unlike Sir Lust-A-Lot, that’s time you won’t be getting back.
Fruits Basket is, for me at least, a really odd mix of nostalgia and low-key annoyance. On the one hand, the story is competent enough to tug at my heartstrings, and I always did love a good angsty shoujo drama. On the other hand, it’s not necessarily a show that otherwise appeals to my own inner fangirl – the drama is so overwrought that it’s at times almost laughable, and to be brutally honest, none of the male characters strike me as inherently great people. I get that they all have severe emotional baggage, but holy crap do the patriarchal tendencies inherent to Japan ever rear their ugly head. Get back in that kitchen Tohru, there’s cooking and housework to be done, and the boys sure ain’t up to the task.
All that being said, I still have a weirdly soft spot for this show, especially given that I’m not a manga reader and have never been tempted to get into the source material. I’ve had most of the story thoroughly spoiled for me by this point, but I’m still intrigued to see the whole thing play out faithfully on screen, and for the most part am really digging the artwork, which is a pleasant blend of late 90s aesthetics and far more modern animation. In particular, there’s some very nice attention paid to background detail, and especially in the play of light and shadows – something definitely missing from the much plainer 2001 anime adaptation. Conversely, I’m not sold on all the character designs – there’s just something a lot more natural about the way the female characters are drawn that seems lacking for the guys – but this isn’t something that should overly impede my enjoyment of the series. Overall, I’m pretty excited to see more, and definitely looking forward to the introduction of the rest of Fruits Basket’s highly colourful cast. I anticipate a solid, if not quite outstanding, weekly watch.
Question of the post: What did you think of these shows in general? For those readers who watched the older version of Fruits Basket, how do you think this new adaptation is stacking up?
9 thoughts on “Anime Taste Testing: YU-NO and Fruits Basket”
My only worry with ‘Fruits Basket’ is, how will they handle the filler chapters?
I have read the manga, and past a certain point everything comes to halt.
Even my friend who owns them all could’t recommend me finishing it.
Yeah, while I haven’t read the manga, I do know it’s pretty long. I assume the anime will have to skip at least some of the filler to get through the whole story, unless of course the anime is slated to run for something like 4 cours.
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@Yu-No: Well, that’s definitely a nineties eroge right there, and they get the feel right – it’s not a feel I was missing. I’m sticking with it for now, but the protagonist is a hard sell, the teachers outfit is… a puzzle (euphemism), and so on. If I watch this all the way through, it’s going to be for the plot, and maybe I will get to like one or two characters. I probably wouldn’t watch it, were it a weekend show, but there’s not much this season, and even less on Wensday. I’m curious where the plot goes, but even aside from the eroge roots, you just need to look once at the bearded guy and you know he’s not to be trusted, so even the story telling part isn’t very promising so far, either.
@Fruits Basekt: I enjoyed the first anime. It’s never been one of my favourites, but I quite liked it. I remember very little, though, so my memory comes back in bits and pieces. When I first saw the previews, I found the character designs looking pretty plain, but worse they seemed to be going for more realism (rather than the then typical shoujo designs of the original), but still retain the cartoony violence (there was a scene of Yuki (?) being punched in a comical arc in one of the previews), and these character designs, I felt, don’t really work with that. And you know what? The show itself changed my mind. I found myself suprisingly drawn in, and everything flowed really well. Because of my shoddy memories, I can’t really compare the episodes in detail. My hunch is that it’s foregrounding the drama, and downplaying the comedy – but that actually gives the comedy a sort of charm I find hard to describe. I was trying to use the word “understated”, but it’s really only understated by comparison. So far, I quite like it, and that’s from me going into it a little pessimistically (from the previews). Yeah, they did well. I’m wondering,how it will measure up when the drama hits full force (with the more serious tone, there’s a danger that it goes too far for my tastes into melodrama) – but so far I really like it.
I didn’t really even get an eroge feel from the YU-NO anime to be honest – it just seemed like a show with a ton of sexual jokes that wouldn’t actually go anywhere with them. Less sexy and more just tired frat boy humour, if that makes sense. Either way though, definitely not my cup of tea, although I don’t begrudge anyone their fun if it happens to be more their thing.
I think Fruits Basket by it’s very nature is pretty melodramatic and over the top at times. At others it veers into almost slapstick comedy, so you’d think I’d feel some tonal whiplash, but you’re right – there is a certain charm to the show which prevents that from happening. I remember feeling much the same about the first anime adaptation too.
About YU-NO, yeah, I get what you mean. I thought that was pretty common in eroge adaptions of the nineties, but I might be mistaken. A recent hold out and example was the Grisaia series, but it seems to have become less common. Not sure, though, if I’m right about this, or if it’s just what I’ve seen. You can take out the sex, without taking out the attitude.
About Fruits Basket, I think the balance is quite good, but the CGI cloud sort of distracted from the transition, there, so I’m not sure how I would have felt, if I hadn’t already been stumbling over that. I do like the animal designs. They’re appropriately goofy.
@Fruits Basket : Fruits’ mangaka requested an artstyle upgrade for the remake’s character designs.
“(I don’t want the remake’s)…art (to) look too much like my (previous) art.
This was partly because my Furuba art is old now, pure and simple, and also largely because I was in poor health back then…so my drawing was awfully shaky…I wanted them to rebuild the art as well.”
The issue sometimes is that as overly melodramatic/patriachal as a source manga is (esp. some shoujo), its creators can see it as the integral foundation of their work and get very hissy if changes are made to it. A prime example is the Kare Kano series – its creator was very angry when the anime version chose to focus on comedy over the source’s melodrama.
Similarly, Fruits’ creator was also unhappy at how the 1st anime’s director changed key elements of the curse plotline (a work in progress during the 1st’s run) and some character personalities, even making a pointed comment on it recently:
“There are no people involved in the (remake’s) production that will just make selfish decisions about the characters and story and move forward. I’m so relieved…since not everyone is good at that.”
I likely think she sees the remake as a chance to totally correct the past’s mistakes; going as far to request a completely new studio, new anime staff, new voice actors, new everything; even directly supervising the anime production to ensure all details were exact to her manga, down to character colour design.
In short, you’ll be watching the story as its creator envisioned it, warts and all. I think it’ll be something to keep in mind as you watch, review and compare this remake to its predecessor.
Yeah, I did read all of that info previously, and certainly don’t begrudge the remake doing things differently, both in terms of artwork as well as actual plot/content. Some of the new character designs I like, some I don’t – simple as that.