Fruits Basket, Vol. 23
By Natsuki Takaya
Published by Tokyopop
Finally, after the intense drama of the last two volumes (particularly the breaking of the zodiac curse) things begin to settle for everyone here in Fruits Basket‘s final volume. Tohru and Kyo begin to plan their life together away from the rest of the Sohma family, Yuki gets ready to go away to college, and everyone begins to pair off with nothing now standing in their way (except, of course, themselves). The easing of all that drama, however, does not mean this volume is at all lacking in tear-inducing moments. There are touching scenes throughout the volume, between Akito and Shigure, Yuki and Machi, and Tohru and everyone. The most heart-wrenching scene of all, however, is a look at the sequence of events inside Kyoko Honda’s head as she lies dying in the street–truth that Kyo can never know and that Tohru believes without knowing.
This volume really is the perfect end to Natsuki Takaya’s incredibly popular series. Though it could easily lose momentum as everyone’s story arcs wrap up and they prepare to move on to the next stages of their lives, the rich atmosphere of the series carries through to the end. Things remain uneasy between Akito and the family she bullied for so long, and I like the fact that nothing is resolved patly there. One of the strengths of the series has always been the complexity of the characters and Akito is the most obvious example of this. Despite its sunny, unfailingly kind heroine, the moral center of Fruits Basket is built entirely on shades of gray. Everyone’s a bit broken and nobody’s hands are clean. Watching this group of damaged people finally get the opportunity to make real changes in their own lives is a true pleasure, but it would be cheating (and far below the standards of the series) to let everything be resolved without consequences.
That said, overwhelming the uneasiness (and occasional sadness) throughout the volume is a feeling of pure joy that perfectly embodies the spirit of the series and its heroine, Tohru. I said back in my review of volume 21, “Few of us can claim to see the world through eyes as open, joyful, and compassionate as Tohru Honda’s, but the great appeal of Fruits Basket is in that it manages to make us believe we can, at least for an hour or so.” I’m repeating that here, because I think I should have waited to say it until now in the first place. Though the series is, in many ways, Tohru’s, this final volume really feels like everyone’s, thanks to the warm, shining light she has managed to bring into all of their lives. It is Yuki here who says it best: “It was you, Tohru. You made me human. You raised me as a person. To me, you were practically my mother.” This story serves as a wonderful example of how much influence a single person can have in the lives of others–and it is not just Tohru’s influence that is illustrated here. Watching her mother’s story finally come full circle is testament to the layers upon layers of influence that play a part in any one person’s life, helping to form who her or she may become.
Wonderfully rich and bittersweet, the final volume of Fruits Basket provides the perfect conclusion to a truly beautiful series.