The story of Honda Tohru both continues and goes backwards in Fruits Basket -prelude-, which focus primarily on the relationship between Tohru’s parents. This sequel and prequel is based on chapters from the manga that were omitted from the anime reboot. It’s an emotional journey through their sadly brief romance, and I ugly cried basically the entire way through.
Fruits Basket -prelude- is mostly the story of Honda Katsuya and Katsunuma Kyoko – how they met and fell in love and their untimely, tragic end. But the first half-hour of the film recaps Tohru and Kyo’s relationship, mostly centering on the last few episodes of the series. I knew from promotional materials that the two would be featured, but I had no idea going in just how much of the movie would be about them.
I understand why they chose to have so much of Tohru and Kyo in a movie that was promoted as being the story of Kyoko and Katsuya. The two relationships mirror each other in so many ways, and the scenes chosen to highlight the story of Kyo and Tohru only emphasize that. However, I believe this was a wasted opportunity to expand on Kyoko and Katsuya’s relationship.
It’s been a while since I read the manga, but I know that the flashback about Kyoko and Katsuya was only a few chapters. I don’t remember much about their story, so I can’t speak to how much of what’s in the film is adaptation and how much, if anything, may be original. But I really hoped that we would get to see more of the two of them. Katsuya died so young, when they’d only been together a few years, so I presume the small amount that we got to see was meant to draw a parallel to that. We get so little of them because they had such little time together.
And yes, I did ugly cry almost the entire way through the movie. I know how it ends; everyone knows how it ends. The fact that both of Tohru’s parents are dead is known from the very first episode of the anime. But that doesn’t stop you from falling in love with both of them and wishing maybe this time things will be different.
I admit that when I read the manga, I did kind of side-eye the relationship. Kyoko is in junior high (which means no older than 15) when she meets Katsuya, who is at least in university. I mentioned a similar squick factor when Uotani and Kureno met in season 2. They’re fictional characters, so really it doesn’t matter, but if you combine the power imbalance of student/teacher with the age gap, it’s enough to make me uncomfortable. Anyway, I do appreciate that Kyoko, at least, seemed aware of the issues that such a relationship could have.
Regardless, I do love their relationship. They’re so in love with each other. Katsuya is the first person who actually gives a damn about Kyoko as an individual, and Kyoko is the first person Katsuya seemingly has felt genuine emotions for. He inspires her to be better, to strive for more in her life, and she brings him happiness and love. Two people who felt like they never really belonged anywhere find that they belong to each other.
You can feel their love and joy, and likewise, after Katsuya dies, you can feel Kyoko’s grief. It might have been my mind playing tricks on me, but I thought I saw the frames having a noticeable tint during the scenes before Kyoko snapped out of her depression, as though the film itself was grieving Katsuya’s death.
Fruits Basket -prelude- also shows us why Tohru and her mother had such a strong relationship. Other than Katsuya’s father, they really only had each other. You see a bit of this early in season 1, when Tohru briefly goes back to live with her family. Kyoko’s parents disowned her as a teenager, and Katsuya’s entire family – except his father – disapproved of their marriage – and they made no secret of that after he died. Obviously, the two would become insular and codependent.
There are so many parallels in Fruits Basket -prelude-. As I mentioned earlier, I believe the large amount of Kyo and Tohru that we got – most of which are scenes taken directly from the anime – is meant to emphasize the similarities between their relationship and Tohru’s parents’. Kyo, as was hinted at in flashbacks during the anime, is so much like Kyoko – their names, their hair colors, their personalities, their upbringing. Like Kyoko, Kyo basically clung to the first person who showed him kindness, but it developed into such a strong connection.
The inclusion of the scene where Kyo gets angry at Tohru for putting him above her mother is important not just because that’s the moment when they essentially confess to each other but also because Kyoko does something similar after Katsuya dies. Kyoko is so completely destroyed after Katsuya’s death that she retreats into herself and completely forgets her own daughter. But she is able to move on and live for Tohru, the same way Tohru is finally able to move on from her mother’s death and live for Kyo.
Not to mention, we continue the tradition of parents are the worst with Kyoko’s parents being such terrible people. That’s one of the many reasons that Kyoko latched onto Kyo as a boy.
Even though most of the Tohru and Kyo scenes were lifted right out of the anime, I did appreciate the new moments that we did get, such as the scene at the end when Tohru and Kyo meet on their way home. I enjoyed the sweetness of their greeting and the happiness in their voices, and I loved catching sight of that ring on Tohru’s finger. I love getting to see even snippets of the “happily ever after” that’s usually only implied.
Pretty much the only issue that I did have with the film is the framing – where they put certain scenes. They basically had the Tohru and Kyo recap and then had the Katsuya and Kyoko flashback, but it felt weird and out of order. As I wasn’t expecting so much of Tohru and Kyo, the inclusion of Katsuya and Kyoko’s story – which is the whole point of the film – comes across as disjointed and out of place. It felt more seamless in the anime, and I don’t understand why they couldn’t have bookended the flashback with the anime scenes to give it a better flow.
No matter; this is still an amazing film, and it was great to return to the world. I actually wished I’d used the opportunity to do a full series rewatch, so that I could appreciate it better. If you have the opportunity to see this in theaters, I highly recommend that you do so.
Fruits Basket -prelude- will screen in various theaters in the US and Canada on June 25, 28, and 29. Tickets are on sale now.
*I was provided a free screener in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.*
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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