Fruits Basket Prelude is hard to recommend given its reliance on the show, even with a central plot that can stand on its own.

Fruits Basket: Prelude (2022) Review By Matthew Tims

Published on July 14, 2022

Rating 3 /5

Keeping with the traditions of anime series that continue onward into movies, this Fruits Basket feature exists as a companion piece to the 2019 series. It requires foreknowledge of the series and where it left off to truly appreciate what’s going on in the story. Or, at least, that’s the message that seems to be implied from this mildly messy prelude/epilogue to the show.

For starters, this film begins with a roughly 20-minute recap of the show. Watching this section brought back memories of sitting through the clip show that was Evangelion: Death & Rebirth only to be rewarded with 20 minutes of original animation. Thankfully, there’s about an hour of original animation present here. That being said, you’ll have to sit through a recap that feels like a review for the fans and confusion for the newbies. Consider how the recap never fully explains that the teenage protagonists have a curse upon them that transforms them into animals if touched. You may pick up on this as the recap continues but I guarantee a few people coming in cold will be asking, “Wait, why is the boy who turns into a cat now turning into a demon?”

Outside of tracking lineage, the recap is ultimately pointless. You won’t need to know any of this when the central story kicks in to explain the origins of Tohru’s mother, Kyoko. Kyoko is established as a teenager with terrible home life and a depressive part of herself that she struggles to grapple with. Her life seems meaningless until she meets the charming student-teacher Katsuya. The two soon form a romance that builds into a strong foundation, given how Katsuya not only sticks up for Kyoko amid her hateful parents but isn’t afraid to switch up their routine, refusing to be bothered by the little things in life.

It’s once a child enters the picture that Kyoko finds herself battling a part of herself she doesn’t want to embrace. What if, she posits, I’m just as terrible as my own mother. It’s only through Katsuya’s supportive nature that Kyoko finds the nerve to push on and be a good parent. Yet it’s that reliance on him that makes her crumble into a mess upon his unfortunate death. His departure leaves Kyoko a numb mess of a person until eventually comes to her senses that her daughter is the very extension of Katsuya. She’s a reason to keep on living.

The film gets a little melodramatic with its monologues here and there but that’s always been the case with Fruits Basket. The monologues are at least touching for having a sense of omnipresence when Kyoko speaks with great hope for the future that will proceed for her. As the film reveals her inevitable fate in the series, Kyoko will die. With her death, however, she sends forth comforting words for the youth of tomorrow. She has a hope that the next generation will find that bit of happiness she managed to fish out of the muck that was her rocky teenage years. And as the film reveals, there’s plenty of love that continues past Kyoko.

Fruits Basket Prelude is hard to recommend given its reliance on the show, even with a central plot that can stand on its own. My recommendation would be merely to skip the recap of this prelude picture and just appreciate the coming-of-age story of a romance that blossoms beautifully. The gorgeous animation and gentle nature of this touching tale are just strong enough that it avoids being a simplistic retread of an anime saga, considering the series itself is a remake.

Written By

Matthew Tims

Written By

Matthew Tims

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