Tohru and the Sohma boys are back for the faithful adaptation of the original manga, but why didn’t this happen the first time?

Despite being a big hit both in Japan and abroad, it’s hard not to feel a little bad for the Fruits Basket anime. Premiering in 2001, Fruits Basket never fully adapted the story from its source material manga, with major character and plot points of the original work left entirely out of its animated version.

17 years after the last Fruits Basket episode aired, though, franchise fans got a special treat last month when word came that a brand-new anime remake is on the way, one that will tell the complete story from creator Natsuki Takaya’s manga. Now fans are getting yet another happy surprise, with the release of a teaser trailer for the new anime.

▼ Still no debut date more specific than “2019” though.

As the preview opens, we hear the voice actress Manaka Iwami, who takes over the lead role of high school girl Tohru from previous performer Yui Horie, telling us:

“The first memories that we all forget. The first promises.
Once again, the never-changing banquet starts anew.”

For those new to the series who’re confused by the shift between a magical Chinese zodiac ceremony and tender high school moments, Fruits Basket is the story of ordinary schoolgirl Tohru, who ends up living in a house full of handsome boys who all transform into animals when they come into physical contact with her.

In addition to the video, the producers have released a few samples of character artwork showing Tohru and three of her shape-shifting guy pals: Yuki, Shigure, and Kyo.

If you’re wondering how Fruits Basket can be both popular enough to get remake well over a decade after the anime ended, yet still didn’t get a complete/faithful anime adaptation the first time around, a lot has changed has changed in the anime industry since the early 2000s. Today, the norm today when adapting an existing manga or novel is to greenlight a 13-episode anime season as soon as possible, then gauge fan reaction and profitability to see if they warrant another 13 episode season, with several months, or even years, between Seasons 1 and 2 (with the process repeating for a potential Season 3 or beyond).

But that wasn’t how things used to be done. Until relatively recently, all TV anime aired for at least 26 episodes. Barring open-ended sure-hit/evergreen series like Dragon Ball or Detective Conan that producers knew they could stretch out for years, TV anime were planned, more-or-less, to be presented as complete stories. Sure, there might be a follow-up or side story direct-to-video episode or two after the initial 26 TV episodes, but for the most part, the story was expected to wrap itself up when the last TV episode aired.

This made for a tricky balancing act when producing anime based on preexisting manga. If a manga is popular is popular, producers wanted to get started on an anime adaptation right away, while there’s still as much excitement and buzz around it as possible. However, since anime TV series used to be meant to be one-and-done affairs, the story’s animated finale often had to come long before its manga one.

The first Fruits Basket anime concluded in 2001, but the manga didn’t end until five years later, in 2006. Considering that the manga was in serialization for eight years, that means that the anime had to be finished before the original story was even halfway done (something similar occurred with the Fullmetal Alchemist anime, which went so far in its own direction that it too was eventually remade to follow the manga’s subsequent narrative as Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood).

Nowadays, if Fruits Basket were being turned into an anime for the first time, it’d likely start with just 13 episodes and not even try to come to any sort of significant ending. Then it’d take a break for a while as the manga continued chugging along, and once there was enough source material, a new season would get made. But the prevailing logic in the early 2000s was that audiences wouldn’t be satisfied with gapingly open-ended conclusions, and that an extended period with no new animated content would dull their interest in the show so much that they wouldn’t come back for the belated Season 2.

But luckily for the Fruits Basket faithful, times have changed. Not only is the new anime being billed as the “complete anime adaptation,” Takaya is listed in the staff as both original creator and supervisor, with the second credit being a new title she didn’t have for the first anime. Plus there’s the fact that even though the new anime’s teaser is only about 30 seconds long, the animators still chose to put in a lingering shot of a complete set of figurines for all the animals in the Chinese zodiac, implying that this time around, fans will also be getting the complete set of Fruits Basket stories.

Source: YouTube/avex pictures via Otakomu
Images: YouTube/avex pictures

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