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?