|Episode:||1: The Strangest Day|
|High school student Tohru Honda is living in a tent while her grandfather makes renovations to his home. As Tohru leaves the tent while on her way to school, she comes across a house with figurines of the 12 zodiac animals freshly painted being dried out. She talks to a man in robe regarding the lack of a cat present with the figurines as the cat wasn't a part of the zodiac which was Tohru's favorite zodiac animal. To her surprise, Tohru learns that this house is the home of class rep and 'prince' Yuki Sohma and his cousin, Shigure. With their meeting, Yuki and Tohru decide to walk together to school.
This gets the attention of the Yuki Fan Club members, a club of girls who are literally fans of Yuki. They try getting answers out of Tohru about walking with Yuki and intimidating her. But, they get scared off by the presence of Tohru's best friends, Saki Hanajima and Arisa Uotani. During their cooking class, Saki comments that she senses something strange coming from Yuki. Arisa agrees with this considering how mysterious Yuki acts and the rumor of how he actted towards a second-year female student who tried to hug him.
This episode is the starting point of what you will get out of Fruits Basket: a balanced mixture of comedy and drama with a strong focus on character development. In this episode, we get plenty of depth on Tohru's character with what happened to her mother and how she became the person she was now. She is cute and a bit naive, but has a strong will and independence that other characters will notice throughout the series. The mysteries surrounding the Sohmas start off well as this episode gives enough hints up to the end just what kind of secrets there are in the clan and what there will be to come with the characters, especially with the feud between Kyo and Yuki.
The events of this episode are based entirely on manga chapter 1 and the first couple pages of chapter 2. I noticed a few events that were switched around from the manga and handled differently for the anime though these changes were not too significant. There was one brief funny scene in the manga that never made it to the anime. During the scene where Yuki and Shigure were observing Tohru's living conditions, Yuki commented that Shigure only remembered Tohru's name because she was a girl.
There was also a change in an event for the anime that came when Tohru woke up after recovering from her fever. The photo of her mother was standing next to her bedside when she woke up while in the manga, it was never there and Tohru tried leaving the bedroom to get her mother's photo from the remains of her tentsite before Yuki's arrival. This seemed like an attempt to make Tohru's actions seem less wreckless. It seemed that way as there was another lost scene from the manga chapter where Tohru had to safeguard her tent from a storm in a flashback while she was spacing out at work.
In terms of the English dub, the first episode was handled decently. I had no issues with the voice cast as their voices seemed to match up well with their characters. Some might be irritated that Yuki's dub voice is done by a man instead of a girl. But considering how difficult it would be to find a voice actress that could express Yuki in both a masculine and feminine light, I could overlook this considering that the gentle qualities of Yuki's character are intact through Eric Vale's voice.
I do have a couple nitpicks with the lines for this episode though. First would have to be how Tohru addresses Yuki. In the original version of the series, Tohru addresses Yuki by his last name showing how distant their relationship is at first. For the English dub, Tohru calls Yuki by his first name. This is especially ironic considering that throughout the dub, Yuki still calls Tohru by her last name showing how distant he is with her. With how formal Tohru's character is, this is something that those who watched the original version will notice very well.
My second nitpick would have to be Yuki's story of the Cat during his walk with Tohru after school. In the original version of the anime, Yuki gives a detailed explanation of how the Chinese zodiac came to be associated with other characteristics and aspects of astrology and the Eastern calendar. In the dub, Yuki's explanation was simplified thus taking out an interesting aspect of the Chinese zodiac (wiki} that English language watchers could learn about.