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Paul Cornell novelist and TV writer

02 November 2006

'Fruits Basket is a manga series - Japanese black-and-white comic- by Natsuki Takaya. It's deeply spiritual, showing the victory of lovecompassion, and mercy over everything. Fourteen books have so far beetranslated in the series that follows the life of Tohru Honda, a teenage orphagirl who lives in the wilds and becomes involved with the Soma family. ThiJapanese clan is under an ancient curse: each member has the characteristics oa sign of the Japanese zodiac (the Rat, the Dog), and if they are showaffection they exhibit these manifestations.

The Soma feel compassion for Tohru, and she becomes a mother-figure to thclan members. The leader, Akito, is a terrifyingly capricious and cruel figureand the others try to protect her from him. But in the face of his anger shkeeps on loving him, and eventually breaks him down.

The central metaphor is that of a game called Fruits Basket, which a grouof children play with Tohru. Each child is given the name of a fruit and waitto be chosen, but Tohru is never picked. Isolated from her peers, and in thmidst of her ruined life, she still tries to sort out the lives of those arounher.

They are funny and romantic books, all big emotion and intensity. Aimed ateenage girls, they could be read by any gender or age.'

Natsuki Takaya, Fruits Basket, Volumes 1-14, Tokyo Pop (availablfrom www.tokyopop.com oAmazon), 6.99 each.

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