Fruits Basket: Prelude is an anime film that recaps the highlights of Tohru and Kyo in the series, as well as presents Tohru’ parents’ backstory.

Fruits Basket: Prelude
Directed by: Yoshihide Ibata
Written by: Taku Kishimoto
Starring: Miyuki Sawashiro, Yoshimasa Hosoya, Manaka Iwami, Nobunaga Shimazaki, and Yuma Uchida
Run Time: 88 minutes

When Fruits Basket: Prelude was announced, it was being billed as a film about Tohru’s parents, Kyoko and Katsuya. This is reinforced by the blurb that appears on the back of Crunchyroll’s Blu-ray/DVD combo release of the film. With this type of promotion, I went into this film thinking it was going to primarily focus on Kyoko and Katsuya.

As the film started with recap of Kyo and Tohru, I thought it was going to be something short to lead into the story of Kyoko and Katsuya. As the recap kept going and going, I was wondering how long much longer it would be until Kyoko and Katsuya’s story started. It was surprising to discover that the first half an hour of this 88 minute film was devoted to recapping Tohru and Kyo’s story. Yes, the information from this recap is necessary, but there had to have been a better way to work it into the film.

When we do finally get to the backstory for Kyoko and Katsuya, it’s framed in way that it’s Kyoko’s life flashing before he eyes as she’s dying after being hit by a car. After seeing that the backstory was being framed in this way, I think there was a better way of incorporating this and the recap for Kyo and Tohru. Open with the flashback of Young Kyo talking to Kyoko, go to the day Kyoko leaves for work and is hit by the car as Kyo watches, transition into Kyoko and Katsuya’s backstory as Kyoko sees her life flashing before her eyes, return to the accident and see Kyo run away as Kyoko dies, transition to the recap of Tohru and Kyo’s important scenes in the anime, and then end with the new scene that shows Kyo and Tohru together after they’ve left the others. I think doing this way would have made the overall film stronger, and also kept the main focus on Kyoko and Katsuya.

Now that I’ve gotten that off of my chest, I can now focus on the new material that was included in Fruits Basket: Prelude. Even though it had been years since I read the original manga source material when I watched the Fruits Basket reboot anime, I knew that Kyoko and Katsuya’s backstory was supposed to appear during the series. I was a little disappointed it wasn’t included, but at the same time, I understood that there just wasn’t enough room with the episode count that the reboot series was given. When Fruits Basket: Prelude was announced, I was excited to finally get the opportunity to see Kyoko and Katsuya’s story being animated.

Kyoko had a very rough life by the time she was in middle school. Her father couldn’t stand her, and her mother cared more about appearances and what other people thought. By middle school, Kyoko had joined a gang and was a wild child. One day, when she actually decides to go to school, she encounters a student teacher named Katsuya Honda. After an initial awkward meeting that sees him taking her out of the school and getting her something to eat, the two of them start meeting. Kyoko develops feelings for Katsuya, but thinks she’ll never see him again when his student teaching ends. However, he starts tutoring her so she can pass the exam to go on to high school. Unfortunately, Kyoko’s dreams are crushed when she’s beaten up by the gang she’s been in for leaving, and she’s in the hospital at the time the test is administered. When Kyoko is being kicked out of the house by her father, Katsuya arrives and insists that he’s going to marry her. Kyoko’s father just wants her out of the house, so he doesn’t fight it. After this, we see Kyoko and Katsuya’s lives in their marriage, including Kyoko learning of her pregnancy, time spent with Katsuya and Tohru, as well as Katsuya’s death and how Kyoko tries to cope.

Admittedly, the age gap between Katsuya and Kyoko is a little bigger than I would’ve liked, especially since the two of them get married while Kyoko is still a teenager. However, if you’re able to push that aside, you can see that these two really do care about each other. We also get to see how Tohru’s grandfather is grateful to Kyoko, because he had feared that Katsuya would never find love and happiness. This film helps to establish why Tohru’s grandfather never said anything negative about Kyoko during the series. Tohru’s grandfather admits he wasn’t the best person when he was younger and had caused Kastuya pain growing up, but we see that he genuinely feels remorseful for his previous actions. I’ve always liked Tohru’s grandfather, and this film made me like him even more.

During the series, we see Tohru’s grandfather explaining to Kyo why Tohru speaks and acts the way she does. This explanation was heartbreaking enough in the anime series, but this film expands on the explanation to actually show us Kyoko’s behavior and how she nearly committed suicide after Katsuya’s death, and it’s only hearing another child calling out for their mother that causes her to stop and think about Tohru.

There is one other new scene in the film that shows Tohru and Kyo after they’ve left the others behind. From the dialogue, they mention it’s their first summer on their own, so this scene would be taking place just about two or three months after the end of the Fruits Basket reboot anime series. It’s a decent scene that establishes what they’re up to shortly after the end of the series, but it just felt kind of short. Honestly, what I would have liked to have seen was Kyo and Tohru with their son (who we know exists thanks to the Fruits Basket Another manga). This would have been a nice “circle of life” moment.

After watching Fruits Basket: Prelude, I appreciated the new material that was included, and I think that both the writer’s and the director’s hearts were in the right place for what they wanted to convey. However, I do think the film would have been a little stronger if its story had been structured a little differently.

Even though this film wasn’t quite as strong as it could have been, I would still recommend it to fans of the Fruits Basket reboot anime series. It helps to fill in some information for both Kyoko and Tohru, and it also allows you to get a new scene with Kyo and Tohru to see what they’re up to after the end of the series. Fans should see it at least once in order to get a more complete picture of the story that Natsuki Takaya was telling in the Fruits Basket manga series.

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