Lately, I've been reading this manga series that my friends recommended. Fruits Basket by Natsuki Tayaka. Please don't panic and leave this webpage yet! To be honest, I'm not much of an otaku (aka a manga fan...an obsessive manga/anime fan...). Although I DO really enjoy reading and drawing in the manga/anime style, I don't usually read manga or watch anime on a regular basis. But this story has a lot of good points, like any regular book might have. I'd recommend it for any interested kids aged 14 or 15 and up. (or maybe younger, as long as you stop around volume 14-ish)There are a few questionable details here and there, but the overall story is excellent and provides a lot of extra reflection.
This story is about a teenage optimistic and sweet, innocent orphan girl who lives with another troubled family. A family with a curse. Whenever a family member is hugged by someone of the opposite gender, they turn into an animal of the Zodiac (tiger, ox, rat, dog, etc). Now it doesn't sound so bad, but that's what causes a lot of problems. Because of this curse, they are weighed down by their own problems; blame and rejection from their parents and family, loss of loved ones, and utter fear of the world coldheartedness.
Tohru Honda (the orphan girl) simply encourages the family members to get along, and often looks on the bright side to inspire them. Even though she has her own problems too, like the death of her parents and such, she always puts this family in front of own things, and makes sure they're doing their best to be happy. That's basically it, but Tohru is a truly inspiration character and model. I can't say much more about it, otherwise I'd be giving the story away.
But some of the other characters/family members have some pretty good qualities too. You can see throughout the story that they do learn, accept, and then let go. Be warned though, the story can be a little depressing, for there can't actually be a satisfying answer to every problem for everyone. In order for a happy ending, there is a lot of self-sacrificing the characters make, and lots of change of heart. It's something that is much needed in this world today, and that's why I like this series so much. Quite sweet and touching. The story got me teary-eyed too...another good reason to read it... At the end of the series, I was thinking that maybe if we'd just follow the wonderful qualities the characters possess, then maybe we could provide basketful of fruits for God?
But it really doesn't look it though, doesn't it?
Usually when you see manga or anime, it's kind of 'eeh...' :P But this one is mostly good. If you're old enough and right in the head, it's quite enjoyable. (I hear it's usually the first manga anyone reads) Kind of funny too. :) Again, there are a few questionable details. Like the whole Zodiac thing? But what about the whole Harry Potter thing? It's not like we're gonna run around waving wands in everyone's faces and battle nose-less guys.