A while back, I wrote a Manga Mondays on this series. In short, it’s about a group of thirteen people—one person for every animal in the Chinese zodiac legend—who are cursed to turn into their respective animal whenever they are hugged by a person of the opposite sex. While cute and adorable, Fruits Basket leaves a lot to be desired because it is written from a very heteronormative viewpoint. Not only is it heteronormative, it creates a world in which there is no one outside the gender binary. As far as I can tell, they do not exist in this universe.
As someone who more or less identifies according to the binary, I don’t often pay attention to whether or not stories are dismissive of people who don’t fit into it. However, Fruits Basket makes it impossible not to notice, since gender and gender roles are both a driving force of the plot and a gimmick to make the story “cuter”.
I think this is the first shoujo I got into, and like many manga, Fruits Basket just seemed to go on for way too long, though it never quite reached Naruto and Bleach levels in terms of length. (Then again, not many things can.) At the very least, Fruits Basket had a set ending and a more or less cohesive plot, and though it also has a fair number of characters, it never actually deviated too far from its plot to develop them separately from what was actually happening in the story. What I’m trying to say is that it never punishes the reader with more filler than actual plot. It only punishes them with fluff, which is almost just as bad. It is twenty-three volumes, which is a pretty decent length, and if the story’s decent as well, there’s definitely nothing wrong with that.