So, once in awhile I will find something literary that I just have to gush about and quite frankly, I think that this is not only very cutting-edge, but also extremely well done.
The Fruits Basket radio drama is an independent project headed by some really awesome fans. It seems to be a media mixture of an old time radio drama and retelling of the story from the manga. Personally, I find this fascinating as I have always been a fan of radio dramas (think H.G. Wells "War of the Worlds") and completely awed by the story of the Fruits Basket manga.
Why Should I Try This Out?
Because it's awesome. Well, okay, if you want a more persuasive argument, I think that this project is a really interesting (and extremely well constructed) attempt at merging genres and experimenting with literature in ways that our access to media and technology has not given us in the past. Story telling originated with the oral and auditory tradition, and it is just so great to see stories that go back to that tradition. There's nothing like hearing a story, complete with the zipping of a sleeping bag or someone knocking into ceramic dolls to open every sense and give listeners a new way of interpreting a story.
What is the story?
Fruits Basket itself is the story of a young girl named Tohru Honda who becomes caught up in the family curse of two young men with whom she attends high school. The story brings a new background tale on the Chinese Zodiac and blends together a story of love, betrayal, what it means to be family, friendship, and the human condition. Takaya's story reads like a modern novel adapted in imagery. I could literally spend days telling you about all of the diverse and interesting characters and the conflicts that both hurt them and make them grow. And yes, it is also about people that turn into animals when they're hugged by the opposite sex. There. I said it.
How Does This Apply to YA?
In recent years, young adult literature has not only headed into new genres and onto new and more mature topics, but it has also bleed into the realms of other media. Manga and comic books have quickly gained respect as viable literary options, especially for reluctant readers and students that struggle with traditional print. Personally, I think that manga, graphic novels and comics should be taken a step further into the traditional English curriculum and given the true literary respect that they deserve. There are so many nuances and new points of view to be shared when a story comes alive in visual format.
Oh yeah, and did I mention that Fruits Basket is probably the number one selling manga of all time in America? I would recommend it to anyone who is a fan of a great story with fantastic characters.
Why Are You Still Here?
Even if you aren't a fan of manga (or are shy about checking it out), this radio drama is a fantastic way for any fan of a good story to dip their toes into something new and imaginative. The mp3 downloads of the episodes are free and while the story is very long (there are 21 volumes of manga, with about 7 chapters in each), I believe that it is worth every minute.
Please take the chance to check this out and let me know what you think! I will definitely try to post more interesting and cutting edge movements that have to do with YA as I update this blog.