"Before Tohru and Kyo, there was Kyoko and Katsuya". Serving as a prequel (of sorts) and Final Chapter to the 2019 remake of the hit show Fruits Basket, the story in Fruits Basket: Prelude follows series protagonist Tohru Honda's late mother Kyoko and her journey from juvenile delinquent to loving parent. Yet, as interesting as that sounds for fans of the overall story, the narrative structure and tone of this "film" is an unmitigated disaster.
Firstly, we say "film" as by the conventional sense of the term and with a runtime of 87 minutes it is a feature film. However, when 32 minutes of that time is devoted to a recap or the entire show (which in the grand scheme, you need to have seen before to watch this prequel), you are left with just 55 minutes of Kyoko's story meaning everything feels rushed. The pacing is lightning quick with so many jumps in time that even fans of the show will struggle to keep up. It genuinely feels like more of an extended episode or OVA than a film.
Whereas Kyoko's story should be compelling to see how she went from troublemaker to loving mother, the immersion destroying element of her journey is how she met her husband Katsuya and - most shockingly, their age difference. When they meet, Kyoko is in middle school and Katsuya is a student teacher - so as an audience member you can't help but feel a bit taken aback by this revelation. Even more so when it tries to convince you that Kyoko and Tohru's romantic journey shares parallels.
With everything else being a complete mess, Fruits Basket: Prelude does have some good things going for it. As with the series, the animation and character design is consistently gorgeous to look at. Many of the shots are wall art worthy.
With pacing and narrative issues a plenty, Fruits Basket: Prelude is sadly a disappointing end to the Fruits Basket franchise that hit so many heights with the TV show. For newcomers and fans alike, this story is better left in the past and forgotten about.