So I know I said I wouldn’t double dip on Fruits Basket.
Well, I lied.
Darn you, sales! (Plus a review copy.)
So, what are the differences between the two Fruits Basket manga? Is the Collector’s Edition a much-needed upgrade?
Let’s have a battle: Yen Press’ Fruits Basket vs Tokyopop’s Fruits Basket!
Warning: image-heavy post. Click on images for full-size versions. In comparison pictures, the Yen Press version is on top, the Tokyopop version on bottom.
(Yes, I know I mixed up the second and third volumes in the pictures.)
Appearance and Format
The Collector’s Edition is about 1″ taller than the Tokyopop edition and 3/4″ wider. This is, of course, to help balance out the enormous page count. Six volumes of Tokyopop’s Fruits Basket end up being a bit thicker than the three omnibuses. Tokyopop covers are the usual slightly glossy versus Yen Press’ matte (almost fabric-y).
The two drawings of Tohru are strikingly different due to Takaya’s change in style. She drew new covers for the Collector’s Edition. The Japanese version also included the title in English, but Yen Press did not use the all-caps font from the Japanese version. The one they made is much better. As for Tokyopop, I actually really like how they enhanced the original Japanese covers by including the zodiac symbols, but their logo is boring.
The back covers of the Collector’s Edition, in keeping with the Japanese version, only feature a character drawing. The original has a book synopsis and small picture. Yen Press’s covers also act as a faux dust jacket with a summary inside. Tokyopop’s version has color images on the inside covers.
I have issues with Yen Press’ version. Do you see those black dots on the cover? Looks like some sort of inking issue. This is actually the replacement copy I received. The first had those dots covering much more of Tohru, and there was a stain right above the logo. This is not the only thing, but that’s for later. Volume two has a few of those same small marks, but volume 3 seems to change the cover material. It’s more smooth. Which is good since it seems to get damaged fairly easily. The copies I bought already have dings and slight peeling.
I really don’t like omnibuses, as they tend to be harder to hold. These omnibuses certainly are heavy, and I always worry about spines. I also think Fruits Basket is made to be enjoyed slowly, and omnibuses are geared more toward reading marathons. I really wish Yen Press had made this a hardcover release. It would be more fitting of a collector’s edition (although the Japanese release isn’t either).
Tokyopop did start to release the series in large, hardcover format, but that version is incomplete. But here’s a comparison picture between their Ultimate Edition and the Collector’s Edition: (Thanks, Coco!)
Because of the format and and covers, I rule…
Technology has changed a lot in the decade since Tokyopop published Fruits Basket. The way manga is sent to other countries has changed as well. Most companies get digital files straight from Japan versus having to scan manga and then alter the text and dialogue. As you might expect, the Yen Press looks brighter. This is really noticeable when you compare the screentones and Kyo’s hair.
That’s not to say that Tokyopop’s version is ugly or unreadable. It’s just they used an older process. Trust me, I’ve read many Tokyopop’s manga, and I know a bad job. This is not one of those. It’s like comparing a DVD to a Blu-ray. You will see a picture difference if you have seen the original, but most DVDs already look good.
Again, I had an issue with the first volume from Yen Press: two pages were stuck together! They were never cut apart!
Finally, Yen Press uses the popular Wild Words font for the dialogue. Tokyopop uses a tall, skinny font that looks rather light. I think a light font fits Tohru’s optimistic attitude, but Wild Words is just easier to read. (Maybe because I’m used to it?)
Winner: Yen Press
Tokyopop often has a reputation for low-quality work. Part of this is, again, due to the fact that Japanese companies weren’t marketing their products for a world audience.
However, more than anything, the company tended to be inconsistent. With Fruits Basket being requested by so many fans, Tokyopop fortunately rewarded readers with one of the best translation and adaptation jobs in their catalog. Their release was also notable for its use of honorifics and some rather popular (at least in fan world) Japanese terms. I assumed Yen Press would get the rights to the original translation (maybe with edits), just as Dark Horse pretty much uses Tokyopop’s versions for their CLAMP releases. I know some of Tokyopop’s series have been retranslated (Love Hina comes to mind), but the twins (who did not do the adaptation) currently do work for Yen Press. That’s why I was surprised to learn the series was redone. (Thanks to Coco for the comparisons!)
Anyways, most of the translation differences are rather minor. Each version chooses different terms to keep the Japanese terms for. For things that are more significant, it mostly comes down to stylistic preferences. Like, do you translate a proverb directly or find an equivalent English substitute? I don’t own either version of Fruits Basket in Japanese, so many of the changes could actually be Takaya altering the dialogue for the Collector’s Edition.
|Damn Yuki||Yucky Yuki|
|Mabudachi Trio||Three Musketeers|
|Dai Hin Min||Rich Man, Poor Man|
Tokyopop: “Hey, Lobster Face. Can we go now or would you like us to help extract your foot from your mouth?”
Yen Press: “Dummy! We already finished.”
Tokyopop: “Did you know… that the Chinese Zodiac is actually a timekeeping system of tens and ones?”
Yen Press: “Honda-san, did you know… the twelve signs of the Chinese Zodiac are really part of the ten heavenly stars and twelve earthly branches?”
Tokyopop: “My head is spinning just from being around him.”
Yen Press: “He’s so handsome that it felt like he siphoned my soul…”
Tokyopop: “But you hate my cooking.”
Yen Press: “I could, but I’m sure you would bitch about it.”
(First set is thanks to Coco!)
Tokyopop tends to use footnotes when needed, but Yen Press includes translation notes. Overall, Yen Press seems to be more accurate but a bit stilted (siphoned your soul?); Tokyopop is more natural despite punching up the dialogue. (Uo-chan’s crack about foot-in-mouth is just plain more fun than the “done” in the Collector’s Edition.)
As for the Japanese text, Yen Press translates or edits everything. For instance, the title of Shigure’s book is left untranslated in Tokyopop’s version, only adding a footnote translating the summary. Yen Press erases the Japanese text and replaces both the title and summary with English.
Tokyopop really put a lot of effort into Fruits Basket. Volumes contain info on the zodiac, interviews, game instructions, and fanart. These were all added for the English version. Yen Press includes translation notes, but they also have the aforementioned color pages.
Another thing to consider is that Takaya removed all the author’s notes in the Collector’s Edition. She felt they were out of date. These are pretty interesting, as they document her love of games, makes comments on the story, and just shares her feelings what’s going on in her life. These are replaced with drawings, mostly of chibi characters.
The color pages seem like it would give Yen Press the victory, but I really like the author’s notes and Tokyopop-exclusive extras.
Let’s start with Yen Press’ version. That’s 12 volumes x $20.00 MSRP = $240. Considering this is a two-in-one release with color pages and a faux dust jacket, this is cheaper than their average releases or series like Until Death Do Us Part. Of course Tokyopop’s version is out-of-print. Individual volumes on Amazon range from $0.01 + shipping to $12+. The complete series was going for around $200 before Yen Press picked it up, but now they have been dipping to as low as $75. Even if you got all of the Collector’s Edition versions for 40% off, that’s $140.
As for the color pages, you could import the art books for $15-20, so even if you add another $40, you’re still coming out ahead. However, this is comparing new to used. If you manage to score the entire Yen Press version for 50% off or more, the price difference narrows. The first two volumes have sold for less than $9 on Amazon. On the other hand (I know, I keep going back and forth), I’m sure the Tokyopop versions will drop a little more as more volumes of the new version come out. Perhaps people will get lucky and score the whole series for around $50? And maybe someone grabbing the art books for the English audience isn’t out of the realm of possibility?
This one really comes down to whether you want new or used. Are you the kind who wants a special edition, or is the lack of color pages irrelevant to you? This one is up to you, so I’ll say…
Yen Press: 1
Yeah… As you can see, this is not a clear case. I can think of several Tokyopop series that have a poor translation and are low quality, rushed releases, but Fruits Basket is not one of them. If you’ve happily lived with your Tokyopop copies for 10 years, and they are still in good condition, you are not missing much by skipping the Yen Press version. If you’re new to Fruits Basket and just want the cheapest option, start stalking eBay. In either case, you can import the art books if you want the color images.
Don’t get me wrong: it’s always great to have an out-of-print series become available again. But just like all Blu-ray special editions are not always vastly superior to their original release, Tokyopop’s Fruits Basket can hold its own against Yen Press’ version. Only die-hard fans (or suckers like me) will need to upgrade.
However, the Collector’s Edition is the better option if you either want to collect volumes at your own pace (i.e. pick up a volume here and there without worrying about scalpers) or just prefer your books in unread condition. If you’re missing a few volumes in your Tokyopop set, it might be cheaper and easier to pick up some of the Yen Press volumes instead, even if the omnibus contains a volume you already own. (As long as you don’t mind having two different formats on your shelf, of course.) You’re going to have to do the math to see which way is better for you.
I hope this helped you make an informed decision, but I’m sorry if you were hoping for a clear answer as to which one is better!