by Natsuki Takaya
I was first introduced to Natsuki Takaya not through her manga, but through the anime adaptation of Fruits Basket, which is still one of my favourite animes of all time. Granted I don't watch much anime nowadays - if at all - so the ones I love I love a lot, but Fruits Basket and Inuyasha are tied for my all-time favourite spot.
Because I loved the anime so much, my best friend was kind enough to buy me the first three volumes of the manga for my birthday a few years ago, and since then I've managed to get my hands on the first eleven. I do still need to finish the series, though - in fact I'm tempted to buy the ones I still need and then just do a mass reread of the entire series.
Fruits Basket tells the story of orphan high school student Tohru Honda who finds herself living in a tent, only to discover that tent is on Sohma property. When they realise she can't afford a home of her own, the Sohmas - consisting of cousins Yuki, Shigure and Kyo - invite her to live with them, which she agrees to so long as she can earn her room by doing the cooking and cleaning for them. It's really quite Snow White-esque.
But the Sohmas have a secret. A pretty big one. Within each generation of their family, thirteen people are cursed so that when they are embraced by a member of the opposite sex they transform into one of the animals from the Chinese zodiac. It sounds bizarre, but this series is just so fun. It'll make you laugh just as much as it'll make you cry, and I highly recommend checking it out!