Fruits Basket is an immensely popular slice of life anime series based on the same name manga by Natsuki Takaya which ran from 1998 to 2006. It is a character-driven series at its core and takes fantasy elements to traverse human problems. Spanning from losing someone dear, torment within the family to overcoming trauma and treasuring your friends, it deals with very human issues. Takaya has written each character of Fruits Basket with multiple layers. She wrote bruised characters who need love and care to blossom.
Fruits Basket is a series that knows how to write character development, character progressions, and intertwined relationships. Depending on what stage you are in your life, you may hook into different characters and personalities every time. The bad characters are forgiven without making excuses for their horrible actions.
The dynamic of Yuki’s transition from a person with cold, sad eyes and one who is not happy with life to one who embraces it every single day. It starts with a mother hurting him and moves to Tohru mending his heart but then concludes on a man finding his own path in a life full of friendship and love. Tohru not being someone wishing harm on others but trying to save those around her as she selflessly tosses her own feelings away is a huge motivation in character development for how Yuki interacts with others.
He knows how to embrace kindness. She teaches him his worth and we can see that she acts as a motherly figure to him. You might argue that the series makes him seem romantically interested in Tohru but it’s Yuki feeling ashamed of what he sees her as and feels as if he needs to man up before releasing that she is like a mother to him and others and that’s totally okay.
Moreover, there is an array of side characters for Yuki to befriend and even potentially fall in love with. His relationship with Kakeru is what Yuki has craved since childhood. With Kakeru by his side as his friend he’s taking a risk and is building friends, he’s not afraid of losing anymore. Machi is able to spot the sadness in his eyes recognizing his growth and this genuine feeling that she has for him, not being afraid to insult him is something Yuki has always needed, something real.
Anyone with issues, he is willing to lend an ear to hear them out as he knows how much that means. He is mirroring that kind of smile that Tohru radiates, he doesn’t forgive what happened to him but he stops letting the trauma be his defining feature.
Kyo begins as an infuriating character, he is hostile, shows no sentiments but soon evolves into a much more complex character. We find that he has experienced emotional abuse and has literally been treated less humanly. His development, him opening up to others, accepting help all happen gingerly, making it more satisfying. There are three key characters who mainly contribute to Kyo’s growth.
His mentor Kazuma understands Kyo the best as he has watched him grow and blossom in front of his very own eyes. He took Kyo in when he was on the verge of complete despair. His biological father had always tried to bring him down to an inhumane level of dignity. The sacred bond between father and son has torn away because of prejudice against the cat spirit.
However, Kazuma not only sees him as human but, even more than that, as a son. At this point of the anime, we can look back and see how tortured of a soul Kyo has been and the idea of pushing back and really ever opening up to Kazuma, his father, teacher, mentor. When Kyo shut himself off, not letting anyone get close to him or even try to fix him, it was Honda Tohru, a helping hand to pull him out of this darkness.
Kyo thinks that any love that comes in his way is a trap, he doesn’t deserve them. In Fruits Basket Season 1, when his true cat form is revealed. Tohru knew that she has to be honest, this is someone who is clearly craving love but feeling like he doesn’t deserve it. Tohru embraced him for who he is.
Further, in the show, we can see Kyo becoming the comfort on what Tohru can rely on. In Fruits Basket Season 2 when Kagura confesses her selfish love to Kyo, he maturely handles the situation. He was barely talking but, he was trying to grow up in push forward to accept what he actually wanted – to start a new chapter. He stated that it doesn’t matter to him what was her intentions behind forming friendship but at the end of the day, it made his life much better for a couple of hours of the day. He has learned to give up on the blame game while embracing what he cherishes the most and find his true potential.
Tohru is a fascinating girl who feels completely human because of how multi-layered she actually is while also witnessing that she has unique attributes for her humor and her plainness that builds her into Tohru Honda but, for those who call her flawless really disrespect why Tohru is remarkable with her portrayal. When the series takes up we find her living alone in wilds, getting herself worked up (does sound clichéd) but soon you will withdraw this pitiful image of Tohru and begins probing her actual character.
How can she smile throughout every single rough situation, the smile she wears is her armor. Tohru is someone who has deep emotional scars and a shattered heart. So, she has grown ignorant of her wishes and has disregarded her own well-being. This is her way to deal with grief. When the people she loved the most are gone she doesn’t want to burden others and potentially lose anymore. This is what makes Tohru one of the most damaged characters in the story presumably how easily she can be exploited which as a result leaves her aching.
In Fruits Basket Season 1, when she sends Yuki and Kyo to their home during holidays, she is not acting tough she actually believes that she is less important and shouldn’t take this family for granted. This makes her kindness dangerous. The first moment of her growth was when Tohru asked her family to let her live with the Sohmas. This is the first time that she asked for something not for others’ sake but for her own and thus, kept evolving over the story with each passing episode.
The strong characterization and development are not a privilege of key characters alone but, almost all the characters show unseen depth subsequently. Watching a supporting and uplifting relationship between Tohru and two of her best buddies Arisa and Saki makes it revitalizing to watch. Tohru’s grandfather is a sweetheart. It is great to see how Rin and Tohru start to build friendship, from a girl with the most disturbing backstory to what she has become now.
Shigure can easily be someone who can stab characters like Tohru or Kyo or Yuki or be the one who saves it all, his edition adds to the diversity among the characters in the series. This is a series about forgiveness and curses. Fruits Basket series can’t have Tohru without Akito. If Tohru is the mother figure who locked her feelings away in a way not to lose those who she loves the most, Akito is probably the most cursed out of every character. These two are equally important.
Fruits Basket would be a bunch of characters on no account feeling bad about themselves because all of their trauma is intensified due to Akito while Tohru is the mending of their heart as tragedies try to break their hearts down and keep them locked up.
Fruits Basket is generally pushed away due to several disbelieves. However, it is an amazing series that is worth giving a shot. The final season of Fruits Basket is currently airing on Crunchyroll, Funimation, Netflix I hope you’ll check it out for a worthwhile experience.