Fruits Basket is incredible. And to try and convey just how incredible it is, I’m gonna analyse the characters through the life lessons shown by their stories. That’s all. Let’s start.
Tohru Honda is such a strong character. She has been through so much and yet she is full of positive energy all the time, and with it changing the lives of the people around her. Tohru puts pressure on herself to finish her studies and fulfill her promise to her mother. When she fails a test she is very hard on herself, and when she gets sick all she wants is to keep helping out the Soumas and keep working. She doesn’t allow herself a moment of weakness, always going forward with the positive attitude.
The lesson here? It’s OK not to be OK. It’s OK to feel bad sometimes. And it’s OK to vent things out. Tohru keeps holding her sadness in, trying to push it away by focusing on other things. I’m like that too. But you can’t always cope with distraction. Sometimes you just need to let it out.
Another thing about Tohru is the way she influences the zodiacs. She tries to understand each one of them, always finding the right words to heal their sadness. For some of them, it’s the first time they ever felt such warmth. It illustrates how far kind words can go. They can motivate people to face their fears and improve on their weaknesses. That’s the second life lesson I’m taking away from Tohru’s character – a warm person can change lives.
I mentioned how Tohru keeps her sadness in. Kyou Sohma takes that further, keeping his true form a secret from Tohru for the majority of season one, being afraid of losing her if she finds out and avoiding a deeper connection because of that.
Eventually, Kyou had to be faced with those fears and it resulted in their connection becoming even deeper. For me, the lesson here is that you can’t keep running away from things forever. Sooner or later you will have to face the things you fear. See it as a chance for growth.
When it comes to facing fears, Yuki Sohma is a good example of that. He accepted the role of the student council president, started talking to more people. He is facing his fears and trying his best to grow.
What’s important is the desire to improve which stems from weakness.Yuki Sohma
It truly is important. Turn your weakness into motivation to grow. That way, all of the bad moments, tears and memories won’t be for nothing.
More important words came from Yuki earlier in the same episode.
I think that it’s only when someone says they love you that you’re able to start loving yourself.Yuki Sohma
I can relate to this Yuki quote so much because of personal experience. Once when someone, by some miracle, 7 years ago told me they are in love with me, I felt like I’m allowed to be confident too. Like this romance thing can be a part of my life too. This will sound so anticlimactic but I haven’t heard such words ever since. It feels again like the romance part of life is locked for me with the key nowhere to be found.
Everybody needs to be loved. Being loved and accepted gives you the push, the allowance to be confident.
I love the dynamic between Tohru and Momiji. Both had to move on from losing their mothers and both are looking to face and accept those bad memories. Momiji’s case is arguably even worse considering he now has to watch his mother live life as if he was never born. And yet he is still strong enough to keep watching over her, in hopes that she is happy. Just rewatching those episode 14 parts, even without sound, gets me close to tears.
I don’t think there are any memories that are OK to forget.Momiji Sohma
If you look at each bad memory as a way to become stronger, there truly is no memory worth forgetting. Looking at things this way, nothing in life is ever pointless. All of our experiences are what makes us the people we are today.
Every bad memory is a way to become stronger. And every low is a chance for a new high. If you learn from the lows, ofcourse.
And Arisa Uotani certainly did. She spent her days in a gang without the warmth of a true friend and parent. Only when Tohru and her mother made her experience a piece of what she is missing, she realized she needs that warmth.
There are feelings you start to understand only when you’ve hit rock bottom.Kyouko Honda
My own personal experience of this is a lot less drastic and darker than Arisa’s but it has to do with high school grades… I finished the second grade with the lowest overall grade I ever had, almost failing maths and almost having to take summer classes for it. The low made me realize I don’t wanna be like that anymore, and due to certain other circumstances at the time as well, it was like pulling a switch on my life. I realized certain things about myself and started to find the fun in studying. A year later my overall grade was the highest possible one, my best result since 2010. It made me especially proud considering where I was the previous year.
I feel weird for rambling about my grades in the context of Arisa Uotani but let’s move on…
Saki‘s story could be tied into some previously mentioned lessons. Most notably, everybody needs to be loved, and a warm person can change lives. The latter could actually be tied in with pretty much all of the characters that were influenced by Tohru in some way, and there is quite a few of those.
But back to Saki, despite having a loving and supporting family, she still longed for someone to accept and cherish her. Not that you could blame her in any way considering what she has been through.
So the lesson here would be that everybody needs to be accepted. I’m just “stealing” from Kyouko here again but I can’t help it when she always had the right words. Once Saki found two people who were “weird” in their own ways, and who accepted her the way she is, she learned to control her powers better. Saki will keep being unique in her own great way and anyone who will try to do anything to unsettle the two people that showed her what friendship is will get a feel of some electricity…
Hatori’s story is similar to Momiji’s in the sense that they had to be separated from important people in their lives and can now only follow them from afar, in hopes that they are happier than they used to be with them. Both stories are incredibly heart-wrenching and show the emotional strength of Hatori and Momiji.
No matter how cold it is now, spring will come again.Tohru Honda
It seems Hatori wrote off the idea of ever finding love again after Kana. But in the end, spring will come. No matter how dark it may seem now. It doesn’t have to mean the darkness will always remain.
And so for me, the lesson to take from Hatori’s story is to keep believing. That there are brighter things in store. That there is another spring to come for the snow in the heart.
(Maybe I should practice what I’m preaching here.)
Ayame wants to get closer with his brother after a rift that grew between them. It happened due to their difference in age, different life circumstances, and just difference in personality. There were a few instances of Ayame acting cold towards Yuki as well.
I actually relate to this a lot because my relationship with my brother is… kind of the same? To start off, we are just different personalities, I’m introverted, he spent more time around people. He actually has a girlfriend while I’m just… well you know… We also did went our own separate ways, he is currently in university in a town over 300km away, while I’m studying here. He spent almost a month here due to the global situation and well our relationship kinda just stayed the same. Quite quiet when we are the only ones in the same room. I don’t hold anything against him. There are times he made me feel bad but nothing to stop communicating with someone. Things just… sort of ended up being this way.
The lesson here from Fruits Basket, or more precise, Tohru/Kyouko is that even if people aren’t on the same page, they can still meet halfway. They can still find some common ground or things they like in one another. And by the end of episode 13, that’s exactly what happened. Yuki found something about Ayame that he admires.
Bullied by her classmates every time she did as little as open her mouth left the poor Kisa too scared to speak to anyone. Only when feeling the warmth and care from Tohru, Yuki and Hatsuharu, she felt confident enough to try again.
The lessons from Kisa’s story are strongly related to the things I already mentioned regarding Yuki. But I could also add here that bullying has real and serious consequences.
Nobody deserves to go through that. Accept people’s differences. Even if you cannot understand them, or you find them too striking, be respectful. Because everybody deserves basic respect.
Ritsu felt like his entire existence brings people trouble, constantly apologizing for merely existing. He felt like his life was useless.
Thankfully, Tohru motivated him to find his “reason” for existing. “I might meet someone who needs me”, he said. Turns out those were exactly the words Mitsuru, his new friend needed.
Allow yourself to live. Enjoy the good things life offers. Even if it may seem pointless and you cannot find your “reason”, you never know who you can motivate or make their day better. You never know whose life you can make better by simply being a part of it.
I’m still not done with the lessons here. There are still things, or lessons, I could say that sum up the 1st season of Fruits Basket for me.
Everybody has a story behind them. This could go for any slice of life that has a lot of developed characters, but basically, Fruits Basket gives a story to so many of its characters. It really highlights that everyone has their own reasons for the way they are, their own history and events that made them what they are. Keep that in mind before judging anyone or making conclusions on them.
Also, everyone expresses in their own way. Fruits Basket has at least three characters from season one who are gender non-conforming in their expression and I think that’s great. It normalizes freedom of such expression. Just another thing I adore about Fruits Basket.
There are characters I didn’t mention because I wasn’t sure if I had any lessons related to them. What would it be for Shigure? Procrastination brings problems for everyone involved? For Kagura? Maybe to borrow from Saki’s brother, Megumi, who once said that “forcing your intense love on someone can burden them or hurt them”. Hatsuharu? Don’t judge people by the things you’ve heard about them? Hiro? Can’t think of anything proper, sorry.
But in the end, I was able to take away a life lesson from most of the character’s stories in Fruits Basket. And that for me is more than enough proof that
Fruits Basket is incredible.