It’s Manga Moveable Feast time once again, which so often inspires me to think about 3 things. This week, I have with me a special guest for 3 Things Thursday, Soliloquy in Blue‘s Michelle Smith, who, like me, is a big fan of this month’s MMF topic, Natsuki Takaya’s shoujo epic Fruits Basket.
We’ve already talked at length about the series as a whole, but one thing we’d like to linger on just a little bit longer is some discussion of our very favorite characters in the series. Fruits Basket is a treasure trove of complex, deeply moving characters, each of which could easily inspire hours of discussion. We don’t have hours, but we do have some favorites, and this seemed like the ideal time to share them. We’ve each picked three, so let’s start with Michelle’s! (Click images to enlarge.)
Michelle’s 3 Favorite Fruits Basket Characters
1. Yuki Sohma – My love for Yuki springs largely from a sense of pride in how much he blossoms over the course of the series. As he recounts the story of his childhood to Manabe, Yuki says, “There was something I wanted… loving parents… a home that no one would ever want to leave. A happy home. A warm place… with everyone smiling at me.” But Yuki was denied this. His parents valued him not for himself, but as a tool to gain favor within the Sohma family. Family members revered and reviled him just because of his status as the rat, something he had no control over. Even when he left the main house to live with Shigure and attend high school, the other students saw him not for himself, but as a princely figure.
Only Tohru saw and accepted the real Yuki. And once he found that with her, once he had that warm and happy home, he was finally able to move beyond the past and begin figuring out what kind of person he wanted to be in the future. One of my favorite Yuki moments occurs directly on the heels of his conversation with Manabe, where Yuki articulates his desire to give support to someone in the future, not just receive it.
2. Ayame Sohma – As a teenager, Ayame was self-absorbed and didn’t realize, until Hatori pointed it out to him, that the things he said and did could actually hurt other people. One of those he hurt was Yuki, who had reached out to him as someone he might be able to tell about his unhappy life as Akito’s companion. Ayame failed him then, but now regrets that deeply and tries his best to form a relationship with the little brother whom he once ignored. Sure, he’s kooky and outlandish, but he’s also absolutely sincere in his love for Yuki, and little by little wins his confidence.
My favorite Ayame moment occurs in volume thirteen, when he interrupts the parent-teacher conference Yuki and his mother are attending, deflects all of their mother’s hostility onto himself, and helps Yuki find the courage to tell her that he will be the one deciding his own fate. I also love that Ayame immediately texts Hatori to let him know Yuki said he is reliable.
3. Hatori Sohma – Hatori, the quietly suffering woobie. How I love him. There are no shortage of sad characters with painful backgrounds in Fruits Basket, but the first such story we learn about in detail involves Hatori and Kana, a special, optimistic woman who loved Hatori and accepted him, curse and all. What she couldn’t accept was the guilt after Akito reacted violently to their relationship and severely wounded Hatori, putting him in the dreadful position of eventually wiping all of her memories of their time together in order to ease her suffering. Because this revelation occurs so early in the series, everything Hatori does from that point on is tinged with sadness as we know what he’s gone through. He’s also the only one who can reign in Ayame’s enthusiasm or dare to talk with Shigure about his schemes.
So, while I wouldn’t exactly call this my favorite Hatori memory, it’s certainly an indelible one.
MJ’s 3 Favorite Fruits Basket Characters
1. & 2. Arisa Uotani & Saki Hanajima – Like David, I’m a sucker for great female friendships, and no friends could be greater than Fruits Basket‘s Uotani and Hanajima. Though they are each fantastic characters in their own right, nothing beats them as a team, looking after (and being looked after by) their dearest treasure in the world, Tohru Honda. They’re happiest as a trio, of course, but fiercest as a deadly duo that doesn’t take crap from anyone. Not that Takaya limits them to a life of badassery, mind you. They’re also just as kind, broken, and unexpectedly vulnerable as anyone else in the series, and that’s saying quite a bit. I would happily read an entire series chronicling the lives of Uotani and Hanajima, their adventures, loves, and triumphs as young adults and beyond. They’re just that awesome.
Still, I admit I love them best when they’re kicking ass. Don’t you?
3. Momiji Sohma – And should one require more evidence that David and I share a brain, my third favorite character in the series—and my very favorite Sohma—is little rabbit Momiji. We meet Momiji as a hoppity, cheerful boy, but it isn’t long before we learn that he’s one tough kid. Having watched his own mother beg to have her memories of him erased, he lives as a stranger from her, keeping a brotherly eye on his little sister from afar, whom he hopes he might one day be allowed to spend time with. He’s also the first person to put himself between Akito and Tohru—a favor Tohru returns in kind.
Though Momiji is at his best when he’s happy (and awesomely brave when he’s being rebellious), one of my very favorite Momiji moments is this scene from volume eleven. After standing up to Akito, against the grain of their supernatural bond, and watching Tohru, in turn, stand up for him, he finds himself suddenly overcome by being just a kid, unable to hold back his tears. It’s a rare glimpse at the most vulnerable side of Momiji, and I dare you not to tear up when reading it in context.
Readers, which three characters from Fruits Basket do you love best? Let us know in comments!
Sean G saysJuly 28, 2011 at 8:14 am
I’ve already posted about Shigure and Hiro, of course, so I’d like to pipe in and mention Tohru’s mother, Kyoko. Given how so much of the series seems to idealize her – much as her daughter does – her backstory is very human and touching, showing just how Kyoko can screw her life up like everyone else does. That she recovers from Katsuya’s death and is able to be such a good mother to Tohru is great to see. And that 2nd to last chapter of the series STILL makes me tear up even now. “You did good.”
Michelle Smith saysJuly 28, 2011 at 8:27 am
Oh, me too. I’m so glad that Takaya took that extra volume to give us an extra amount of closure on various things, including Kyoko and Katsuya.
T0mnomnom saysJuly 28, 2011 at 11:02 am
I always quite liked Hatsuharu…Not sure why. Probably would pick 3 from: Kyou, Hatsuharu, Momiji and Arisa/Saki. Never really saw much in Yuki. :/
T0mnomnom saysJuly 28, 2011 at 11:04 am
Oh, and a soft spot for Shigure. The dog drawings were adorable… >.>
Melinda Beasi saysJuly 28, 2011 at 12:15 pm
Zoe Alexander saysJuly 28, 2011 at 11:14 am
1. Shigure Sohma – He’s not just my favorite Fruits Basket character, he’s quite possibly my favorite manga character, period. He’s just such a complex and contradictory character that I can’t help but be utterly fascinated by him. Not to mention the fact that he’s freakin’ hilarious.
2. Kyo Sohma – Like Tohru, I fell in love with his awkward kindness. He develops so much from the angry, frustrated guy he was at the beginning of the series. Every time he genuinely smiled, I smiled as well, and I just couldn’t help but want him to be happy, perhaps more than any other character in the series.
3. Hatori Sohma – It was tough deciding between him or Hatsuharu for the third spot, but in the end, Hatori won out. His backstory with Kana breaks my heart every time I read it, and his budding romance with Mayuko is probably my second favorite romantic relationship in the series, behind Kyo/Tohru. Plus, I love that while he is usually the straight man for Shigure’s and Ayame’s antics, he’s subtly funny in his own way. (I always loved the part where he gives Tohru the camera by placing it on top of her head, rather than just handing it to her like a normal person.)
Michelle Smith saysJuly 28, 2011 at 11:25 am
I know what you mean regarding smiling Kyo. That graduation photo taken at the end, where he looks completely relaxed and happy, just blew me away. If ever a man can be said to be radiant, Kyo was radiant there. With love and possibility.
Ah, Hatori. I love the bit at the end when he and Mayu are talking about a vacation to Okinawa and we get to see him laugh a bit. :)
Noura saysJuly 28, 2011 at 12:39 pm
Kyo Sohma – I fell in love with Kyo more and more after his true form was revealed to Tohru. It was such a touching moment that I even teared up. He is one of my favorite anime/manga characters.
Hatori Sohma – Hatori’s backstory touched me deeply in so many ways. It was so sad that he had to leave the one person he loved the most. It is like there is always sadness in his eyes, though he tries to act indifferent sometimes. I so wanted him to find happiness with someone.
Kazuma Sohma – I guess I’m one of the few who really love Kyo’s master. I have always loved him especially after seeing how much he cares for Kyo and to which lengths he would go to prove his love for him. He is my man. ^_^
Melinda Beasi saysJuly 28, 2011 at 12:58 pm
Aw, I’m happy to see some love for Kyo’s shishou here! *heart* Hurray Kazuma!
Michelle Smith saysJuly 28, 2011 at 1:01 pm
Y’know, I really do love Kyo a lot too, but I think what prevented me from picking him was that he’s already got oodles of Tohru’s love so he’s okay. He’s set. :)
Melinda Beasi saysJuly 28, 2011 at 1:04 pm
You know, that’s actually why both Kyo and Tohru end up not making my list. Over the course of the series, I’m sure they were the characters whose relationship I was most invested in, and I love them both very much. But I feel on some level… they don’t need me. :)
Michelle Smith saysJuly 28, 2011 at 1:06 pm
Noura saysJuly 28, 2011 at 1:26 pm
I admit that other characters needed more love but it is just that Kyo has always been on my list of favorite anime/manga characters.
I have always wanted to know this. Do you guys think Yuki loved Tohru in a romantic way? I could never tell until the end. Their last scene in the last volume brought tears to my eyes. It was so touching. I never liked Maki.
Noura saysJuly 28, 2011 at 1:27 pm
Oops. It was Machi, not Maki. :)
Melinda Beasi saysJuly 28, 2011 at 1:28 pm
We actually discuss this at length in last night’s Off the Shelf!
Michelle Smith saysJuly 28, 2011 at 1:30 pm
I would say no, he only tried to love her in that way.
I also love that scene between them. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. “Tohru.” In fact, I just got goosebumps thinking about it.
Melinda Beasi saysJuly 28, 2011 at 1:32 pm
I think… it’s less simple than Michelle does. :D I’d say the line between romantic love and other love is not always so clear. But I said it all a lot better in OtS. :)
Noura saysJuly 28, 2011 at 1:45 pm
I loved what you’ve read in OtS regarding Yuki and Tohru’s relationship. I always keep saying that Yuki might have loved Tohru in his own way but didn’t want to get between her and Kyo. People also say that he saw her as a mother figure but I don’t think that was all about it. Anyway, if Kyo wasn’t there, I am sure Tohru would have ended up with Yuki. I was actually a bit disappointed that it felt like Takaya just wanted Yuki to end up with someone, so she paired him up with Machi. I never sensed the chemistry between the two.
What about Kazuma and Hanajima? Did you get the impression that they ended up together? Again, I could never tell and Takaya didn’t talk about it either.
Michelle Smith saysJuly 28, 2011 at 2:00 pm
I like to think so. She’s been hired as his cook—maybe dojo cook, I guess—by the end of the series, so she’s definitely hanging around. I’m sure she’ll have her way eventually. :)
Melinda Beasi saysJuly 28, 2011 at 1:24 pm
By the way, Michelle… I also love that Ayame immediately texts Hatori to let him know Yuki said he is reliable.
I love this too. SO MUCH.
Actually, something I could enjoy a whole roundtable on is just the relationships between that group of older Sohmas, Ayame, Hatori, Shigure, Kureno, and Akito. I think that’s the whole group. Anyway. Them.
Michelle Smith saysJuly 28, 2011 at 1:31 pm
I could totally get into that. They’ve always reminded me of the Marauders from Harry Potter, as a group of friends, slightly older than our main protagonists, who are possibly even more fascinating than the stars!
Melinda Beasi saysJuly 28, 2011 at 1:33 pm
And definitely just as complicated & screwed up as the Marauders! :D
Michelle Smith saysJuly 28, 2011 at 1:37 pm
Obviously the Shigure=Sirius parallel is pretty durn obvious, but Kazuma always gave me a kind of Lupin vibe for some reason. Though I guess that could be Kureno, too. Especially in his kindness and reclusivity. Or Hatori, in his “you are all totally crazy” tolerance.
Melinda Beasi saysJuly 28, 2011 at 1:35 pm
Also? If I was writing Fruits Basket slash fanfiction it would be all about that group. Which I’m not. You know. Probably.
Ysabet saysJuly 28, 2011 at 1:38 pm
I gather slashing the trio, at least, is a time-honored and popular activity.
Melinda Beasi saysJuly 28, 2011 at 1:39 pm
I find that extremely unsurprising. :D
Ysabet saysJuly 28, 2011 at 1:36 pm
The scenes you guys picked for this post are all so wonderful. *^^* I’m not sure if that Momiji moment is my favorite (he has so many good ones!), but Aya at the meeting with Yuki and their mom is just perfect.
Rin is unshakably my favorite. She’s so fierce and so damaged and still capable of so much love, and she completely breaks my heart.
Haru is a close second, and I always feel I have to add that, much as I adore him and Rin as a pairing—and I really do—they’re my favorites because of their individual traits. I love that he’s so quirky and honest and there for people, and how he often seems so mature for his age but is flawed in ways that make perfect sense because he’s so young.
After them it becomes more of a debate, but I think Kyo wins. When I first watched the anime it was almost eerie, because early Kyo is incredibly similar to a good friend I’ve known since we were about that age, and so I clicked with Kyo immediately. (I later showed the anime to that same friend and his girlfriend [now wife], and she hadn’t even known him at that age and still found the similarity between him and Kyo striking.)
I’m also going to name Kazuma as my favorite of the supporting cast members. Kazuma, recipient of the Best Dad (and Surrogate Caring Adult Figure) Award! He’s such a quiet, steady rock of safety, which pretty much all of the kids need. (And oh, the mental pictures I have of the time[s?], however brief, when he had Kyo and Rin under his roof simultaneously when they were younger. Kazuma is a saint.)
I love almost every character in this series, and the ones I don’t love are still utterly fascinating to me. ^_^
Melinda Beasi saysJuly 28, 2011 at 1:42 pm
I don’t think that Momiji moment is my *favorite* either, but I used my favorite in OtS, so I figured I’d go in another direction for this. :)
I knew who your first two choices would be, but I wasn’t sure about the third!
Ysabet saysJuly 28, 2011 at 1:44 pm
*g* I’m perfectly happy to be predictable about my favorites.
Michelle Smith saysJuly 28, 2011 at 1:43 pm
I really like Haru, too. His confrontation with Akito in volume 18 was incredibly awesome, but I also like his ability to bring humor to situations with his unique perspective on things. He reminds me of George Harrison, actually. The quiet one who, when he talks, usually has something worthwhile or witty to say.
Ysabet saysJuly 28, 2011 at 1:51 pm
Haru: so far outside of the box he can’t even see the box. He may have heard of the box.
Melinda Beasi saysJuly 28, 2011 at 1:52 pm
judi(togainunochi) saysJuly 28, 2011 at 3:56 pm
I was going to pick, but realize I can narrow it to 3, so fail on my part.
Melinda Beasi saysJuly 29, 2011 at 7:18 am
Feel free to natter on about three (or more) of them and *not* call them your favorites as well!
judi(togainunochi) saysJuly 28, 2011 at 3:58 pm
That should have been “can not”, but enjoy everyone’s picks
Melinda Beasi saysJuly 29, 2011 at 7:18 am
Hee! I figured. :)
David Welsh saysJuly 28, 2011 at 7:09 pm
I was going to try and stir up trouble and suggest you admit your least favorites as well, but A. that seems antithetical to the Fruits Basket spirit, and B. it seems like the recipe for a flame war.
Clearly, I love Momiji best of all. Beyond that, it’s impossible to pick two. There’s like a six-way tie for second and third place.
Melinda Beasi saysJuly 29, 2011 at 7:20 am
It was very difficult for me to pick just three as well. So, who are the six?? :D
After I read this, I *tried* actually to come up with my least favorites, but it really did seem so cruel!
Michelle Smith saysJuly 29, 2011 at 8:42 am
Yeah, I would count Ritsu as least favorite, but really… is it his fault he barely appeared and did so during his most spazzed-out moments? And is it his fault he’s got the mother he does?
David Welsh saysJuly 29, 2011 at 9:13 am
Certainly the six would have to include Shigure, Ayame, and Hatori. I should just come out and admit that Akito breaks my heart, even when Akito is being perfectly awful, so there’s four. Arisa and Hana may have to be counted as one, as I love them best when they’re working as a unit. (And I’m not interested enough in the Rooster to give Uotani a boost from that.) And sixth would be Kagura, who goes from obnoxious to deeply sad without much difficulty at all.
Okay, and I’ll just say it.
I don’t really like Rin. I just don’t.