At this point of Fruits Basket, we don’t know much about the Soma family curse. It’s presented in both a funny way, with the Soma family members turning into their corresponding Zodiac animals when they’re hugged, and also as something that grips their family. For Kyo, he sees it as an honor, as a way in; for Yuki, and this seems to be the more trustworthy perspective, it is a curse. Episode four of Fruits Basket furthers that opinion by introducing Kagura, who notes that it’s very difficult for those with the Zodiac ability to marry outside the family because of the transformation barrier: “Our best chance at happiness is to marry another Zodiac.”
In this situation, no wonder that the Somas are closed off. They are closed off to the world, living a life largely apart from others, and they are closed off personally. It’s into this situation that Tohru arrives, a breath of fresh air in a stagnant atmosphere. It seems that her gift to the Somas, as an optimistic, hopeful, and genuine girl, is to release them from their curse—and it starts by letting them be themselves.
Yuki is the first to let his guard down, and he does it almost immediately and without realizing it. In this episode, for the first time, Kyo shows a major part of himself to Tohru, talking excitedly of his love for martial arts and adoration of his master. He is of course eminently embarrassed by this display, but Tohru treasures getting to see him for the first time, and Kyo himself is able to cool down after a stressful day of getting laid into by Kagura. Tohru provides him relief by letting him be himself.
When I was younger—and sometimes even now—I felt the burden of being unable to show my true self, a feeling that others wouldn’t accept me for who I was. Unable to live up to some invisible standard I had created (with the help of cultural influences), I could only feel that I wasn’t good enough. I had to put on a show—otherwise, I would be rejected, and that was worse than hiding my true self. Still, that choice wasn’t a healthy one; it hung over me constantly and ate away like a cancer. No, maybe cancer isn’t the right word—it was a curse.
When I met the woman who would later become my wife, I did the same I did with everyone else—I put on a show. But as we became more comfortable around each other, as we became friends and later entered into a relationship, I let my true self show. And you know what? Even in the faults, she accepted me. She forgave my evils and loved my quirks. And through that grace, as well as receiving it from others (and most of all through my faith), that curse of “holding it inside,” like a bursting dam, broke free. I could let my guard down and be myself. As with Kyo in that moment with Tohru on the roof, I could geek out and know that I am accepted and loved.
Tohru’s power is the same as we all have if we choose to wield it—its the power of a gracious love. It can destroy hate, build relationships, move mountains, and even do that which may seem even more impossible for us—it can break the curse.
Fruits Basket can be streamed through Crunchyroll.