What is it exactly about Tohru Honda that makes her so special? Why is it that just by being herself, Tohru is able to change others for the better? I took a stab at this question when discussing episode five, but perhaps I should have just waited for episode six, which gives us the answer explicitly.
After visiting the Soma house, Arisa is emotional: She and Saki are satisfied that the boys are caring for Tohru as they should, but feels like she failed her friend after promising to care for her when she was in need. Yuki and Kyo are quick to remind Arisa, though, that this is not something that Tohru herself would consider a failure.
Indeed, Tohru demands very little—sometimes not enough, as her mom once pointed out. Is it because she sees herself as undeserving? Perhaps, but that’s not what’s at the core of her sentiment, at least not to Saki, who concludes that Tohru has the “ability to appreciate what you have in the moment instead of always asking for more.”
That statement seems innocuous, but it’s packed full of meaning. After all, having that ability is virtually impossible. By my experience, seeing those around me and looking introspectively, our selves seems to always take priority. Not only is it a natural state—it’s our endless desire, to always put ourselves first. To always ask for more. How can we possibly appreciate what we have if what we have is never enough?
It’s a terrible cycle, really—in the quest to have more, we put ourselves first, and in doing so, we hurt others. When we hurt others, we’re certainly not finding satisfaction in or appreciation toward them, and in that dissatisfaction we continue to ask for more. Tohru Honda my be almost ideal (as is the source of this goodness that comprises her—a too-good-to-be-true mother), but she’s not a disingenuous character. She’s a model of what it could look like when someone is humble, not because of societal expectations or in some other fraudulent way, but because her love of what she’s been given makes anything extra seem above and beyond.
In my best moments, I feel the same—a sense of awe and wonder at what I’ve been given and experienced, and thankfulness that I can be in that place. It’s wonderful and fulfilling. Why wouldn’t I want more of that? Why wouldn’t I want to be more like Tohru all the time?
Maybe I can be. Maybe you can, too. If we stop living for ourselves, we might be better able to appreciate what we have. Pursuing a life like Tohru’s may be difficult, but perhaps it’s worth it—we only must realize first that you can’t pursue both that life and your own. Like a cat and rat, a selfish life and one lived in appreciation of what we’ve received just don’t match.
Fruits Basket can be streamed through Crunchyroll. Episode six thumbnails below: