It was unexpected that seven episodes in, the first background story we get for a Soma isn’t Yuki’s or Kyo’s or even Shigure’s—it’s that for Hatori, the family doctor. Even more unexpected is that it focuses on a love for the ages, one so sweet and lovely and strong that it’s no wonder the Fruits Basket fandom fawns over it. Hatori x Kana is what we all wish for, or what we all hope our relationship can be.
Too often in anime, an idealized relationship is presented one way, pandering either to females or males. But in the case of Hatori and Kana, the relationship appeals to both audiences, even though it’s framed through just Hatori’s eyes. We don’t get a ton of insight from Kana herself, but we can see why she loves Hatori. Besides the physical—he’s the traditionally tall, sharp-angled, handsome man—he’s also the silent, strong type who will not only protect, but who’s heart can also be thawed. He cries several times in the course of the story, and it doesn’t take away from his masculinity; it only adds another layer to what already makes him attractive.
But Kana, too, is the type of woman that’s wildly attractive to men, especially those that feel societal expectations to always be strong, that they can never be vulnerable or weak. By supporting him in his weakness while at the same time not making him feel weak, Kana is able to help Hatori keep his pride while providing him the support he needs. Hatori has found someone he can cry to and still feel okay. He can lay his burdens on Kana while still supporting her in turn. She helps him be a better man.
Ultimately, of course, Hatori must let her go—and it’s by his hands, as he erases her memories, that it happens. But even in this moment, especially in this moment, Hatori demonstrates love—he gives up what he wants to give his beloved a chance. He prays desperately that she would find a new lover, that she would be happy. Hatori even prays that he would be willing to die to make that happen, and in a sense, he will—if he doesn’t physically die standing in the cold elements, his heart will be broken and irreparable.
Think about that for a moment. Not only is Hatori going to let Kana go, he’s wishing for her to marry another man. The envy he would have to feel knowing that the love of his life is with another must be unbearable! Yet, Hatori’s promise to God is that he would be willing to die if Kana could taste this happiness. Further, the reality is that Hatori will probably live, but that’s almost worse as he’s likely to spend the rest of his life alone with the Soma curse as his companion rather than a bride.
How utterly romantic and completely unattainable—at least for me. As much as I love my family, I’m also very selfish. I give and I sacrifice, but I also falter time and time again, often choosing myself instead of what’s best for my loved ones.
But just because I fail to love as sacrificially as Hatori doesn’t mean the standard is set too high. His love for Kana challenges me to love better, love more, love without reservation. The kind of love he gives Kana says that there’s nothing she or anyone else could do to him that would take his love away. It is steadfast and a wonderful definition of love: At great cost, greatly he gives.
I’m challenged to do better by Hatori’s sacrifice. And although it feels out of reach, I’ll keep reaching, because the place he takes Kana, the way he saves her from a living hell, is what I hope to be for my loved ones when they need me most. I hope that like Hatori, I can give my all—even when it costs everything.
Fruits Basket can be streamed through Crunchyroll.