Fruits Basket, a manga/anime series about a Japanese family cursed to transform into animals of the Chinese Zodiac when hugged by anyone of the opposite sex, has re-entered pop culture with its recent reboot.
Old fans are excited that the series has been cleaned up and repackaged (hopefully more faithfully to the original manga series) and it has been attracting its fair share of new fans too.
However, it’s a long series with a pretty big cast of characters. The manga ended in 2006, and the original anime ended after 26 episodes. So we get it if your memory might be a bit foggy–heck, if you only saw the anime, you only got a third of the story! So, we thought we would give you a handy-dandy character cheat sheet of the main cast to help refresh you and keep everybody in check.
Note: Although we’ve done our best to avoid major spoilers, minor spoilers (like character’s Zodiac animal transformations) are unavoidable. Continue at your own risk!
Tohru Honda: The main character is a plucky teenage girl who recently lost her mother. Determined to make her way in the world, she lives in a tent–until she is taken in by the strange Sohma family.
Yuki Sohma: This mysterious silver-haired teenager is the “prince” of his high school. He keeps everyone at arm’s length, which of course only makes him more popular with the girls in school. He is the “rat.”
Kyo Sohma: Kyo is the “cat,” which means he is not a part of the official zodiac. However, he was told by the head of the family, Akito, many years ago that if he could beat Yuki (the rat–the creature who tricks the cat in the original Zodiac tale) in a fight, he could take Yuki’s place in the Zodiac. So, he’s always training and always trying to get one good hit on Yuki.
Shigure Sohma: Yuki, Kyo, and Tohru live with the “dog” of the Sohma family. He lives apart from the main Sohma family (mostly housed on a large estate), but is much closer with the head of the family than anyone else knows. He’s a bouncy character, but he can be manipulative and sometimes causes trouble on purpose. He is trying to break the Zodiac curse by his own less-than-savory means.
Kagura Sohma: For many people who discovered anime in the early 2000s, Kagure was their first introduction to the “Yandere” character trope. That is, the type of character who is loving one moment and comically violent the next. The object of her affection is Kyo. She serves a purpose as a comical character, and as the story gets more serious it becomes hard to reconcile. She is the “boar.”
Momiji Sohma: Momiji is one of the first characters to show Tohru the seriousness of the Zodiac curse: he was rejected by his mother at birth because he transformed in her arms into a rabbit. She chose to have her memories erased and led a life without him, having an uncursed daughter later. Although Momiji is clearly hurt by all of this, he refuses to have his life ruled by his curse.
Hatori Sohma: Many characters in the series have varied feelings about Hatori: he’s Shigure’s best friend, but Yuki dislikes him, for example. Hatori has the ability to erase memories, and it’s hard for many to separate his ability from him. Hatori is the dragon, but he actually turns into a seahorse. It’s sort of weird! (And pretty dangerous.)
Aya Sohma: Yuki’s older brother is the “snake” from the Zodiac. He has a much more carefree, flamboyant personality than Yuki and is best friends with Shigure and Hatori. His big personality allows him to distance himself from any and all true feelings.
Haru Sohma: Haru is the “cow” or “ox” of the Zodiac. Like Kagura, he seems to have a split personality, made of his “white” side and his “black” side. The “white” side is calm and placid, the “black” side is harsh and can be violent.
Kisa Sohma: Kisa is much younger than the main cast of characters; she is only in middle school when first introduced. She is bullied and rarely talks, and even in her Zodiac form (tiger, though she is only cat-sized) she bites and acts like an angry animal. Like the other Sohmas, she benefits from being around Tohru.
Hiro Sohma: Hiro is closer in age to Kisa than other characters and, in fact, has a crush on her. He’s one of the luckier members of the zodiac, because his parents are actually pretty supportive of his situation. Hiro actually finds this a little smothering, but seriously–it could be way, way worse! His mother apparently finds his “sheep/ram” form pretty adorable.
Ritsu Sohma: Ritsu pays a tiny role in the overall story, but it feels weird to cut him out altogether. He’s the “monkey” and a classic example of an overthinker. It’s a little scary, to be honest!
Rin Sohma: Rin hates the idea of having to rely on anyone after she realized the stress her curse placed on her parents–and after her parents began acting out their stress on her. Rin and Haru are deeply linked and she is determined to break the curse, for his sake even more so than her own or anyone else’s. It is implied at the end of the series that she might not ever overcome the trauma she has suffered at the hands of her family.
Kureno Sohma: Kureno is the freest member of the Sohma Zodiac, and yet, he will not leave Akito’s side. He is the victim of supreme manipulation and ends up isolated because of it. Although it’s easy to hate him at first–he is presented as Akito’s strong arm–it’s easy to see that he has been stunted because of his experiences with Akito once you learn more about him. As the story continues, you can’t help but root for Kureno.
Akito Sohma: The head of the Sohma family, Akito is not cursed to turn into any kind of animal. Rather, this character is “God” from the Zodiac tale. Akito is short-tempered and outright abusive because Akito fears being left alone. Akito will do anything to keep the Zodiac members close by, forever. In the first anime series, it is said that Akito is cursed to die young as the “god” of the family, but this is not actually a part of the manga. Akito is, however, in constant poor health.
Additional Characters: Arisa and Saki are Tohru’s best friend. The former is a “Yankee” and the latter is psychic. They feature heavily in the first few volumes of the manga but disappear gradually. Eventually, they reappear and become involved in the later story. Like Kagura, however, they don’t necessarily meld smoothly into the story after the overall tone shifts.
Obviously, that doesn’t cover every single character in the series, but let’s face it, even just the Sohmas are a lot to handle! We hope this guide has been helpful in keeping everyone straight. Anyways, how are you enjoying the new Fruits Basket anime series? Do you prefer the original anime? Or even the manga? Let us know in the comments below!