I think Fruits Basket has a really fascinating range of characters…cause on the one hand you’ve got your main protagonist who is a really sweet, naive, innocent, young high school girl. You’ve got Tohru and the cast around her age; Kyo, Yuki, Kakeru, Machi, Arisa, Hanajima, Momiji, etc. All these characters have seen a lot of loss and abuse in their short lives, one way or another, but there is something very undeniably young about their worldview and their interactions within it.
Then I feel you’ve got these sort of middle of the road characters. Haru and Rin, Kagura…they are more mature in some ways, they have an independence with which they can face the world that the aforementioned characters don’t yet possess.
Then you’ve got your older, wiser characters like Kyoko or Shishou or Mayuko who are definitely above the previous ranges but they exist in getting on those younger character’s level to talk to them, so there is something still there…
and then you’ve got Shigure, Hatori, Kureno, Akito, Ren, etc. who are on like this whole other plain of existence from the encouraging dramatic high school shojo that is going on with the three main protagonists and the ones around them.
You’ve got subterfuge and sexuality and no amount of naivety going on there. You’ve got these really complex, underhanded adult relationships and concerns. You’ve got people sleeping with each other left and right and using sex as an escape and an excuse and a weapon. You’ve got battles of class and mental illness and threats of abortion and attempts at murder and gender confusion and internalized misogyny and self-awareness of all of this…You’ve got people using each other and destroying each other and barely holding together as they see with a painful clarity the gravity of everything that the other characters don’t.
Even with the deaths and guilt and anxiety that exist for the others this still displays a level of maturity that makes it seem a world apart from the troubles of Tohru and her peers.
Yet this is where Natsuki Takaya brings it all together and makes Fruits Basket so unique…because it has this vast range…but they all end up crossing over. What is going on with Shigure and the older members of the Sohma family is directly effecting Tohru and the younger characters, is tying into the separate story lines of characters like Rin, becoming the axis of everything that happens in the overall plot so that there is little time or room for distinction.
You’ve got 50,000 different threads of stories and motivations for all these characters, all running along side each other in time, eventually becoming and revealing to be completely tangled together.
It is really fucking genius…is all I wanted to say.
It is that range of emotion and maturity that makes everyone who reads Fruits Basket able to say it is one the most relatable stories they have ever read and it is the slow, subtle, carefully crafted way in which they all come together under one intricate umbrella that makes it such a breathtaking, edge of your seat, brilliant piece of literature.