Have you ever heard of the phrase, ” Never judge a book by its cover”? Well, you indeed have, right?
This is a very well-known phrase when it comes to anime and mangas too. Like they say, never to judge a book by its cover. You shouldn’t really judge an anime by its name as well.
When you hear about the anime Fruits basket, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Probably a cute, sweet shojo anime with girls and guys carrying baskets filled with fruits.
But no! Even though it is called Fruits Basket, it is anything but about the fruits or the baskets. Instead, the early 2000s popular shojo anime, Fruits Basket, is set on the story of Tohru Honda, an orphan girl, who meets the members of the Sohma family, who are cursed to turn into animals.
The romance comedy anime series Fruits Basket did bring out a fresh and unique concept of the Zodiac signs and curses in a more fun way, which might be the reason, why it is still one of the popular anime series.
The whole series revolved around the Sohma curse, its effects, and Tohru’s efforts to break it. So what actually is the Sohma curse and why was it such a big deal in the Sohma family?
To find out, we suggest you read this article and get your curiosities answered.
What was the Sohma Curse?
The Sohma Curse (草摩の呪い, Sōma no Noroi) was actually the name given to the bond between God and the Thirteen members of the Zodiac.
In the series, various members of the Sohma family were cursed and possessed by the spirits of the twelve animals from the Chinese Zodiac, including a cat.
The family members were the reincarnated form of the Zodiac animals and even the God who bound the Zodiac animals together was reincarnated as well in the form of Akito Sohma.
How did it originate?
In the anime series, the Sohma curse, which bound the Sohma family for a long time, was believed to be originated many years ago by a god-like entity.
According to the true Zodiac legend, a long time ago, a man possessed a thousand powers and had lived a thousand lives.
It was also said that this man had memories that dated back millennia. Having such powers and abilities, the man realized he was no ordinary human.
He was not like the other humans and lived in isolation on top of a mountain because he believed that he would hurt the people because of his powers.
Living in seclusion for so long, he soon became lonely and isolated from the human world. He was getting used to the loneliness until one day, a friendly cat came to him and confessed its desire to be friends with him.
The cat approached the man and admitted that it had been watching him for quite some time and was very much drawn to him. The cat even expressed his wish to stay by his side.
Upon hearing the cat’s words, the man was over the moon. He believed that his life-long yearning to get rid of loneliness could be solved by befriending the animals.
As he realized that he could be friends with them and get over his loneliness, he sought out more animals so that he could make them his companions.
To gather the animals, he sent out an invitation to anyone who was willing to join him. The invitation got out, and twelve more animals came to accept his invitation along with the cat he befriended at first.
The twelve animals, Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Boar all made it to the man’s place and agreed to become his friends. Eventually, these twelve animals became part of the Chinese Zodiac.
So, it all started because of his new friendship with the cat as he yearned for even more bonds, and so he held fun banquets with the other animals.
The man held a banquet every night the moon shone. The banquet was held so that they could get closer. At the banquet, they would have fun, sing, dance, and enjoy each other’s company.
However, one time during such a banquet, the cat collapsed suddenly. This worried the man greatly as he, along with the other animals, came to realize that everything in the world had an end to it.
The man was deeply saddened by such realization, so unwilling to let their unique bond die, he decided to use a spell that would bind them together and make their friendship last for eternity.
Although the rest of the animals agreed to the man’s decision, the cat opposed the idea, making the rest believe that the cat betrayed them. This could also be the reason why the cat was no longer invited to the banquet.
However, at last, all the animals promised the man to be with him for eternity and they would continue to hold the banquets so, that their bond would never break.
After getting all their approval, the man created a spell that would bind them together forever. The man created a spell by drawing a circle in a cup of water with his finger.
He gave the spell-infused drink to the thirteen animals and made sure that every single one of them would be reborn, and no matter how many times they were reborn, they would still be bonded and their friendship would remain forever.
The cat couldn’t attend the banquet because the rat deceived it. Hence, it couldn’t make it in the Zodiac. Furthermore, because it rejected God’s offer in its first life, the host of the spirit of the cat was locked up in the cat’s room.
What were the effects of this curse?
The curse was not really made as a curse but was rather a spell. But over the year, the spell had some side effects that turned it into a curse.
The curse affected those possessed by the spirits of the animals of the Zodiac, including the cat. The main effect of this curse was the possessed one turned into their respective animals if a person of the opposite sex hugged them.
Moreover, if getting hugged by the opposite sex was not enough for them to transform, they also transformed into animals if they were exposed to a great deal of stress, exhaustion, lack of breath, or sickness.
However, they didn’t transform into animals if another member of the Zodiac hugged them.
The possessed member was born two months premature and had the ability to attract animals of their possessed Zodiac. This somewhat gave them the ability to communicate with them and use their help as well.
The Zodiac members all had distinct characteristics and shared special traits with the animals they were possessed by. Some had the appearance of their zodiac animals, while some had their eye colors change to their respective animals.
Another effect of the curse was that the members possessed superhuman abilities. Their special abilities gave them great strength, power, speed, and agility. With such power, some of them were also able to jump from the second floor and land without even a scratch.
Since the thirteen members of the Zodiac were all connected in one way or another, they shared a compelling and strong blood bond and with God as well. Hence, they couldn’t openly defy God even if they wanted to.
The curse transformed them into their Zodiacs, but when they turned back to their human forms, they turned naked and were surrounded by colored clouds around their bodies.
Another exciting thing about the curse was the fact that as long as all the members of the Zodiac were alive at the same time, another member possessed by the Zodiac’s spirit wouldn’t be born. So, in order for a newly possessed member to be born, the previous curse member must die.
How did it affect the Sohma family?
The curse, even though it was once created to protect their friendship, over the years it became more like a forced bond between a master and slave.
After the man and the animals passed away, the spell was passed down to the Sohma family members. Due to the spell, different members of the Sohma family reincarnated as the God or one of the thirteen animals, possessed by their spirits.
The interesting thing was that when the possessed member was born with the Zodiac’s spirits, they had no memories of the past, meaning they didn’t remember anything of the past, including the original promise they made to each other.
Even having no recollection of their memories, they were still bounded by the promise because the blood of the Zodiac spirits remembered the promise, even if their current host forgot it.
The original man or the God, wanted the bonds to be sacred and something that would connect him to his animal friends forever.
He never really wanted the bond or the spell to be something that would turn to become something cursed. But with time, it became a curse, one that haunted the members of the Sohma family.
Since the curse had many effects on their day-to-day life, it became hard for the possessed members to live normal life.
Not only the spell made it difficult for the family members, but it turned into a source of generations of abuse, isolation, and exclusion in the Sohma Clan.
Because the family members were possessed by the animal’s spirits they were different from normal human beings, which meant that they had to hide their true selves and were always in a fear of it being disclosed.
Always living in the constant fear of being disclosed and excluded by society for being different, the Sohmas closed themselves off from the humans and some even wanted to leave the Sohma family for good.
Although they did try to live like normal humans, they were very wary of them and didn’t trust them easily. But after getting to know Tohru, they slowly changed their mind and were able to come to terms with their true self.
Did anyone know about the curse except the Sohma family?
Although a secret among the Sohma family, there were times when it got disclosed to the outsiders, which was solved by erasing their memories completely.
However, when Tohru found out about the truth regarding their special curse, she was surprisingly let into the secret.
She found out about their secret when she moved into the family household because of some particular circumstances.
How did she find out about the secret?
Tohru Honda was nowhere related to the Sohma family but ended up in their household due to some special coincidences.
Well, in the series, Tohru Honda was a high school girl, who used to live with her mother alone after she lost her father when she was just a little kid.
A kind and gentle soul, Tohru was not only a good daughter but she was also an excellent student. However, if just losing her dad was not enough, she even lost her mother to an accident.
Heartbroken, she began to live with her grandfather. But soon because the house they lived in had to be renovated, her grandfather decided to live with his daughter. leaving poor Tohru all alone.
Working and managing school at the same time, Tohru started to live in a tent, which coincidentally was in the area owned by the Sohmas.
One day, when Tohru was walking around the vast forest she stumbled upon the Sohma household and decided to take a look. While looking at the Zodiac knickknacks, she met Shigure and Yuki, not knowing that they were not ordinary humans.
Later that day, her tent got buried in a landslide. So, the Sohma family offered to stay with them, which she agreed to as she had no place to go.
While she moved in with them, she encountered Kyo, who had the cat’s spirit in him. Kyo and Yuki started fighting. When Tohru tried to stop them, she slipped and hugged Kyo, which turned him into a cat.
Overwhelmed by the situation, thinking that she had turned Kyo into a cat, she panicked, and then bumped into the other two as well, which transformed them into animals, their respective animals; Shigure into a dog and Yuki into a rat.
Seeing how confused Tohru was, they had no option but to tell her the truth. They revealed their true form to her and told her about the family curse.
After finding out about the family’s secret, she was supposed to get her memories erased, but Akito, the God, said that it would be fine as long as she kept the secret to herself.
So, that is how she came to know the family’s secret, and because her memories were not erased, she became the only one besides the Sohma family to know the secrets of the Sohma curse.
Were they able to break free from the curse?
Throughout the series, there were times when the characters felt the curse was weakening and slowly fading away.
In the series, the breaking of the curse all started with Kureno’s curse. Kureno had the spirit of the Rooster, and his bond with God miraculously broke.
After such an incident, other cursed members became aware of the fact that the curse was surely weakening. Shigure also thought that the curse was weakening as he stated that he heard the sounds of something breaking.
Furthermore, because it was the first generation that all the twelve members of the Zodiac, including the Cat and the God, were all alive at the same time, which could have indicated it to be the final banquet.
As everything needed to come to an end, so probably the curse was weakening because it was coming to an end, throughout the series where the curse was seen withering.
The first time it happened was when Kureno’s curse suddenly disappeared. Similarly, Hatori turned into a seahorse instead of a real dragon, and even Kureno turned into a sparrow instead of a Rooster.
The original God always had good intentions and believed they would forever be together. But little did he know that the spell he created would turn out to be a curse.
Hence, he unintentionally created a dictatorial curse that would cause years of generational abuse and psychological traumas.
His spell had the opposite effect of what he originally planned. Instead of growing close, the zodiacs grew to fear and resent God. Since their bond was fading away, it was clear as the day that the curse was also weakening and slowly fading away.
While the Zodiacs and God were unsure of what the future held for them because of the curse fading away, Tohru was always there for each member and supported them through thick and thin.
Finally, in chapter 130 of manga and episode 11 of season 3 of the anime, Goodbye, (さようなら, Sayōnara), the curse was eventually lifted off of everybody, and the God and the Zodiac vanish.
Even, at last, God was happy and grateful that the Zodiacmemebrs accompanied him for such a long time. But he did realize that the fun banquets he created must come to an end.
At last, nobody could hear or see him, but he bid his last farewell to all the beloved members of the Zodiac. He implored them all to cry with him together as if it was the first day they had been born.
Even while bidding his farewell, he was happy to spend such a long time with his friends but still wondered what went wrong that his spell turned into a curse.
With his final words, he finally left the world along with the spirits of his Zodiac friends, including his very first friend, the cat, and the eternal banquet came to an end.
Hence, it was the God who unintentionally created the curse but it was Tohru who, with her kind and open heart, made the bonds between the members stronger with her care and love for them and eventually broke the curse.