Character Presentation by Yuki-chan (translated from French by Gaminette)
We discover this character at the beginning of the manga. Third in order of apparition, by his androgynous appearance. A complex character, we cannot remain indifferent to him. Whether we like him or not, we cannot help but critique him. With the progression of the manga, his personality evolves, and formerly held opinions waver.
The “Prince”: it is in this light that we meet Yuki. With his effeminate face, fine features, and elegant manners, he is just like a fairy tale prince on the outside. But personality-wise, he is not nearly as perfect as he first appears. Of course, Yuki is intelligent, very well brought up and understanding (notably with Tohru when they first meet), but we realize quickly, as we discover his backstory, that he is a tortured teenager, uncomfortable in his own skin, cruelly lacking confidence in himself.
He remains aloof for fear of being judged and suffers in the solitude that he imposes upon himself. He is also burdened with an extraordinary shyness and doesn't know how to assert himself clearly. For example, even though he appreciates Tohru very much, he continues to call her Honda-San. In spite of his strong desire to fit in, all of these feelings hold him back. And even though he barely acknowledges it, he doesn't try to break free from his idol status, preferring to stay in his cocoon, behind a label that says “do not touch.”
His introversion is the fruit of the long psychological work that Akito exercised on the young boy. Already made fragile by a cold et sometimes violent mother , Yuki found himself “sold” to Akito. The head of the Soma clan saw in him an easy prey. Akito took sadistic pleasure in torturing the child by locking him in a room, thereby cutting him off from the outside world. Akito was then able to tame him easily, hitting the cursed one if he resisted. Receiving beatings and insults, Yuki sank into a childhood depression from which he could never emerge unscathed.
His meeting with Tohru Honda marks a turning point in his life. The girl accepts him as he is, and even better, she wants to be his friend even though her memory of him may have to be erased. Yuki has misgivings that Akito lied to him, as Tohru is not afraid of him, like Akito said. Tohru tried to understand him and to help him. The young man realizes that it is possible for him to be loved for who he truly is. She is his liberator, she comforts him, she helps him open up to the world. His feelings for her reach a crescendo, but remain confused. We are privy to a few romantic scenes between the two characters, but nothing materializes.
Yuki feels his troubles lessen thanks to Tohru, and he is flustered when he discovers the cap that she keeps so preciously. It is the same cap that he had given to her when they were children. This event was engraved on Yuki's memory because it was the first time that he had felt useful to someone. She had been a hope for him and now, she liberated him from his sadness. [Spoil] Later in the manga, we learn that Yuki had actually projected onto Tohru the mother he always wanted. His love for her is like what a son feels for his mother. However, we cannot be sure that it will be limited to that, because Yuki gave up when he saw that Kyo was getting close to Tohru.
Another person with a strong tie to Yuki is Kyo Soma. Even though their relationship is very strained early in the manga, the anger lulls thereafter, and we are able to view their fights as those between two hostile brothers. It is after he has revealed his true form that Kyo's suffering is understood by Yuki. All of the fights and the hate are legitimized. (why Kyo was repulsive to Yuki when they were children, why Kyo wanted to beat Yuki at all cost so that he could join the circle of the twelve and avoid confinement, etc.) Yuki then begins to withdraw into himself. He feels guilty and selfish for thinking about his own problems when others have even greater sufferings that are more difficult to bear.
It is Hatsuharu Soma who is going to keep the prince from sinking. Haru is close to Yuki, and he is the only member of the Juunishi to be in his confidence . There is a real friendship between them, and it began with an act that Yuki apparently is not really aware of : he helped Hatsuharu unburden himself of all his anger. The one who thought himself selfish helped another without regard for himself. And it is thanks to this friendship that Yuki was able to live with Shigure.
But in spite of the help from those around him, and even though he is more open to others, he always feels selfish. The major event in his rehabilitation is the journey to the seashore during summer vacation (vol. 10 and 11). Thanks to a surprise encounter with Akito on a path, Yuki is going to open the box that he has kept at the bottom of his heart. This opening is going to literally free him of his fears and weaknesses. From then on, we see a Yuki who is sure of himself, who accepts his responsibilities. He accepts what he is and what he lived. This is all well illustrated in the manga. Natsuki Takaya confirms the development in his physique as well as in his character (just like Kyo). Yuki suddenly gets bigger, fills out, and becomes more virile. We are longer faced with the effeminate teenager from the first volumes.
Yuki wants his independence and he wants to fix the problems with his family. In order to detach himself from her completely, he talks to his mother when it is time for his parent-teacher conference. She takes her son's remarks badly and feels as though she has been reproached/told off. He also faces Akito at New Year's Eve. He rebels and takes off, leaving Akito mad with rage. Yuki assumes his independence and gets some closure with his past, so that he can better move on.
His circle of friends also evolves. In Student Council, he meets Manabe and Machi. Manabe has a personality that is very similar to Ayamé's, and in the friendship that develops between the two younger boys, we can see a Yuki-Aya closeness by proxy. The character of Kakeru complements Yuki's calmness well, and they form a bond that is rather astonishing, but sincere. Yuki is also interested in Machi. This girl can tell that his true personality is “imperfect,” and it intrigues the prince. Rather quiet, she seems to be a victim of many crises and hates order. Sensing that she has problems, Yuki tries to help her, and we quickly realize that these feelings intensify with time. Machi appears to have dethroned Tohru in the cursed one's heart, the latter becoming a "mother" to him. Friendship and love mingle, leaving the reader guessing.
Yuki is an endearing character who tries to free himself from his past so that he can face his future. In wanting to help others as they helped him, he is less tortured, but still has numerous things to reveal. As the secrets unveil themselves, the pretty boy becomes a man, discovering love and the world.
Character evolution by Amy (Zapenstap) (www)
Everything that is revealed later in the story is consistent with the whole story from the first page. Yuki's feelings for Tohru, the Akito spoiler, Shigure's motives...everything. I have all the manga in English and when you read it straight through in your own language with everything in context it all feels very fluid.
So about Yuki...
Here's my analysis of Yuki's story and Furuba as a whole to date: At first, Yuki saw Tohru as a mother. She came to stay at their house to cook and clean and love the Sohmas unconditionally. Yuki loves and cares for Tohru, but at this time he never thought about her romantically, (though he never analyzed his feelings about how he felt about her either).
Then when Kyo transformed into his true shape and Tohru chased after him, Yuki recognized Tohru and Kyo's relationship as being that of a woman and a man rather that a mother and child. This made Yuki feel inferior about his own failings and shortcomings.
Kyo is Yuki's enemy and it was a hard knock for Yuki to see Kyo relating to Tohru as an equal, as someone who can giveback and enter into a meaningful relationship, rather than as a child who only receives (as is Yuki's relationship with Tohru at this point).This realization sends Yuki into a confused state of depression.
To counterbalance it, he starts overcompensating by proving that he has "grown" and by making rather ambiguous attempts to woo Tohru as the princely Yuki. Thus we have the scene where Yuki walks up the stairs toward Torhu (symbolically like a child climbing toward a level with mommy) to apologize for worrying her and trying to prove that he has "grown up" and might "kidnap" her (ambiguous wooing).
In the meantime, Yuki puts a lid on his real feelings. Coincidentally (or not) this is also about the time Machi and Manabe are first introduced into the story. Anyway, this change in Yuki freaks Tohru out, and it continues until Yuki encounters Akito at the beach and has the truth thrown in his face. After this encounter, Yuki is forced to face his fears and admit to himself that he just doesn't have the sorts of "romantic" feelings for Tohru that he is trying to force himself to have. Forcing such feelings and behaviors only makes Yuki look and feel fake, covering up his true self with the princely facade, and confusing Tohru in the process.
Eventually, Yuki comes to terms with his "motherly" feelings for Tohru and talks them out with Manabe. Manabe gives him contradictory advice (some guys like girls that resemble their moms) but Yuki rejects this weak comfort because he's already tried that and it was "wrong."
This brings us to Yuki's new resolve. Yuki decides that he's going to stop suffocating his true feelings and stop trying to be somebody he's not (aka, a perfect prince). He hates having to be someone who is always receiving from other people, accepting what others have to give meekly (our little mouse ^_^) and giving nothing back in return. Therefore it's Yuki's resolve to take what Tohru has shown him about relating to people and loving other people and apply it by helping someone else.
Yuki has already begun to help Machi, but this subplot is still developing. Yuki has also made a somewhat formal (but cryptic) declaration that he is "out of the race" for Tohru's heart with Kyo. Unfortunately, Kyo didn't seem to pick up on this as he hasn't been focused on Yuki lately.
Kyo is depressed that he might never be allowed the chance with Tohru because of various things (being the cat, akito, being locked up, incident with tohru's mom, etc). Yuki has even tried to help by prodding Kyo (also cryptically) to make some kind of a move.
Kyo and Tohru's feelings are pretty clear to Yuki and Shigure, but the pair of them are suppressing the desire to act on them (Tohru b.c she's afraid of losing her mom, and perhaps of other things, and Kyo for reasons listed above).
In chapter 110, the tension has become so great (because Kyo and Tohru are dying to be together but aren't communicating) that Yuki was forced to leave the house to give them space.
So there ya have it...the recent developments of Fruits Basket! Some people have been saying that the story is no longer about Yuki, but I don't think so. I think that Yuki is out of the running for Tohru, but Yuki's influence on the romantic development of the relationship between Tohru and Kyo might be pivotal...especially as the cat and our heroine seem incapable of doing anything whatsoever left to their own devices.
Also, people have complained that the Student Council and Machi and Manabe are acting as filler in the series to give Yuki some spotlight, but I disagree with this too. Machi and Manabe were introduced at the end of book 7 and again in book 9, more or less right after Takaya finished introducing all the Sohmas and right at the time when Yuki decided to shift his focus in life from competing with Kyo to something more constructive.
There has been a lot of foreshadowing and cryptic statements made about them, and we've seen some of their personal history. I honestly don't think Takaya sensei would waste so much time on them if they weren't going to be important to the story in some fashion. Aside from helping Yuki become his own person, they have some mysterious connection with Tohru.
Anyway, I guess we'll see what happens!
Note by Selphie
We chose to publish this last analysis because it proved to be very interesting for understanding the evolution and the feelings of the leading trio of the manga.
Indeed, by this detailed analysis of the development of Yuki's psychology, we realize that the current trio is not the same as they were at the beginning. Yuki, even though he feels a lot of affection for Tohru, doesn't love her in the same way that Kyo does.
Indeed, the triangular relationship was only an illusion. It is confirmed elsewhere by the author in the character relationship diagram that was released in May 2005 in Japan.
From his behavior towards the Kyo/Tohru pairing, Yuki can be considered the “most mature” character of his generation.
While respecting and encouraging their intimacy, and leaving them alone, he comes to help Kyo, whom he no longer considers a rival (for Tohru or in general).
Finally, I would like to thank these two authors for their fine analyses of this character.