Parents. They create us, they raise us (or abandon us), ultimately they form us, either through their presence in our lives or the lack of it. Katsuya, Kyoko and Kazuma are all parents from the Japanese manga Fruits Basket. This manga is the first one I read to completion (yes, all 23 volumes!) and I warn anyone who starts it that they will become consumed with finishing it because it is just that good. The premise is a cute one but isn’t what holds your interest – it’s the relationships that form around Tohru Honda that is so, so compelling.
Katsuya Honda is Tohru’s father. Kyoko Honda is Tohru’s mother. At the start of the story they are both dead. More than any other character I wanted to know about Tohru’s father. He’s never mentioned by her and in fact, she acts like he was abusive or something by the sheer lack of emotional tie to him. What happened? Why does she feel this way about him? It took many volumes to learn his story.
Whereas we’ve known about Tohru’s love for her mother from the very first page. The heart of Tohru’s motivations, her ability to effect people can all be laid at her mother’s feet. Her two best friends were also greatly influenced by Kyoko in their lives and we learn about this over time. It’s a classic single mother type of relationship made unique by Kyoko’s contrasting youth. The very unique and almost saccharine nature Tohru projects is brought down to earth through her mother.
Kyo is a lead in the story, a rejected and hated boy with a heavy curse to bear. Kazuma Sohma is Kyo’s foster-father. He is the one member of his extended family willing to give Kyo a modicum of love that a human needs to retain their humanity. I love that his love originated in a place of guilt for how he treated his grandfather. It embodies how one event in our lives can effect massive changes in our future.
Kazuma not only was a father figure to Kyo, loving him, but was also a teacher who gave Kyo meaning to his life and a way to deal with all the emotions that come boiling up when one is hated and abused. I loved that Kazuma’s nature came through in the way he was drawn. Soft, loving, and a little old-fashioned. He feels like he is fit and well-disciplined through the youthful way he was drawn. It supports the tough love way he deals with Kyo at one point. You can also imagine Kyo’s youth through the art and I love when a mangaka thinks about this when developing their manga.
With manga you are by its nature being shown things about the characters and not told them. Parents do the same in our own lives.
This month I’m participating in a writing challenge to post everyday in April (except Sundays) called the A to Z Challenge. I’m exploring my love of characters, find the full list here. Read some of my other writing posts here. What characters do you love?