By Patrick Sather
The Zodiac Curse is a crucial element in the anime Fruit Basket. Here are some ways it makes sense, and other ways it doesn't.
The Zodiac Curse is one of the main features of Fruits Basket that sets it apart from otherShoujo anime. The curse began as a bond betweenGod and the animal Spirits of the Zodiac, and ensures that the Spirits will be connected to God for all eternity.
The Sohma family has inherited this curse for hundreds of years, but there are many unanswered questions about the curse even for members of the family. While some of the aspects of the curse make sense there are others that defy logic. Understanding the workings of the Zodiac Curse is crucial for understanding the relationships of the characters in Fruits Basket and unraveling the themes of the show.
No Sense: This Is The First Time AllThe Zodiacs Are Together
The Zodiac Curse has been in the Sohma family for generations. It's implied that the curse has existed for hundreds of years, but it's only now that all thirteen of the Zodiacs and God are reincarnated at the same time. It's hard to believe that in that long span of time there was never any period when all of the cursed members were alive at the same time, but that's what the series leads fans to believe. This circumstance brings everything to a head and foreshadows that the curse may finally be coming to an end, but it also begs the question of whether the curse always had a time limit that is only now expiring due to some twist of fate.
Sense: The ZodiacsTransform When Touched By The Opposite Sex
One of the key features of the Zodiac Curse is that the members of the family who inherit the curse transform into their Zodiac Spirit when they are touched by a person of the opposite sex. The touch has to be more than a mere graze to signal a transformation, and hugging or bumping are shown to be the most common physical engagements that trigger a change. The element of the curse is an essential plot point of the series, as it is a truly devastating affliction. Members of the family who are possessed by a Zodiac Spirit are denied the pleasure of physical touch and excluded from developing normal relationships with people of the opposite sex. This denial brings the Zodiacs closer to God, as God's needs supersede their own.
No Sense: The Curse Has Never Been Exposed
In the hundreds of years that the Zodiac Curse has existed it has never been exposed to the outside world until Tohru Honda accidentally stumbled on the secret. Even then, it's revealed that others had learned about the curse in the past, but these unfortunate individuals had their memories wiped by Hatori or one of his ancestors.
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Hatori supposedly uses some form of hypnosis to wipe people's minds of their experiences with a member of the Zodiacs, but this ability is never fully explained. It's unknown whether it's an ability gained through the power of the curse, or if it's simply a skill that was developed over time to protect the family secret. Either way, it's almost too convenient.
Sense: The Cat Suffers Most From The Curse
It makes sense that the family member possessed by the Cat Spirit would suffer most from the effects of the curse. In the story of the Zodiac, the Cat Spirit rejected the idea of an eternal banquet and friendship, and so God cursed the Cat Spirit for its insolence. The other Zodiacs shun the Cat to continue the tradition of ostracization, and even though all of the other members of the Sohma family are aware of Kyo's fate to be confined, none of them do anything to stop it. The Cat becomes a litmus test for their own suffering, and they are bonded by the knowledge that at least they don't suffer as much as the Cat.
No Sense: The Zodiacs Are Able To Have Children
It's well documented that the Zodiacs transform into their animal Spirits when they are meaningfully touched by a person of the opposite sex. Yet, it's also true that at least a few Sohma members who have been possessed by a Zodiac Spirit have been able to bear children. The most notable person is Kazuma's grandfather, who was possessed by the Cat Spirit before Kyo. This begs several logistical questions, first and foremost of which is how Zodiac members are able to be intimate without transforming into their animal Spirit. Hatorihints that intimacy is tricky for Zodiac Spirits, but goes into no more detail than that.
Sense: Strong Emotions Can Trigger A Transformation
In addition to transforming when they are touched by a person of the opposite sex, Zodiacs are also known to transform when they become overly stressed. Rin was shown to have transformed into her horse shape due to exhaustion, as did Yuki when he became very sick and weak. Much like being touched by a person of the opposite sex, stress can trigger a transformation, because the Zodiacs are in a compromised position, and their animal Spirits are able to use this momentary weakness to complete the possession. Only once the Zodiac has calmed down or regained their strength are they able to return to their human form, signifying that the urge to not transform is a constant battle of wills.
No Sense: No OneHad Ever Broken The Curse Until Recently
Despite the fact that the Zodiac Curse has existed for hundreds of years, not a single member of the Sohma family has ever been able to break the curse. This may be due to the fact that there has never been a time when all of the Zodiacs were alive at the same time until the events of the series, which would mean that the conditions were never right to ensure the curse could be broken.
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Still, it's odd that no Zodiac ever stumbled upon the key to breaking the curse in all that time. While it's not been revealed exactly how the curse is broken it's hard to believe that not a single family member ever managed to break the curse until Kureno.
Sense: The Zodiacs Are Bonded To God
The other key feature of the Zodiac Curse aside from the Zodiacs possession by their animal Spirits is their bond to God. In the story of the Zodiac, God held a banquet for the animal Spirits, and he had such a good time that he never wanted to be parted from his new friends. So, he had them each drink from a cup that symbolized their bond to God. This bond ensures that none of the Zodiacs have the will to defy God and feel an inexplicable urge to please God and do what God tells them to do. The bond that each Zodiac feels explains why none of the Sohmas are able to stand up to Akito despite her unreasonable moods and cruel actions because they are bound to her in eternal friendship and obedience.
No Sense: There Is Very Little Information About The Curse
All of the current Zodiacs readily admit that they know very little about how the curse works. Even though the curse has been in the family for generations the Sohmas never took the time to document the particulars of the curse, including what specific actions have not led to breaking the curse. There exists no record of previous Zodiacs' experiences as far as fans can tell, which seems odd given the overall wealth and intelligence that most of the Sohma's have demonstrated. Afterhundreds of years so many questions still remain, which gives Tohru Honda plenty to unravel over the course of the series, but it's hard to believe so little has been discovered up until the events of the show.
Sense: The Zodiacs Act Like Their Animal Spirits
In addition to transforming into their animal Spirits when touched by a person of the opposite sex or when stressed, the Zodiacs also act and share traits with their Spirit. Rin can run very fast just like a horse, Ritsu is agile like a monkey, and Kyo always seems to land on his feet. Additionally, the Zodiacs all have a special attraction to their animals, as seen when Yuki summons hundreds of rats to help him move Tohru's possessions out of the woods and to Shigure's house at the start of the series. The possession implies not only a physical connection but an emotional and spiritual connection as well, which explains why each of the Zodiacs acts so much like their respective Spirits.
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