Fruits Basket’s Tohru Honda and her Path to Self-Acceptance

Tohru clutches a chain-link fence, crying, and says "Smile...!" Intennal text reads "I can't do that, no matter what."

SPOILERS for the entire Fruits Basket manga.

Tohru Honda, the kind-hearted, slightly oblivious heroine of Natsuki Takaya’s Fruits Basket, is a fascinating study of a self-sacrificing female character. Selfless heroines are common in anime and manga, but Tohru is particularly noteworthy because her development throughout the series serves as an example of growing up, coming to terms with one’s feelings, and finding one’s voice. She navigates a very real, very familiar river, fraught with anxiety and self-doubt.

Over the course of Fruits Basket, Tohru learns to acknowledge and express her emotions without thinking of them as a burden, but as a facet of herself as a complete, multidimensional human being. She ultimately overcomes the chains that bind her to the trope of self-sacrificing kindness, touted as an ideal feminine trait, which has caused her to neglect herself to the point of misery. She learns that she must not only care for others, but for herself, before she can help the Sohmas break the Zodiac curse.

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