The Sohma clan in Fruits Basket is uniquely burdened by their family curse. Throughout the show, the emotional toll the curse has taken on each character is thoroughly unpacked, giving insight into this profoundly dysfunctional family. But, honestly, the Zodiac Curse isn’t all that bad. In fact, the curse is really more of a boon to the Sohma family, if used correctly.
The twelve core members of the Sohma family are each cursed to turn into different animals of the Chinese zodiac, from Rat to Rooster. There are entire superheroes with the ability to turn into animals – there’s no way it’s as burdensome as the Sohmas make it out to be. And, with a little creativity, they could all cash in on this ability in some neat, everyday ways.
Early on, both Yuki and Kyo Sohma reveal that they can communicate with other animals of their respective types, a useful ability on many different levels. For example, whenever the Zodiac members transform, they tend to lose their clothes, but they can ask local animals to gather up their belongings and return them, like when Yuki transformed and had local rats drag over his clothes, nice and easy. In theory, the Sohmas could call upon animals to find anything they might need, like car keys or a wallet. Better yet, if a wild animal is getting aggressive, a Zodiac member could calm it, like Shigure talking down an raving dog or Kyo keeping stray cats from yowling at night. And, if need be, a Sohma family member could even use their respective creatures as spies, an extra set of eyes and ears. Imagine how useful that’d be for a sprawling, secretive clan like the Sohmas.
Even in the Fruits Basket anime, no one in the Sohma family resents being able to talk to their animal type. Yuki and Kyo make use of it from time to time, waiting until no one is looking or listening to use it. For an ordinary person, it would definitely be odd to see a high school boy ordering rats around like trained soldiers. But that’s not too difficult to hide, or pass off as a game.
The members of the Zodiac don’t just house the spirits of the twelve zodiac animals – they can actually transform into those animals. In their human forms, they even have some attributes of the animals as well, another useful aspect of this supposed curse. In fact, as far as curses go, the Sohma curse actually has some pretty forgiving terms. The main issue is that if a Zodiac member is embraced in any way by a member of the opposite sex, they transform into their Zodiac animal. This does not happen if two members of the Zodiac embrace, though, and holding hands doesn’t count. It seems that chest-to-chest contact is the main trigger point.
But avoiding hugs is pretty easy to do, and in fiction, cursed people have definitely had much trickier terms to navigate. Vampires dodging sunlight, werewolves trying not to transform during the full moon…but avoiding hugs? That’s a breeze, especially in world where anime characters don’t “glomp” each other on a whim. Avoiding transforming isn’t difficult, at most, a Sohma’d just have to say “I don’t like being hugged.” Simple.
Another aspect of the Zodiac Curse is that the twelve members are permanently subservient to the family head Akito Sohma. But, in all honesty, they really don’t seem to be bound that tightly. Supposedly, every Sohma is required to stay by Akito’s side for all time but, in practice, the Zodiac members quite easily carve their own paths, away from him and even the entire clan.
The Sohma curse has deeply affected its afflicted, that’s for sure, but the reality of it is that it’s a non-curse curse. The Zodiac members aren’t exactly beholden to its terms, being mostly free to live their own lives and go their own ways. The bulk of the curse comes from the involuntary animal transformations, but even those can be avoided by simply refusing to be hugged. But, those transformations come with the ability to talk to animals, so the drawback might be worth it. If it weren’t for the abuse and emotional distress that comes with being a Sohma, the Zodiac Curse could actually be pretty neat.
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The Sohma Curse is a huge burden on the Sohma clan…but is it really that bad?