Welcome, dear readers! Join me for a look into the nature of psychological trauma and its presence in four characters from Fruits Basket. Most of the characters actually have some sort of deep hurt or trauma, but for today, we’ll stick to Kyo, Tohru, Yuki, and Akito. Here goes.
According to Medical News Today, there are three kinds of psychological trauma: acute, chronic, and complex. Acute trauma is exposure to just one extremely upsetting or dangerous happening. For example, perhaps someone close to you suddenly died. Chronic trauma is exposure to many intense stress over time. This can be seen with continuous bullying or child abuse and neglect. Complex trauma is exposure to more than one seriously distressing event, not continuing over time, but in seperate instances. Suppose that one year, you were injured in a car accident. Then another year, you went through a nasty divorce. These are two separate traumatic events at different times.
There are many things that can cause all of these types of trauma. Physical, sexual, emotional, or verbal abuse is one example. Others include living in high-crime areas, witnessing or being the victim of a violent crime, dealing with a long-term or very serious injury or illness, car accidents, bullying, and sudden death of loved ones. There are also causes which tend to be overlooked, such as severe disappointment, divorce, or a bad breakup. This information comes from HelpGuide. It’s worth noting that different kinds of trauma effect different people in different ways, so it’s not fair or true to consider someone weak for being traumatized by something that may not traumatize another person. Never minimize someone’s trauma.
HelpGuide also lists some signs and symptoms of trauma, which can be both psychological and physical. A few of the psychological symptoms are confusion, anger and irritability, anxiety and fear, withdrawing from others, and being depressed and hopeless. Physical signs can include “Insomnia or nightmares; Fatigue; Being startled easily; Difficulty concentrating; Racing heartbeat; Edginess and agitation; Aches and pains; Muscle tension.”
By now we should have a decent understanding of trauma. But before we get into the character examples, I want to make a note about “Supernatural Trauma,” which exists only in fiction, and is important in Fruits Basket. This when the trauma is caused by or related to a supernatural event. The best example is Kyo. If he doesn’t wear his spiritual amulet bracelet, he reverts into the form of a hideous monster. This is part of the Zodiac curse, caused by animal spirits. Some of Kyo’s trauma was related to the fact that he is percieved as a monster, and undeniably changes into a dangerous form if he is not careful. On that note, let’s get started with the trauma of Kyo.
Kyo: Acute Trauma
Though part of Kyo’s trauma could be classified as chronic, we will mostly focus on the acute trauma. When Kyo was still a child, his mother got into an accident and died. It wasn’t difficult to figure out that she had done this intentionally. It was a suicide. Kyo’s father and the rest of the community all said that the mother killed herself because she could no longer deal with having Kyo for a son. The father was especially bad, lashing out angrily and blaming Kyo. In the end, someone new took Kyo in, since his father now hated him. Kyo’s surrogate father, Shishou, was a wise and kind man who treated him well. But that didn’t heal the trauma in Kyo’s heart.
As concerns the chronic trauma, Kyo was treated as the outcast of the Sohma family ever since his birth. This is because he is possessed by the Cat Spirit, which in the ancient legend missed the important banquet with God and the other Zodiac Spirits. He was osctracized for this reason as well as for his monster form and the way he is blamed for his mother’s suicide. Rejection and dislike from everyone in the clan led to some chronic trauma. Kyo also experiences supernatural trauma, as mentioned earlier. It manifests in more ways than one. For the members of the Zodiac, Akito is a god-like existence they are deeply bonde with and cannot defy. But Akito has a nasty personality, and rejects Kyo. To be shunned by God must also be traumatic.
Several emotional and physical signs are obvious in Kyo. He is an angry and irritable character. Constantly losing his temper or lashing out at others started as defense mechanisms to defend himself from being so hated and censured by others. It became a habit, and now teenage Kyo is overly reactive and short-fused. The other main symptom of trauma in Kyo is withdrawing from others. Just as he was rejected, Kyo rejects others. So far the only real exceptions are Shishou and Tohru. Even though Kagura fell in love with him, and tried everything to be with him, Kyo ignored it. Kyo once disappeared for several months to do training with Shishou in the mountains. He did not tell anyone else where he was going.
In summary, the acute trauma of his mother’s suicide, along with other complications, led Kyo to deep-rooted hurt and resentment.
Tohru: Complex Trauma
Tohru’s struggles are good examples of complex trauma. There were two traumatic events several years apart. Tohru’s father died from complications of what started as a normal cold and fever. It was a sudden and terrible event. Tohru was still a small child at that time. Kyoko, Tohru’s mother, emotionally withdrew for some time, leading to even greater distress for Tohru. This is when she began to over-compensate and become generous, polite, and helpful at all times. Years later, in Tohru’s final year of middleschool, her mother died in a vehicle crash. Again, it was sudden and devastating.
In response to this trauma, Tohru’s sense of shame and uselessness grew stronger. She could not move in with her grandfather right away, so she was told to stay with a friend for a while. But Tohru felt like so much of a burden that she didn’t even have the right to ask her friends for help. Instead, she became homeless, living in a tent for at least several weeks. Luckily, she was found and taken in by Shigure, Yuki, and Kyo. Though Tohru always tries to act graciously, she is still traumatized. She becomes distressed when separated from the picture of her mom, which she carries everywhere. And when her grandfather falls ill, Tohru gets lost in memories of her father’s death. It’s no understatement to say she is a victim of complex trauma.
Yuki: Chronic Trauma
Yuki primarily dealt with chronic trauma from continuous psychological abuse. His mother was never very loving, constantly scolding him for showing weakness or the slightest bits of rebelliousness. She sometimes slapped him as well. At a young age, Yuki’s mother took him to stay with Akito. She simply left him there. Yuki spent all his time outside of school in Akito’s company. At first it wasn’t so bad, but then, Akito became twisted and grew into a cruel, spiteful, and manipulative personality. That’s when things became unbearable.
Akito is the God over the Zodiac animal spirits, and Yuki is possessed by the Rat. Therefore, he could not defy Akito. For years, Yuki was psychologically abused by Akito, as she drilled it into his head that he was useless and that the world was irredeemably dark. When Yuki tried to appeal to his mother, she would scold or slap him, or drag him back to Akito. She was being paid to have her son serve the family heir. At a later age, Yuki asked his mother if he was just a tool to her, and she confirmed that this was the case.
As a teenager, Yuki was able to come move in with Shigure and even choose the highschool he was going to attend. Things would continue to get better after he met Tohru. But the journey to healing would not be simple. I suspect that the chronic trauma of psychological abuse will have effects on Yuki throughout his life, even after the worst of the pain has healed.
Notes on Akito’s Trauma
Season 2 reveals some interesting things about Akito, including the suggestion that she was traumatized as well. It’s possible that multiple types of trauma are at play, but based on the reveals in season 2, it was primarily acute trauma, plus what I mentioned as “supernatural trauma.” As the God of the Zodiac, Akito shares a mysterious, supernatural bond with the twelve members and the cat as well. If this bond is somehow broken, the Zodiac member will become free of Akito’s influence and lose the curse that makes them transform into an animal. However, it seems that the effect on the Zodiac God can be devastating.
Akito was traumatized by the sudden and unexplained breaking of the bond with Kureno, the Rooster spirit. It seemed to completely break her young heart. She couldn’t stand the idea of being abandoned by Kureno, and begged him to stay by her side even without the spiritual bond. Kureno agreed, but the sense of loss continued to weigh on Akito. It was then that her personality changed from a somewhat spoiled child to a cruel and twisted one. This girl’s trauma does not in any way excuse her horrible and hurtful behaviors toward all of the Zodiac members. But it does deepen and help explain some things about her character.
Other types of trauma may have factored in as well. Season 2 revealed that Akito is a girl, unlike what was previously thought. I suspect that as the family head, she was probably forced to fake her gender and be raised as a male. There could be other elements involved, too; for example, we don’t yetknow anything about Akito’s parents and their treatment of her. The old lady who is frequently with Akito might also have played a role. But this is all speculation, since I have not read the manga. I plan to wait for season 3 of the anime instead. All that to say, even a terrible brat like Akito was profoundly effected by trauma. It shaped who she became as a young adult.
The characters in Fruits Basket provide examples of several types of trauma with different causes and effects. I want to note that although “supernatural trauma” does not exist, there are forms of trauma that are less understood or not taken seriously. The breaking of an important bond in childhood is but one example. Finally, remember that it’s possible to heal from trauma. Fruits Basket is in one sense the story of these characters’ slow healing. Tohru helps Kyo and Yuki on their journeys, and they in turn help her. There are various methods that aid in recovering from trauma, but one that’s especially critical is having supportive people around you. Even if you don’t think you have any, you can find them by reaching out. There is hope.
Thank youfor visiting and reading my blog today. I truly appreciate it. Sayonara till next time!