10 Life Lessons I Learned From Fruits Basket

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SPOILER ALERT!: The following post contains spoilers from the Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya manga and anime series.

Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya is one of my favorite mangas and anime (can't wait for season 3!)! There are so many great quotes from the series about life, and I will be sharing my favorite life lessons from Natsuki Takaya in this post.

These quotes are from the manga (English translated, Tokyopop version) so they may not match the anime or newer manga editions, but I am sure the same meaning is conveyed.

1) Just be yourself.

Kyoko: "You don't have to push yourself so hard. You don't have to do things the way I did. You can just be yourself. Do things your own way, one step at a time. You'll get there. I promise."

This little quote comes up a few times in Fruits Basket, but it's a great reminder that you don't have to try so hard, you don't have to be perfect. Just being you is enough.

2) You have to interact with others in order to learn how to interact with others.

Shigure: “It takes just as much training to get along with people. Only, training by yourself in the mountains won't do you any good. You need to surround yourself with others. As you get to know them, of course you take the chance that you'll end up hurting them, or they'll end up hurting you. One of those things might very well happen. That's the only way we learn... about others, and about ourselves. You're a black-belt in martial arts, but I'd guess you still a white-belt in social skills. Someday, you're going to meet someone that truly wants to be your friend, and you, theirs. But it if you don't keep training, you won't be ready when that happens.”

Just like a black belt had to train in martial arts for years or a famous painter had to paint for years, the same training is needed when it comes to getting along with people. We have to interact with others in order to know how to socialize. This is why it's so important for children to play with other kids. They don't learn how to interact with others if they never get the chance to interact with others.

3) Kindness is different for everyone.

Tohru: "Mom taught me it's better to trust people than to doubt them. She said that people aren't born with kind hearts. When we're born all we have are desires for food and material things. Selfish instincts, I guess. But she said that kindness is something that grows inside of each person's body but it's up to us to nurture that kindness in our hearts. That's why kindness is different for every person."

Kyoko: "We're all born with selfish desires so we can all relate to those feelings in others. But kindness is something made individually by each person so it's easy to misunderstand when others are trying to be kind to you."

Tohru: "Mom taught me that peoples' differences are something to celebrate."

I have heard others say that babies are born "good," but I never believed that and I loved that Tohru and her mother, Kyoko, didn't either. We are all born selfish. We only know that we need food, shelter, warmth, and to have our diapers changed, so we cry and we cry. It isn't until we grow that we began to develop kindness, which is something we have to learn, and we all show kindness differently.

4) We all have good qualities.

Tohru: "If you think of someone's good qualities as the umeboshi an in an onigiri it's as if their qualities are stuck on their back! People around the world are like onigiri. Everyone has an umeboshi with a different shape and color and flavor. But because it's stuck on their back they might not be able to see their umeboshi. The reason people get jealous of each other is because they can see so clearly the umeboshi on other people's backs." 

I love the umeboshi in the onigiri analogy! We all have good qualities, but we have a hard time seeing them because it is so much easier to see someone else's good qualities rather than our own. The next time you're feeling jealous, try and remember that you also have an umeboshi on your back, you just can't see it!

5) No matter how hard things are right now, good things will come.

Hatori: "When snow melts, what do you think it becomes?"

Tohru: "It becomes spring! No matter how cold it is now spring will come again without fail."

I love the winter and spring analogy in the book. Hatori always compared himself to being winter, while Kana and Tohru are spring. For those who haven't read the series, don't worry, Hatori eventually gets his spring! The winter (darkness) won't last forever, spring (hope) will come eventually.

6) All memories, good and bad, are worth remembering.

Momiji: "I want to live with all my memories even if they're sad memories. Even if they're memories that only hurt me. Even if their memories I'd rather forget. If I keep them and keep trying without running away, if I keep trying, then someday, someday I'll be strong enough that those memories can't defeat me. I believe that. I want to believe that. Because I want to think that there's no such thing as a memory that's okay to forget."

Those familiar with the series will know that sometimes characters have their memories erased to keep the curse a secret, or as a way to heal a character's trauma. It never occurred to me how precious sad or bad memories are until reading Fruits Basket as in reality, we can't erase memories. I love how Momiji made me realize that no matter how much a memory hurts me, I still wouldn't want to forget it. My memories, good and bad, make me who I am. 

7) We all need validation.

Teacher's Note: "And what's most important is for you to like yourself Sohma-san. To find the good things about yourself, and to like yourself for who you are. Because people who don't like themselves can't expect others to like them."

Yuki: "Here it says to like yourself. What does that mean? Good things... How are you supposed to find them? I only know things that I hate about myself. Because that's all I know, I hate myself. But even if you force yourself to find good things it feels so empty. It doesn't work that way. People like your teacher just don't get it. 

I think when you hear someone say they like you, for the first time then you can begin to like yourself. I think when someone accepts you for the first time you feel like you can forgive yourself a little. You begin to face your fears with courage."

The teacher's note reminded me of that old saying: "You have to love yourself before you can love others." I struggled with this statement and I love how Yuki explains it. We learn to like and love ourselves when we hear others tell us they like and love us, often from our own parents. The characters in Fruits Basket aren't so lucky to have warm loving homes due to the curse, so they rely on others. In most cases, Tohru becomes their light in the darkness.

8) Life is hard but worth it.

Tohru: "You don't have to be courageous!! What's wrong with being shameless? Sometimes living can be hard, but it's only because we're alive that we can make each other laugh, cry, be happy! If that's not a reason for being in this world, I don't know what is!"

I think we all wonder what our purpose in life is or what the purpose of living is, and I think Tohru says it perfectly. We are alive for others. At first, it's our parents as they decided they wanted us, and then later, it may be for someone else, a spouse or partner, or maybe our own child.

9) Babies are human beings.

Katsuya: "You've already proven that you understand this baby will be a human being. I'm sure you'll be fine. As fellow human beings, we just have to remember we know what we like done to us and know what tears us apart. We'll hold this child often. We'll touch it. Listen to it. If it does something wrong we'll explain why it's wrong. We'll be very clear."

Listen. We may give in to our feelings and end up striking it. Let's make sure to apologize. Then we'll hold it again. Together."

Who knew Fruits Basket would have some great parenting advice? As those familiar with the series, there are quite a few broken families. Kyoko's parents never cared for her, and so she wonders if she is worthy of having a baby, but her loving husband, Katsuya, tells her that the fact that she understands that this baby is a human being, not an object or possession, means she's already a good parent.

Even in real life, so many parents treat their kids as if they are their possessions, rather than people. Gentle, conscious, or positive parenting is still a relatively new thing but should be the normal way to parent in my opinion. 

I also love that Katsuya recognizes his own childhood trauma could lead him to make mistakes, such as hitting his child, but he strives to do better by apologizing. So many parents walk around with trauma without realizing it or seeking help, or maybe they were just too conditioned that what happened to them was normal. When someone says "I was ... and I turned out fine," it comes across as a small cry for help.

10) Don't label others.

Tohru: "I'm not pretty. Please don't divide things into categories like pretty. When you do that you just use them to separate yourself out. You say that I'm pretty Akito-san? Then you're pretty too."

I always hated labels and I think Tohru explains it perfectly. When we categorize people as "pretty," we're only using it as a way to set ourselves apart, usually negatively, giving ourselves a reason to reject, maybe even hate, those people or hate ourselves. So as Tohru says, if you say someone is pretty, then it's important you realize you're pretty too. We are all beautiful. 

Well, those were my favorite scenes and lessons from Fruits Basket! Feel free to share your favorite quote or scene in the comments!