Don’t be fooled. It may look like this chapter is all about Haru, but it’s really about Yuki.
Tohru: Somehow Kyo-kun is really strong.
Yuki: Oh, yeah. I figured Kyo was stronger than Haru. After all, he’s a combat-obsessed moron. Both of them have always been into martial arts.
Tohru: I bet you enjoyed training too, Sohma-kun.
That stirs up some dark memories for Yuki, and then he collapses, apparently from an asthma attack. Haru immediately abandons his fight with Kyo to help Yuki, Tohru blames herself for not making him stay home, and Kyo gets unusually quiet and stays out of their way. And then Haru hugs Tohru and turns into an ox, the better to carry Yuki home on his back.
Tohru: I’m going to stay with him! School is important, but I don’t want to go if it means leaving someone alone when they’re sick. I’m sure my mother would agree. Besides, colds can be scary…you shouldn’t take them lightly.
Thus Tohru gets to spend a little quality time with Haru as they look after Yuki.
Haru: Do Yuki and Kyo fight every day?
Tohru: No. Not unless you count arguments…
Haru: Huh…that’s a huge improvement. Before, they were like an explosive combo. […] I guess they have changed a little. It used to be, they were always so tense, giving off this “stay away from me” vibe. They seem calmer now. I expected them to be locked in bloody knockdown, drag out fights every day. I see…I’m surprised. Maybe it’s because of you.
Tohru: Oh, no, I don’t have that kind of influence!
Haru: I only met you today, so I can’t say for sure, but if those two are changing in a positive way, I’m all for it. Especially Yuki, because he was my first love. I like Kyo too, but Yuki is special to me.
Whatever else Haru may be, he’s certainly straightforward. Also Haru just has weird logic sometimes. Seriously, though, Fruits Basket works under a much broader definition of love than simply romantic love (although that certainly is part of it).
Haru: I hated him when we were kids. Because he’s the Rat. You know the old story? In one part, the Rat rides on the Ox’s back to get to the banquet. […] Ever since I was little, the adults around me would laugh, saying the Rat took advantage of the Ox because he was an idiot. Of course, they were half joking, but it felt like they were laughing at me. Like they thought I was the stupid one. I swallowed those insults and blamed it all on the Rat. As a kid, I was always irritable and would blow my stack at the drop of a hat. It was around then that my black persona emerged, which caused my parents a lot of grief. They made me start studying martial arts to relieve stress. But it didn’t work. I enjoyed martial arts itself, but I got laughed at there, too. But then, one day, I ran into Yuki. Actually, we’d never spoken until then. We went to different elementary schools and only saw each other at the New Year’s shindig. I snapped and let rip with everything that’d been building up inside of me.
Young Haru: I hate you! Everyone laughs at the Ox, and it’s the Rat’s fault! It’s the sneaky, low-down dirty Rat’s fault! That’s why they say the Ox is stupid!
Young Yuki: Is it true? Is it true of you? Are you really stupid?
Young Haru: No…No, I-I’m not stupid. I’m not stupid. (internally) Don’t tell me who I am. Don’t decide what I’m worth. Don’t laugh at me.
Haru: After that, I didn’t get angry as often. Yuki let me get everything off my chest. […] Before that, I’d written Yuki off as a “sneaky Rat”, just like they’d prejudged me. I’m so glad I saw Yuki that day. Otherwise I’d just have kept on hating him unfairly. And that would’ve been really stupid.
This is our first glimpse of Yuki’s life at the main house (but certainly not the last), and it is nothing if not incredibly lonely. It also sheds some light on the relationship between Yuki and Kyo – maybe it’s not really in their nature to hate each other, but like Haru, the people around them kept the old stories in the back of their minds. On a lighter note, I kind of wonder if Haru was the one who got Yuki to start martial arts.
And then, when Yuki wakes up, Haru decides to test his theory.
Yuki: How did I get back here?
Tohru: Hatsuharu-san turned into a cow.
Yuki: Thank you.
Haru: I was inspired by my love for you.
Yuki: Of all things, why do you have to say that? What if Honda-san took you seriously?
Haru: I am serious.
Tohru: But it was a wonderful story…Yuki-kun.
Haru: Try calling him by his first name. I bet he’ll be pleased.
Yuki literally transformed from shock and it’s insanely adorable. But I think it’s safe to say Haru’s hypothesis has merit.
The anime version of these past two chapters is more or less faithful, except that there’s no talk of Yuki’s childhood before he collapses. There was an issue with the English dub (and the Radio Drama, for that matter) due to things getting lost in translation. In the English version, Tohru had been calling Yuki by his first name all along, so Haru instead has her use the name “Prince Yuki”, which is what the girls at school call him. Needless to say, it doesn’t have the same impact, and I remember being a little confused when I first saw it. In their defense, it’s just a difficult scene to translate. My only other complaint is that this all we really get for Haru’s character development in the anime (and it’s really character development for Yuki), but again it’s hard to blame them for that since said developments didn’t even start until around the point the manga was at when the anime was being made, and that arc isn’t finished until close to the end of the series several volumes later. So it’s basically the same complaint I have for most all of the characters in the anime.
Until next time…