This page contains major plot spoilers related to the Fruits Basket manga, not yet revealed in the anime. Read at your own risk!
|Also known as||The Red Butterfly|
Ms. No Eyebrows (by Katsuya)
|Age||33 (At death)|
|Hair Color||Strawberry Blonde (Manga; 2019)|
Dark Orange (2001)
|Eye Color||Brown (Manga; 2019)|
|Occupation||Gang Leader (Formerly)|
|Parents||Unnamed Father (Estranged)|
Unnamed Mother (Estranged)
|Spouse||Katsuya Honda (Husband)|
|Children||Tohru Honda (Daughter)|
|Manga||Chapter 1 (Flashback)|
|Anime||Episode 1 (2001, flashback)|
Episode 1 (2019, flashback)
|Japanese||Reiko Yasuhara (2001)|
Miyuki Sawashiro (2019)
|English||Julie Mayfield (2001)|
Lydia Mackay (2019)
|“||Even if the world doesn’t need us, we live for the people who do.||”|
Kyoko Honda (本田 今日子, Honda Kyōko) was the wife of Katsuya Honda and the late mother of Tohru Honda, who only appears in flashbacks and photographs treasured by Tohru and the main protagonist of Fruits Basket -prelude-.
Kyoko used to be a lonely, troubled, and violent teenager who was also an infamous gang leader called "The Red Butterfly". However, after she met Katsuya, they worked through difficulties in a joint effort, and he helped her leave the gang and her own abusive household. After Katsuya's death and due to her own experiences, Kyoko lovingly raises Tohru and shaped much of her character by the wisdom she shared with her.
Kyoko died a few months before the start of the series when she is struck by a car. Despite that, Tohru clings to her mother's memory and calls her the most important person in her life, and repeats bits of her mother's emotional wisdom throughout the series.
Kyoko was an adult woman with fair skin and a rather slender build. She had short, bobbed, and strawberry blonde hair which appeared to grow darker the further down it went. Her bangs were long and “M-shaped”, and usually covered her right eye and framed her face. In flashbacks, she was also seen to have longer hair. She had a pair of light-brown eyes with long eyelashes, and was often seen with earrings and pink nail polish.
Kyoko's usual outfit consisted of a yellow long-sleeved shirt, black pants, and a pair of pink heels. However, she would also wear a black shirt and a blue skirt along with her trademark red coat from her gang days as well.
When Kyoko was young, she had mid-back-length hair with straight bangs covering her entire forehead. She also used to draw her eyebrows in, prompting Katsuya to call her “Ms. No Eyebrows”. During her gang days, she was often seen with bandages on top of her chest, along with black shorts. She would also wear her trademark coat as well. In school, she was seen with several plasters and dressed rather modestly; such as long-sleeved, long black dresses.
In her teenage years, Kyoko was an abrasive, grumpy, ill-tempered, and violent delinquent who blamed everyone for her sadness and took her anger out on those around her. This was largely caused by her incredibly self-centered parents, who made Kyoko hate the entire world and desperate for someone who would make her feel loved and needed. After she met Katsuya, who treated her with the love and understanding no one ever gave her before, made Kyoko quit the life of a delinquent, and her personality greatly improved thanks to his influence. As a result, Kyoko became self-conscious about her past mistakes, but also a more lively and optimistic woman who was always smiling. On the other hand, when Katsuya passed away, Kyoko lost all hope, abandoned Tohru for a while, and even attempted suicide. But when she remembered she had a daughter who needed her love and care, Kyoko swore to live for Tohru's sake; eventually becoming the incredibly kind, supportive, hardworking, doting, patient, loving, and gentle mother seen in Tohru's flashbacks.
Kyoko was also a very wise woman who extended and shared this wisdom with others around her, including Arisa Uotani, Saki Hanajima, and Kyo Sohma. Even after her death, Tohru relies on Kyoko's wisdom greatly, as she was responsible for shaping Tohru's entire outlook in life. She was incredibly emotionally intelligent and strong-willed; firmly believing that people often can't mature and become emotionally strong until they have expressed lots of pain and hardships. Exactly because of her own upbringing, she was quick to sense other people's loneliness, such as Kyo’s and Arisa’s, and thus could easily empathize with others and accept them without any hesitation. Aside from her wisdom, Kyoko was a very cheerful, loud, open, inviting, and social woman with a noticeable sassy side to her, who could get along with anyone, even if it was a child decades younger than her.
Born as Kyoko Katsunuma (勝沼今日子, Katsunuma Kyōko), she was raised in a cold household consisting of her father who never thought about his family, and her mother who only cared about her husband and the outward appearance of their family. As a result, they never went anywhere as a family, rarely ate meals together, and Kyoko didn't even have a memory of being held by them, resulting in her feeling neglected. Because of her troubled background, Kyoko, at some point, fell into the “wrong crowd” and became an out-of-control delinquent before she even got to middle school. Kyoko was eventually made the leader of a kamikaze squad, a gang, and was described as a tough fighter who could “put men in their place”. She began doing the wrong things and was delighted by it; including beating people bloody and vice-versa. Her father was infuriated by this and would verbally and sometimes physically abuse her, while her mother couldn't comprehend why she turned out the way she did. Kyoko simply did not care, as she had never been asked to be born. Overwhelmed with loneliness, she would always ride out on her bike in the middle of night, which is where she also gained her infamous nickname “The Red Bufferfly”.
Meeting Katsuya Honda
Even as a third-year middle schooler, Kyoko went to school so rarely that she could count the number of days she had attended. During one of the rare days she attended school, she met Katsuya Honda, a trainee teacher. When Kyoko had a violent outburst towards the other teachers for attacking her due to “disrupting the learning process for the students”, Katsuya took over and began conversing with Kyoko. Kyoko began lashing out at Katsuya as well and admitted that she hated everything and everyone around her and wanted them all dead, but when Katsuya correctly deduced that Kyoko was lonely and just wanted to be accepted, needed, and loved, she broke down in tears and admitted that Katsuya was right.
Knowing that Kyoko is lonely and feeling like he could relate to Kyoko, Katsuya began spending more time with her, both in and outside of school, where he affectionately began calling her “Ms. No Eyebrows”. Kyoko soon started going back to school, and although she didn't attend any classes, she met up with Katsuya every day during lunch. They would talk about everything and confided things to the other person they couldn't with anyone else. Eventually, Kyoko fell in love with him. One day before Katsuya's training period ended and before he left the school, Kyoko confessed that thanks to his influence, she now wanted to become a better person, study properly, and attend high school, and thereafter tearfully bad him farewell. However, even after Katsuya left school and got a job at a pharmaceutical company, he wanted to continue seeing Kyoko, and as such, he would help her study and check her homework on the weekend.
When Kyoko revealed that she wanted to quit her gang so she could focus on her studies, she was beaten by her fellow gang members in response, and was thus hospitalized and missed taking the high school entrance exams. When she was discharged and returned back home, she found her father dropping a bag of her belongings in front of her and declaring that he was disinheriting her and disowning her altogether. Katsuya suddenly turned up and gave them a lecture for choosing to banish their daughter because she “didn't turn out the way they wanted”. He then confessed that he wanted to marry Kyoko and asked if her father objected, which he didn't since he no longer considered Kyoko his daughter. Katsuya and Kyoko then left, and when Kyoko questioned him why he wanted to be with her, Katsuya confessed that he fell in love with her the moment she cried about being so lonely during their first meeting. He then asked Kyoko to “choose him”, and Kyoko tearfully accepted his feelings as they shared their first kiss.
Birth of Tohru Honda
After a while, Kyoko and Katsuya would begin living together by the sea, and they were quietly wed as no one blessed their wedding, except Katsuya's father. When Kyoko found out she was pregnant, she admitted that although she was glad to have Katsuya's child, she didn't have the courage to bear a child and didn't feel like she had the right to become a mother, considering she had terrible things in the past, and since she had been rude towards her own mother as well. However, Katsuya comforted her and said that she would be a great mother and that they would work hard together. Soon after, their daughter Tohru was born, and the three lived a very happy life. One night when Katsuya was away on a business trip, Kyoko noted that Katsuya had a bit of a cold and demanded that he went to the doctor the next day. Katsuya agreed, and they happily began talking about giving Tohru a younger sibling when he returned. However, the next day, Katsuya passed away, as his cold had turned into pneumonia.
Kyoko, who was only 20 years old, became absolutely grief-stricken, was blamed by Katsuya's relatives and blamed his death on herself as well, and fell into a deep depression and a trance-like state, where she didn't notice anything or anyone. As a result, she didn't care for Tohru, didn't check up on her, and didn't talk to her. Kyoko was convinced that Katsuya was waiting for her in the sea, so she abandoned Tohru and went there with the thought of committing suicide in order to be reunited with her beloved. When she almost succeeding in doing so, she heard a little girl, no older than Tohru, and her mother fussing about finding a train ticket. This caused her to snap out of her trance and remember that she also had a child. She quickly ran home, wondering how long it had been since she had talked to Tohru, remembering that Katsuya's father had come by a few times to make her meals, but not knowing how often. When she arrived home, Tohru welcomed her home with a smile, the same way Katsuya used to welcome Kyoko home. Kyoko broke down in tears and pulled Tohru into a hug, apologizing to her over and over.
Following this event, Kyoko lived with the thought of raising Tohru well and never abandon her again. As Kyoko became increasingly busier, moved from the seaside, and continued living alongside Tohru, she began moving on from Katsuya's death and cheered up somewhere along the line.
Meeting Kyo Sohma
After settling down in a new apartment and finding a job nearby, Kyoko met Kyo Sohma one day. Kyoko instantly took an interest in Kyo for being cute and having an odd hair-color, but Kyo was harsh towards her as he was not used to people wanting to interact with him. But Kyoko's persistence broke through eventually, and Kyoko understood and emphasized with Kyo's situation with his parents, which made him think of her as a ray of hope in his otherwise dark life. After their first meeting, Kyoko told Kyo to visit her again, which he began doing many times. They developed a friendship and talked about all kinds of things; including her past as a delinquent, how she met her Katsuya, how she almost gave up when Katsuya died, and how she now was determined to keep living for her Tohru's sake. Kyoko also talked fondly about Tohru to Kyo, and thus, the young boy developed an interest to get to know her.
One day, Tohru went missing in the neighborhood which caused Kyoko great distress. Kyo arrived at the scene and promised Kyoko that he would protect Tohru and bring her back home safely. However, Kyoko later informed Kyo that Tohru had already been rescued by another boy who had a hat in his possessions. Kyo was enraged when he realized that Tohru's rescuer was Yuki Sohma and called him a “bad guy”, and Kyoko calmly told him that he shouldn't spend his time fixating about making someone the bad guy when he was a cute child himself. But Kyo, feeling betrayed that Kyoko had apparently sided with Yuki, ran away. In spite of Kyo's insults towards her, Kyoko brushed this off and gleefully shouted that Kyo had to keep his promise to protect Tohru. After that, Kyoko and Kyo never saw one another again.
Meeting Arisa Uotani
Kyoko and Tohru continued living happily together, and knowing about Tohru's tendency to take care of others so much that she forgets to take care of herself, Kyoko encouraged Tohru to be selfish once in a while and speak up about her desires. When Tohru began middle school, Kyoko expressed her wish for Tohru to attend high school as well, and experience life as a high school girl and graduate, something Kyoko herself was never able to do.
During Tohru's middle school years, Arisa Uotani, who was a delinquent at the time, idolized Kyoko as the "The Red Butterfly". However, after she met Kyoko through Tohru, she was disillusioned by Kyoko, as she changed from a legendary gang leader to a doting mother. When Arisa angrily asked Kyoko to why she had changed, she simply replied that she had “let it go”. Despite Arisa's harsh personality, she eventually began mellowing down when Tohru continued to reach out to her. Thus, Arisa would spend more time with both Kyoko and Tohru, and Kyoko would always welcome her with a smile and share her wisdom with her. When Arisa decided to leave her gang, she was beaten half to death by her gang in response, before being rescued by Kyoko wearing her "Red Butterfly" jacket, at Akimoto’s request. When Arisa came to, Kyoko was carrying the girl on her back and explained her theory of life; that there are feelings that she does not understand until she gets hurt and make trouble, and when she hits rock bottom, then she will understand, and finally, she needs gentleness to feel the pain and not let this be for nothing.
Not only did Kyoko befriend Arisa, she also befriended Saki Hanajima and was the first one to make her realize that she wanted other people to accept her, even if her family was loving. When Tohru, Arisa, and Saki enrolled at high school, Kyoko threw a party at her house and celebrated them.
One morning on Kyoko's way to work, Tohru was still asleep and was not able to see her off as she had done every other morning. While she was at a traffic junction, waiting to cross the road, Kyo had been standing behind her the whole time, wondering if he should speak to her again. Suddenly, Kyo saw a car driving in Kyoko's direction, and though he knew that Kyoko was in danger, he couldn't act on his desire to help her because if he did drag her out from the way, he would reveal his curse in turn.
Kyoko was eventually run over by the car and slowly began bleeding to death. She was terrified to die because she wanted to love Tohru even more, wondering whether she had given enough love to Tohru to make up for the love that Katsuya couldn't. As she felt her life sweeping away, Kyoko wept, knowing that Tohru would be left all alone now, and thus wanted someone to protect her in her stead. She then finally noticed Kyo, and recognized him as the boy she had met so many years ago. She thought to herself that even if he had forgotten about her, she still wanted him to protect Tohru as he had promised several years ago. Kyoko attempted to express this by saying “You have to keep your promise, or I'll never forgive you”, but the only thing she could say was “I'll never forgive you”; haunting words which made Kyo run away in guilt. Before passing away from excessive blood loss, Kyoko's thoughts shifted to Tohru for the last time; wishing that she would live a happy life.
After passing away, Kyoko seemingly arrived in the afterlife and changed back into her middle-school appearance. She suddenly saw Katsuya walking towards her and when he reached out his hand to her while smiling, Kyoko began crying tears of joy while thinking that in the life she had lived, she did her best.
Kyoko’s death left her daughter Tohru an orphan, and it also caused her immeasurable grief, since she considered Kyoko the most important person in her life. At the same time, Tohru remained hardworking and promised to graduate from high school and find a job, since that is what her mother had wished for her. Tohru often thinks back to her mother in times of worry, and relies on her emotional wisdom to guide her through life. Kyoko was also responsible for shaping Tohru's entire outlook in life, and by extension, her resolve to help the Sohma family through kindness. Thanks to Kyoko's wisdom and kindness which she passed down to her daughter, Tohru became an integral part of being able to reach out to Akito Sohma and eventually breaking the Sohma Curse. Despite Tohru's high opinion of Kyoko, the relatives on Katsuya’s side, expect his father, all disapprove of Kyoko because of her past and holds such little trust in her that they believe that Tohru could be another man’s child. So after her death, they remain cold and distant towards Tohru as well, thinking that she might end up like her mother.
Tohru also has an inability to move on from Kyoko's death; she always talks about her in the present tense, Tohru's picture of Kyoko is tied to her emotional well-being, treating it as though it really is her, and she also promised to always put Kyoko first in her heart, because she was scared if she didn’t, it would have been as she never existed. Katsuya’s father, knowing that Tohru would have broken down had there not been a proof that Kyoko was once alive, habitually began calling Tohru “Kyoko-san”. However, he later admits that he did it for his own sake, as he misses both Katsuya and Kyoko dearly and wants to be connected to them. When Tohru later begins falling in love with Kyo, she feels guilty about demeaning Kyoko's memory by placing a new person in her heart, but she eventually learns to live her life while still having a special place for her mother in her heart. Towards the end, it is seen that Tohru no longer puts Kyoko on a pedestal and no longer views Katsuya as the “villain” of her story, and simply remembers both of them as her loving parents.
Arisa, and to a lesser extent, Saki, are sad when they find out about Kyoko's death. Both of them swore on Kyoko's grave to protect Tohru in her stead. Before her death, Kyoko passed down her trademark coat from her gang days to Arisa, and the latter wears it regularly to honor her memory. It is also known that her grandson, Hajime Sohma, has worn her trademark jacket at least once.
Kyoko’s death also caused Kyo severe guilt and to completely shut down, as he had heard her mutter the words ”I'll never forgive you”. He began thinking he would better off dead for prioritizing himself, failing to save Kyoko, and letting her die, but decides to blame his misfortunes of Yuki Sohma in order to not mentally fall apart. He decides to hide his guilt over apparently letting Kyoko die, but when he meets Tohru, all of his memories and guilt connected to Kyoko resurfaces. Kyoko’s death is a reason to why Kyo decides to not pursue Tohru after discovering he is in love with her, deeming that he does not deserve Tohru as he let her mother die. For a long period of time, Kyoko is a source of pain for Kyo, and she even appears in his nightmares sometimes. However, towards the end, when both Kyo and Tohru have made peace with the past and decides to move forward, he visits Kyoko’s grave and once again reaffirms his promise to her to protect Tohru for the rest of his life. Although Kyo has resigned himself to continue living with his guilt, Tohru is absolutely confident that Kyoko never held a grudge towards him and that her last words were not born of hate. Although the two of them never got to know the truth, Kyoko did indeed never hold a grudge towards Kyo, and Kyo was indeed successful in keeping his promise to Kyoko.
- The name Kyoko means "today, this day" (今日) (kyo) and "child" (子) (ko).
- Kyoko's surname Honda means "base, root, origin, source" (本) (hon) and "field, rice paddy" (田) (ta/da).
- Her maiden name Katsunuma means "victory" (勝) (katsu) and "swamp, pond, bog, lake" (沼) (numa).
- Kyoko's last name before she married Katsuya was Katsunuma.
- Kyoko's nickname "The Red Butterfly" originated from the legend of how the tail lights on her motorcycle danced like a bright red butterfly when she rode at night.
- Kyoko never re-married after Katsuya's death.
- Kyoko disliked wedding ceremonies, to the point where it “sent nasty chills down her spine”.
- Kyoko never wanted a wedding ring, since she was afraid to lose it. Rather, she wanted simple things such as blenders to help Katsuya.
- Kyoko mentions to Kyo that when she abandoned Tohru for a while, her parental custody might have gotten a little “dicey”, but that she was lucky she had Katsuya's father to take care of Tohru during that time.
- Kyoko was apparently quite infamous as a delinquent, as Arisa recognized her as a legend even though she had quit the gang lifestyle years ago.
- Kyoko's grandson, Hajime Sohma, is seen to have worn her red butterfly coat from her gang days.
- Kyoko shares her 2001 English voice actress with Okami Sohma.