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The Sohma Curse is a "bond" between God and the members of the Zodiac. Thirteen members of the Sohma Family are possessed by the animals of the Chinese Zodiac, including the Cat (see: Zodiac Legend). Akito Sohma is the current "God" of the Zodiac.
- Those who are possessed are born two months premature.
- They transform into their zodiac animal if they are hugged by a person of the opposite sex, or if they are under a great deal of stress (such as exhaustion, sickness or lack of breath). They do not transform into animals if they are hugged by another member of the Zodiac.
- They can attract animals of their possessed Zodiac animal and can somewhat communicate with them, and can be used for assistance; for example, rats are attracted to Yuki and he used their help to dig out Tohru's tent from under the landslide at the beginning of the series.
- Another aspect of the curse is that it creates a "dark cloud" over the people that are cursed. In the anime, it is shown that whenever the Zodiacs turn back to their human form, they are naked and colored clouds surround their bodies.
- The Sohma Family is structured in such a way to keep the bond strong and have certain rituals surrounding it.
- The Cat is the only possessed member who has an additional ‘form’ and needs outside forces to keep it contained, i.e. the Juzu Beads he wears. This is a part of his curse.
The Curse and The Bonds
The "Curse" is from the result of God intending to create a sacred bond between himself and the animals, though this became a curse over time.
The eternal bond that God created between himself and the other animals is a connection between the very souls of the animals and God. It is a very intense emotional connection. It can transcend spoken words, or direct interaction, between any of them. They don’t need to do anything to feel this connection. Kazuma Sohma explains to Tohru Honda that “words that from any other mouth would make them flinch, when said said by Akito cause such pain in their hearts that it’s as if their bodies are being torn apart” and that “none of them has a strong enough will to oppose Akito” Akito also tells Tohru that the Zodiac must all return to her when the Cat, Kyo Sohma, is isolated.
Some examples are:
- When Akito Sohma was first conceived, Shigure Sohma, Hatori Sohma, Ayame Sohma, and Kureno Sohma all woke up crying and ran immediately to Ren Sohma, reaching out for her womb. They knew their God was in there, had just come into existence, and they had an immediate, intense, transcendent emotional connection between the Zodiac spirits inside them and the spirit of God.
- When Yuki Sohma first met Akito as a child he immediately started crying and said he felt intense love and a desire to hold Akito close. However, also the desire to run away and the feeling of hatred. It’s also why Yuki has wanted to run away from the Sohma family for so long but just couldn’t.
- Hatori Sohma didn’t blame Akito for blinding him, causing Kana Sohma to become sick, or making him erase her memories.
The bond means that there is such a powerful connection between the spirits possessing them all that it completely overtakes them. God did not only make the connection between the eternal, lasting in the rebirth after rebirth, but he made it unbreakable, unconditional, all-consuming.
The Cat's Curse
The Cat is the only member of the bond who is intended to be cursed. The Cat knew what was going to happen and foresaw that God’s plan would turn sour and hurt them all in the end, but God and the other animals did not understand this at the time. They saw the Cat as rejecting and betraying them. This is why the Cat is punished for this in each rebirth. In addition to having a "true form", they are also ostracized and isolated.
Shigure also explains that the Cat is used as a scapegoat. He is treated so horribly so that the other Zodiacs won’t feel so bad about their own situation. When they feel that their bond is a curse they can look at the Cat and think “I am not as cursed as him, maybe this bond isn’t so bad”. This ensures that they also won’t reject the bond and turn their backs on God.
The Breaking of the Curse
Although there is no definite answer to why the Curse broke, there are some hints in manga:
The bond cannot stay intact over the thousands and thousands of years since it was first created. It naturally weakens because it is such an unnatural thing. Like most things, it breaks down and falls apart if given enough time. Shigure Sohma explains this to Isuzu Sohma, saying the curse will naturally break “eventually”.
Shigure also predicts that it will break completely in their (the current generation of Zodiacs) lifetime, although maybe not until they are much older. This is because Kureno’s curse had already broken, naturally just through time, and that they were the first generation in centuries where all the spirits and God were alive at the same time.
The reason why Hatori turns into a Seahorse instead of a real Dragon, and why Kureno turned into a Sparrow instead of a Rooster is also a sign of the Curse weakening. Shigure has even stated throughout the manga that he hears the sound of "something breaking".
Forming other Bonds
Each possessed member forming a strong bond with someone else (a complete outsider or someone other than God). Ideally, the bond becomes stronger than the one between them and God, but through being more natural. It doesn’t rely on a supernatural power or uneven feelings in order to exist. This happens when Tohru forms bonds with many of the Zodiac members and Akito towards the very end.
It can be speculated the three most important Zodiacs in the bond are God, the Cat, and the Rat. God because they created the bond to begin with; the Cat because he was the first to form a bond with God, the first to drink the spell, and the one who was against it from the start; the Rat because he was the first to drink the spell and create the bond willing, so he is considered “the closest to god”.
If those three have their bond weakened, then the bond as a whole will be weaker. Kyo forms a strong bond with Kazuma Sohma, with Kyoko Honda, and with Tohru Honda. Yuki forms a strong bond with Tohru, with Kakeru Manabe, and with Machi Kuragi. Akito forms a bond with Tohru towards the very end and is willing to destroy the Cat's Room and let Yuki and the others have their freedom. These actions all weaken the bond and allow it to finally break, once and for all.
The Cursed Ones
The Rat of the Zodiac
|Holder: Yuki Sohma / 子|
|Yuki Sohma was possessed by the spirit of the Rat. As told in the zodiac legend, the rat is the highest member of the zodiac, and the one closest to god. Akito and Yuki were bound together as children, but only because Yuki was forced to by his mother. For Yuki, Akito is a source of fear. In episode 13 of the anime, it is shown that Akito used to whip Yuki when they were both young. Yuki Sohma is also one of the few members of the Zodiac who does not live in the Sohma main house; Shigure makes this possible.|
The Cat of the Zodiac
|Holder: Kyo Sohma|
Kazuma's Grandfather (formerly)
|The irregular member of the zodiac, the cat of the Zodiac was the one "left out," as detailed by the zodiac legend. In the Zodiac Legend, the cat was the one who came first to god and was his closest friend. The cat has three forms; human, cat, and true form. The cat's true form is warped and ugly, and smells of rotting flesh. Kyo Sohma, the current cat, as well as all past cats, must always wear a bead bracelet made out of human bones and blood to keep from transforming into that hideous state. Kyo has to suffer isolation and rejection, and he blames his horrible fate upon Yuki, because the rat tricked the cat in the legend. The cat is to be isolated after he completes high school, and then the other members of the zodiac are joined in an everlasting banquet until they die.|
The Dog of the Zodiac
|Holder: Shigure Sohma / 戌|
|Shigure Sohma is a novelist and is also the dog of the zodiac. He is the first member of the zodiac Tohru actually meets, besides Yuki, who goes to her school. He is known to hold back Akito when she gets mad. Shigure also knew that Akito was a woman from the very beginning. He is Akito's lover. Shigure can be very manipulative and makes people feel guilty to get what he wants.|
The Boar of the Zodiac
|Holder: Kagura Sohma / 亥|
|Kagura Sohma loves Kyo; she was the first to like him for who he is. She is depicted as a very young looking woman, despite being older than both Kyo and Yuki. She has great strength and has a very impulsive behavior, associated with those born in the year of the Boar.|
The Rabbit of the Zodiac
|Holder: Momiji Sohma / 卯|
|Momiji Sohma, the rabbit in the zodiac, is a boy and also one of the first members of the zodiac who Tohru meets. He is watched over by Hatori, the Sohma family doctor. He has a little sister, although they are estranged by their father, who separated Momiji from his mother and sister. His mother got her mind erased so she would never remember that she had Momiji or got married to Momiji's father. Momiji's mother wanted to forget because she could not "handle" having her baby turn into a rabbit whenever she held him.|
The Dragon of the Zodiac
|Holder: Hatori Sohma / 辰|
|Hatori Sohma is a doctor, also the dragon in the Zodiac. Because there are no more dragons in the world, he transforms into a seahorse, (the Japanese word for seahorse, "tatsu-no-otoshigo," literally means "dragon's illegitimate child."). Shigure took this as a sign that the curse was growing weaker. Hatori is perpetually nonchalant and does not put up with any misbehavior. His talents include hypnotic memory swiping and keeping Ayame Sohma in line. His former lover was Kana Sohma, an extended member of the family who found out about the curse while working for Hatori. When Akito didn't approve of their love she injured Hatori; Kana suffered mentally and had to have her memory erased. Hatori later starts a new relationship with Mayuko Shiraki.|
The Ox of the Zodiac
|Holder: Hatsuharu Sohma / 丑|
|Hatsuharu Sohma is the cow; he is also known as 'Black Haru' when he gets into a bad mood. He hated Yuki at first because in the story the rat rode on the ox's back. He said it made the ox look stupid and foolish. However, after meeting Yuki, he has come to admire him. He also has a hatred for Kyo because of their rivalry. Haru also developed feelings for Isuzu Sohma and since he is younger than her by two years, he wanted to wait until his height surpassed hers to tell her that he loved her. The two are currently dating.|
The Snake of the Zodiac
|Holder: Ayame Sohma / 巳|
|Ayame Sohma is Yuki Sohma's flamboyant elder brother. He owns a costume/cosplay shop alongside his assistant, Mine. He is also one of the oldest Zodiac members, knowing that Akito was a girl from the beginning. As the Snake of the Zodiac, Ayame is sensitive to heat and cold like a cold-blooded snake. Whenever the surrounding becomes too warm or cold for him, Ayame would transform. Hence, when he steps outside, he always carries an umbrella to shield himself from the sun and during school days, he would make the Sohmas ferry him to school in a car to avoid transformation. It has been shown that even a slightest wind can cause Ayame to transform and needs warm surroundings to transform back. Ayame also gets colds and the flu easily due to this.|
The Tiger of the Zodiac
|Holder: Kisa Sohma / 寅|
|Kisa Sohma is a thirteen-year-old girl. She was teased at school for her strange orange hair and orange eyes. Whenever she spoke, her classmates would start to laugh, even if she said nothing funny. This eventually caused her to quit speaking and become extremely shy. She didn't go back to school for a long while, until she met Tohru, whose unconditional love for her made Kisa realize she can be accepted for who she is. She respects Tohru as an older sister figure. She is the Tiger of the Zodiac. Her form is that of a tiger cub, due to the fact that she is still a child. When stressed or angry in her Zodiac form, she has the tendency to bite people.|
The Sheep of the Zodiac
|Holder: Hiro Sohma / 未|
|Hiro Sohma is twelve years old and is the Sheep of the Chinese Zodiac, as well as the youngest of the cursed Sohmas. He is depicted as a very intelligent, but verbally aggressive and smart-mouthed sophist who is initially not very likeable. Hiro is one of the few Zodiac members who is shown having a close, loving relationship with both his parents, especially his mother, Satsuki. Hiro also has a younger sister named Hinata.|
The Monkey of the Zodiac
|Holder: Ritsu Sohma / 申|
|Ritsu Sohma is the Monkey of the Zodiac. Being cursed by the Monkey, Ritsu is blessed with fast reflexes and an extremely agile body; he is able to react quickly and climb to high grounds easily. Extremely apologetic, he takes after his mother, the hostess of the Sohma family's onsen, whose position he is in training to take over. He used to dress in women's clothing to calm himself down, but in the final volume he has started to dress as a man and has cut his hair short.|
The Horse of the Zodiac
|Holder: Isuzu Sohma / 午|
|Isuzu "Rin" Sohma is stubborn and was highly determined to find a way to break the Sohma curse in order to free Haru from his suffering. She was angered when she found out that Tohru was looking for a way to break the curse and wanted her to stay out of it. She now accepts Tohru's assistance because of the latter's kindness and grows as protective of her as she is of Hatsuharu, getting angry when someone upsets or hurts her. She appears only in the manga and 2019 anime.|
The Rooster of the Zodiac
|Holder: Kureno Sohma (formerly) / 酉|
|Kureno Sohma is the former Rooster of the Zodiac, whose curse had been broken when he was around Tohru Honda's age. Despite being freed, he said he missed being able to fly, as he usually transformed into a sparrow. Even though this information remained a secret from the rest of the Zodiac members, the other members always 'sensed' that something was off about him. Akito forced Kureno to stay by her side because she was afraid of being abandoned. He is currently living with Arisa Uotani in the country side.|
The God of the Zodiac
|Holder: Akito Sohma / 酉|
|Akito Sohma is a woman (male in the first anime), but was raised as a man because her mother, Ren Sohma, was jealous of the attention the "god" of the Zodiac was receiving from everyone, especially her husband, Akira Sohma. The only members of the Zodiac who knew Akito's true gender were Kureno, Shigure, Hatori, and Ayame. Akito is very frail and gets sick often. She is short-tempered and acts in an extremely abusive manner to everyone. Akito plays the part of "god" and desperately clings to the assertion that she is the ruler of the Zodiac. After the curse breaks, Akito reveals her true gender to the rest of the Zodiac members. She begins to wear women's clothing and grows her hair down to her shoulders. She is in love with Shigure and the two of them begin living together at the end of the manga.|
- Only 10 of the cursed members (including Kyo and Akito) appear in the 2001 anime.
- It's possible for the cursed members of the Zodiac to have children with non-cursed humans (as Kazuma is the grandson of the previous Cat). Shigure, however, states that sex is tricky because of the curse, thus potentially causing the spouse to grow frustrated with the lack of intimacy.
- Natsuki Takaya has said in interviews before that the Chinese Zodiac aspect of the story was a motif she was encouraged by her editor to add, which she picked on a whim, to fit her original intention of the story she had planned from the beginning.