This page contains major plot spoilers related to the Fruits Basket manga, not yet revealed in the anime. Read at your own risk!
The Chinese Zodiac is an astrological system that coordinates each year to an animal. There are twelve "official" animals in the Zodiac: the Rat, the Ox, the Tiger, the Rabbit, the Dragon, the Snake, the Horse, the Sheep, the Monkey, the Rooster, the Dog, and the Boar. The Cat and the God are two who are not part of the Zodiac, but part of the Sohma Curse, as whenever a member of the opposite sex hugs them or they become weak or stressed, they turn into the animal of which year they were born into.
The Chinese Zodiac Legend
Long ago, God told all the animals he was throwing a banquet the next day and not to be late. The mischievous rat told his neighbor, the cat, that the banquet was the day after tomorrow. So, the next day, all the animals lined up for the banquet, and the rat rode there all the way on the cow's back.
All the animals had fun, except for the cat, who was at home sleeping and dreaming for a banquet that would never come. so then the cat fought the rat every time he saw him so he would be excepted with the others.
The Chinese's Legend of the Zodiac
In the Chinese legend, God had 12 places to be taken for the 13 animals he invited to his Chinese New Year celebration.
The animals were:
- The Cat
- The Rat
- The Cow
- The Tiger
- The Rabbit
- The Sheep
- The Dragon
- The Pig
- The Dog
- The Rooster
- The Snake
- The Monkey
- The Horse
Back then, the cat and the rat were the best of friends. However, upon receiving the words of the race, the rat wanted to win the race. It didn't even want its best friend to win. The cat wanted to race too. It told the rat that he would sleep and trusts the rat to wake him up in the morning of the race. However, on the morning of the race, the rat slyly didn't do it and ran off.
At the last leg of the race, the ox had taken over the rat. Even more determined to win, the rat jumped onto the ox's back. As the rat was light, the ox didn't know and carried on running. At the finishing line, the rat jumped off the ox's back to win the first place of the Zodiac.
When the dragon finished the race, God wondered why he had not taken first place. In reply, the dragon said that he had to first bring rain to crops and help the people. God was pleased with that.
The pig was far too lazy to wake up. However, its friend, the dog, woke it up and told him to get going. That's why the dog and the pig's positions are close: the dog ran in front of the lazy pig who walked all the way in the race.
As for the cat, he remained sleeping, waiting for his best friend, the rat to wake him up.
Only after God declared the Zodiac did the cat wake up. It rushed to the end of the race, only find out the rat betrayed him. From that day onwards, the cat and the rat's relationship soured until the cat kept on chasing the rat.
The True Zodiac Legend
A man (later to be called “God”), had lived on top of a mountain for several years, all alone. The man had lived a thousand lifetimes and possessed a thousand different powers. Since God knew he was not like the humans at all, he came to fear them, specifically to get hurt by them.
But then, one day, a cat came to visit. The man was very shocked by the sudden visitor. The cat confessed that he had been watching the man quite some time, and that he couldn't help but be drawn to him. He expressed his desire to stay by the man's side. And so, the cat held its words and never left the man's side. This made the man very happy.
Eventually, the other animals (those that are considered part of the Chinese zodiac) went to see the man. After that occasion, the thirteen animals and the man would have a banquet every night the moon shone. In their banquets, they all had a great time, as they sang, danced, and laughed.
But one night, the cat suddenly collapsed. “God” and all the other animals were devastated and it made them realize that all living things were destined to die, and that their wonderful banquets would eventually end. “God”, not wanting their friendship or banquet to end, and only yearning to make their bond last for eternities, created a spell by drawing a circle in a cup of water with his finger. This drink, later revealed to a spell which would make their friendships last for all eternity, that they would be reborn and no matter how many times they were reborn the bond of their friendship would remain.
“God” had the cat, still unconscious, drink it first without telling him what it was. All the other animals drank the spell willingly, the Rat going first. However, the cat briefly regained consciousness and was devastated by the fact that he was forced to drink the spell-water. He explained that he didn't want to be reborn for all eternity, and was steadfast in his belief that all things must come to an end. After saying his piece, the cat passed away. The other animals, however, did not want to hear to the cat's wisdom and had already made up their minds that the cat had betrayed them.
And at last, the day came when “God” too left this world. However, he was not afraid because of the promise they had all made so many years ago. He knew that his friends (the animals) would wait for him and that all of them would be reunited.
The whole and complete story follow as:
Which animal in the Sohmas
- Main article: Sohma Curse
- The Rat: Yuki Sohma
- The Ox/Cow: Hatsuharu Sohma
- The Tiger: Kisa Sohma
- The Rabbit: Momiji Sohma
- The Dragon: Hatori Sohma
- The Snake: Ayame Sohma
- The Horse: Isuzu Sohma
- The Sheep: Hiro Sohma
- The Monkey: Ritsu Sohma
- The Rooster: Kureno Sohma
- The Dog: Shigure Sohma
- The Boar/Pig: Kagura Sohma
- The Cat: Kyo Sohma
- The God: Akito Sohma
- Only 12 of the cursed members (including Kyo and Akito) appear in the 2001 anime.
- Kyo is the only non-member of the Zodiac that has an animal form despite lacking an official zodiac year and possesses a "true" form.
- Tohru loves the Chinese Zodiac Legend story, but does mention that she feels sorry for the Cat for being left behind.