There are a lot of reasons why Fruits Basket is so popular -- it's cute, it's charming, and it has a compelling story. However, even beyond these elements, Fruits Basket has so much to offer. From relatable characters to its comedic elements, it can capture the heart of even hesitant viewers. Still, many wonder where the iconic title comes from, considering it seems completely irrelevant from the actual content of the manga and anime.
While in an early episode of the anime, main character Tohru Honda does bring up the children's game "Fruits Basket," this doesn't really seem to tie into either the core plot or themes of the story. However, one fan on Reddit has a theory that actually makes a lot of sense.
Reddit user @VersustheV brings up a very good point in a Fruits Basket subreddit regarding the nature of the title. In the children's game "Fruits Basket," one player stands in the middle of a group of seated players. When they call out "Fruits Basket!," all the players suddenly leave their seats and change with someone else. @VersustheV mentions how Fruits Basket uses Tohru as the player who ushers in a time of change for the Sohma family, literally shouting "Fruits Basket!" at their lives.
It's a very wholesome theory -- and it actually makes a lot of sense. Tohru's presence in the various Sohma family members' lives is a definite and sometimes shocking change for them. She both accepts and challenges them, which is hard for many of them to confront. And like a children's game, this sudden burst of change can be felt as chaotic and stressful, which is why drama seems to follow Tohru around in her new life.
It also makes sense thematically. Tohru remembers the trauma of playing Fruits Basket as a child, and of always feeling left out and unchosen among her peers. However, throughout the manga/anime, Tohru feels more and more like she's part of a family. Like any good theme, it also circles back, with her now being the usher of major change in the lives of the Sohmas. When she arrives, the Sohmas metaphorically scramble from their chairs and hurry to find another spot. Initially, on the outside, Tohru is now the central player in the game.
While we'll never know for sure whether this is the canon reason for the title, Fruits Basket somehow seems to suit the source material perfectly. The theory does make a lot of sense, and it's a wholesome idea that makes the theme of the story come full circle.
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