Hello, dear visitor, and welcome to Cheerful Sensibility, a one page tribute for the adorable rabbit's incarnation, Sohma Momiji, from the anime and manga Fruits Basket by Takaya Natsuki. As someone who I quickly became fond of, I hope this dedication can show you some insight into his character as well as his role in the series. It should be noted that this site is based on, and will be full of spoilers for the manga, so tread carefully if you haven't finished it yet.
Last updated on September 27th, 2009 Listed at Amassment Contact
This nostalgic scenery
An introduction to Fruits Basket
Fruits Basket is the story of Honda Tohru, who unknowingly camps on the land of the Sohma family, after her mother dies. After she is discovered, she is brought in to live with the residents of a small house belonging to the Sohmas. While living there, Tohru discovers that said family bears one big secret: thirteen members of the family change into the animal spirits of the Chinese zodiac (Juunishi) after being hugged by people from the opposite gender!
Live as much as you can
A first impression
|Name:||Sohma Momiji (last, first)|
|Meaning:||Red leaves (first name)|
|Family:||Mother, father, younger sister|
Momiji doesn't leave a particularly good impression when we first meet him. Tohru meets him while at her part-time job and after a kiss on the cheek, she thinks of the boy as a "pervert foreigner". Yet we soon discover that he's neither pervert, nor a foreigner at all. He's just an energetic and seemingly happy-go-lucky boy with no ill intentions. After confirming Tohru knows about the curse, he hugs her without any second thought, only to reveal his zodiac form: the rabbit. Though he is scolded afterwards for his impulsive action, Momiji was most likely fully aware of the consequences, yet he just couldn't contain his excitement to meet someone outside the Sohma house who knew of their secret -- a secret that's known to only a selected few in the Sohma family itself, even. With a secret guarded so well as theirs, it's not hard to imagine Momiji wouldn't get much social interaction other than with his fellow Juunishi, who share the same curse. So when someone from the outside is in on the secret, it's not surprising one would feel eager to meet said person.
A heart that shatters sadness
A deeper look into his persona
In one of the later volumes, Momiji is described as an air purifier, because the atmosphere instantly lits up when he's around. The majority of the time, Momiji is seen with a bright smile on his face, happily talking to or teasing others. While he's mostly around those who share the Juunishi curse, Momiji also plays around with his classmates quite often, and even though he cannot embrace girls, it's highly likely that he's well-liked by either gender. I'd even say it's this cheerful personality of his that lets him get away with many things, such as sleeping together with Tohru, or wearing the girl's uniform at school among others. He seems so innocent and playful that it's not surprising Tohru felt at ease right away with his presence.
Yet, Momiji isn't just all sunshine and smiles, although it would be easy to think so when seeing how he interacts with others. Underneath the happy-go-lucky exterior also lies a very perceptive and sympathetic personality, which is shown on more than one occasion. I'm pretty sure Momiji wouldn't show this side to everyone though, because it's a rather mature outlook on things, something I doubt many others at his age (or even someone older) would have themselves or even understand. A good example of this is when his class reads the story about "the most foolish traveler in the world". While almost all of his classmates laugh at how foolish the traveler is, Momiji tries to understand the traveler's reasoning for his actions, and comes to a completely different conclusion: the traveler wasn't stupid, he just wanted to help people out in any way he could and there really shouldn't be anything wrong with that. Even though it was meant as a funny story, Momiji took it at face value and put it into his own perspective.
Despite his young age, Momiji actually has a lot of wise words and those who he offers them to, will often end up taking his advice into consideration. Not that this stops him from teasing and/or annoying others whenever he gets the chance, though.
Accepting everything life gave me
Events worth mentioning
There are a few events that occur during the story that I feel are either crucial to Momiji as a character, or just a great illustration of his personality. Below are a few listed in order of appearance in the manga.
When Hatori called Tohru to the main house to talk, she became very anxious and nervous, and seeing this, Momiji offered to accompany her, which made her able to relax a bit. Tohru was told to stay away from the Sohmas, which made her uneasy because she could not understand the reason behind it. Because Momiji knew Hatori's intentions, he told Tohru about what had happened to Hatori in the past. Hatori once had a lover called Kana, but due to Akito's (the Sohma family head) interference, said relationship was ended with Hatori's left eye having turned almost blind and Kana's memory erased. Momiji knows Hatori isn't a bad person, and that he only wants to protect Tohru, to prevent a repetition of what happened to him and Kana. Although one could think it's not Momiji's place to mention this, it was never his intention to just throw this out in the open just because, and he surely wouldn't have mentioned this to everyone. He just didn't want Tohru to see Hatori in the wrong light and be scared of him, because he's actually a very kind person.
Volume 02, chapter 08
No forgotten memories
Through the course of the story, Momiji's family (along with everyone else's, actually) aren't mentioned that often. Yet, in my opinion they play a crucial role to understand his behavior and personality, especially his mother. Momiji's parents met when they were still in college and got married afterwards. They were happy -- until Momiji was born, that is. Mothers of children possessed by the zodiac spirits are either overly protective of them, or they reject them completely. Unfortunately, Momiji's mother belonged to the latter. She did not acknowledge Momiji as her own son, let alone as a human being, even referring to him as "a creature" that she regretted giving birth to. However, as she is still his mother, it's only natural Momiji would want to see her happy. Thus, even at a young age, he sacrificed his own happiness for hers and had her memories of him erased. His mother recovered quite fast and was able to smile again after only two months and even gave birth to a daughter later on. However, the price to pay was heavy, as Momiji was told not to see his mother again, nor his little sister, out of fear that the same situation would occur again, by his own father nonetheless.
Volume 04, chapter 23
First signs of defiance
When the majority of the Juunishi members and Tohru were spending time at the Sohma's summer house (at Momiji's invitation!), Akito unfortunately got word of this and went to pay them a visit as well. He requested the presence of all the family members except for Kyou, since he is the cat and does not belong in the Chinese zodiac. As the head of the family, everyone basically has no way of declining this "visit". Momiji does mention he wants to see Akito as soon as possible, but only so that he can return all the more earlier. Later on, Momiji is seen talking to Kyou, where Kyou mentions that he sees the Juunishi members staying with Akito as an act of protection, because choosing Tohru over Akito would surely cause a big uproar. However, Momiji doesn't quite feel the same way. Although "protection" gives their actions a pretty ring, he feels more guilt than pride, because the initial idea of the trip was to make memories together with Tohru, yet they are all leaving her to spend time with Akito, even if it's out of obligation. It isn't until Akito leaves, that Momiji does what his heart tells him to.
Before leaving, Akito requests to see Tohru and tells Momiji to get her. However, feeling something is wrong, Momiji disobeys this order and inquires if something had happened. While having no ill intentions, Akito, however, sees this as an act of looking down on her, the god of the Juunishi, and ends up punching him. When Tohru comes to separate the two, Momiji is struck with fear -- the very person he tried to protect, is now protecting him. Not knowing what might happen to Tohru with Akito in such a bad temper, he runs to get Shigure and Hatori, because they'd be sure to stop Akito from going too far. When they get back, Akito has already left, and when Tohru asks for Momiji's condition, the poor boy can't even get himself to look her in the eye. Unable to keep in his tears, he tries to apologize for not protecting her and upon this sight, Tohru cannot help herself from hugging him. This event shows Momiji in one of his weakest moments. No matter what, he is, in fact, still a child, despite how grown up he might seem at times. I don't see this as a bad thing though, because apart from the fact he shouldn't have to deal with such issues at such a young age at all; you really can't expect a child to know what to do in such situations and act accordingly. At the same time, it was really admirable though, since Momiji was the first of the Juunishi to actually stand up against Akito. Before, Yuki and Kyou had already disobeyed Akito by not participating in the New Year's festival, but Momiji actually dared to defy Akito's wish in his presence, something that had not occurred before.
Volume 11, chapter 64/65
Before Satsuki (Hiro's mother) gets pregnant, Momiji is the only one to have a sibling who isn't part of the curse, although you might as well consider him an only child, since, as previously mentioned, he isn't allowed to see mother nor his sister Momo. However, both of them still play a big part in his life, as shown by him still acting happy and proud whenever someone compliments his mother for looking beautiful, or knowing what his sister is like. It shows that, even though he shouldn't, he has always been watching over them and has been trying to keep up with what happens in their lives. It's not until Momo meets Momiji for the first time, that this interest is returned. Momo thought Momiji looked a lot like her mother (which isn't surprising at all), but while her mother did not see this resemblance at all, her father did not deny anything, but just said she wasn't to meet with that boy again. However, people always get curious all the more whenever they are forbidden something, and it was no different in this case.
When Momo finds Momiji's home by coincidence, she sees him playing the violin. In awe, she returns several more times to listen to him while he plays, though keeping the promise to her father by not coming too close to Momiji and talking to him. In the end, she starts to take up the violin as well, in hopes of playing together one day. However, scared that his family's happiness will shatter again, Momiji's father tells him to stop taking lessons, as their teacher would be the same one. Having no other means of contacting him, Momo turns to Tohru to convey her feelings to Momiji: she wants him to become her "big brother", to talk and play with him every day. When he hears all of this, Momiji is overcome with happiness and although he cannot meet with Momo, he's thankful to know her feelings. Perhaps one day, their wishes to become siblings, if only by name, will come true.
Volume 13, chapter 74
Growing up, bit by bit
At one point, Momiji decides to no longer wear the girls' uniform at school, and he starts to properly wear the boys' uniform, surprising everyone around him with this new look. A few bystanders even comment on how much he seems to have changed, from the person running around getting everyone's attention, to someone who's keeping a more low profile, only to have their feelings stabbed when his personality still seems to be as cheerful as before. In truth, though, Momiji has changed. He himself has realized that while being a child is fun, he can't stay that way forever if he wants to pursue his goals.
When Momiji's curse is released, his feelings are a mess and he does not know how to deal with them, causing him to avoid the others. "How should I act around them?" "Will they still accept me, now that our bond is gone?" "Why did this have to happen to me?" These are just a few questions that I believe must have surfaced in his mind. As the first to be released from the curse (that we actually happen to see), Momiji feels he can't talk to anyone about this, that he has to keep this to himself. On the one hand, this is what he's wanted for so long, not having to turn into a rabbit, which basically caused his family to abandon him; he's free, and yet, on the other hand, he still can't go back home. Even though his mother wouldn't have to be in despair over her son turning into a rabbit anymore, Momiji also wouldn't be able to just return home after being gone all this time. Just imagine how one would react if you'd say you were their long lost son. For Momiji, instead of the happiness he thought he'd attain from being freed from the curse, loneliness was waiting.
Volume 19/20, chapter 111/116
Our held hands won't disappear
Those around him
I don't think anyone can live without having any relationships with others, be it in the form of love, friendship or even a strong dislike towards someone. This also goes for Momiji -- although he is (mostly) friendly towards everyone, there are a few people who are near his heart, or with whom he interacts more than with others.
First of all, there is his mother. I think one of the most important topics to discuss here would be whether or not her erased memories will ever resurface: how would she react if she knew Momiji was her son? Alas, as the series is over, I doubt we will ever find out. Right now, to her, Momiji is just a child from one of the other Sohma families, thus she is treating him much more gentle compared to when he was born. For Momiji, this must be bittersweet: he should be happy he can interact with his mother this way, not having to see his mother hysterical all the time, yet it's so disheartening to see whenever she worries for his parents or asks about his family. It must hurt him so much inside, knowing his mother can act motherly towards him because she doesn't see him as her son, and how their relationship could never become a real bond between mother and son.
Out of everyone related to Momiji, his father is mentioned the least, yet there are a few things that can be said. We learn he is the one from the Sohma side (which could explain why he doesn't resent Momiji in regards to the curse) and he met his wife during his college years. When she fell "ill" after bearing Momiji, it was his father who pleaded Momiji to have his mother's memories of him erased so she could recover. I've always felt stunned about this, because who would let a child make such a life-changing decision? It's such a heavy burden to carry, especially for someone who was most likely not even 10 years old, and with the request coming from his own father. I think Momiji's decision was influenced by two things: 1) he wanted to see his mother happy, and 2) fear for what his father would do if he did not agree. If he had left him too, what would this have meant for Momiji? As a child, your parents are your safe heaven, a sanctuary where you can feel secure and at ease. If you think about it this way, it's only natural Momiji would do anything to keep both of his parents from leaving him. Yet what happens after this? While their living situation is never mentioned, it is safe to assume that Momiji is living with someone else, and later perhaps even on his own, as his father is staying with his wife and daughter. So between his father's work and what his father considers his family, where does Momiji fit in?
There's actually not much to say about Momo and Momiji that hasn't been mentioned yet, but as the last member of his family, I feel compelled to write a little bit nonetheless. Momiji has clearly been watching over Momo, and it was a pleasant surprise to see that Momo was also interested in learning more about Momiji. Although her mother brushes off the fact that Momiji resembles her, I think that, unconsciously, Momo perhaps knows that there is a deeper relation between the two of them. It's also mentioned that Momiji has thought of staying back a year, since Momo planned on entering the same school, but by that time, Momiji would already have graduated.
Out of all the secondary characters, I believe the one closest to Tohru is Momiji. They have a mutual liking for each other almost instantly, and get along very well, perhaps because of their somewhat similar personality. Tohru is a bit more oblivious at times, but both she and Momiji are quite perceptive about their surroundings. They are also both very friendly towards others, but when they interact with each other, it's slightly different than with the rest of the cast. Momiji would often hug Tohru, something he doesn't do much with others, even the Juunishi members, and act spoiled in front of her, while Tohru would act more informal towards Momiji than the rest. They can confide in each other, knowing that the other won't think bad of them, keeping what's being said to themselves and be supportive instead. However, when it comes to how they actually see each other, I'd say Tohru sees Momiji more as a cute, little brother than as a love interest. For example, she doesn't ask any questions and easily agrees when Momiji wants to bathe and sleep together with her, something she would be more self-conscious about had it been Kyou or Yuki asking. As for the other way around, Momiji's feelings don't turn into love until the later chapters. Even so, he keeps these feelings to himself, knowing the one Tohru cares for romantically is Kyou.
Probably his favorite person to tease, Momiji is often seen bothering Kyou one way or another, which is usually responded to by Kyou using "violence" or picking on him. However, Kyou also holds the position as Momiji's rival for the love of the girl he likes. Momiji confronts Kyou several times about Tohru, be it through subtle hints or more obvious ways. It's also partly through Momiji's words that Kyou realizes that the way he cares for Tohru is love. Momiji even tells him he wants confess to Tohru one day, and wonders if she would accept it. He inquires how Kyou would feel, if Tohru would end up with someone else, because Kyou isn't taking any action and is leaving things as they are, which leads him to think that Momiji knows about his feelings for Tohru (which he does). However, the most obvious illustration of this is when Momiji's curse is released. Upon seeing Kyou, he mentions how Tohru would be much happier if it had been Kyou's release from the curse instead of his own. Although I believe Momiji's love for Tohru is genuine, he also clearly sees that the feelings between Tohru and Kyou are mutual, which is why he ends up giving Tohru up to Kyou.
There are several situations where Momiji has confrontations with Akito. I've already gone into one under the events section, but there are two others which are worth a mention. The first is related to the curse being released. It's a mystery as to why Momiji's the first to be freed, but Akito begs Momiji not to leave her side, because doing so would result in her breaking her promise to her father. Even so, Momiji feels that he no longer has any obligation to stay by her side, and even though he no longer has a place to call "home", he doesn't want to live his life with decisions he didn't make for himself. The second is when both Tohru and Kureno are in the hospital. Akito cannot understand why both of them are still willing to forgive her for her actions, referring to them as fools and calling them stupid. However, Momiji's words make her reflect on her behavior, even though it's not unlikely to think Momiji would hold a grudge against her. After all, Momiji has been verbally abused and physically hurt by Akito more than once, yet he's able to look past that and even gives her a piece of advice: cherish those around you, no matter how silly and foolish they might seem. After all that's been said and done between the two of them, there is still hope left for a reconciliation.
A single ray of light
I've always liked Momiji for his cheerful personality, but his background story left a deep impression on me, because I was amazed at how much he had already gone through at such a young age, yet he was still able to smile cheerfully, like his childhood was as normal as one of any other child. If I'd had known about his circumstances earlier, I would've thought he'd stay away from others, after being shunned by his own mother. Instead, Momiji easily approaches people and has a smile on his face for the majority of the time, which makes people feel comfortable around him very fast. One of my favorite scenes is when Momiji gave Tohru a trip to the hot springs as a present for White Day, as a thank you present for her Valentine chocolates. While the others hadn't given it a second thought, Momiji, as perceptive as he is, must have realized that the money required for the chocolates came from her own pocket.
Although he has grown up near the end of the story, I believe that deep down, Momiji is still the same cheerful and playful child we see in the earlier volumes -- he just realized he could no longer continue to have this carefree attitude. Momiji isn't someone who'd go ahead and laugh at people, instead he would try to find the good points of people, to support and to protect them in his own way. He places himself in others' shoes, and always tries to include everyone, because he knows how it feels to be rejected. These are only several points which make Momiji such an admirable and memorable character for me. Aside from all that, really, just who could resist a bunny with such an innocent and bubbly personality?
The heart that lies here
Momiji has always been a character that I felt was worth a tribute, but it wasn't until the "one-page shrine marathon" was announced at Amassment that I finally started working on one. I've always been insecure about my writing, but I felt this was the right opportunity to get over that. Thus, this site is actually my first proper dedication that I'm content enough with to show to the public, and I hope I was able to show how much I enjoy Momiji as a character, as well as how he's more than the happy-go-lucky person he seems at first glance.
The first layout uses two images from chapter 75. It was a pain to redraw (I had to do it twice, even), but it looks good enough to pass as a speechbubble-less image, so I'm content. Because the colored version didn't look as nice, I just went with some textures and a yellow color scheme, because Momiji just reminds me of yellow. The headers for the different sections were taken and/or based on a translation from the song Hitomi no Kotae, sung by Noria.
If you're interested in linking this little tribute, then please grab a button below or use a simple text link, and direct all links to http://momiji.nymphae.net, thank you! If you still haven't gotten enough of Momiji, I would highly suggest visiting Stay Gold, another one page shrine dedicated to Momiji by Chrissy, for the same marathon. As we both worked independently on our own shrines, her site offers a look from a different perspective, so please check it out and enjoy ♥