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The God of the Cursed Sohma
At a young age, Akito became the head of the Sohma family and the God figure of the 13 cursed Sohma. While born as a girl, Akito was raised as a boy under the insistance of her mother, Ren. Believing her word to be absolute, Akito physically and mentally tortures the cursed Sohmas to have them believe that no outsider would accept them and that their only roles in life are to always follow her.
BackgroundIn the manga, Akito Sohma was born female, the child of Akira Sohma (then the head of the Sohma family) and Ren Sohma (a maid in the Main House); according to the Fruits Basket Character Book, her Western zodiac sign is Cancer, and her blood type is AB.
Akito's true gender is known only to the four eldest cursed Sohmas—Hatori, Shigure, Ayame, and Kureno—who, on the night of Akito's conception, had a dream in which the god-spirit of the Chinese Zodiac told the boys that she was coming to be amongst them, as was promised hundreds of years before (chapter 131). (According to the author, Natsuki Takaya, the birth of a child possessed of the god-spirit is a rare occurrence.)
Long before Akito was born, Ren demanded that Akito be raised male or else she wouldn't give birth to the child; Ren claimed that having a female heir would "cause problems," though the more likely reason for raising Akito male (as Shigure pointed out in a chapter 115 flashback) was because of Ren's insecurity over not being first in Akira's heart, and her jealousy of her husband's great affection for their child. Fearing that Ren would actually abort the baby, Akira agreed to these terms. (Even so, in some flashbacks to Akito's childhood, as in chapters 115 and 117, Akito is depicted wearing a little girl's kimono, and Akira even called Akito a "special girl" within the same scene.)
When Akito was born, apparently the most excited one over the birth was Akira. Since Akito was revealed to be possessed by the god-spirit of the Chinese Zodiac (Akito uniformly refers to herself as God in the English-language translation; however, a more accurate translation would be Jade Emperor, who is both the leader of the Chinese Zodiac and the primary deity of the Taoist religion), Akira saw this as a sign that his relationship with Ren was "special," and because of Akito's "godliness," he and others in the inner circle lavished Akito with attention. Ren, however, was not glad over Akito's birth, and according to chapter 115 of the manga, refused to even hold Akito as a baby. In Akito's recollection of childhood, she says of Ren, "Mother was cold-hearted, and her anger was always aimed at me. I hate her." (Chapter 117)
Sometime in Akito's childhood, Akira's illness took a turn for the worse. On his death-bed, he told the young Akito not to be afraid, adding that he would always be with her, even if she couldn't physically see him. Akira went onto confess that he had wanted Ren to be the happiest over Akito, because Akito was a "special existence," and therefore she and Ren were special. After he passed away, when Ren found out that no one had come to get her when Akira had been dying, she yelled at the young Akito that she was an unwanted existence, and that she had only been a little toy to amuse Akira; Ren also added that, because Akira was dead, no one had any more need of her.
Akito countered these statements, telling her hysterical mother that her father had loved her; but because of Akira's parting words, even Akito herself doubted that Akira had loved her the most, fearing that she had "lost" to "that woman" (Ren). One of the elderly maids, wanting to comfort Akito, proceeded to give her an empty box, claiming that Akira's spirit was inside it, and that she had wanted only Akito to receive such a special gift. (The same maid later claimed, in chapter 117, that the box was of course empty, and only given to Akito to help her through such a stressful time, adding that Akito should have well known that her father's spirit wasn't really inside the box.) All of her life, Akito kept this box hidden away in her room; she told Kureno in chapter 117 that part of her didn't believe that anything was inside of the box, yet another part always hoped that maybe there was.
After her father's early death, Akito became the head of the Sohma family (raised to appear and act as a male), in addition to her role as God of the Zodiac animals.
According to an interview with Natsuki Takaya, Akito was enrolled in "better" and "more expensive" schools than everyone else in the Zodiac, though she completed all of his schooling (including high school) by correspondence
For the first two volumes of the series, Akito is only mentioned in conversations by the Sohma family, or in brief flashbacks, all of which give a vague, foreboding image of the mysterious "head of the family." (For example, in chapter two, Yuki recalls Akito telling him as a child that if anyone ever found out he turned into a rat, they'd think he was a freak and abandon him.) Also mentioned several times in the first two volumes is that no one in the Sohma family—specifically, the Juunishi—can go against any of Akito's orders. It is later revealed in volume 11 that Akito is possessed of the Zodiac's god-spirit, and therefore, all the cursed Sohmas have to obey her every word, no matter what.
Ever since chapter two, it had been hinted at that both Akito and Shigure were scheming something that involved Tohru, which was why she was allowed to keep her memories and live with the Sohmas. While it was eventually revealed that Akito and Shigure had different, separate reasons for allowing Tohru to grow closer to the Sohmas, Akito's own motive was fully explained in chapter 117. A while before the beginning of the manga's time-line, Yuki had left the Main House to live with Shigure. At that time, Akito's mother, Ren, commented that it seemed as if everyone was abandoning her, just like she had always predicted they would. Akito denied this, arguing that the Juunishi would come back to her in the end, since they were all connected by the inseparable Zodiac bonds. Ren, however, challenged Akito to prove this, saying that if Akito allowed the Juunishi to stray and to form other bonds with "outsiders," and they abandoned her, then Akito would have to bow down before Ren and leave the Sohmas forever; on the other hand, if the Juunishi still returned to Akito's side after going out into the world, then Akito would win. Soon after this bet was made, Shigure approached Akito about allowing Tohru stay with him, Yuki, and Kyo. Akito, confident that she would win against Ren, consented to this. Since Akito believed that the world was a cruel, bleak place in which unconditional love did not exist outside of the Zodiac bonds, she also believed that Tohru would eventually end up rejecting the Juunishi; thus, she was certain that Yuki and the others would end up heart-broken by the world, and would return to her side forever.
In chapter 10, when Tohru visits the Sohma estate for the first time, she learned from Momiji that Hatori was nearly blind in his left eye, because years before, he had asked Akito permission to marry a woman he loved, Kana; Akito had flown into a frenzy of rage, accidentally injuring Hatori's eye, and blaming it on Kana, who never recovered from the shock of the accident; instead, Kana accepted Akito's blame and guiltily agonized over the incident, growing ill, until Akito convinced Hatori to erase Kana's memories of her love for him. In chapter 97, it is made clear that Akito reacted so horribly to the idea of being "replaced" in Hatori's heart at the time because, when she was a child, Kureno's curse/bond had broken for unknown reasons. Since that day, Akito—fearing that allowing any of the Juunishi to form "other bonds" with outsiders would break the rest of the curse and bonds—kept the Juunishi on a tight leash, and instilled in them doubt and self-hatred to make certain that they would never leave her. (In one of Yuki's childhood flashbacks in chapter 84, he remembered the day when Akito first "snapped," painted the walls of his room black, and locked Yuki away in a dark room. It is assumed, from further flashbacks of Kureno's in chapter 97, that Akito's mini-mental breakdown was a result of his curse breaking around the same time.)
Tohru first caught a glimpse of Akito watching her from a window in chapter 10; however, it is not until chapter 20 that Akito first made her official debut in the manga. Akito visited Tohru, Kyo, and Yuki's school for the day, and approached Tohru alone; she called Tohru "a cute girl" and kindly asked her to take good care of her family. At first, Tohru was shocked at Akito's friendly attitude and sunny smile, wondering if she was meeting the same person who'd almost blinded Hatori. However, Tohru soon realized that Akito's polite air was an act, as Akito's eyes belied her. thinly-veiled hatred. When Yuki later appeared, Akito chastised him for skipping the family's New Years banquet, and threatened to lock Yuki away in the dark room of his childhood again to teach him a lesson. Tohru, sensing Yuki's fear, physically pushed Akito away, who, although quite shocked, left soon after without much of a fuss. As Shigure later relayed to Hatori that, on the car ride home, Akito spoke of how "ugly" and less-than-clever Tohru was, boasting that Yuki would surely come back to her in the end.
In chapter 120, it was revealed that Akito had always been lonely and afraid of change. The reason that she clung so desperately to the Juunishi bonds was that she feared that, without them, she would be all alone, and her existence meaningless, just as her mother had always claimed. This revelation occurred after both Momiji's and Hiro's curses broke. With the bonds falling apart, Akito—after having wrongfully stabbed Kureno in the back—ran away from the Sohma estate, wondering if everything really was all her fault, and why her world was collapsing so suddenly. Desperate and looking for someone to blame, Akito suddenly realizes that the Juunishi had been slowly but surely leaving ever since Tohru had appeared in their lives. Akito then walks to Shigure's home and finds Tohru alone outside. Akito comments that Tohru must be happy, because she had "won" and had, in the process, destroyed the only life she had known. Akito then threatens Tohru with a knife; but Tohru, realizing how both she and Akito had been trying to hold onto an "unchanging" reality (Akito clinging to the eternal bonds of the Zodiac; Tohru wanting her mother to always be first in her heart), told Akito that she understood how scary it is to be alone, and instead offered her hand in friendship. Before Akito could accept, the unstable cliff ground collapsed and Tohru fell, while Akito screamed for help. (In the first volume of the series, just after a landslide destroyed Tohru's tent, Shigure warned her that the ground around the area was unstable and due to collapse again one day.)
When Tohru (who recovered at the hospital) was finally allowed visitors beyond her immediate family, Akito was surprisingly one of the first to visit (and even more surprisingly, according to Hatori and Shigure, she went alone and entirely on her own accord). Fearful that she would be rejected by Tohru and Kureno (both of whom she'd hurt, emotionally and physically), Akito was told a comforting story by Momiji, who also offered advice that made it possible for Akito to see Tohru and Kureno for who they really are: People whose kindness for others overrides their ability to be concerned about themselves. With that in mind, she finally went to see Tohru, who offered her hand (despite the fact her arm is injured) to Akito in friendship again, which she accepted with a small smile. Akito also visited Kureno in the hospital, whom she had stabbed in the back (chapter 118); Kureno, however, didn't blame Akito for her actions, and forgave her when Akito cried and apologized to him repeatedly for smothering him all of the years she'd kept him close. From there on out, Akito decided to try to change rather than cling to being "God," and to the memory of her father and what he had wanted her to be (chapter 132).
Towards the end of the manga, after Kureno left to live in the country with Arisa Uotani, and the curse was broken, Akito and Shigure finally confessed their true feelings for each other and reconciled. Akito begins living and dressing as a woman, and in her last meeting with all the formerly cursed Sohmas, she wore a furisode (female kimono), and donned a flower in her hair, something that shocked the younger Sohmas, who had just learned of Akito's true gender.
In the last chapter of the manga, Akito had let her hair grow a little past her shoulders, and wore a dress (chapter 136).