(草摩 由希, Sōma Yuki
?) is a fictional character
from the anime and manga series Fruits Basket
by Natsuki Takaya, and is one of the three protagonists of the story. He is depicted as a popular high school student despite severe self-doubts, and is president of the student council. He is sometimes called "Prince Yuki" by his fans. When Yuki is hugged by the opposite gender or if his body is under a great deal of stress, he transforms into the rat of the Chinese zodiac. According to the anime, when he turns into the same animal, he's revealed to have light gray fur.
Although the rat is the twelfth month in the Japanese lunar calendar, unlike the other zodiac characters, his name is not derived from it. Natsuki Takaya claimed in an author's note she used "Yuki" because "nothing sounded good." Yuki
(雪?) can also mean snow in Japanese, corresponding with "Ice Prince," one of Yuki's nicknames, although the kanji in his name mean "reason" (由?) and "hope" (希?), or "a reason to hope".
In an interview, Takaya said that when she was developing the series, Yuki was one of the first three characters she developed, after Tohru. According to the Fruits Basket Character Book
, she had him dress in Chinese-style clothes because she likes them. She added that she believes they suit his androgynous nature, and that she deliberately gave Yuki and Kyo different tastes to distinguish them.
Yuki is depicted as an attractive, reserved, and accomplished young man with many admirers, but who finds being friendly difficult. As a young man possessed by the rat, the animal that according to legend was first to arrive at the initial zodiac banquet, Yuki is talented at anything he tries (except cooking and cleaning). However, when Yuki was young, Akito Sohma kept him isolated from the rest of the family and convinced him no one liked or needed him; because of this emotional abuse, Yuki has low self-esteem and feels isolated. He is known as "Prince Yuki" and "Prince Charming" at school, where despite his popularity he must avoid intimacy with girls lest they trigger his transformation into a rat. He has a fan club headed by Motoko Minagawa that tries to "protect" him from other admirers, with the result that Yuki is further isolated. Yuki, however, wishes that he could be with people as friends, rather than be admired from afar, and envies both Kyo Sohma's and Kakeru Manabe's easy ways with others. He is touched when, faced with the prospect of having her memory of the Sohma family secret erased, Tohru Honda asks that he remain her friend, which no one had asked him before.
With Tohru's help Yuki is gradually able to "open the lid" on his feelings, and the summer after she begins living in Shigure's house, Yuki admits to himself that he loves her. As a child, Yuki was traumatized by Akito Sohma, the leader of the Sohma family. When Yuki was younger, Akito had total control over him. He would tell him terrible things that he could never forget, like that he was the most hated member of the family, and that if it weren't for him, Yuki would have no reason to exist. These statements were seemingly confirmed by the behavior of the rest of the family: Hatsuharu proclaimed he hated Yuki (although he later comes to adore Yuki), despite the fact he had never met him before. His brother, Ayame Sohma, brushed off his cry for help, and Kyo always hated and blamed him. Everyone else in the zodiac did not speak with him, though that was probably not an intentional snub on their part. On top of being mentally abusive, Akito was often physically abusive as well, and sometimes would lock Yuki away inside a dark room to torment him. As a result of the combined abuse, Yuki has terribly low self-esteem, and suffers from self-hatred and an inferiority complex. Though his outward demeanor shows nothing of his childhood torture, Yuki reveals to Tohru that he does not care or appreciate who he is as his personality was shaped to please others and conform to society, which he incidentally excels at.