Fruits Basket Mangaka Natsuki Takaya Talks Compelling Characters and Surprise Success

Fruits Basket

Thanks to our incredible partners at TV Tokyo, we had a chance to send fan questions to the legendary Fruits Basket mangaka Natsuki Takaya! We’re so excited to reveal her answers to our fans around the world.

NOTE: If you’d prefer to read Takaya-sensei’s interview in the original Japanese, please click here.

In her answers, Takaya-sensei talks about everything from creating the compelling characters of Fruits Basket, to her interest in the animals of the Chinese Zodiac.

Check out all of her responses below and make sure to catch up on all things Fruits Basket on Funimation!

In the Fruits Basket manga [in the author comments], you say over and over that you aren’t good at computers. Have you gotten any better?

Takaya-sensei: Did I really say it that many times? (Laughs.) I don’t remember that, but I’m still not good with computers. I suppose I’m not able to fully take advantage of their features.

What do you think is vital to make a character compelling?

Takaya-sensei: I can only speak for myself, but when I create a character, I focus a lot on what they care about, and what convictions they have. I also focus on what kind of environment the character was born and raised in.

What advice can you give for a future manga artist? Did you have anyone who inspired you?

Takaya-sensei: I drew a lot of inspiration from authors in Hana to Yume. As for my advice…well, I guess I’d have to say you should draw manga a lot.

Otherwise you won’t get anywhere, and I also think there are a lot of things that you won’t realize without actually drawing.

How did you get so interested in the zodiac and zodiac animals?

Takaya-sensei: I think I’ve said this somewhere in the past, but a dictionary I was using at the time had a little section about them…if I remember correctly, I think that’s how I first got interested in them.

Fruits Basket Empathy Kyo

Fruits Basket covers many important issues: suicide, depression, parental abuse. But what stands out the most is Fruits Basket‘s ability to portray those topics emotionally and accurately.

What steps did you take to craft such an honest depiction of difficult topics?

Takaya-sensei: I think my approach was to depict these issues “as they are.”

Is there a part of the Fruits Basket manga that you would like to change in retrospect?

Takaya-sensei: If I said no, that would be a lie. But if I started talking about it, I could go on forever. I think I’d like to show respect to my past self for the hard work she put in all by herself to finish it.

Fruits Basket Season 2 screenshot toru and yuki

If you had gone with Western Zodiac signs instead of the Chinese Zodiac, who would be what sign?

Takaya-sensei: I’m not very familiar with Western Zodiac signs, so I don’t know. (Laughs.) I wonder what they’d be…

Which Fruits Basket character would you most relate to/align yourself with and why?

Takaya-sensei: Because every character has some part of me in them, it’s not like I relate to one particular character the most—I both relate to and resent all of them. Those two feelings are two sides of the same coin.

But, of course, I like all the characters. They’re very precious to me and will continue to live within me.

Why did you decide to make Momiji German, and have him speak in German? What’s it like finally getting to HEAR him speak it (in the anime)?

Takaya-sensei: It was because I like Germany. So I was happy to hear him speak in German. I feel a great deal of gratitude for Ms. Megumi Han, who voiced Momiji, for speaking in German this time.

I was wondering what Tohru would do for fun or as a hobby. It’s something that isn’t really shown, and I’ve always wondered what she’d choose when she finally feels comfortable enough to completely be herself.

Takaya-sensei: Good question…hmm…she seems like she’d enjoy DIY projects, don’t you think?

As you were creating Akito, was there any first drafts for the character or changes you made along the way with how [this character] is characterized?

Takaya-sensei: There weren’t any major changes that I made to Akito’s character.

With a huge wave of new fans just discovering Fruits Basket for the first time, what are your thoughts in the newfound interest and excitement toward your work?

Takaya-sensei: I feel happy and honored. Since this is an old series, I think there are some details in it that are a bit outdated. I really appreciate that people today are interested in it.

valentine's day anime, anime production committee

What’s your opinion on the overseas popularity of Fruits Basket? Did you expect that it would become so popular outside of Japan?

Takaya-sensei: No, I didn’t. I was a little surprised the first time around, and I am a little surprised this time around, too. I’m happy. I thank you for supporting me all this time.

How does it feel to see an anime adaptation of the whole series?

Takaya-sensei: There are many parts that I’ve forgotten about (laughs), so it’s kinda nice in that I’m enjoying it right along with everyone.

When it’s a bitter episode, each and every time I think, “What bitter stories this author writes…oh wait, that’s me.”

How does it feel to have a series bridging two generations of manga/anime fans?

Takaya-sensei: Is it bridging them? If so, I’m very glad. If I was able to create a work that can continue to live on somewhere, that’s the best thing a manga author could ask for. Thank you very much.