"It is said that Yuki is like a prince." He is charming, polite, and fairly well-liked by the entire student body (especially so by his maniacal fanclub). Despite this, he's not quite sure what to do with himself or with others. Closed off to others, there was no one in the school that could tell you what he liked to do or what made him happy. A problem stemming from emotional abuse by his family at a young age, Tohru is the one who is ultimately able to change all this.

Drilled into his head by Akito, Yuki grows up believing that no one will like him because of his curse. Akito literally tells him that his ability to change into a rat is weird and "disgusting to normal people; it'll only drive them away." What kind of encouragement is that to a child who didn't have a control over such a thing? Akito constantly beats it into Yuki's head that the world is a terrible place full of darkness, and his life will also be such a way. Having hope would just be futile and only foolish fools would think that they'd be saved from such terribleness! "The world is black. Just like your life, Yuki." And as they say ... if you say something enough times, it must be true - and Yuki really does come to have such a hopeless outlook on life and views his life as equally worthless.

Essentially imprisoned in the Sohma residence from childhood, Yuki reveals that he always wanted to get out, to live with normal people and lead a normal life. In a way, he did, by moving in with Shigure and attending a co-ed school, but Yuki realizes that while this is quite a change, it's not enough change - he's still living with a Sohma family member and is still closely monitored and visited by Akito. As he tells Tohru, "I still can't associate with 'normal' people. I don't meant to turn them away. But some part of me can't deal with people. I cut myself off from other people because I'm afraid of getting hurt ... because I'm like this." In other words, he didn't want to fall too deep, and is constantly wrought by hesitation, self-pity, and fear. Having lost friends in the past due to the curse, and plagued by a combination of immensely low self-esteem and a desperate longing for friendship, Yuki finds it hard to believe that people would actually want to like him and be his friend. It takes time for him to get used to easy friendliness. He doesn't even believe that his interactions with others are really genuine - everything is just a façade. He imposes a great distance between himself and others, making himself inaccessible, which he has some good reasons for (the curse) but at the same time, is very self-defeating.

Chapter 4 Yuki: I always have to think before I act ... that's how it is.
Tohru: You also have the power to get people close to you. Lots of girls like you. They say you're very kind.
Yuki: I'm only being nice because I want people to like me. It's the same as giving someone candy because you want to buy their friendship. My being nice is entirely selfish. Maybe I'm a hypocrite.

Perhaps the greatest thing lacking in Yuki's life is a good family. He recognizes this loss, his greatest desire being a "loving parents, a happy home, with everyone smiling at me ... a home that no one would ever want to leave, a warm place ... a warm person" (Chapter 20), and he knows that such thing does exist. Deeply scarred by Akito and a loveless immediate family, his problems are evident to other family members like Shigure and Ayame, who both know that Yuki will need a great amount of courage to overcome the trauma.

Eventually, as he opens up and grows with Tohru's help, he really tries to come to terms with these problems. In dealing with cousin Kisa who suffers similarly, when she receives a letter from her teacher telling her to like herself, he describes what helped him to ease, if even just a little, his own self-hatred.

Yuki ~ Chapter 28 Here it says to "like yourself." What does that mean? Good things - how are you supposed to find them? I only know things that I hate about myself. Because that's all I know, I hate myself. But ... even if you force yourself to find good things, it feels so empty ... it doesn't work that way. People like your teacher just don't get it. I think ... when you hear someone say they like you for the first time, then you can begin to like yourself. I think when someone accepts you for the first time, you feel like you can forgive yourself a little. You can begin to face your fears with courage ... Even if my heart is still seen as inferior ... Someday I'll have to stand up for my worthless self.

With that declaration, Yuki finally accepts the position of student council president. "I apologize for running away and for causing you trouble," he says to the council. Baby steps, but with his own self-discovery and emotional support at home, Yuki pledges to do his best and to make a conscious effort to overcome his obstacles. As the manga itself states, it's impossible to make this sort of massive change overnight, but the most important thing is to have the will to fight, which Yuki gradually comes to possess in leaps and bounds.

Yuki ~ Chapter 28 It's not that I've suddenly become stronger or that something has changed. I'm still shaking. But ... we don't have to let those fears stop us. What's most important ... is that we try to rise above our weakness.

Castles In Air is a fanwork © Chrissy 2012 - 2016. No infringement intended.