- Given name:
- Hatsuharu (潑春). Not a normal Japanese name; when I mentioned it to a Japanese friend, she laughed and said "that's a name?!". It's derived from a poetic name for "January" (初春, which is also read as 'hatsuharu', and means 'first spring'). The kanji that actually form Haru's name mean something more like "drizzling spring", according to Shadow, who very kindly walked me through this. ^_^ (According to vol. 14 of the manga, all of the Jyuunishi names but Yuki's are similarly based on old names for the months).
- Haru (or Ha-kun, from Shigure). Animerica (vol. 11, number 5) claimed that he was nicknamed 'Hatsu'; however, he has never been addressed or referred to that way in the manga or anime. Some fans do use it, but I assume it's only because they read that article.
- 15 when he first appeared; 17 (almost 18) by the end of the series. He's a Cancer, so his birthday is between June 22 and July 22.
- 170.2 cm / 5'6".
- 57.5 kg / 126-127 lbs.
- Blood type:
- Jyuunishi (Zodiac) form:
- Cursed by the spirit of the Ox.
- Distinguishing features:
- He's a Jyuunishi, so he's beautiful (not as delicately so as Yuki, we assume, since he never gets the 'girl' comments); white and black hair; three piercings in each ear; green tattoo circling his upper left arm. Prone to wearing lots of jewelry, even with his school uniform (which is against the rules). Looks older than his age, except in some color images. Out of uniform, he has a flashy, 'leather-and-chains' sort of wardrobe (an aesthetic he picked up from Rin).
- Haru is an only child. His current relationship with his parents seems to be okay, but not particularly close; the Neko Fanbook (2005) indicates that they're fairly laid-back and don't make much effort to control him.
- First appearance:
- Chapter 11, volume 2.
- Seiyuu/voice actor:
- Suyama Akio for both the anime and the drama cds; Justin Cook (also the series ADR director) for the English dub.
Haru has an unusual way of viewing the world that often doesn't make sense to the people around him. He is simultaneously single-minded and unfocused; he has an abysmal sense of direction, which probably has more to do with not bothering to pay attention than with an actual inability to remember routes. He makes odd connections between things and events, such as telling Rin that he's going to pierce his ears because the people at his school don't like his hair or attitude (ch. 79), and his deadpan comments make it hard to tell when he's teasing or joking with people. He's also extremely tactile with the people he feels comfortable with.
While growing up, he was taunted by the Sohma adults because 'the Ox is stupid', because in the Jyuunishi legends the Rat rode to the banquet on the Ox's back and leaped down upon arrival, making itself the first animal in the Jyuunishi. Haru later acknowledges that the adults were 'probably joking', but the damage done by the teasing was irreparable. Haru is a sensitive and thoughtful character, so the mockery must have been long-term and not good-natured to have the result it did: as a child, he became somewhat unstable as a result of the anger, hurt, and frustration. When under stress or overstimulated, or when simply angered--the amount of provocation required varies quite a bit--he 'goes Black', becoming violent and destructive. The Sohmas refer to this side of him as 'Black Haru' (and, correspondingly, to his usual laid-back self as 'White Haru'). It's hard to be entirely sure what to make of this stark change in his personality--for the most part, the characters' psychological problems make pretty good sense. Haru, however, doesn't exhibit any other traits of someone with Multiple Personality Disorder/Dissociative Identity Disorder (MPD/DID), or of any other personality disorders. In fact, other than the actual White/Black switch, he seems to be one of the most well-balanced Jyuunishi (although we discover fairly late that he's capable of suppressing his awareness of things, to an extent that's disturbing in a character who's usually so observant and empathic). So some suspension of disbelief is required here. For the record, Takaya-sensei has stated that his 'White' side is his 'true' personality.
In an attempt to deal with his anger problems, his parents enrolled him in martial arts classes under Sohma Kazuma. The training apparently made little difference in allowing him to channel his anger, but he enjoyed it and stuck with it. In comparison with the other Sohma martial artists, he's not quite up to par--Kyo wins both of their confrontations, and Yuki and Kagura can both take Kyo down--but he's probably very good in comparison with the average martial artist. Yuki, after all, is practically superhuman, and Kyo has spent most of his life living with their Master and training intensely to defeat Yuki. I'd be quite interested to know who would win if Haru and Kagura sparred--I suspect Haru would simply take her attack for a while before getting fed up and putting her through the wall. She does kick Kyo's ass, but Kyo doesn't ever actually fight back.
Black Haru has made three appearances in the manga (two made it into the anime version). He goes Black in his first prolonged appearance (ch. 13-14), after it takes him three days to hunt Kyo down for what he probably intended to be a good-natured fight. When Kyo declines, Haru goes off on him. The second occurrence is during his first day of high school (ch. 19), when the student council president (Takei Makoto) starts berating him and Momiji for their appearances (Haru's own hair and jewelry, Momiji's decision to wear the girls' uniform). This scene involves the famous moment when Haru hauls Takei into the washroom to prove that his hair is naturally black and white. Black Haru's most recent appearance was in ch. 43 of the manga (quite a while ago) after Rin inexplicably broke up with him. This incident was far more serious than the others--he lashed out at Yuki (and called him 'Princess Yuki', which is funny but a serious indication of how much strain he was under, since he and Yuki are close and he's usually very careful of Yuki's feelings), as well as at the others. He also trashed his entire classroom, smashing the windows and damaging the furniture. Where the first two switches to Black were played as somewhat humorous and not too serious, this time is intense and brutal: Haru is clearly desperate and has lost any ability to cope with the situation. It's not at all clear whether Haru has any substantial control over when he goes Black, or any real memory of what he does then. The evidence is sketchy and open to interpretation: on the one hand, when he comes to his senses after the second incident he seems confused about why he's tired; however, when talking to Yuki after the third incident, he says he wouldn't have gone Black if he'd been thinking. Additionally, during his confrontation with Kyo in the classroom, Kyo refers to Tohru by her given name (he usually avoids using any name for her at all, and has never used an honorific for her); later, when Haru has reverted to White, he remembers what Kyo said and tells Yuki that he should also use Tohru's given name. So that suggests that he does remember everything--it's not a detail that he was in a mood to care about at the time. (When writing fanfic, I tend to work with Black Haru as something that Haru does have a measure of control over, but the Black/White concept really doesn't work. Haru doesn't show any signs that he's a seething ball of rage waiting to go off; he simply snaps from time to time, sometimes without any real buildup. It's frustrating on an analytical level.)
His Black side, in addition to being unpredictable and violent, is also very overtly sexual--he's very suggestive with Yuki, and in chapter 19, he matter-of-factly asks Tohru if she wants to see the evidence of his natural hair color for herself, adding that they can "do it without embracing". Luckily, she doesn't actually have any idea what he's talking about.
When he's not Black, Haru is both laid back and intense. He wanders through life a bit vaguely until something catches his attention, and then he focuses on it and pursues it persistently. He also has a strong streak of empathy and a knack for figuring people out; for example, he puts his finger squarely on the reason for Yuki's reluctance to address Tohru by her given name. He's very devoted to the people he's close to, and expends a lot of energy trying to help them, to the point where he sometimes has no strength left for himself and his own problems. Yuki points this out to him in ch. 43; even when Yuki is trying to figure out what made him turn Black, Haru tries to turn the conversation back to Yuki's situation with Tohru. I doubt that it was just Haru trying to distract him; he's a guileless character, and very open with Yuki. He hadn't told anyone that he and Rin were dating; telling Yuki happened after the fact, but he seems relieved to have it out. He also never discusses Rin with anyone else.
He's very fond of ginger pork, and reads Shigure's novels (at least, he's read the horror stories Shigure published under a pseudynom). ^_^
He plays video games; this is worth mentioning because none of the other characters are ever seen doing so. He has a Game Boy (?) at school one day, and plays with it through a casual conversation (ch. 69); more significantly, when he misses school immediately after trashing his classroom and Yuki goes to visit him at home (the only time we see Yuki voluntarily entering the Main House, other than one reluctant visit to his parents' house), Haru claims to have skipped to finish the game he was playing (ch. 45).
Visit the Analysis page for a more detailed (and spoilery) overview of Haru's character and relationships with other characters.