let us accept that all things end

Next, I’d like to point out the differences between the divine and the human bond in the narrative. As described, both the original God as well as Akito in her capacity as the master of souls are deeply afraid of getting hurt and getting left behind, even if Akito’s warped methods are nothing alike the God’s original intention. Still, it’s an artificial bond, brought about by a spell and upheld via intimidation, obsessive control and the insistence on an eternally unchanging cycle.

On the other side, you have the human bond that thrives on making good memories, and cherishes those good times — this stands in stark contrast to the hurt that Akito reigns with, even though the purpose of reincarnation was meant for all the zodiac to come together and relive the fun they had. Tohru and Kyoko represent the human bond because they both nurture so many bonds in their lifetime, and other people are attracted to the warmth that they radiate. Both of them are cherished, and both of them live on in the memory of others once they’re gone (Tohru when moving away, and Kyoko after her death), without anything needing to be done to ensure that. Kyoko said as much during a flashback: “Something about these bonds will always remain.”

There are two moments — parallels of each other, you could say — that drive this point home: Kyoko is content by the time she dies, proud with the life she has lived, and her last moments are spent thinking about Tohru. When she sees Kyo, yet another person she has established a bond with, she is able to embrace death fearlessly, trusting that something of hers will live on in Kyo, and that he would look after her daughter for her. Similarly, when Tohru thinks she is about to die in volume 21, she thinks of how grateful she is to have met Kyo, of the good times they had together, and assures him that everything will be alright.

Don’t cry anymore. Because, just as all the beautiful and happy times come to an end, so do all the bad and sad times. That I am sure of. Even if you can’t believe it right now, you mustn’t give up. Live! I want you to live. Even if you make mistakes, even if you make a detour… No matter what, live. Never stop moving forward. Please… That is the one thing you must never give up on, even when there comes a time I’m not by your side anymore. Tohru, Volume 21

Tohru’s parting thoughts mirror Kyoko’s: Neither of them is afraid of death as they’ve both lived in a way that made them appreciate life, and that is the wish they leave behind for their loved ones. The bonds they’ve made and all the good times they’ve had are enough for them — reincarnation isn’t in the equation.

What none of the characters in the cast know, however, are the Cat’s original words to God after coming under the reincarnation spell, and the reason behind the Cat not being accepted as part of the zodiac:

I do not want eternity. I do not want eternal bliss. Even though you are frightened, let us accept that all things end. Even though it is sad, let us accept that life ends. God, even though it was just for a short time, I was happy being by your side. If I were to die, be reborn, and meet you again, the next time, rather than in the moonlight, I want to see you smile in the sunlight. The next time I meet you, I want to see you laughing, surrounded with people. Volume 22

Unknowingly, Kyoko and Tohru’s words echo the Cat’s: All of them accept death, reject eternity, and wish for their loved ones to move on and find happiness even when they’re not by their side anymore.

And that is the bridge to the next part: the similarities between the two narratives.