Tohru Honda is a sweet regular orphaned teen who is living on her own after her mother died. She has a part time job as a maid and still attends school. One day she discovers a house that's the home of the most popular male student at her school, Sohma Yuki. She finds Yuki to be very handsome, but the other girls find him mysterious and anti-social. Yuki and his cousin, Shigure find out that Tohru is living all by herself in a tent. So they invited her to stay with them. Tohru didn't want to get in the way, but Shigure insisted that she can stay at their home as their...
Tohru finds both Kyo and Yuki to be socially awkward. Kyo is reactionary and volatile, unaccustomed to putting his feelings in words or to thinking before he speaks, while Yuki is self-repressed and distant due to the embarrassing family curse that keeps him at arm's length from others (especially girls). The conditions of both boys draws Tohru's attention and compassion.
Kagura visits. She's another cursed human, who believes herself betrothed to Kyo, though Kyo holds quite a contrary opinion about it. She seems a sweet girl but very insecure and overly aggressive, with emotions flipping instantly from one to a hundred with no middle ground, frequently becoming a very real, physical threat to Kyo, the very object of her intense affections. Tohru tries to guess which zodiac animal is she while Kagura wonders why there's a girl living in the Shoma house.
Tohru's Grandfather has news. His house renovations are done and she can come back home. It's proper that she does, but she's reluctant. She doesn't want to leave the Sohma house - and neither do the guys want her to go - but none give voice to what they feel, so the only thing left to do is say farewell.
When Tohru's best friends, Arisa and Saki, are finally informed about where's she's been staying lately, they promptly invite themselves for a sleepover to check out the situation. All goes oddly but well (including a revelation about Shigure's profession) till rambunctiousness at a card game triggers multiple transformations, forcing the hosts to scamper about in desperation to preserve their family secret while also scrambling about in a mad dash for clothing before they regain human form.
The school cultural festival is coming up, and Tohru's class is in charge of refreshments. Tohru's thoughts are diverted toward Kyo, who's jealous of Yuki's popularity and leadership skills, but a couple surprises await them all at the festival: a new nickname for Kyo, a special festival outfit for Yuki, and a disruptive visit by two others from the zodiac group, one of whom bears a secret message for Tohru.
It's New Year's Eve - time to clean house for the New Year, and even Tohru's best friends, Arisa and Saki, help out. Mii, Shigure's desperate publisher, is also on hand waiting for the last pages of Shigure's latest manuscript. Amidst the hubbub, Tohru learns that all the Sohmas will be leaving to attend their traditional New Year's family reunion, a 3-day event highlighted by an annual zodiac banquet with a dance performed by Momiji. It also marks the first New Year's Day Tohru will spend without her mother, but will she necessarily be spending it alone?
Back from winter break, it's time for the school endurance run and Kyo is very much looking forward to finally beating Yuki at something; however, Hatsuharu (Haru for short, another zodiac member of the Sohma clan) arrives to pound them both. He's slightly younger but surprisingly easy to get along with until his dark side is tapped, then he's a virtual bull in a figurative china shop, but his untimely visit coincides with a serious ailment waiting to drop Yuki in his tracks.
Valentine's Day, but Kyo's aware of it too late to avoid Kagura's latest adoration-filled visit. Later on Momiji also visits, bearing an invitation to a hot spring for White Day and a short story that reveals something special about Tohru and an unnoticed sacrifice she recently made.
For a White Day present, Little Momiji sponsors an all-expenses-paid trip to a hot spring owned by the Sohma family for Tohru, Yuki and Kyo to enjoy. It's supposed to be a relaxing trip for Tohru - and it is - but, all the while, Momiji harbors two jaw-dropping secrets to spring on her.
It's spring and the first day of the new school year. Classes have yet to commence, yet with four Sohmas registered (popular Yuki, temper-prone Kyo, cross-dressing Momiji and slow-burning Hatsuharu) tempers already excel far beyond the meager explanation of first-day jitters. But scariest of all, Akito - head of the Sohma clan - pays an unexpected call to the school and meets Tohru personally.
Ayame the Zodiac snake visits, the flamboyant older gay brother of Yuki. Their unshared past has left a huge chasm between them which Ayame would like to bridge if he can, but their manifold differences make the goal seem quite insurmountable.
Mother's are missed in two different ways. It's been a year since Tohru's mother passed and Tohru heads a small party of five to celebrate her life at the grave site. Later Tohru learns about Momiji's family and how he lost his mom in quite an extraordinarily different way.
Shigure suddenly suggests a trip to the Sohma family lake house. Pulling his usual emotional blackmail to get Tohru to go, and thereby Yuki and Kyo, the boys suspect he's up to something but don't know what, and the resultant silent tension makes Tohru think she's offended them in some way.
Another cursed Sohma family member comes to stay at Shigure's house, at least for a while. Kisa's only just in middle school but overly stressed by the burden of being cursed. Having buried her speaking voice and reverted to the form of a tiger cub on her own, she's apt to bite anyone near her but nonetheless finds a sympathetic, understanding and much needed big sister in Tohru.
The Prince Yuki Fan Club has a mission: destroy Tohru Honda, the witch who has ensnared the attentions of their beloved prince. Their first step is to disable her power base by targeting Saki. Unfortunately for them, Saki can pretty much handle the lot of them, and when aided by Megumi, her little brother, the attackers find themselves hopelessly outnumbered.
Tohru fails a test and must take a retest. It's just one, and no big thing to anyone else, but it distresses her no end. Unfortunately her anguish is closely followed by a debilitating, bad cold. Everyone is immediately concerned for her welfare, and several endeavor to help out - especially ever-erasable Kyo (the reluctant house chef whenever Tohru is unavailable) who must now overcome his steadfast aversion to leeks in order to prepare her a much-needed curative meal.
Kisa's latest visit to surrogate big sister Tohru triggers a jealous response in Hiro, another zodiac-cursed member of the Sohma clan. He's an intelligent but overly critical, bossy and demanding 6th-grader who seeks out Tohru - not to befriend her - but to relentlessly punish and belittle her for having become someone special in Kisa's life.
Motoko Minagawa, President of the Prince Yuki Fan Club, will graduate in spring, a full year ahead of her beloved Yuki, and the club wants to know who she'll name as her successor to the presidency. That's disturbing for her, but for right now the club's focused on knowing what girl or girls are slated for next year's student council (since Yuki will be president). To see that list, the club enlists the aid of Rika Aida to pick the lock of the student council office, which brings about an awkward confrontation when they find Yuki inside the room instead of the list, ...
Ritsu Sohma visits. Cursed to be the Zodiac Monkey (and another cross-dresser in the family), s/he suffers chronically low self-esteem - not just an average kind of low but an aggressively sub-basement level low, frequently exploding into complete and self-abasing hysterics over next to and including nothing.
All this time, for as long as Tohru's known him, Kyo has been harboring a secret from her, a secret tightly maintained by others in the Sohma family as well, a dark secret Kyo'd do anything not to reveal. Master Kazuma, true head of the family and a beloved father figure to Kyo, returns after a long absence. He sees a significant change in the lad and soberly decides upon a course of action that'll cause much pain.
Pain. Everyone's in pain. Pain to the heart, pain to the bone, pain to the soul. In pain, in the dark, and in a downpour. Kyo's run away in abject humiliation, Tohru can never go back to Shigure's house, and no one can help either one of them.
Kyo wrestles with the validity of his mother's loving words, Yuki struggles against his emotional predisposition from the Zodiac curse, and Tohru decides where to go from that point on, including a resolute visit to the sickly and rancorous Akito.