Now that the Fruits Basket anime is finished, fans are free to reflect on all of the anime's best moments. Besides the much-needed happy ending for Tohru Honda and Kyo Sohma, another fan-favorite moment was the coming together of Yuki Sohma and Machi Kuragi. While many fans debate whether Kyo or Yuki are the better match for Tohru, one big question often flies under the radar: Was Tohru ever really the best match for Yuki?
Yuki and Tohru's relationship definitely had a positive impact on both characters, but Yuki fundamentally changed when he met Machi. Considering romances are at the forefront of Fruits Basket, the choice to ultimately pair Yuki with Machi was a shocking yet carefully plotted decision.
Machi is, arguably, more compatible with Yuki. Even though Yuki had a lot in common with Tohru, Yuki and Machi share many common threads on, perhaps, a deeper level. Notably, there is one aspect of Yuki that Tohru simply can't relate to: his rocky relationship with his mother. On the other hand, Machi can certainly relate to and empathize with it because of her own family drama. Perhaps because of this, Machi is also one of the first people to notice Yuki's underlying loneliness. She never saw him, or isolated him, as a "prince," the way the other students did.
Previously, Yuki had made a point not to develop friendships at school because he felt like he couldn't sustain friendships the way others could. However, Machi is one of the first people that he actively tried to befriend. It took a lot for Yuki to come out of his shell and learn to trust people, so his befriending of Machi showed just how far he was willing to challenge himself in order to develop some kind of relationship with her. It was an active pursuit.
Yuki and Tohru did share quite a bit of affection for one another, and Yuki even admits to loving her in Chapter 59 of the manga, though only in his head. Yuki had never experienced love from a female figure, like his mother, and he ultimately realized that his love for Tohru was not necessarily romantic in nature. In Season 2, Episode 21 of the anime, Yuki delves into dark childhood memories and realizes that Tohru treats him and accepts him in the ways he craved from his mother.
It's in this moment that the line between romance and friendship is drawn. He admits he loves Tohru like family, but he decides to actively pursue a new relationship with Machi in Season 3. If Yuki had decided to pursue romance with Tohru instead, he possibly would have always felt something lacking in their relationship since he would've been misconstruing their dynamic. Machi challenges Yuki to be a better friend while Tohru accepted and comforted Yuki on a daily basis. Ultimately, Machi is the better romantic match for Yuki and that is why they end up together.