HARUNO SAKURA: the character, the meaning, the hate (3)

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The Team goes into the forest, as we all know a very dangerous one, that’s why it was called the Forest of Death. As we all know there are at the beginning some incidents at the beggining as Naruto got caught by another ninja and then comes the battle with Orochimaru.
You’ll say that Sakura was useless though I disagree with you. Yes, she did not fought like Naruto or Sasuke did, but in that battle she served more of a trigger for Sasuke to fight Orochimaru and did the best she could. Remember that at that time, Sakura served as the brains of the team, which is highly contradictory with useless. As far as I know, useless means having no beneficial use. Well, Sakura proven herself to be beneficial in the missions, even though her actions were smaller in power-scale compared with her team-mates but still, she has had her use in critical situations.
Let’s take a look at what she brought beneficial at that state.

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Contrary to the popular belief that all she did in part 1 was freeze and do nothing, when not even Sasuke could react because of the fear and wanting to give-up and give the scroll, Sakura found the mental fortitude to move and throw the kunai in Naruto’s direction so that he won’t fall. If she would’ve been so useless, than why she perfectly threw the Kunai in the perfect point and all in perfect timing so it will hold Naruto until one of them could get to him and rescue him. She did what you could call temporary-rescue.

Then, despite being Sasuke the one she deeply liked, the so-called selfish-bitch Sakura because she never cared about Naruto, what does she do?

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She jumps in Naruto’s defense and says that even if he is clumsy and gets in the way, he is not a coward, which he was not, as he had just fought for them. So we get to see that even if Sasuke is her love interest, Sakura is rational, even if SHE CRIES thing that who wouldn’t do in a life and death situation, we even saw Sasuke trembling to death, and this unnecessary rant, some would say, actually serve as a trigger for Sasuke to later fight Orochimaru.
Now, after the fight with Orochimaru, Sasuke gets the cursed seal as we all know, Naruto is already down because of the seal break so Sakura got stuck in the Forest of Death with both of them, unable to do anything. She gets scared, she tries to look help in Naruto when Sasuke got hurt but she realises that Naruto is down too so this is where Sakura’s biggest challenge begins.

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She wasn’t the fighting type, she was the supporting type at that moment, so being left alone in a situation like that was a big challenge for her. But she did what she could do best. First, she took Sasuke and Naruto to cover, taking care of them and monitoring their state.

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Funny enough, this was foreshadowing her upcoming character development as a medic-nin. She mostly supervised Sasuke not because of her crush on him, but because of his highly injured state after he had gotten the Cursed Seal from Orochimaru. As we know, that was a near-death situation as Anko commented that he might die.
In this life-death situation, Sakura got a hold of herself and got the determination she needed and decided that she must protect them BOTH Sasuke and Naruto. Not just Sasuke. So the rant about her being a bitch that only cared about Sasuke is, once again, dismissed since early stages of the manga.

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She keeps continuing taking care of both of her team-mates as she watches over them, the night passes slowly by and the morning comes.

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She was already very tired as she watched over them all night, as a proof standing the fact that she had gotten sleepy and the sun was rising. And as a backing up for that, also comes the statement from the Sound nin trio who ask her if she had been up all night when they come to look for Sasuke.

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When Sakura sees them, she immediately tries to find out information about Orochimaru’s purpose as she was worried about Sasuke, seeing that they directly come to him.
Then, immediately, Zaku, one of the Sound trio wants to engage in taking out Sasuke but the other one observes a trap. A trap that Sakura alone conceived as best as she could in order to keep enemies far away from Sasuke and Naruto while she took care of them.
Notice that the Sound nin guy comments that this is why she didn’t let the squirrel pass. I mean, she’s even cherishes an animal’s life. How selfless is that? You’ll say that if that squirrel passed, it would have ruined her trap. True, however, as we see next, she has another one planned.
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While acting full of themselves, they try to engage her in order to get past to Sasuke, Sakura being the smart one that she is, already had planned another trap, that no one saw coming.
This speaks very much about her abilities and strength at that time. I mean, for the fragile one that she was, to be able to carry that giant log and to make all those connections, she had to deal with a great physical power. I fairly think this was another foreshadowing of the fact that she was going to be a second Tsunade.
So in her highly tired state, Sakura took time to make 2 traps and take care of both her team-mates not closing an inch of her eyes in order to not sleep so she can properly watch over them.
Well, as the Sound nin were clearly more experimented than her, they break through this trap as well, however, this still remains as a proof of her anticipatory skills and a traps user.
Now as that plan failed, the sound trio tries to engage her but Rock-Lee shows-up to protect her.
This is where Sakura’s growth as a character will take place. Another major development in her character people have missed and overlooked or downplayed in order to keep up with their hate.

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As he appears, Sakura sheds a tear. Yes, she cries. But have you looked in at the reason she does it? She is that sensitive being, she has that human part in her that we’ve spoke about in Zabuza and Haku Arc and now that Rock Lee is here she is happy about the fact that she can protect better her teammates.
This is all that mattered for her, to protect them and keep them alive! Remember that this was a life-death situation, they had signed for some papers at the entrance in the Forest so the danger was real, it wasn’t some sort of play. So I don’t get it why crying of happiness because you have aid in keeping your teammates alive is bad.
You want to tell me that if you are having your dear ones in a near-death situation you wouldn’t cry out of anything? Fear of losing them, anger of not being too able to protect them, frustration because you can’t prevent it, anything like that? So Sakura crying here is not to be blamed at all!
Anyway, returning to the scenario, Rock Lee once again tells her that he will protect her until he dies, as he had said before. And this is the moment where Sakura remembers her first meeting with Rock Lee.

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And if you look at her face, by the expression drawn you can already see that she starts to realise about the fact that she was wrong to behave the way she did it back then.

As the fights continues, Sakura tries to help the best she can from her position, engaging the Sound Trio Nin with some kunais. As the fight keeps going, she tries to help the best she can Rock Lee so he wouldn’t have to fight on his own.

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And as a back-up proof, comes the discussion Team Asuma had when Ino was praising Sasuke at how good he was, that he’d never lose a battle unlike Sakura.

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This is when Chouji says that actually Sasuke is knocked down and Sakura is fighting pointing to the place of the fight.
As the battle continues, Lee gets hurt and we even see Sakura getting worried about him (selfish bitch you were saying?)

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And as the enemy attacks Lee, she discovers the jutsus basics.
After Lee is knocked-down to the ground, Sakura rises and fights back the best she can.

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And this is where all the fun begins.
As she attacks, her shurikens are deflected by the air pressure and Sakura falls and gets caught by the female sound ninja. This is where Sakura’s determination and growth as a character and personality is shown.

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As Kin grabs her hair, picking-up on her looks and the fact that she was more concerned about her looks than being a ninja, she says that they should be teaching her a lesson.
Now what this actually represented? It was the point where Kishi was going to throw-away the old Sakura, the shallow, fangirling, know-it-all, snob, in one word, the immature Sakura.
This is the point of the new Sakura, the evolving one, the determined Sakura, the Sakura that appreciates people more, the Sakura that is mature. And as a major proof for that, comes the next pieces of back-up.

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We have Sakura here thinking at everyone, acknowledging that when it comes to real fight, she was getting in the way and always needs protection, but this time, she does what she needs to do to protect those important to her. And we have the biggest proof of her change in personality, how mature she grows in the scene where she cuts her hair.

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Let me tell you this. Sakura didn’t just cut her hair. Actually, from the research I’ve done, cutting your hair is a symbolism in Asian culture that means letting go of the past and becoming a new person, hence I was right when I said that this is the point where Kishi develops Sakura. But it’s not that kind of developing most of you would look to, not that kind of developing in terms of power-scale. Remember that Sakura isn’t here to represent over-powered ninjas, Sakura is here to represent the human side of this manga, how we, as humans, do wrong, are superficial, shallow, think we are the best when stating something, that no one is right only we are, that we are the best.

This was Sakura, a shallow fangirl that all that she knew was to think about Sasuke all the time, lecture Naruto as if she was better than him (well, at least in brains she was, but you get the idea), that treated Lee as if she was a little princess that deserved the moon. But what does she do? She acknowledges most of her faults and flaws. How many of us are so self-critic? How many of us admit the wrongs we do, our flaws? How many of us have the fortitude to acknowledge that and change something in us, I would ask?…

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Now, before getting to what I want to say further, let’s remember what it meant for Sakura to have a long hair.

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For her, having long hair meant that it was a chance to be at odds with her best friend Ino, in getting Sasuke’s attention. Indeed, maybe not that admirable for some, but let’s not forget a thing, this can easily be compared with Sasuke and Naruto’s rivalry. Naruto always fought him for the spotlight, for getting people’s attention. Sakura’s reasoning is as powerful as Naruto’s and as important to her.

So what this meant for her? A change. She knew she was going to lose odds in front of her friend Ino by cutting her hair, but if that meant saving her comrade’s life, she did it without second thoughts to it. The stand-point where the old bratty, shallow Sakura became the new Sakura that learned that there are a lot of other things to appreciate in this life than looks, that a life is more important than any other rivalry for looks.

Indeed, with the long hair you tend to feel more feminine and more attractive and Sakura even talked about how she heard Sasuke liked long hair, so it made sense for her too grow her hair right? But when it came to the Forest of Death she had to make a decision; keep the long hair so you may still have a chance with Sasuke, but it does mean you might lose them as well as yourself or, cut your hair, meaning give up on everything you know, and act like a ninja and defend your teammates.

So she chose her friends, put that desire for Sasuke somewhere in the back and decided to fight with all that she’s got! Why do you think Ino was so shocked and those memories of the old Sakura were running in her mind? Because she knew what this meant to Sakura, yet, Sakura decided there was no time for that and that she needs to change.

She got fed-up with being the one that always needs to back down and be saved, watching their back and continue to be “useless”, although it is clearly shown throughout the manga that she was useful, however, she felt it was not enough.

So by this, she decided to put an end to that old Sakura, the one that needed to be taken care of, as it is shown to us through her little speech to herself.
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So she stood-up and fought as best as she could! She used everything she had and knew and took it all out against the sound nin.

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Yes, she didn’t won, she didn’t do that great because she didn’t had some special abilities, but the fact that she didn’t abandon her comrades and stood there, all beaten-up, doing the best she could, even the simple biting it was something that she did, that she was able to do in order to gain more time for her comrades. Anything that she could do, didn’t matter she was beaten up to a pulp, full of blood, she took it, she risked her life in order to protect her comrades life.

So if there’s someone who can think that she is a selfish bitch, please, fairly and from my heart, go and do something else rather than talking non-senses, because manga has proven you that Sakura has risked her life for her comrades long before others were even dreaming to be put in this situation.

And she did good because next, we have Ino-Shika-Cho coming to her rescue. Yes, she didn’t manage to beat the guys but she managed to buy some time until help came from other sides.

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We have them coming to her rescue and this scene is so beautiful. Here it’s like we see again the rivalry between Naruto and Sasuke. We know what they want to mean by their acts, however what they say it’s different.

We know that here Ino wasn’t referring about losing to her, she wanted to protect her, but, still…they were rivals for Sasuke’s affection so she had to pretend like that was the only reason, though, few panels ago she burst into tears after seeing Sakura being in danger. This is what I call a beautiful friendship. :)

I want to make a little mention here. Everyone said that Sakura was a bitch that she broke her friendship with Ino for Sasuke. As I explained, their rivalry for Sasuke’s affection is the same as the one between Naruto and Sasuke with “who’s cooler in the gang”. The thing is, Sakura told Ino fair and square that they are rivals.

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Sakura didn’t go behind Ino’s back to win his attention, she told her fair and square, as I said, that from that day on, they were rivals and that she won’t lose to her anymore. They didn’t broke any friendship, they were just rivals. One can be friend at the same time with being rival, as we’ve seen with Naruto and Sasuke. She was being honest with Ino. That is what a true friendship means. Be honest with your friend. That’s what Sakura did. Plus, their behavior past then.. they were 12 years old children, of course they’d act nasty towards each other, we all do that. However, they always held their head high to one another and fought for Sasuke’s affection in an honest way. To each his own armor.
So I hope we’re cleared of another misconception regarding Sakura and Ino’s friendship.

Anyway, we have the next panel where Ino-Shika-Cho formation goes into battle with the Sound Nin after Chouji declared a War between Konoha and Sound village, in a funny way, of course, though things where serious, and we have Sakura looking towards Naruto and Sasuke, especially Sasuke as his curse mark starts to do something… I don’t know how exactly to describe that, but anyway, you get the point.
Ino tells her to look after those two, meaning Sasuke and Naruto, let’s be clear once again, as she and her team-mates will proceed to attack in order to protect her.

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Sakura once again smiles relieved that she managed to get help in order to be successful with her plan, meaning protecting her two comrades (actually 3, since Lee was there too). Once again, I want to put a really big emphasis on this, as it will be brought to discussion much later on in a very delicate subject to Naruto fandom.
Anyway, let’s get further with events. Ino, Shikamaru and Chouji proceed with their attack and they are successful for a quite a while, until Kin is attacked by her team-mate.

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As we know, Kin’s body was taken by Ino via her Mind Transfer Jutsu. Here, Ino makes a comment about the other Sound nin hurting their comrade.
What do we get from here? What Kishi wants to emphasis? That one of Konoha’s most important lessons was protecting your comrade and no matter what, don’t hurt him/abandon him. This, once again reinforce’s Kakashi’s words, back in the beginning of the manga.

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I’d like for people to remember the importance of comradeship as it will be used later on a very delicate manner, as I previously stated, that has a lot to do with Sakura’s further development as a character. I hope you got the idea with comrades and I won’t have to explain more, but if someone feels like I should do it, just give me a “call”.

Anyway, let’s go further, shall we? As we know, after fighting a while and getting in danger, Ino-Shika-Cho are interrupted by Lee’s Team and Neji is quite prepared to kick some ass (I always loved how bad ass he was back in Part 1, minus the hate, of course), however, he sees Sasuke’s coming back and his chakra and comments he won’t have to do this. At first, Sakura is very happy to see him standing. I mean, who wouldn’t be? She just managed to save her comrades from getting killed by all means and Sasuke, her more fighting-capable than her team-mate has weaken-up.

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But quickly enough, Sakura notices something. Something is wrong.
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Next panel, we quickly switch to Sasuke, who, now, has the curse mark, activated and asks Sakura who did that to her.

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Now, before going on with Sakura, let’s take a little look at Sasuke. What does Sasuke here do? He acknowledges Sakura. Unspoken, if you want to say like that, but he does. The mere fact that Sasuke asks her who did that to her, shows that he acknowledged her, her capabilities and the fact that she was willing to die in order to protect them, as proof coming her wounds from the previous fight.
Keep in mind this subject as it will be quite important to future reference.

Regarding Sakura, she is quite unpleased/shocked by Sasuke’s state, as we see her reaction to this new Sasuke. She calls him out with a quite shocked face while one of the Sound nins admit they had hurt her.
She keeps worrying about him (selfish you were saying, once again?) as she states “your body…” wanting to underline something’s wrong with his body but Sasuke quickly cuts her off assuring her not to worry, that he only feels power “overflowing into him”.

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Afterwards he speaks, as we all know that he (Orochimaru) gave him (Sasuke) the power and that he finally understands that he’s an avenger. Sakura keeps looking at him quite confused and disturbed as Sasuke turns to the Sound nin saying “It was you guys, right?”
Sasuke goes attacking them while Dosu calls for retreat as he has observed a change in Sasuke’s chakra and it’s like they’re seeing Orochimaru.
But Zaku, the other Sound nin, gets over confident and arrogant, displayed when he admitted they hurt Sakura, and fights back at Sasuke.
After a short battle and getting Sakura and Naruto out of harm’s way, Sasuke goes all-out at Zaku, trying to break-apart his arms.
In this moment, Sakura notices something, as tears burst in her eyes.

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She sees the same killer look in Sasuke’s eyes, as in Orochimaru, and based on her previous experience with the latter, she gets frightened, as she remembers Orochimaru’s words regarding Sasuke’s search for him, in order to gain power. And quickly after this, Sasuke snaps Zaku’s arms, as Sakura tears start flowing.

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Now you’ll say “but she cries again!”. Yes, she does. That’s an undeniable fact… but let me try to enlighten you with that. Why does she do it? What is Kishi’s emphasis on this? Sasuke is turning into a criminal! He had the killing-intent look, just snapped someone’s arms and planning to do the same to the other guys. As Sakura sees that, she comments to herself that the one standing in her face is not Sasuke-kun she knew. This isn’t the old Sasuke, this Sasuke is cold, acts criminal and doesn’t think too much about what he’s doing, his reasoning is lost. As a proof come the panels in direct confrontation to one another. The quite silly Sasuke who was blushing with the one that now the killer look, the one who genuinely smiled with the one who was prepared to kill. And on the same panel, Orochimaru.

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So she went by impulse and stopped the best way she could come with. Hugged him and asked him to stop.
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Why the crying, the stopping and the worrying, you might ask yourselves.

Well, first, crying because she had just faced Orochimaru together with Sasuke and later on, Naruto and they saw the evil inside him, so she didn’t want that for her comrade, as well, stopping him was the best thing she could do at that time preventing Sasuke into getting into a criminal, because, let’s face it, this was what Sasuke was going to turn into and, funny enough, later in the manga, guess what he’s declared? Yup, international criminal, as he had killed Danzo, attacked the summit arc etc. But anyway, getting past this, she was worried about Sasuke and about the other guys as well.

Remember Sakura in the beginning days at the training camp? Even though Kakashi said they’ll have to come with him with the killing intent and that he’ll be the enemy, Sakura was worried about his well-being, although he was supposed to be their enemy.
Same here. Once again, may I bring to your attention that Sakura cherishes human life. Even if we’re talking about the enemy here.
She doesn’t want for people to get killed, she is the shinobi we talked back in Zabuza and Haku arc.
So if you need an explanation, look for reference there.

Now, regarding her hug. Most would say “What a stupid thing to do!” Well, what I have to say is that stupid or not stupid, it did stopped Sasuke to go beserk. Thus, she prevented Sasuke going into a criminal state and just saved the lives of 3 men (well, actually 2 and a girl) as Zaku comments that since the cursed mark is gone, they’re saved.
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So here we have Sakura, saving lives, from early chapters of the manga. She had just saved Naruto, Sasuke, Lee, Sound nins. Not so useless, now, eh? Now, indeed, the Sound Nin later get killed by Orochimaru, but it doesn’t change the fact that she saved their lives earlier now.

You’ll say that Sasuke wouldn’t have killed them but I’ll ask you: Wouldn’t he? You seem to forget/get past his killing-intent look and behavior from earlier. The fact that Sakura stopped him going beserk indeed it gives you the possibility to refute the argument on a 50% scale, but it also give me the possibility to sustain it the other 50%.

Fair and square, don’t you think?

Soon after, Zaku gives them one of the scrolls, saying that at the moment, they can’t win, but if they meet again, they won’t run or die and they’ll fight back. Before they leave, Sakura stops them questioning Orochimaru’s actions, however, they answer they had no idea, they were just ordered to kill Sasuke.
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So this only enforces the idea that thanks to her, him and Naruto/Lee were saved, as they did have killing intent. Well, not only intent but orders as well.
You’ll say the orders were only for Sasuke, but the previous battle just enforces the idea that they would’ve killed anyone standing in their way.
So, once again, here we have Sakura fighting and saving lives, once again, from earlier chapters of Naruto.

Some time later, we have Naruto waking-up, after dreaming that Orochimaru was attacking Sakura and he was the one protecting her and quick after Choiju knocked his head with a piece of wood, he wakes up and starts acting silly screaming that everyone should run and hide, in the mean time asking himself where did that guy go (aka, Orochimaru from his dream).
While Ino says to herself that “That idiot is finally awake” (remember, he was still the pre-teen acting idiotic Naruto, and the genins were still getting to know him), Sakura turns around and looks amazed that Naruto has awaken.
While Naruto still blabbers around, acting silly with Chouji and Shikamaru, he then notices Sakura and goes all “Oh, Sakura-chan, your hair!”
What happens next?
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As you can see, Sakura lies to Naruto. Yes, she lies. But, if you look underneath the underneath, why did she do it? I mean, if she would’ve been that type of character many have made her look that she always brags about herself and stuff, she could’ve said “I cut it because I was grabbed by it while fighting to death to keep you both alive.” Yet, she doesn’t.

She only says that it could get in the way. The purpose? She lied to him in order not to worry him, hence the panel with Ino and Sasuke going (…).
They knew the truth, they know that Sakura had fought for both Naruto and Sasuke with her life on the line and that could’ve gotten killed, however, seeing her choice and, probably, knowing Naruto, they chose to respect Sakura’s choice of not telling anything to him.

My interpretation of this deed is that Sakura lied to Naruto in order to protect him and stay strong for him, up to a certain extent. We know that if he would’ve found out, he would’ve gotten crazy, trying to stubbornly go and find those guys to beat them up for that they did to his Sakura-chan and, eventually, would’ve ended with problems. So knowing Naruto, Sakura did best, lied for his own benefit.

Soon after, Naruto sees that the other rookies are around them and seems quite suspicious about that and asks what they were doing there.
And what does Sakura say?

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“Everyone came to save us”.
She takes ZERO credits despite the fact that she was about to lose her life in order to protect them.
You already can see the change in her.
From the Sakura in the beginning that put a lot of accent on her looks, to the Sakura that doesn’t care that more about her hair, though, as we saw, to her, it was a big deal.
From the Sakura that always bragged about herself and how good she was, to the Sakura that takes zero credits for something major that she did.

Now, I wonder myself, really, where was the Naruto fandom when this happened? How could they have skipped so major character development for Sakura? They always complain “OMG, Sakura is one of the most underdeveloped characters!”

People, people, besides the fact that I explained her meaning in this manga, power-ups are not the only development a character gets.

Actually, character development has more to do with the change in characterization of a dynamic character, who changes over the course of a narrative, in our case, Sakura. More like to do with the personality rather than power-scales.

I give you the fact that it’s an action manga. But even if it’s an action manga, in this action manga, Kishi speaks about a lot of things, portrays a lot feelings, that have nothing to do with action, a lot of personalities, drama and such, that have nothing to do with power-ups, in the end. A lot of things that connect with the human touch of the world. That human touch of the world is represented by her. And she represents the grow in a human life. We all learn, that’s what she did.

This is Sakura, that in the beginning was really mean towards Naruto, and now she’s lying for his benefit. How comes you didn’t see this back then? How comes everyone is stuck with Chapter 3 Sakura? Really, most of the people I argue with, when they bash her, bring the chapter 3 Sakura, that, funny or not, it’s portrayed as learning from her own mistakes ever since then. How comes they skipped those changes in personality?

I give you the fact that it’s an action manga. But even if it’s an action manga, in this action manga, Kishi speaks about a lot of things, portrays a lot feelings, that have nothing to do with action, a lot of personalities, drama and such, that have nothing to do with power-ups, in the end. A lot of things that connect with the human touch of the world. That human touch of the world is represented by her. And she represents the growth in a human life as an individual. We all learn, go through life-changing experiences that makes us reflect over our own persona. That’s what she did, that’s what Kishi portrayed here.

But of course, it’s actually easier to bash, rather than to start analyzing a character’s actions and see the changes. Especially a character such as Sakura’s, considering the complexity she has. This was just the beginning.
But, since I went a little overboard with what I wanted to add as an extra, let’s move forward.
As TenTen picks up Lee and shakes him up in order to get him up, Naruto runs to him and he’s all like “Oho, Thick-Brows!”

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What’s Sakura next reaction? Yes, she hits him!
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People that don’t understand her, that hate her would say it is one of those moments of “Bitch Sakura”. I say, NO!

Sakura hit Naruto because Naruto has just picked-up on Lee’s looks, like she did back in the old days, remember? While, yes, later on, this becomes a way of Naruto’s bonding with Lee, at this time, this is meant to express that Sakura is quite unsatisfied with the fact that Naruto was picking up on Lee’s looks, like I told you, in a tsundere manner (remember that; if you are not familiar to the term, just google it), and considered it rude to pick on him given the fact that he had helped her protect both Naruto and Sasuke. And since she was a victim of people who made fun of her looks, back in the days, she knew how much this could harm a person’s self-esteem. So she punched him, yes, but that panel had a lot of hidden messages behind it. And the rest of the page just confirms it.

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Sakura goes to Lee and thanks him. For what? Well, as we all know, Lee had just put his life on the line in order to protect Sakura. Remember Konoha’s teachings, Kakashi’s words about comradeship, Haku’s words to Naruto? Lee has used his important, but in the same time, forbidden move, in order to protect someone dear to him. And Sakura went there to thank him for that.

As well, she tells him that thanks to him, she has awakened and felt like she has become a little stronger. What did that meant? That Sakura has learned from Lee that she needs to protect those dear to her, even if it costs her own life, that looks are not important at all in situations like these. And she has learned the meaning of comradeship, like, for good. On a whole ‘nother level. And thanks to that, she has become stronger.

This is like it happened with Naruto and Sasuke back in Haku and Zabuza Arc.
Sasuke awakened the 2 tomoe Sharingan, in order to protect Naruto.
Naruto awakened for the first time, the Kyubi power, in order to protect Sasuke (up to a certain degree, as it was though he was dead, but we all know the result in the end).
And last, but not least, Sakura’s awakened a new Sakura, a determined, strong one, in order to both protect Naruto and Sasuke.

Yes, she didn’t awakened any flashy, visually appealing jutsu, but she let go of the old Sakura, the shallow, fangirly one, the bratty, know-it-all, who was always staying in the back. She awakened the Sakura that learned that looks are not so important when it comes to serious matters, that the ones next to you, your friends, comrades and their lives are more important than your own desire to win a boy’s attention with looks.

She awakened the Sakura that fought with all she had, in order to protect the lives of the ones important to her. This is the Sakura that in order to protect those important to her, became strong. Just like Haku said to Naruto “When you have someone important to protect, that’s when you truly become strong”.

So this was Sakura, the new one, the real one.

We go further.

Even if it was for the comedic relief, Lee was very impressed by Sakura’s words and says that he will need to work more and while he apologizes to Sasuke, who is quite astonished Lee lost to those guys, he [Lee] turns to Sakura and smiling, tells her the Lotus of the Leaf blooms twice and while Sakura is taken by surprise and doesn’t quite understands what Lee means, the moment he says that next time when they’ll meet, he will become even stronger, they both smile at each other, agreeing, while short after, a comedic scene starts between Sakura and Ino as they still tease each other.
The next instances, present to us Team 7 doing some fish hunting and while Naruto thinks about eating, Sasuke is highly concerned, Sakura is shown doing the calculations, Kishi putting an emphasis on her intelligence once again.

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Soon after that, when Sasuke realizes it, he first goes to get some water leaving Sakura together with Naruto and immediately, we have Naruto unveiling his plan to her.

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When he said that there’s a way without having to fight enemies for the other scroll, Sakura immediately guesses what’s on his mind, the author showing us once again how Sakura knows Naruto, having him coming with the confirmation saying “This is exactly what I mean”.
Soon after they talk, we have one of those “OMG Sakura is a bitch to Naruto, she always hits him” moments.

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Besides the fact that being a tsundere is part of her character, let’s look at the reason she did this. Remember early chapters? Remember Sakura being the student that has learned all the Ninja Rules? Remember that perfect student she was portrayed in the Databook? Well, Naruto was about to do one of the most basic things that he shouldn’t. Meaning, breaking the rules. Given her personality traits and the type of character that she is, what Kishi wanted to portray via her, people should’ve expected this and not make such a big deal out of it.
Once again, may I remind everyone. Do a little research about what the tsundere archetype means. This was Sakura. She didn’t do it because she hated Naruto, she did it because he was breaking the rules. It was her own way of teaching him a lesson. Not that she hates him, remember few hours ago she was risking her own life for him. Likewise, Sasuke.
Afterwards, Naruto insists on opening the scroll and on the fact that they are already in trouble. Sakura gets worried as shown by her facial expression and given the fact that she is the type who always worried for her comrades, decides to give it a go with Naruto, however, Kabuto interrupts them in time. Sasuke hurries back in time worried about them and the fact that another enemy might be there but he finally finds out and scolds both Naruto and Sakura, ending with Sakura apologizing, Naruto not saying a word, as he was the little mischievous one not wanting to tell people he is wrong and with Kabuto explaining what happened in the previous exams with people that opened the scroll.
Sasuke however gets very suspicious at Kabuto and wants to fight him.
While Naruto acts all … let’s say, energetic Sakura holds him back observing Sasuke.

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She was the one noticing something was up to Sasuke and she was slowly getting to know him, even though, at the beginning, she was this silly shallow Sasuke fangirl. But gradually, things change and she gets to know him, no matter how cold he tries to act like he didn’t care. Thing that is confirmed to us by Kabuto as well.sakura221

But Sakura, given her empathic attitude, she gets to know a layer of Sasuke that not many have seen and a layer that Sasuke has kept as hidden as he could. But she saw it, she was gradually growing from her shallow fangirl into this young little lady that saw beneath the good looking. There was another Sasuke there. The Sasuke that cared.

Moving forward, while they walk to complete the search for the Heaven and Earth scrolls together with Kabuto, he, Kabuto, explains them what they need to do in order to gain the other scroll they were missing.
After they get in the right spot, they get trapped into a genjutsu and start fighting, Naruto taking the lead. And what do we have here? A genuine Sakura that loudly cheers Naruto.

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I know, some might say, why do I pick on little details like these? Well, since people pick to other little details like others, usually, ones they consider as being ‘bad’, why don’t I have the same right? People always had this misconception she is a “bitch” to Naruto, although Kishi has always showed us that even though she acts tsundere towards Naruto (and sometimes for good reasons), she genuinely supports him. And this is what Naruto was looking for at that time. For him, praises like these, even if for some mean nothing, for him meant a lot.
We must remember he spent his childhood alone with no one to cheer him, no one to support him, no one to say “Great job, Naruto!” even if it’s a small thing. For him, being devoid of all these things, meant a lot! Even if she didn’t fight much. Sometimes, morale encouragement does more than anything else for the matter.
So if you people are asking why Naruto holds Sakura so close to his heart, well, here you have the answer. Yes, she was mean and bratty and all those things at the beginning, but she learned from her mistakes and now she’s genuinely encouraging him. For the tiniest things. But she does. And this, for Naruto, means the world!
This is one of the reasons why she is an important bond to him. Because she had given him that little morale boost he needed. So people saying she had no relevance whatsoever to this manga’s plot, once again, fairly think twice. The manga isn’t only about fights and power-ups. The manga teaches us about other important matters such as friendship, comradeship, important people, generally.
This is why, Sakura was, is and will always be an important part, that’s why she’ll always have a pivotal role no matter what.

As the battle with the Grass ninjas continue, Sakura stays in the back being observant, while worrying about Sasuke’s state along Naruto and doing little deflecting of the Kunais that were being attacked with.
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As the fight continues, Sakura shares her fair amount of worrying for Naruto as well, despite the general misconception of the fandom that Sakura has always been uncaring and heartless when it comes to him, especially back in Part 1.

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While Naruto kept on going, Sasuke tries to activate his sharingan which leads him into a painful state, Sakura once again displaying her kind and caring part by worrying for him and requesting to stop using his sharingan.

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The fight keeps going on and Naruto doesn’t give up until he is sure the bad-guys, so to speak are defeated. When that happens, Sakura once again praises Naruto’s efforts by being very vocal in her support for Naruto.

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As the fight ends, they head-out to their next stage of the exam. While carrying Sasuke due to his condition, the three of them get to their final point after the Forest of Death.

There, they try to unseal the scroll and while at the beginning it looked like an imminent danger, in the end, Iruka appears, congratulating all of them for passing the test.

Next, he explains about the Heaven and Earth scroll and what would’ve happened if the scrolls would’ve been opened and we have a scene where Kishimoto displays the similarity in personality Sakura and Naruto share when they breath relieved thinking about when they wanted to open the scrolls.

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As Iruka starts to explain the Heaven and Earth conception, Sakura is the one being associated with Heaven.

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The emphasis here is, once again, is to show that Sakura is an important asset to the team given her knowledge and wisdom, something that is definitely useful within the team context, as proven previously within the written exam.

And so, Iruka gives some advices to Naruto and Sakura, afterwards, declaring them all, ninjas.

Contrary to the popular belief that in Part 1 Sakura was useless, even though she didn’t fight as much as her team-mates, this part shows that she has earned the title of ninja through her own qualities and set of skills, showing that even though she was not yet to be, a combat asset to the team, her brains and knowledge were an important part and that being a ninja isn’t always about how capable of fight you are, though Sakura displayed good combat skills given her normal heritage, it’s also about the knowledge one possesses.

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5 comments

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Sarah (3 years ago)

Thank you for writing this analysis, I was enjoying it. I was actually reading while drinking my coffee and I wish there was a part 4. You really understand Sakura’s character, and I was surprised that I didn’t fully understand her until I began reading. She really is a beautiful character.

jenyu (3 years ago)

Thank you for this! Sakura in the manga does have really good character development, probably the most realistic and well-balanced out of anyone, and it really frustrates me how the anime portrays her unfairly in favor of Hinata, then having the sexist fanboys dismiss her as ugly &/ useless. wtf.

On another note, I read on your tumblr that you are anti-sasusaku and for sasukarin, and I’m very interested to know the reasons for that, if you would write posts on that!

    Chatte Georgiana (3 years ago)

    Don’t mention it! :) Though on another poll she got the most hated, lol. This situation has always been like this.
    As for SS and SK, I have that in plan, hope I’ll manage to write it as soon as possible. :)

      Fengshui (3 years ago)

      You should better not, or you’ll only prove that you are a hypocrite.

      You say you hate “abusive relationships”, yet you shipping an actually abusive one that even sank in chapter 485 and Kishimoto only brought that crap pairing back obliviously only to win back some shippinger.

        Chatte Georgiana (3 years ago)

        You mean SasuKarin? Haha, it’s sooo funny when you try to use this escape route and always forget that my shipping is based on dynamics first and foremost. You so easily use the word “hypocrite” because probably that’s all that SS fandom taught ya… The current is still going, huh?

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