As I mentioned in the previous part, from here on starts one of the biggest moral lessons of this story. We could very well say that it lays at the core of it. It’s the basis upon which this story is built.
So, with this being said, let’s split it in two parts and have a go at it.
- Shinobi = Emotionless tools.
- How one can become stronger by protecting the ones important for them.
Now let’s take them one by one.
I. Shinobi = emotionless tools.
A tool called Shinobi.
As Kakashi and Zabuza start fighting, through these two fighting, Kishi introduces to us the concept of the what a true Shinobi meant at that time.
As it was stated when Zabuza declared that he gained a high quality tool for himself – a fighting machine known as a Shinobi who doesn’t have a heart, nor fear of death is the true Shinobi, a perfect tool. Furthermore, Kishi explains how one, in order to become that perfect tool, has to erase their humanity like Zabuza has done with Haku, by training him from an early age.
While Kakashi fights with Zabuza, he orders Sakura to stay back and protect Tazuna because this fight is serious. She obeys the order, stays next to Tazuna and puts her trust in her teammates, cheering once again, for them. It is shown to us once again that Sakura cared for both of her teammates, not just Sasuke, although he was the object of her affection at the time. Naruto was in her heart, too.
Kakashi states about doing the same thing. He puts his trust in Naruto and Sasuke, explaining how with Sasuke’s talent and Naruto’s determination they can win, even if they’re not like Haku, the perfect Shinobi tools.
This part of the story is used as a plot device for the further lesson Kishi was planning to teach us: that when you have someone dear to protect, you become stronger.
But before going to that, once again, the concept of tool is brought to us when Haku explains to Naruto the fact that for Zabuza, he served as a tool. We see a flashback from the very beginning of their relationship, to the present day.
Furthermore, he dies as the tool he perceived himself as being, sacrificing himself for Zabuza as he (Zabuza) comments that he has picked something very useful (talking about Haku’s sacrifice). We get the panel with Haku asking Zabuza to let him stay by his side as his tool, once again Kishi strengthening the idea in the old days that Shinobi were nothing more than tools to be used.
After that, Kakashi keeps attacking and gets the advantage on the fight more and more over Zabuza.
By the time Gato appears, Zabuza’s arms are already severed. Kishi once again strengthens the idea of Shinobi being (used as) tools by having Zabuza explain to Naruto how the world of shinobi works.
Now, let’s go at the second part of this lesson.
II. Becoming stronger when you have someone important to protect.
Now, let’s rewind the events a bit and get back to this part of the lesson. As I showed before, when Naruto meets Haku in the woods, he asks Naruto if he wants to become stronger for himself or because he has someone important for him? Because in his perception, that’s when people become stronger. When you have someone important to protect.
Now, in the actual fight, when both Naruto and Sasuke are inside the mirrors’ area, Haku explains that being a tool for Zabuza is his dream. That he wants to protect him. He asks Naruto and Sasuke not to hate him, explaining that this is the reason he wanted to become stronger, because he had someone important to protect. For Haku and his loneliness, Zabuza was the best that he had, so for him Zabuza became someone important. Someone he wanted to protect.
Then, to strengthen the idea and lead to the actual plot – in order to be able to protect the ones he cares about, Sasuke awakens the 2 tomoe Sharingan. Haku worries about that.
Haku gets Sasuke into a trap and he is caught in a deadly match, as he decide to sacrifice himself for Naruto.
After this occurrence, Naruto simply goes crazy at the sight of his friend being killed in front of him, and fights the masked Haku.
Besides the fact that Naruto gets the powers because of the Nine Tail Fox, this fight is also used as a plot device to show that when it comes to protecting someone important to you, you become stronger, as Haku comments later about Naruto.
Now these two together lead to the biggest moral lesson of this manga: how one cannot kill their humanity and emotions, even if they’re buried deep within.
This way they become stronger, leading to the new generation of shinobis – one that will not be just tools, and with their humanity not erased they’ll become stronger. That generation that doesn’t have to kill their heart in order to gain strength.
And now this is where we’ll be talking about Sakura; the reason I separated those moments in two different categories was to, hopefully, make you understand better what Sakura’s character really represents in this manga, this being, probably, the biggest overlooked aspect of her character.
All people saw is that she cried about Sasuke, that’s all, when as a matter a fact, the rule Kishi has her quoting, speaks everything about what Sakura’s character will mostly represent in this manga.
Let’s take it step by step.
As Kakashi fights Zabuza, we see Sakura concerned about Kakashi’s wellbeing. Once again, for the love of everything that is divine, explain to me, please, how a selfish person worries about other people? Really now… She yells in order to warn him about Zabuza’s plan to cut both Kakashi and Haku in half, thing that Kakashi in the end observes himself as well.
After this, the mist dissipates. Zabuza gets harmed. Sakura notices Naruto. She expresses her relief and happiness that Naruto is ok, unharmed. Once again, an aspect about her character everyone overlooks, sometimes like on purpose, in order to make her look bad. Be the bad guy in the story.
Once more I wonder, what selfish person and every of those name calling titles she got, would worry about her comrades?
So yes, when the question is posed if Sakura cared about Naruto since the very beginning, the answer is simple: Sakura did worry about Naruto, Sakura did cheer for Naruto. Ever since the beginning!
She did it for Naruto, she did it for Kakashi, she did it for Sasuke. For Sakura, the life of their comrades was very important.
This shows that no matter how much of a shallow, fangirl, flawed person she was at that time
(which frankly speaking is okay because there has to be the point A the character starts, in order to get to point B), deep inside Sakura is a kind person that worries about the people around her and their well-being.
Going next, she sees Naruto is ok. But nowhere to be seen is Sasuke. She questions Naruto about Sasuke and his whereabouts and wellbeing.
Naruto freezes. He doesn’t say a thing, making her freak out. This is where Sakura notices that something’s wrong. Tazuna, observing this and knowing the fact that she would want to see what happened to Sasuke but she has to stay and protect him, offers to go with her so she won’t have to break the order from Kakashi.
So we see that even that she wanted so much to know what happened to Sasuke, until Tazuna didn’t say so, she didn’t move from the place she was supposed to be. Once again we’re witness to her personality traits that were previously shown to us, those which spoke about how thorough she follows the rules. How she obeys the orders given to her. That exemplary character she has when it comes to her profession.
As Tazuna goes with her, Sakura arrives at the place where Sasuke lays down, almost dead. She stares at him in awe and shock.
We see that even Tazuna is shocked. We see in the next panel how his look falls on the ground, expressing how sorry he feels about the whole situation. Now, if a stranger feels that, imagine someone who has spent her time around Sasuke. Someone who loved him, in her own way, how she must’ve felt.
And the next pages comes the epitome of the moral lesson Kishi wants to teach us via Sakura’s character.
What 99% of the people understood from this scene? Sakura is a cry-baby.
What they should have they understood? Sakura is a Shinobi, yes. But she’s also human. She represents humanity in a world bent on killing this side of one’s character, and turning people into emotionless tools; killing machines.
Now let me get back to what I said at the beginning. Naruto’s major theme, as it’s represented in this Arc is holding on to your humanity, to your emotions or else you become a cold tool. A tool called Shinobi, remember? As example for that, we have Haku and Zabuza’s story.
The old system is represented by them, while this major theme, lesson, morale, however you want to call it is represented mostly by Sakura in this part when she tells Tazuna about the 100 ninja teaching from the Academy. And the most representing for this situation is none other than Shinobi rule no. 25:
“No matter what situation… A shinobi must keep their emotion on the inside! You must make your mission a top priority, and you must possess a heart that NEVER shows tears”.
What does this saying tells us? That Shinobis were trained as cold, emotionless tools with no sense of humanity. That in order to be successful, one must kill their humanity. Now, Kishi draws a real nice parallel here with the real-world nowadays.
He makes use of his favorite writing devices – parallels. He draws parallels to the real world, the wars that we’re going through, and the kids we’re training only to send them to more wars.
Getting back to Sakura’s situation, we have Tazuna commenting that “This is the Shinobi way… That’s too harsh!”
So we have a rather regular man, a citizen. Totally unbiased when it comes to this world, making a statement about the harshness of the shinobi system.
Now, what’s the message and the meaning behind this, and also the explanation of Sakura’s character?
That no matter what, in the end we’re all humans. When it comes to harsh situations like these, where a dear one is killed, we cannot act cold and pretend that everything is ok. That it’s normal to let your feelings burst out. To let the tears stream down on your fac. That if you do that you’re human, and there’s nothing wrong with that. You are part of humanity after all. And feelings is what defines humanity.
Same with Sakura. This is what Kishi was showing us. That Sakura is human, she represents that humanity we all turn back to. Because we’re human. Because feelings cannot be stopped, no matter how cold one tries to be or act – thing that happens to Zabuza later on.
As well, this is the starting point (A) where the newer generation will surpass the old one. They’ll be dealing with things differently. The difference between the two generations will be showcased in how the new generation approaches situations such as the ones we’ve been witnessing in a different manner compared to the old one (point B). That they will fight with the heart instead of weapons.
This is in a metaphorical way to put it, of course. However, you get the point. For reference, we have later the Pein arc, where Naruto talks about breaking the circle of hatred. But that will come later.
And to show that what I said it’s true, we’ll be going further with the events.
The moment Haku dies, Zabuza already decreases “in power”. His important one was not around him anymore. There was no one around to protect anymore, so that’s why he became less powerful. I n the end.
Now, when Gatou appears and starts hitting Haku’s dead body, Naruto starts going crazy. He yells at Gatou for acting the way he does. While Kakashi tries to get a hold of him, Naruto yells at Zabuza. He orders Zabuza to to say something, asking him if he and Haku were friends. Naruto then questions Zabuza’s feelings regarding the situation, given that they were always together.
At that point, Zabuza tries to act cold telling Naruto to shut-up because Haku is dead anyways. He explains to Naruto that he used Haku as a tool, the same way Gatou was using him as a tool. That shinobis are just simple tools. That all he ever wanted was Haku’s blood because of his bloodline, nothing else.
As Kakashi tries to stop him, Naruto still doesn’t believe what he’s hearing. He cannot believe that Zabuza was that heartless, and asks him if he really meant that. He yells at him that Haku really loved him, and once again asks Zabuza if he really doesn’t feel anything, as memories of Haku’s statements run through his mind.
In the next moments, Naruto starts crying, wondering if he will become as strong as he wants, will he be similar to Zabuza? That he will have to give up all his feelings, his friends, everything he has, his human side in order to become strong?
This clearly shows us that Naruto is similar to Sakura, and that they both represent that change in this newer generation – meaning they are not willing to bury their humanity in order to become powerful shinobis. That they are not willing to become emotionless tools if that means to become stronger. We see Naruto crying over the fact that Haku threw away his life for Zabuza and lived as a tool, saying that this fact is very sad.
We see here Naruto crying as well, so I never really understood why people made such a big deal out of Sakura crying because she saw Sasuke dead. It is only normal. If you’re telling me that you wouldn’t cry at the sight of one of your friends (in this case, love interest) dying, I’m going to be calling you a liar, once again. You’ll say that this is a manga and that I am overthinking this, but I am not the one drawing parallel with the real human world , presenting feelings.
If Kishi wouldn’t have brought that up, he wouldn’t have showed crying Sakura, Naruto and later, guess who? Yes, I think you’ve guessed it, Zabuza the Demon himself!
In the end, the coldest person to be presented to us in this manga, the Demon Zabuza, as he was known, returns to his human side and starts crying, as Naruto’s words have touched his heart. Realized that Haku meant more to him than just a tool. Showing that he knows what it means to have feelings, Zabuza explained what it meant to Haku to fight have to fight with Naruto and Sasuke. And that even though he was Zabuza’s tool and portrayed as an emotionless one, Haku was actually very kind.
The biggest revelation of this, serving as a proof to all I’ve stated before, are Zabuza’s words, who freely admits that, in the end, a shinobi is still human and that in the end, they cannot become emotionless tools. No matter how cold or emotionless you are, you always turn back to your humanity.
And as Zabuza returned to his humanity, having someone important to protect, majorly weakened, because of that someone important, Zabuza gathers all his remaining strength and goes for a killing spree after borrowing a kunai from Naruto.
In the end, after killing most of the other hired ninjas and, most importantly, Gatou, when he finally gets drained from the battle, on the verge of his death, Zabuza thinks about Haku and later asks Kakashi to take him next to Haku as he wants to see him once more.
After this, we get Sasuke waking up while Sakura squashes him with her hugs, being very happy about him being alive.
We get them both crying, both Naruto and Sakura, at the news that Sasuke is back. So once again, I don’t get it why people accuse only Sakura of crying when we had besides her Inari, Haku, Naruto and even Zabuza. The representative icon of cold, emotionless tool.
At the end of this fight, we get the real proof of what I’ve stated before, about Sakura and Naruto (even more than her), representing the next generation that will be different than the old one. The prodigies in fighting differently (with their hearts) than it has been done until now, as Sakura asks Kakashi if Haku and Zabuza’s were right about ninjas. Kishi depicts the fact that Sakura will be the type of ninja who cherishes human life, feels, emotions, in one word, humanity. Later, we have Naruto commenting that he will be a ninja in his own way.
This may also respond one of your biggest questions, why Sakura doesn’t fight that much as her teammates? Why isn’t she that overpowered like them? Even though we’re at early stages of the manga, I am sure that by now you’ve read it and noticed that this is one of the reasons Kishi made her a medical-ninja. Because medical-ninjas save lives!
Sakura represents that person who gives a great deal of importance to life, no matter how small or big it is, no matter how unimportant a life is to some. She represents the epitome of humanity and that human side that needs to be cared for, and needs to be taken care of.
Proof of that? Later on, in part 2, in her battle with Sasori.
Not to mention that it has been hinted from early chapters when Naruto gets hurt, Sakura says that they should get back so that Naruto can see a doctor, that they need medicine for his wound, when talking about genealogy and bloodline limits, things that are from the medical areas, Sakura is shown in the panels. Kishi puts little hints here and there, it’s just up to us to notice them!
Now that I finished with Haku and Zabuza arc – one of the most important in my opinion – and that I explained as best as I could for you to understand (once again, English is not my native language, I am Romanian, so sorry for the possible mistakes) what this manga stands for, and what is the biggest message Kishi conveys to us through this arc.
A very important arc, I might add, which by coincidence or not, it’s very much related to the War Arc where everyone is fighting for everyone, for humanity itself. Not to mention that one of the biggest weaknesses of the Edo Tensei are feelings, yes, feelings and the fact that, surprisingly or not, Haku and Zabuza are brought back. But this is a thing we’ll discuss later again in another context, similar nonetheless.