Continuing from where we were with the analysis last time, we see how team 7 goes
together to the room where everyone gathered for the preliminaries.
This is when we meet the other teams. To show once again how Sasuke is the dark, cool guy who gets all the girls, we meet Ino, who is a sort of second Sakura in terms of “fangirling”.
And yet people hated only Sakura.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying Ino should get the hate, no. I am saying that no one should get the hate because the author is bringing some comedic relief and is putting an emphasis on a certain idea.
With this page, the idea that is being enforced by Kishi more and more about Sasuke is he’s the cool guy, every girl (and boy, even) likes him. He’s the popular, broody, dark-haired guy everyone wants to be like, or envies.
We also see that Ino and Sakura are the rivals for Sasuke’s attention/affection, as they childishly start offending one another.
Next we have that year’s rookies presentations and Kabuto’s appearance, who brings the ninja info cards.
Now as Sasuke gets interested in some of them, Naruto witnesses too, and starts going a bit down on himself, although, we don’t see that because let’s face it, when has Naruto admitted his inner feelings?
He always used to hide them by starting acting like the show-off (and if you’re contradicting me, go to the first Naruto chapter, when Iruka and Naruto create a bond).
Here, guess what, we have another overlooked moment of Sakura’s, when she’s thinking about Naruto’s well-being, not being the selfish b*tch people are to making her be. What does Sakura do?
Seeing Naruto being a little depressed, she thinks about cheering him up! She shows clear signs of empathy.
So much for Hinata is the only one cheering Naruto up, right? She may have been the first to care about him as it is shown to us later in Shippuden (when Kurama speaks with Naruto about the hatred in the world, especially Sasuke’s hatred), but before that we have Sakura actively doing things for Naruto’s well-being. Before Hinata could even get out of her eggshell.
Now you may ask yourself why I am doing this? OMG, why am I being so mean towards Hinata?
I am going to respond you this: I am not! While my language might seem inappropriate to some given the fact that this is the internet we’re talking here, remember that language can be easily misunderstood.
What I am doing here is giving credit to Sakura for her own acts and counteracting the ones who said that Sakura never cheered for Naruto. That she was interested about his well-being only after the Pein Arc. The biggest misinterpretation I’ve ever heard. Manga-wise false up to the Heavens! Sakura was the first one to cheer for Naruto. But I am going to get at that part as well, later, don’t worry.
Now that I’ve covered that, let’s move forward. We have Sakura once again picking on Naruto, in what seems like a strangle. But once again, let’s look at the cause (why Sakura did it) not at the effect (what she did) – as a parallel, I have to thank my father for teaching me this lesson when I was little, this helped me a lot in life. He always explained to me when they were scolding me, why they did it, giving the “cause” and the “effect” lesson as an example. Dad always used to tell me that I should stop looking and whine about the effect (my parents scolding) and look at the cause of it, why did they do it (because I was doing wrong things). So once again, thanks dad!
So, what made Sakura go and strangle him, besides the comedic relief, of course, was the fact that Naruto previously acted stupidly, turning everyone in the room into his enemy. And as defense proof, we have Shikamaru’s statement. And we know Shikamaru may have been the laziest, however he’s the most impartial and smart out of them all, fact proven later in the manga.
And to back-up this statement, while we have Sakura scolding Naruto for what he did, not noticing one of the Sound nins until it was too late, we have one of them attacking.
So, once again it is shown to us that Naruto’s actions are sometimes very silly and can lead to… let’s call them misunderstandings among people.
So, yeah, once again, before accusing Sakura of being abusive (which to be honest I find it so exaggerated), look at Naruto’s actions. The trigger for her punching.
Now that I’ve finished with this, I want to get to a very but very important aspect of Sakura’s personality and actions towards Naruto. Since she’s most hated because she is supposedly a selfish b*tch and so mean towards him. I know I have said this countless times, but I will say it to remind people that she is not what they say she is.
After this little fight, the examiners come and everyone is seated to take the written paper test. We see Naruto freaking out when he hears about that, as well being highly stressed. What does the so-called selfish b*tch of Sakura do?
She thinks of Naruto! And how this affects him. After Ibiki Morino explains some of the rules, understanding that Naruto is not in a good situation, she directs her attention towards him, thinking to herself that all they have to do is her and Sasuke cover for him.
This shows once again that no matter how shallow she was (yes, at that time she still was, her growth is represented further in this manga), when things get serious, Sakura caresabout her teammates. Even if they’re stupid, show-offs. And yes, this was Naruto. No intent to offend him, but as she was shallow, he was stupid. Even Kishi stated that.
But anyway, let’s go forward. After this, we have Ibiki Morino explaining them one of the most important rule of the test according to which, those that will lose all their initial points during the test and those who don’t answer correctly, will be failed along with their 2 teammates. We have a moment where Sakura and Sasuke as well, so not just her, let me make that clear, freak out and Naruto says that he feels someone wanting to kill him.
A funny moment nevertheless, but this is where the real “fun” begins.
As the written paper starts, all that Sakura does is worry about Naruto.
Of course, you will say that she worried about Naruto because they were going to fail because of him. While this might be true up to a certain extent, as Sasuke worried about that as well, Sakura cared not just because they were going to fail, but cared about him overall. Thing that is about to be shown in the next panels.
Going further with the events, we have again Sakura worrying about Naruto. About whether he will be alright getting to the conclusion. But then she remembers that she first has to worry about herself in order to get THEM – her team – points.
Why THEM in capitals? Because it shows once again that Sakura DOES CARE about her teammates, BOTH of them, which INCLUDES NARUTO as well, not just Sasuke.
After which we have the moments with the 10th question, having Sasuke discover the trick behind the paper exam. Meantime Naruto is freaking out badly. There’s another moment here where it shows how much confidence Sakura has in Naruto. All that despite them always acting childish to one another, as she tells herself, while doing calculations on how many teams will get to pass the test they were taking.
This shows clearly that at the bottom, Sakura is actually a very kind person, and has faith in Naruto, even though he always acts silly around her. It is shown to us from the earlier stages of the manga, that Sakura had faith in Naruto, before many others had theirs.
Now, here comes my favorite part.
We have Ibiki Morino explaining the basics of the 10th question: that if you decide NOT to take it, you fail. Along with your team. You take them down with you, you fail them.
If you decided to take it, yet you respond incorrectly, you will loose the right to take the chuunin exam EVER AGAIN.
And his way out for this 2 way-deadlock is that if you are not confident enough you can answer the question, you can choose to give-up and not take the exam so you can do it again next year. As Naruto worries about what kind of question is, Ibiki asks for the ones who do not wish to take it, to raise their hands.
Now as Sakura hears that, all that she does is, once again, worry about Naruto.
She says that she is confident enough that she’ll know the answer, as she already did with all the ones before without even cheating. This means that her special ability IS her brain, contrary to the popular belief that she is stupid (yes, I’ve heard this one).
But, she keeps worrying about Naruto, as she says to herself that Naruto should chose to not take the question, not to worry about them (ie: Sakura and Sasuke). This shows that Sakura was willing to risk herself, risk her year and also Sasuke’s, for Naruto. So long for the selfish Sakura that all she cared was Sasuke, isn’t it?
It shows that all this time she is thinking about him and his dream.
We see Sakura recalling his dream and all the times he said he wanted to be Hokage.
This is the epitome of Sakura’s SELFLESSNESS. And if someone damn tells me that Sakura is a selfish b*tch I am going to throw this manga page in their face, hundred times if needed be.
She didn’t even have a romantic interest (as I know people make connections like these) in Naruto at that time, so that you could’ve said she did it because she was in love with him, not because she really meant it. Like if it would’ve been Sasuke in Naruto’s place.
No, this shows how great of a character Sakura is and how she should be valued. And I don’t exaggerate when I say it. To me, people like these, who are selfless and think at the well-being of others rather than theirs, to me, those people are very dear and I appreciate them very much.
Now I wonder, where were those who badmouthed her when this aired? Even in the anime. Because it appeared in the anime too, not just in the manga. Why do people comfortably overlook this moment? This is the starting point of Haruno Sakura’s growth as a character, as a person. Showing one of the most appreciable characteristics in a human being – the selflessness, the kindness, the power to be able to give-up on yourself for other’s well-being or sake.
I really want to hear those who hated her and downplayed her until now, why don’t they see such moments and all they do is TAKE OUT of context some things in order to downplay her?
But of course, it’s easier to harm and bash than to actually do a good deed, right?
This is the moment when, for me, after coming in contact with the Naruto fandom – because before, I didn’t even take this story so seriously – Sakura started meaning totally other things than what people portrayed her as.
I mean, I knew before that she was ok, that everything was cool and she is the one along with Naruto that bring us that comedic element. However, after coming in contact with Naruto fandom, I was horrified to see the unnecessary hates she gets.
So I started reading and re-reading the manga in order to understand better the storyline and everything. At that point, for me, only the Pein Arc had meant something more deep than the other chapters.
But then, after I re-read it, I actually took a deeper look at it and finally understood what Kishi is trying to convey to us. The message he sends through this manga is very telling, and Sakura happens to be one of those characters with great importance in conveying that message.
Anyway, as I’m done with this, I don’t need to speak more than the images do for her. We’ll talk more in the next part of this analysis.