With the new Sakura awakened, the next instances show us Team 7 doing some fish hunting. Naruto is shown thinking about eating, Sasuke is highly concerned about the exam, and Sakura is shown doing the calculations. Kishimoto is once again putting an emphasis on her intelligence.
Soon after that, when Sasuke follows Sakura’s calculations, before proceeding with any other action, he goes to get some water, leaving Sakura together with Naruto. We have him immediately revealing his plan to her.
When he said that there’s a way without having to fight enemies for the other scroll, Sakura guesses right away what’s on Naruto’s mind. The author shows us once again how Sakura knows Naruto, having him coming with the confirmation stating “This is exactly what I mean”.
Soon after they talk, we have one of those “OMG Sakura is a b*tch to Naruto, she always hits him” moments.
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 as in the databook?
Well, Naruto was about to do one of the most basic things that he should not do. Meaning breaking the rules.
Now, given her personality traits and the type of character that she is, and what Kishi wanted to portray via her character, 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 because she hates him. Remember, few hours ago she was risking her own life for him. Likewise, for 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 worries for her comrades, she decides to give it a go with Naruto.
However, Kabuto interrupts them just when they were about to open the scroll.
Sasuke hurries back in time, worried for his teammates and due to the fact that another enemy might be looming around. But, as soon as he gets there he finds out about what Sakura and Naruto wanted to do. He scolds them both. It ends with Sakura apologizing, Naruto not saying a word – as he was the little mischievous one not wanting to admit it to people when he is wrong, and with Kabuto explaining what happened in the previous exams with people that opened the scroll.
Sasuke however gets very suspicious about Kabuto and wants to fight him.
While Naruto acts all … let’s say, energetic Sakura holds him back observing Sasuke.
She was the one noticing something was up to Sasuke and she was slowly getting to know him, even though, in 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 doesn’t care. Thing that is confirmed to us by Kabuto as well.
But Sakura, given her empathic attitude, 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 facade. 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.
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 “b*tch” to Naruto, although Kishi has always showed us that even though she acts tough towards Naruto, she genuinely and actively 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, Sakura’s cheers 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 wondering 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 in 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 a lot!
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 should think twice when making that argument. 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 manga is most and foremost about bonds.
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. She is his support.