Ok, ever since 635 was released, people have been screaming here and there about the fact that after Sai asked Sakura what about Sasuke, Shikamaru totally ships SasuSaku. I know that my following post will probably bring on my head a lot of people not pleased by opinion, but rather than accusing me of the following thing, let’s analyze a bit Shikamaru’s behavior around the whole Team 7/SasuSaku/NaruSaku dynamics and we’ll see exactly who he ships or if he does it, by any means.
In order to go in-depth about the whole situation of Sasuke and Sakura and Naruto and Sakura, let’s look at Shikamaru’s position first, in the context of Team 7.
When he first makes his appearance in chapter 39, Naruto calls him and the other members “The Idiot trio”. His response?
What seems a rather simple and boring response, “Don’t call us that!!” is meant to show that despite his lazy-nature type, Shikamaru is a guy who will say what he thinks, whether people will like it or not. He tells you his opinion right away and in an honest way.
I think there’s no reason to go in-depth to show Shikamaru’s impartiality when it comes to Sakura/Sasuke and Sakura/Naruto interactions, namely, romantic subplot.
So what we’re going to do is touch here and there, his most important scenes in regards to the aforementioned.
- Sakura -> Sasuke [Part 1]
Shikamaru’s most controversial remark in regards to Sakura -> Sasuke is chapter 183: Promise of a Lifetime. What does he say here?
“Even you couldn’t convince Sasuke, right?”
With this line, everyone assumed that he must be a definite SasuSaku shipper. But not many looked into the logical timeline of events and why would Shikamaru say something like that. At first glance, it makes you wonder, why did he say something like that, does he know something we don’t? Some hidden feelings of Sasuke’s towards Sakura? Did he saw something special between them, yadda yadda? My answer, though disappointing for some, is no. There’s no hidden meaning behind this and Shikamaru is no shipper whatsoever. But in order to understand a bit Shikamaru’s line, let’s rewind few chapters back, namely a very significant moment between Sakura and Sasuke. We all know it.
Yup, the exact one. As we all are aware of it by know, after Sakura hugs Sasuke, he reacts thus pausing the killing spree he went in after the Sound Trio and stops. It is very important to keep that in mind, no matter which side of the barricade you’re on, Sakura’s hug together with her request to stop, it indeed stopped Sasuke. So because Shikamaru actually witnessed everything from a front-seat, so to speak, upon hearing about Sasuke leaving the village and Sakura already meeting him, it is only normal that he would say that. Not because he ships Sakura and Sasuke, not because he has a preference or any keen interest in them, especially Sasuke. It is just because he had previously witnessed an interaction between the two, so the logical deduction was that, as expected, maybe this time as well, Sakura would’ve managed to stop Sasuke.
However, that time it didn’t happen. No matter Sakura’s prayers and requests, tears and so on, Sasuke left. The reason why I say that Shikamaru is actually very unbiased when it comes to these two, especially Sasuke, is because we already know his opinion on Sasuke. He rather dislikes the guy and he’s not such a big fan of him as proven:
However, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t look-up to him, even if he is no fan of his. Shikamaru truly respects Sasuke as an individual and is totally unbiased towards him.
One could say he was an inside fan of his, given his inner monologue in chapter 182. And that is what makes Shikamaru a meter in terms of weighting the whole situation properly in the overall plot.
Shikamaru gives credit where is due, however, he will be totally open when it comes to talk about real facts. And the biggest real fact here was is and it will probably always be, Sasuke was the cool genius who acts like a prick. Cause as we’ve seen, while admiring his qualities as a shinobi, Shikamaru wasn’t much of a fan of the way he behaved.
However, that didn’t stop him, in ch. 183 to call Sasuke a comrade who is neither a close friend, nor someone important. But given his Konoha ties and ways, Shikamaru will respect that code and will respect the status Sasuke has gotten upon himself due to the said code so he, Shikamaru, will respect that and even give his life, if necessary.
Thus, this is why Shikamaru can be considered the most unbiased character. He admires someone, but doesn’t stand the said person because of his behavior. However, following a code of honor and being a respectful individual who will abide by those laws, Shikamaru risks his life for Sasuke. When, he could’ve easily said no.
So by now, I think we covered Shikamaru’s unbiasness and overall view he holds in regards towards Sasuke. As well, this closes the first part of “Introduce Shikamaru as the silent observer in the romantic subplot”, how I like to call it.
Unlike others such as Sai, Kakashi, Yamato & co., that have observed and were more vocal about the whole concept of Sakura -> Sasuke, Shikamaru is posted somewhere in the back, silently observing and analyzing the facts and their circumstances. He will only appear in key-points and will have only few small reaction panel, almost like an unnoticeable smile or smirk, you could easily get past by. However, that small panel holds many meanings behind it. Shikamaru has appeared only 4 times in the key points of the whole ~ Sakura -> Sasuke concept and Sakura -> Naruto ~ one.
The first one, was none other than the one we spoke about. Let’s call it Promise of a Lifetime, beginnings. Why I chose to call it like that, you’ll see.
- Sakura -> Naruto [Part 1]
Let’s get past that, and go to the second time Shikamaru made a key-appearance which made him a key factor in the whole context of the Promise of a Lifetime.
At the beginning, what we know is that Shikamaru is one of the witnesses that do what a witness is supposed to do, as in, you’ve guessed it, witness the promise where Naruto vouches to Sakura he’ll bring Sasuke back.
Pre-the promise itself, we have the aforementioned line of Shikamaru’s about how Sakura couldn’t stop Sasuke and that her job there was done.
Immediately after that, as we all know, Sakura utters the very first words from her request to Naruto, which its response later is known to us as the biggest romantic subplot: Promise of a Lifetime.
As Sakura voiced her request and Naruto hears it, we have a very important part here. For the first time, we can tell that Naruto’s love isn’t just a crush. It goes beyond that, as he can totally understand Sakura’s pain. The pain she was in because of her unrequited love for Sasuke. Because, he was in love with her as well, but like Sasuke ignored that part of Sakura, albeit quite conscious, so does Sakura with Naruto, albeit unconscious, as it is proven later to us, in the manga, when she finally realizes the meaning behind Naruto’s words.
Why did he say he understands her? Because he was also in love with her and she didn’t notice, but when she does, it provokes her so much pain, she bursts in tears.
But anyway, that’s a part we will have to discuss it later.
What I want to show you here is that, in-between the moment Sakura makes her request and we get to acknowledge Naruto’s love for Sakura, ending in his Promise of a Lifetime to her, there’s a certain someone assisting to all this what it would seem, intimate battlegrounds of unrequited love and realizations about one another.
If you re-read Naruto chapter 183: Promise of a Lifetime, you’ll notice that for 3 pages sharp, the only one appearing out of all the people who were there besides Naruto and Sakura, was Shikamaru.
Let’s remember to call this Promise of a Lifetime: initiation and the fact that pre-the promise itself, Shikamaru concludes that her job there in terms with Sasuke is done because of the fact that even she couldn’t convince him to stay rather than leave.
Now, let’s get to the following part. I’d like to call it Promise of a Lifetime: consequences (the promise I couldn’t keep).
Afterwards, like we all know, Shikamaru returns together with the team, some of them being injured, treated afterwards, yadda yadda. As Shikamaru finishes his talk with Tsunade, he goes to visit Naruto who was badly injured after the Sasuke retrieval mission. As Sakura comes to visit Naruto, she hears the news: Sasuke hasn’t been brought-back.
As soon as Sakura walks in along Tsunade and Naruto sees her, we notice Shikamaru’s expression when the two of them – Sakura and Naruto, make their first contact.
He doesn’t say much, however we can see his smile and overall face expression is not content with how the things are happening. He can see the pain Naruto is when he sees Sakura, and tells her that he’ll keep his promise. And then, as we all know, Sakura begins avoiding the subject.
What is interesting, it’s Shikamaru’s reaction here. As Sakura was trying to avoid the subject as she has seen how bad Naruto came back, Shikamaru lashes out for a bit at Sakura, trying to explain her what Naruto was trying to do. It’s not that Sakura didn’t knew, it’s just that she was trying to avoid it due to the enormous emotional turbulence she was going through at that time.
“Sakura! He’s trying to…” Shikamaru says. Trying to what? Apologize? Explain himself? Encourage her? Possibilities are endless, but what’s to be observed here is that Shikamaru is the first one to witness the outcome of the promise itself. He saw the very first beginnings of things. And so, he is witness to what Sakura says further, as part of her promise of a lifetime to Naruto.
Even though not drawn, it is safe to assume that he saw the change Naruto made in Sakura, given as he was present in their discussion. As we’ve seen, he ended-up smiling as he saw that Naruto won’t give up and keep going forward and not without a fight. We can agree on this to be a generally positive thing, right?
Good, now let’s get past these and get to the next level.
Sakura -> Sasuke [Part 2]
The second time Shikamaru comes into direct contact with this situation is when he goes to ask for permission from Team 7 to get Sasuke out of radar, so to speak. He goes to Sakura explaining her the details of what they’re planning to do, and what it’s going to happen if the problem is not dealt with.
As we can see here, comparing to Part 1, Promise of a Lifetime: consequences (the promise I couldn’t keep), Shikamaru’s face and overall mood is totally not happy nor content. He’s actually tensed. Compared to his part 1 counterpart when it came to the interaction between Sakura and Sasuke, Shikamaru now knows the complications that arise in this situation. Being a major witness in the PoaL, he knows all the implication it holds and besides that, we could fairly say that he highly disliked anything that has to do with Sasuke, even though once, he held him in his appreciation.
Ever wondered why Shikamaru was the one who talked to Sakura about this whole thing? Because the romantic subplot was once again touched upon when Sai tells Sakura that he doesn’t know what promise Naruto has made her, but he sees how much pain it causes him and he can feel it as being unbearable.
And because early Part 1, Shikamaru has been an important witness, that’s why he was brought here as well.
What we can all agree on is on the fact that, when it comes to this, Shikamaru is either content with how things go or truly finds himself in the situation where he borderline despises anything that has a connection with Sasuke. And one wouldn’t wonder why, would they?
All we need to remember is that, given Sasuke’s betrayal of Konoha and Shikamaru’s charge over the mission, when it happened, he risked the lives of his Konoha comrades just to bring Sasuke back. A Sasuke who didn’t care and in the end, ran to Orochimaru. So one shouldn’t actually be amazed whenever we get a non-positive reaction from Shikamaru relating Sasuke.
Now, getting to the most controversial things lately, Shikamaru’s implication in the Sakura -> Naruto and Sakura – Sasuke matter.
Let’s make a small comparison here…
630 Shikamaru compared to 635 Shikamaru.
Now, I don’t want to be stepping on anyone’s toes here, but we can clearly see the difference. When Sakura held that speech to the Alliance about Naruto and about how they shouldn’t give up, Shikamaru’s reaction was a positive one and he quickly came with a plan.
In 635, however, when he oversees/overhears the discussion between Sakura and Sai, Shikamaru’s reaction is rather a negative one, he is tense and doubtful, he doesn’t like what he’s seeing.
And given his past experience with both Sakura and Naruto, as well as with both Sakura and Sasuke, it is safe to assume that Shikamaru is no shipper of neither of those, however, he is a meter when it comes to the impact that Naruto has on Sakura and viceversa and the impact Sasuke has on both Naruto and Sakura. And whenever Sasuke is involved, Shikamaru’s expressions are always tensed.
So the overall idea is that it is safe to assume that Shikamaru supports Sakura’s and Naruto’s bond and the effect they have on each other, whereas when Sasuke is involved, he is not that supportive, on the contrary, based on past experience, he’d rather prefer not to have Sasuke around.
So in the end, I think it’s safe to say that no, Shikamaru is no SS shipper. If we judge by his expressions overall, we could say that, on the contrary, he’d prefer more Naruto and Sakura than Sasuke and Sakura.