Haruno Sakura: the character, the meaning, the hate follows with its 12th part, after the events from part 11. It covers one of the most debated subjects when it came to her and Ino Yamanaka – their friendship. Was Sakura right for what she did? Did she really break her friendship with Ino? Was there a friendship to begin with? What caused the split? How was this event presented overall in the manga? Did she deserve the hate she received because of this aspect?
I’m going to try and tackle on these matters, so let’s take it on turns.
Haruno Sakura: the character, the meaning, the hate (12)
This part of the series will cover mostly chapter 71 of the series – A wall too high. In this chapter, we tackle once more on Sakura and Ino’s friendship. It shows us other aspects of it and through these aspects, we as readers, get to understand better the rivalry between the two.
This isn’t the first time we meet this aspect. On the contrary. First time when we get to know more about the relationship between Sakura and Ino is back in chapter 54. Sakura cuts her hair after being grabbed by the sound ninja. Ino is shocked by Sakura’s decision to do it. We learn via Ino what long hair means for her. And it is then when we first get to see glimpses of Sakura’s character growth. I talked about that aspect back in part 7 of this series.
Now, with the 12th part, I continue to talk about that particular growth of Sakura’s. And how the author portrays it. So, let’s get down to business.
The character – Sakura Haruno and her journey from past till present
Sakura stands in front of Ino, while the latter ponders at the fact that they are opposing each other. Sakura instead is ready to fight. Naruto, along Kakashi and Asuma watch from the sides. Asuma comments on Ino’s ability as a ninja. Through him we learn that Ino is the most exceptional female ninja out of the academy. Soon afterwards, Sakura recalls her early childhood years along with Ino. When they learn what it means to be a female ninja.
Unlike male ninjas, who are all-out war type, a female ninja must be well… herself. A normal woman. Which in itself is a spying technique. Now, we can argue what does it mean to be a normal woman, but in the context of the manga it means not only possessing ninjutsu skills, but also possession of great culture and knowledge.
In a way you can say that if male ninjas are more earth (body oriented), female ninjas are more mind (heaven) oriented, given the fact that they must possess that great culture and knowledge.
With this lesson, we learn about Sakura as a character. Who she was and who she is now, while the chapter goes back and forth with her memories. We get to see the character’s journey from the beginning until present day.
1. Haruno Sakura & flower symbolism
First thing we learn about Sakura through the memories is the friendship between her and Ino, about flower symbolism and her past as a bullied kid.
She is rather a shy and soft-spoken kid. Quite clumsy, actually, as Ino comments. And despite being named after a flower (Sakura), she has no knowledge on the matter. Though thanks to her newly found friend, Ino, she begins to learn more about the subject.
Glimpses of self doubt once again hit Sakura. She thinks low of herself, seeing Ino being so knowledgeable. She is the lesser flower, the extra one. While Ino is the main. But thanks to Ino, her confidence raises up again as Ino comments she’s yet to bloom. Sakura is no flower by any means, but rather a bud. She’s got a long way until she blooms.
Kishimoto flashes out Sakura’s early childhood personality so that the reader can understand the starting point of the character. Like I said, a shy, soft-spoken kid. Quite clumsy, with self-confidence issues. A flower that’s not even a flower, but a bud. What does that mean in terms of Sakura as a character? Simple: development.
Likewise, as I said in earlier parts of the analysis, she represents the human aspect of the story. The life. And life’s cycle is best portrayed through nature. Through flowers. In spring time. When nature comes back to life.
As we know, her name is Haruno Sakura which translates as cherry blossom spring fields. And we all know how much Kishimoto loved his symbolism. But why would such a symbolism matter? Well, I’ve talked about it in another post of mine here. Warning: it’s a NaruSaku centered post, so read at your own discretion! If you can get past that, I think we’re good.
2. Haruno Sakura – a budding shinobi
But before we understand the Sakura from now, we must understand the Sakura from back then. And in my opinion, the author did a good job with the portrayal. Because in order to review a character’s development, we need to see their backstory. The incipient point. Where it all started. And in terms of Sakura’s character, we get that.
What happened to the clumsy, little Sakura who had self-confidence issues? This new Sakura seems to be quite the opposite.
She talks back to her friend, she no longer has confidence issues. On the contrary, she seems to overflow with it. At least when it comes to her once good friend. And we’re introduced to a new variable in the equation. Sasuke Uchiha. What does he have to do with all of this? Why does Sakura bring him in the discussion she has with Ino? Well, to understand better this dynamic, we need to go once again back to Sakura’s and Ino’s memories.
2.1 Sakura Haruno – a bud in bloom.
We turn back once again to the memories that the girls have to understand the dynamic. But not before we understand a bit the concept of rivalries.
Through Naruto, our questions as readers are answered. Why is Sakura going so far with Ino? Why does she brag about her strengths? Is she purposely trying to hurt Ino with the Sasuke talk? What’s going on here? We, the readers are Naruto at this point. However, the author in the form of Kakashi, answers the question for us. That, combined with the flowing memories we once again get to see.
No, Sakura isn’t the type of person to brag about her strength or hurt others. She just doesn’t want for Ino to show her mercy or not take her seriously. Just because she is the one who in the past helped build Sakura as a person. That shouldn’t give Ino a reason to look down on Sakura and undermine her capabilities. Just because she (thinks) she knows who Sakura is.
Now, this is something I’ve written in the past about. It was a theory about Sasuke’s and Naruto’s fight based on Ino and Sakura’s. So I will just iterate what I said back then.
2.2 On rivalries – Haruno Sakura, Ino Yamanaka and their object of rivalry – Sasuke Uchiha
Many people often admired the rivalry between Naruto and Sasuke. But when it came down to Ino’s and Sakura’s, they were quick to hate Sakura. Because apparently Sakura gave up her best friend over a boy. Was she right, was she wrong? I’m going to talk about this aspect later on. But let’s put it down on perspective. Where did this rivalry begin?
I talked about it briefly in part 7 of this series, but that was short. Here, I want to go more in-depth with it.
Back in Forest of Death, Ino recalls about a certain aspect that meant a great deal for her.
Sakura has her first crush. Unexpectedly on Ino’s part is Sasuke Uchiha. But wait, she’s not the only one! He’s the popular guy who everyone gets interested in. I talked about this aspect back when I first started the series. Back in part 1 and part 5.
We find out from these passages that the object of their rivalry is Sasuke Uchiha. And it all goes down to the length of the hair because Sasuke likes girls with long hair. And from there on, the rivalry begins. They promise each other that they won’t lose to one another. As a symbol of that rivalry and the will to surpass Ino, Sakura returns the ribbon Ino once gave her.
This here is one of the most controversial aspects of their friendship, and one of the reasons Sakura got a lot of hate for. Deserving, undeserving? I’m going to talk about this in the next part of the analysis. But as Kakashi said… Rivalries are a strange thing.
Was Sakura deserving of all the hate she got? Was she wrong in her decision? Well, in order to determine that, we need to get back a bit and analyze the memories. See the context they’re presented in.
3. Sakura Haruno – the bud finally starts to bloom
We’re finally given the resolution in respects to Sakura’s character and her status as a budding shinobi. She is no longer the little girl that looks up to Ino and walks in her shadow. Now it’s time for her to step out the shadow.
The little bud started to bloom on its own terms. And now, it’s time for Ino to take her seriously. She wants Ino to understand that aspect of hers. Because to Sakura this is serious. She no longer wants to walk in Ino’s shadow, but on the contrary. To surpass her, even.
Yes, she looked up to Ino. She was knowledgeable, fashionable, had confidence. And smart. Everything she was not. We must recall that Ino was at the top of their class. Even higher than Sasuke. Which in a way spoke volumes. So for Sakura, while it all started as a rivalry for Sasuke’s attention, it turned into something more. They are now fighting as shinobi, not as little girls bickering for a boy’s attention.
And Ino finally understands that. She finally gets it. Sakura wants her to not look down on her on an all-out battle.
A battle that proves them what they’re really made of. And as I said, not just in terms of getting attention. Sasuke wasn’t even there. But in terms of shinobi. Sakura even demands Ino to get serious in their battle as they commence it, and she lands the first punch.
And it’s here we get to see. The cry-baby bud is no longer. She finally started to bloom into a shinobi.
But was that enough for people? Apparently not. Because it was a shallow reason. That’s why I think it’s important to look at another aspect of the story.
3.2 On rivalries and acknowledgements – I wanted to be like you, you were my goal
We talked about the rivalry between Sakura and Ino and how the subject of it was Sasuke Uchiha. But wait, where have we seen that before? Oh, right… With Naruto and Sasuke’s rivalry.
The reasons seemingly different. But in essence, they’re the same. Both Naruto and Sakura in their own case of rivalry wanted acknowledgement from their counterpart.
And as it was the silly reason in girls’ case aka for a certain boy to take notice of them, it was the same in the boys’ case. Because of popularity. I mean hell, it’s a trope that’s used even now, in the newest series.
However, both the hero and the heroine ultimately searched one thing from their rivals – acknowledgement. Because, they admired their rivals. They were something which neither Sakura nor Naruto were – popular, confident, skilled.
I wanted to be like you is the common denominator in Haruno Sakura and Uzumaki Naruto’s cases.
One could make the argument that in Naruto’s case, it was because he was an outcast and lonely. But really, can’t we actually say the same about Sakura?
Granted, the reasons for which Naruto’s case holds a lot more weight are true. But Sakura also had her own degree of solitude. It wasn’t just as tragic. But it holds ground. If it weren’t for Ino, she wouldn’t have had anyone to talk to. We see she’s the target of bullies. So, can you say that a bullied child isn’t alone? Isn’t an outcast?
Just because her conditioning isn’t as tragic as Naruto’s, it doesn’t make it right to not take it in consideration. In my opinion, at least.
3.3 Sakura & Ino: friendship or role model and protege?
Now, one of the things I want to debate upon is a certain aspect of Sakura and Ino’s relationship. Which was it, really? Friendship or role model & protege?
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not undermining Ino’s help in building Sakura’s character. This is out of the question, here. Ino’s support is clear in that aspect. However, whenever Sakura hate came forth it was one particular argument I saw people bringing. Which is? The old She broke her friendship with Ino over a boy! one. So I looked a bit closer at this whole situation.
Now, when declaring her love for Sasuke, Sakura was pretty open, truthful and honest about it. She told everyone about it. But, can we say the same about Ino?
As we see, Ino is pretty shocked about Sakura’s announcement. Why though?
Now, if we go back in time, there’s a certain scene I believe we need to take into consideration. A discussion between Sakura and Ino.
Sakura confronts Ino about a newly acquired information. That she also likes Sasuke. Now, this also here puts things in perspective. In a timeline perspective. Which means, she finds out about this after Sakura has openly declared her liking of Sasuke.
And as we know, right then after, Sakura declares her rivalry with Ino over Sasuke’s acknowledgement. Now, many people have hated and judged Sakura for it. But then again, can’t we make the informed assumption based on the events that unfolded, that Sakura felt a form of betrayal from Ino’s part? Weren’t they supposed to be friends? Aren’t friends supposed to tell each other everything? This begs the question: were they really friends or role model and protege?
So with that taken into consideration, wasn’t Sakura right to take such a decision? At least she was blunt, fair and truthful about how she felt about the whole situation. But can we say the same about Ino? If she felt the same about Sasuke, why not tell Sakura?
Of course, everything I said here is debatable from various reasons. This is merely a perspective I’m presenting. This combined with the author’s writing in terms of female characters, makes it hard to pinpoint an exact and absolute truth. We never really see if Sakura felt betrayed, nor we see what Ino thought about the matter. That part isn’t touched upon.
But yes, female characters in the Naruto world seemed to revolve around the male audience far too much, if you ask me.
However, it is more than once I felt that Sakura is judged too harshly for certain things and outcomes. And that same judgement wasn’t applied when it came to her counterparts. Like it was with this case of her relationship with Ino’s.
If you ask me, based on what I wrote up until now, Sakura’s actual friendship with Ino begins only after this encounter in the preliminaries. Because in the end both girls took questionable decisions. Despite saying about Sakura that she hides her feelings, Ino did the same. Hid from Sakura the fact that she too, likes Sasuke. This in exchange made Sakura want to turn her into her rival. And so, they both got where they are at this point in the story.
But this point into the story also shows us that their rivalry also goes beyond their liking of Sasuke. Now it’s about their statuses as ninjas. And if we judged them based on the liking of Sasuke, why not also appreciate that it went beyond that, as well?
However yes, I believe one can make the argument that this is a flaw in the author’s writing. Yes, at their incipient point you can have the girls revolve around boys. However, at some point they have to get past that, right. Develop. And for a while it seemed to go that way. But that’s another thing to discuss another time
With this being said however, I thank you for reading part 12 of the Haruno Sakura: the character the meaning, the hate series.
See you next part!