Sasuke x Naruto
|Relationship:||Uchiha Sasuke x Uzumaki Naruto|
|Alternative name(s):||SasuNaru, NaruSasu, NaruSasuNaru|
|Gender category:||m/m slash yaoi|
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In Western fandom it is probably the most popular. SasuxNaru is the largest Naruto-series pairing community on LiveJournal. At AFF.net, SasuxNaru is the most popular pairing in Naruto fandom. [Citation?] There are over 22,000 fanfics for it at fanfiction.net. In Japanese fandom it is probably the second most popular pairing after Kakashi x Iruka.
Relationship in Canon
The series begins with Naruto and Sasuke as rivals. This begins to change when the two are placed on Team 7 along with Haruno Sakura. The three begin to bond and Sasuke and Naruto begin to form a friendship, albeit grudgingly.
This friendship is challenged when Sasuke leaves Konoha to pursue a life path without his teammates. The path Sasuke chooses to kill his brother Itachi to avenge his murdered clan; to do this he leaves to get training from Konoha's enemy Orochimaru, which is a decision which will seemingly end in Sasuke's death. Naruto tries to save Sasuke from this decision, and the two fight. In a final blow, Naruto ends up unconscious and Sasuke, also injured, leaves to Orochimaru. Naruto has been trying to save Sasuke ever since, though Sasuke does not want him to.
Some supporters of Sasuke x Naruto believe or joke that the pairing is canon and that Kishimoto (the series creator) either hasn't realized it yet or that he's a SasuNaru shipper himself. There is quite a bit of subtext for the pairing, tension between the characters, and their bonds of friendship are the strongest in the series and drive the story forward, so supporters find it easy to develop a romantic or sexual relationship in fanworks.
The popularity of the pairing may have its cause in the fact that they start as rivals and then become friends, allowing for enemyslash that has some foundation in the canon. Tension is high between them, but also they are connected to each other by a strong bond that has survived several years of separation (even though Sasuke won't admit it), and it is easy to imagine that tension and bond will result in erotic fascination and mind-blowing sex.
Naruto is canonically in love with their teammate Sakura, though she does not seem to return his romantic feelings. Naruto has shown a great interest in women in general, and has gotten into trouble quite a few times for peeping in on the female baths. There are various incidents in the story where Naruto has expressed disgust to male/male homosexuality. It is also very unlikely that the hero of a shounen manga might be homosexual or bisexual.
Sasuke has stated that he wishes to rebuild his clan, which would be done by procreating. Other than that, he has not shown an interest in sex or dating. He seems mostly annoyed when girls flirt with him at the beginning of the series, though he is only thirteen at the time. He is also very focused on becoming stronger and taking revenge on his brother, and seems to consider most everything else a distraction. Fans have suggested, both seriously and jokingly, that Sasuke might be asexual or homosexual. Others have pointed out that he's a traumatized kid and has other things on his mind.
Shounen Jump: Naruto and Sasuke kiss (accidentally) in the first chapter where they appear together. Does this add a special dimension to their rivalry? Kishimoto: I didn't have any particular reason for it, other than to surprise the readers. I mainly did it because I don't think there has ever been a manga where two rivals have kissed. Also, by having this encounter, it was easier to set up the love triangle: Sakura, who had intended to be the first one to kiss Sasuke, has it stolen by her rival Naruto. Sasuke and Naruto are rivals, so there's added tension there. And so on and so fourth.
In the first official character databook, there is a picture of the kiss with the caption, "Will Naruto bittersweetly relax Sasuke's obstinate heart...!?" The kiss is also described as "passionate."
In an official character interview written by Kishimoto, this question was posed to Sasuke:
Interviewer: What did the kiss with Naruto taste like? Lemon?
Sasuke: Hmmm ... Like Miso I guess ... I mean ... like I remember! Damn Naruto, why would he do that?!
This has caused many gleeful fangirls to squee that Sasuke noticed and remembers what Naruto tastes like, and that he's perhaps not as disgusted with the kiss as he pretended to be.
Sasuke calls Naruto "usuratonkachi" in canon, which essentially means "idiot." It's claimed in the Official Databook that Sasuke has began using it as a "pet name" or "in an affectionate way." Fans didn't need to be told and have been using this term quite a bit in fanon.
Naruto often uses the term "teme" when speaking to Sasuke. This is an offensive way of saying "you," which is technically all it means, though sometimes it is translated as "jerk" or "bastard" or some similar insult to get the message across that the speaker is being insulting. Some fans use this term as a return insult for Sasuke used by Naruto. This has caused some other fans headaches when it's used blatantly incorrectly, e.g. "you are such a teme" doesn't make sense.
SasuNaru vs. NaruSasu
A number of fans have very clear preferences regarding which of the two boys they want as seme (top or in control) and uke (bottom or submissive). For some fans, SasuNaru means that Sasuke tops and NaruSasu means that Naruto tops, and this may or may not otherwise effect characterization within a work, i.e. some fans see SasuNaru and NaruSasu as separate and distinct pairings. (See also yaoi pairing names.) For other fans, SasuNaru and NaruSasu are "the same damn pairing" and whatever happens in bed shouldn't change their characterization.
This has caused many heated discussions as well as a lot of confusion. Not everyone in fandom understands the difference or wants there to be a difference. Some community maintainers forbid discussion on this topic, as by nature it is mostly a matter of personal taste and discussion has a tendency to turn bad.
There are also the terms SasuNaruSasu or NaruSasuNaru, indicating that both boys act as top and bottom (switch), or that they powerplay, or that they switch and one character still tops overall, or that there are bunshins (clones) involved so it's a threesome. Not only is there no consensus on a definition, but not all of fandom embraces these terms.
"SasuNaru/NaruSasu" has also had some use as a neutral or all-encompassing term.
History of the Great Fandom Divide
When the LiveJournal community SasuxNaru was created in 2003, the seme/uke naming order was not a standard in Naruto fandom; the community was intended to be a space for all aspects of the relationship and "SasuxNaru" was used as a neutral term.
When the seme/uke order began taking hold in fandom around 2005, a rift arose for fans who supported Naruto as seme because the SasuxNaru community allegedly supported seme!Sasuke/uke!Naruto only. The amount of discussion on the issue increased to heated levels, and eventually NaruxSasu was created to accomodate the difference and split off from SasuxNaru. However, not all fans wanted a split and the SasuxNaru community was still intended as a space for all aspects of the pairing. Many posts just ended up being cross-posted, but fans would need to join both communities to be certain they saw all posts. In an indirect commentary on the divide in fandom, the SN_vs_NS (SasuNaru vs NaruSasu) community was also created as a means to vent frustrations in more creative ways.
New terms began appearing in fandom in an attempt to find neutral ground again, such as "SasuNaruSasu" and "NaruSasuNaru." These terms faced the same problems as the terms "SasuNaru" and "NaruSasu" did, since one name is still being presented first over the other. Another complaint was that the terms looked more like threesomes, which isn't impossible with the prevalent use of kage bunshin (shadow clones). While some fans embraced use of the terms, others did not. Naruto_x_Sasuke has a rule that "SasuNaru" would be used for the pairing as a whole for the sake of simplicity.
The discussion on who tops has mostly subsided, possibly due to the topic being banned in some places, though strong preferences still keep the fandom divided. In 2008, the maintainer of NaruxSasu attempted to archive the community and reunite fandom under the SasuxNaru community since nearly all posts were being cross-posted to both places anyway, but a few fans quickly protested and the maintainer yielded to their requests to keep the community open.
As in canon, Naruto and Sasuke have been separated for several years, fanfiction set in the universe of the canon are often either set at the time before Sasuke left Konoha, or, more frequently, at the time when he will be back. Sometimes they meet on their journeys, which often results in mpreg. Popular tropes include:
- Naruto brings Sasuke back to Konoha where Sasuke is put to prison, or to trial, and then subjected to punishment. Naruto either gives him emotional (and other) support during the time he is waiting for his execution, or helps him get out of the depression he got into after his return.
- Naruto and Sasuke have met somewhere in the wilderness, and now Naruto is pregnant and then gives birth to a child. Seeing their child makes Sasuke return to Naruto. (Sometimes, more rarely, Sasuke gets pregnant.)
- Naruto and Sasuke meet during a confrontation with Akatsuki, or during Sasuke's attack against Konoha (which has not happened yet in canon.) They fight, one of them is fatally wounded, and the other watches him dying (see deathfic).
- After Sasuke has returned to Konoha, his punishment does not last for long, so that he is soon allowed to work again as a ninja of the Leaf. Both boys are finally at leisure to fall in love. These stories often resemble AU fanfics in that the ninja background of the boys or their respective tragic stories are no longer important.
As the two protagonists are teenagers, highschool AU is very popular. A variation of this are College AUs, where the heroes are a bit older. Another popular setting is the world of the rich and the famous.
All these types of stories have in common that Sasuke is normally very rich (heir of Uchiha inc.) while Naruto has a more average background and actually has to work to earn the money he needs for living and paying for college. In spite of their different background and their different characters (Sasuke introverted, model student or dedicated, even workaholic CEO of his company, Naruto extroverted, with a lot of friends, and in spite of having to work to make ends meet, much more laid back and with a tendency to go to parties when he should be studying) and in spite of getting on each other's nerves they are fascinated by each other and fall in love. Normally this is accompanied by a change of character for Sasuke: under Naruto's influence he loosens up and learns to connect with people.
- SasuxNaru is the largest and most active fan community for this pairing at LiveJournal. It was the second community created for this pairing and it supports all aspects of the relationship.
- SasuNaru is the first-created community for this pairing.
- NaruxSasu is for Naru-seme/Sasuke-uke.
- Sound of Dreams by Zrina
- When the House Falls Down by sowell
- Conviction by questofdreams
- Aftermathematics by Ronsard
- Thicker Than Blood essay by Cepheid_Variable written for Ship Manifesto at LiveJournal
- Destined to be together since the days of the Rikudou essay by Senior_Witch, also written for Ship Manifesto
- Interesting bits from the first Naruto official guidebook :D by Nayama, posted at SasuxNaru
- Naruto in undertones, homosexual fantasia, and my gloating by acaciabrown
- As of 2009 October 25, the LJ community SasuxNaru has 3,991 members, which is larger than the other largest Naruto-series pairings communities KakaIru (2,961 members) and SasuSaku (1,481 members).
- A search at fanfiction.net for fanfic with Sasuke and Naruto in English came back with 22,137 results. Search retrieved 2009 October 25.
- KakaIru is repeatedly one of the top ten most-represented pairings of any fandom at Comiket, a doujinshi convention in Japan, while SasuNaru is not. However, SasuNaru doujinshi is still widely available for re-sale online, showing that it is still widely shipped and is extremely popular in comparison to other pairings.
- Interview with Masashi Kishimoto from the American Shounen Jump.
- Interesting bits from the first Naruto official guidebook :D by Nayama.
- For instance, some members of LJ have "narusasu/sasunaruisthesamefuckingpairing" listed as an interest, including the SasuxNaru community. (In response, the mods of the NaruxSasu comm added as an interest "narusasu/sasunaruaredifferentfuckingthings".
- There are a number of posts supporting the "same pairing" debate, for instance Askerian posted: "NaruSasu/SasuNaru is the same damn pairing -- or it damn well should be" and "you can make a case either way for who takes it up the ass in bed, it shouldn't affect the rest of their behavior".
- Post at Fanficrants and a Post at Chuunin both asking what the difference between "NaruSasuNaru" and "SasuNaruSasu" is. A lot of guessing and some venting frustrations follow in the comments.
- SasuxNaru banned the discussion in 2008, not long after the discussion had been brought up yet again and the discussion post had been removed for turning sour. Not long after, the NaruxSasu community also banned the discussion.
- Jix, the founding maintainer of SasuxNaru, is quoted on the SasuxNaru profile page: "This community is for BOTH sasuxnaru and naruxsasu! Both are welcome here. At the time I created this community that name went for both ways...I guess now-a-days whichever name is first is seme...so yeah...here we respect both sasuxnaru and naruxsasu! - Jix, Founding Maintainer"
- SasuNaru was created 2003 August 20, and SasuxNaru was created later that year on October 27.