Haruno Sakura

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Character
Name: Haruno Sakura
春野サクラ
Occupation: Ninja (Kunoichi)
Title/Rank: Chuunin, Medic
Location: Konohagakure
Status: alive
Relationships: Parents (off-screen)
Yamanaka Ino (best friend and rival)
Team 7
Uchiha Sasuke (former teammate and crush)
Uzumaki Naruto (teammate who likes her)
Hatake Kakashi (sensei)
Tsunade (sensei)
Fandom:
Other:
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Haruno Sakura is the lead female character of the Naruto series and the only female member of Team 7. She has a crush on Uchiha Sasuke and is crushed on by Uzumaki Naruto. While Hatake Kakashi is her sensei as part of Team 7, Sakura received her main training under the legendary healer Tsunade and became a medic.

Fan Reaction

Criticisms and Misogyny

Naruto fandom is abounding with misogyny, and most of that sentiment is taken out on Sakura in fierce criticism. She also has her own fanbase who will defend her as just as fiercely.

"I think it’s safe to say Sakura is the most hated character in the entire Naruto universe and arguably the most hated character in the whole manga/anime universe. Why? Because she is useless. There’s actually no other way to put it. She’s absolutely, 100% useless. -- Before I go any further, I just want to state that this isn’t going to be an article bashing Sakura."[1]

Reasons for criticism of her character include:

  • She's supposedly useless.
  • She's too powerful post time-skip.
  • She's mean toward Naruto.
  • She's too clingy toward Sasuke.

People who defend her will point out that she has matured over the course of the series:

  • She has become stronger.
  • She has become a specialist in medical ninjutsu, which makes her important in her own way.
  • She has learnt to appreciate Naruto.
  • Her childish crush for Sasuke has turned into a deep concern for him.

While some people turn their criticism directly against Sakura, others instead direct it toward author Kishimoto Masashi for making her weak, not giving her enough character development, or curtailing her screen time. Such arguments often lead into discussion of sexism in Naruto.

image from Bashing the Sakura-Bashers on Hated_Character

Criticism of Sakura has waned as the fandom has aged, so it can be difficult to understand just how pervasive hatred of Sakura was at one time and how deeply it was woven into the general fandom. For example, one fan's comment on the extremely popular SI OC fic Dreaming of Sunshine in 2014 couldn't seem to praise the fic's main character, Nara Shikako, without taking a swipe at Sakura: say that Shikako was "so much better and more interesting than Sakura", who the fan noted to be "an abusive fangirl", prone to showing "favoritism among her teammates", not selfless enough, and not ambitious enough.[2]

Wood release

A common wish for Sakura fans is that she'd been given wood release, a type of ninjutsu using trees. Listed reasons include that it would have put her more on level with the other members of Team 7,[3] it would have tied in with her character arc, and it would have given her a closer connection to Tsunade and Yamato. Fans point out that according to data books she had all of the chakra natures seemingly required for wood release[4] and that canon information about how Hashirama even came to have wood release and if it was really a hereditary skill is fuzzy at best[5].

Other fans feel that giving Sakura power upgrades wouldn't actually fix Kishimoto's problems with writing her, and that narrative choices took away her agency and independence which made her unlikeable at any power level because she'd ceased to be important to the narrative.[6] Some fans speak very negatively about what Kishimoto tried to do with Sakura ("Remember the quote of Kishi's when he said he developed Sakura by making her 'beautiful' ?" one fan asks.[7]) and essentially argue that it's not power level that matters, but her effectiveness in a fight, which they feel was sorely lacking:

Tbh,Sakura never had to be as strong as Naruto & Sasuke in my eyes. She just needed to be able to fight alongside them.

Kishi never managed to make her do that, and no, I don't count those moments where she fought with them and needed rescuing immediately after as fighting alongside Naruto & Sasuke.

Naruto and Sasuke can work together but they can also take care of themselves.

That's the dynamic separating Sakura from the rest of Team 7. For whatever reason Kishi refused to make her not need the interference of someone else.

If Kishi made her more independent in battle I doubt her power level in comparison to Naruto and Sasuke woukd even matter.[8]

Pairings

Sakura is most popularly paired with her love interest Uchiha Sasuke (Sasuke x Sakura), which is the most popular het pairing in fandom. Naruto x Sakura and Kakashi x Sakura also have strong fanbases. The pairing between Sakura and her best friend/rival Yamanaka Ino might be the most prevalent femslash pairing in fandom; additionally, most femslash includes Sakura.

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See Also

References

  1. Why Hinata Should Have Been A Member Of Team 7 Instead Of Sakura by Mizuoni, August 31 2014
  2. Relevant review excerpt: "Wow, an OC self-insert fiction that doesn't fall apart at the seams. I congrats you on building this amazing character who has great character growth and amazing potential. She's so much better and more interesting than Sakura, in my opinion, since one, she's not an abusive fangirl and shows no favoritism among her teammates; two, she's a selfless mother-hen; three, she has great ambitions to succeed beyond the difficult or impossible challenges. [...]" and then it goes on for a good while longer about other things, including fanon about Naruto's treatment by the villagers. (Moonstone-blaze, Dreaming-of-Sunshine by Silver Queen - Review for chapter 73 Posted 23 April 2014.)

    The mention of Sakura not being ambitious enough is particularly strange because Dreaming of Sunshine definitely established Sakura as an extremely ambitious person as early as Chapter 7.
  3. lolandhugs, Should Kishi have made Sakura as strong as Naruto & Sasuke? (2018 Edition) #1 Archived link Posted 19 June 2018 (Accessed 12 July 2018)
  4. tiredgaykakashi, OP post Archived link (Accessed 12 July 2018)
  5. raendown, post reblogged by math-is-magic Archived link (Accessed 12 July 2018)
  6. Rifulofthewest, Should Kishi have made Sakura as strong as Naruto & Sasuke? (2018 Edition) #3 Archived link Posted 19 June 2018 (Accessed 12 July 2018)
  7. Arthas, Should Kishi have made Sakura as strong as Naruto & Sasuke? (2018 Edition) #10 Archived link Posted 20 June 2018 (Accessed 12 July 2018)
  8. Zef, Should Kishi have made Sakura as strong as Naruto & Sasuke? (2018 Edition) #34 Archived link Posted 21 June 2018. (Accessed 12 July 2018)
Naruto
Characters Uzumaki NarutoHaruno SakuraUchiha SasukeTsunadeNara Shikamaru
Ships Sasuke x NarutoKakashi x IrukaItachi x SasukeShikamaru x TemariUchihacest
Other: In-Universe Naruto TimelineTimeline of Naruto FandomNaruto DoujinshiNaruto ChallengesList of Naruto Zines
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