Character Analysis #1 – Sakura Haruno

There is no need to present the world famous manga Naruto, whose main series ended in November 2014 with its 72nd volume. We will not, in this article, present the context of the story, as it is not the main argument here. Indeed, this article is a character analysis and, to fully appreciate it, it is recommended to be familiar with the context of the manga/ anime.

Naruto includes a large number of characters- to the point that it sometimes becomes confusing, but, among the three main heroes, it cannot be denied that Sakura -who could be seen as the main female protagonist, is often at the top of “Most-Hated Characters” lists. Memes about her uselessness are countless on the internet and, let’s admit it, they are often hilarious. Yet, let us analyse the character of Sakura and point out what is likeable about her.

The evolution of the character

It is true that, at the beginning of the story, Sakura is an annoying and upsetting fan-girl. She follows Sasuke around, she sort of throws tantrums and does not hesitate to have a go at Naruto, and all this behind his back. For all these reasons, in the early series, she is utterly despicable. She appears to be weak, frail, and unable to fight. Still, all these reasons make her character interesting later on. Indeed, the character of Sakura shows the development of a childish and careless girl, turning into a strong and mature woman. The key scene that initiate the change is when she recklessly cuts her hair in the Forest of Death. Don’t dare telling me this is not badass!

Besides, from a cultural point of view, women with short hair are seen as leaders and fighters – this is for instance why Miyazaki’s heroines wear short hair, for the most part. Training along with Tsunade, she demonstrates her skills in battles and ceases to be a powerless creature that needs to be defended. As the story unfolds, this is pleasant to follow, and we expect her to grow stronger and stronger.

The failure of a promising development

Alas, despite all these improvements, the treatment of the character does not allow Sakura to blossom fully. Indeed, during the entire series, she remains in love in a stereotypical and rather teenage manner. While displaying feelings of love is praiseworthy, in this instance, it just renders the character plain and dull again. Indeed, we fail to understand how a mature woman, who has had time to think and reflect, can remain in love with such an annoying character as Sasuke.

Generally speaking, and this is regrettable, the development of the female protagonists from Konoha seems unfinished: we would like to see more of Sakura, Ino or Hinata, but their apparitions are quickly erased by other elements and fights that are more important to the story.

Sakura does not deserve the wrath directed against her in the anime world, but to me, she is an incomplete character, and this is why it makes it hard to identify to her. Starting with her lack of self-confidence in the first volumes, young audience, and more precisely young girls, can identify to her if they have grown up with the manga. Yet, from an adult perspective, her choices are unjustifiable because they are led by a blind and, let’s face it, rather irrational love. While slight changes in the story could have made her an awesome character, she remains a tool to include a female main protagonist-which almost makes it a business decision. Where the character development absolutely collapses and ruins all our hopes is by the end of Naruto Shippuden, when we realise that Sakura, like all other ninja ladies, has become a housewife. The utter disappointment!
I do like Sakura, precisely because I have grown up with her, and identify to her development, but it is unsure whether in the coming years, with all the new series appearing and giving us a new vision of what a strong-willed woman can be, this judgement will still be accurate.

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