Naruto: Sakura’s criticism overshadows her best traits
Sakura has always been an overly criticized character in Naruto. As such, her best traits are often overlooked.
As one of the shonen classics, Naruto has a reputation for showcasing a variety of characters and their development. One such character is the series’ female protagonist, Sakura Haruno, a young and talented Kunoichi who belongs to the same team as Naruto and Sasuke.
Introduced as an arrogant girl, Sakura goes through many ordeals and heartbreaks before becoming what she is today. Even as a Genin, Sakura has more Chakra control than Naruto and Sasuke and only excels after growing up. During the Fourth Great Shinobi War, she contributes even more than the Kages and establishes herself as the best Medical Ninja of the era, surpassing even her master, Tsunade.
However, because of her earlier reputation of only crushing on Sasuke and not focusing on developing her skills, fans always have a prejudice against her. Even after redeeming herself, she is still one of the most underrated characters in the series and a highly criticized one at that. Of course, it doesn’t help that the series always side-lines female characters, regardless of how strong they may be. Here’s a look at why Sakura’s best traits are often overlooked because of fans’ prejudice.
Sakura’s Personality Before the Time Skip
Introduced as Naruto’s classmate and then his team member, Sakura doesn’t really stand out much except for being the protagonist’s first crush. Her arrogance is shown in the way she treats Naruto and diverts all her attention to Sasuke, the most good-looking shinobi in the class. She doesn’t hesitate to fight with Ino, one of her good friends, over Sasuke.
When Kakashi asks his team to introduce themselves and tell him about their goals, Sakura can’t come up with an appropriate answer, showing her lack of determination to be a better ninja. Her first real challenge is when she faces off against Zabuza and Haku, both completely out of her league.
Then there’s also the Chunin exams, where she again faces off against an enemy she has no chance of defeating. Though she tries her best, she can barely contribute to her team. It is also during that time Sasuke starts changing for the worse until he eventually leaves the village for his lust for power. Being unable to help him in any way, Sakura can only beg Naruto to bring him back, but that also fails. Then, she starts loathing her incompetence and pledging to become stronger. She requests Tsuande, the Fifth Hokage, to train her while Naruto is training with Jiraiya. By the time Naruto returns to the village, Sakura is a whole other person, terrifying even Kakashi and Jiraya with her monstrous strength.
Her character development may seem to be redundant, but Sakura’s character is meant to be initially naive and later becomes strong because of her circumstances. Unlike Naruto and Sasuke, she doesn’t have a tragic past. Instead, she grows up in a happy family. Therefore, it only makes sense for her to be so carefree and not worry about becoming stronger unless there’s something to trigger that sense of desperation within her.
Sakura develops her skills only after the time skip
The two-and-a-half-year skip brings a lot of changes for Naruto and his classmates. Sakura becomes a Chunin after learning from Tsunade and developing her skills exponentially. She also has her first impactful battle against Sasori, a member of the Akatuski. Though she takes help from Chiyo, she does manage to defeat an S-ranked criminal, a rogue ninja from the Sand Village.
Her Medical Ninjutsu and her fighting skills are unparalleled. Even in close combat, only a handful of Shinobi can go toe to toe with her. Her monstrous strength allows her to smash a giant boulder with one punch. This strength comes from channelling her Chakra into her fists or legs before landing a devastating attack on her target. The sheer force of this attack is so strong that she can destroy almost anything.
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Furthermore, Sakura can also use the Hundred Seal Jutsu developed by Tsunade. Because of the difficulty of this technique, she is the only person other than Tsunade who can use this Jutsu. As Shizune explains in the war, mastering this technique requires extremely delicate Chakra control that takes years, if not decades, to achieve. Nonetheless, Sakura learns to use this technique to its fullest potential in less than three years. This technique accelerates cell division so significantly that any damage to the user will be ineffective. They can regenerate their wounds, even fatal ones, in a few seconds.
Not only that, the user only needs to activate their ability before going into battle. While they fight, they don’t need to distract themselves by making any hand seals or any conscious effort to heal themselves. Sakura first used this technique in the Fourth Great Shinobi War. She also develops an identical purple mark on her forehead, like Tsunade.
Does Naruto’s Sakura deserve all the hate she gets from fans?
Sakura has a lot of dislikeable traits; therefore, it is easy to see why she gets so much hate from fans. She comes off as extremely self-centred, even to the point of demeaning Naruto, hoping to get Sasuke’s attention. She’s also ready to betray her village and go with Sasuke without considering the consequences. A Ninja going rogue and creating havoc is a huge embarrassment to a village.
Although, she also tries to redeem herself and makes herself stronger. Sakura is ready to kill Sasuke when she realizes that he is beyond saving, only to lift the burden of the promise from Naruto. After defeating Sasori, she does nothing for the entire series and only makes herself useful in the War.
However, in Shippuden, Sakura is there for Naruto whenever he needs her. Even when he loses control of his powers, she does her best to help him. Sakura feels guilty for asking Naruto to save Sasuke and tries her best to make up for him. She saves his life countless times, making her an important character in the series.
All in all, her flawed character is designed to add some level of humour to the series. Nonetheless, she doesn’t deserve all the hate from fans. Despite fans’ disapproval, Sakura has one of the best character development in the series.
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