Thursday, May 29, 2008
Unlike her teammates, Sakura's childhood was devoid of any actual tragedy, only being bullied in her early years at the Academy, where her sensitivity about her large forehead caused her classmates to tease her. Ino Yamanaka befriended her and gave her a ribbon that could accent her face and show others that her forehead didn't bother her. With Ino's friendship, Sakura came to develop her own identity and self-confidence. As Sakura's confidence in herself grew, she developed a crush on Sasuke, who Ino also had a crush on. When Sakura found out about this, she ended their friendship so that the two could properly compete for Sasuke's affection or even his friendship, beginning a bitter rivalry between the two best of friends. The two maintain this rivalry until the end of their match in the Chunin Exams, after which they begin to rekindle their friendship. Nevertheless, the two maintain a competitive relationship and constantly attempt to outdo the other at nearly everything.
PersonalityAt the series' start, one of Sakura's notable characteristics is her infatuation with Sasuke Uchiha. Initially this consists of following him everywhere in an attempt to help him and valuing his opinion and abilities above all others. Once Sasuke begins to be put in more dangerous situations, Sakura's display of her emotions shifts to concern for his well-being. She grows more worried when Sasuke achieved the Curse Seal form. Sakura also worries about the seal's potential to draw him away from Konoha. In time, her fears are realized and Sasuke abandons the village to seek out Orochimaru. Before he leaves Sakura attempts to stop him at the village exit, expressing her love for him and begging him to stay. She was so desperate that she was even willing to go with him on his journey. Sasuke, however, only gives her a "thank you" before knocking her out.
Although it is unknown if her feelings for Sasuke are romantic or platonic, Sakura still wishes for Sasuke's return to Konoha. As such, during their reunion after the timeskip, she willingly attacks Sasuke to make this task easier and to protect others from his attacks. Despite this new mentality in regard to Sasuke, Sakura still worries about his well-being. Regardless of her conflicting approaches to Sasuke, Sakura is still unwilling to let anyone speak ill of him and will readily beat up anyone who does.
Sakura's opinion of Naruto is also one of her earliest personality traits. In Naruto's case, however, Sakura initially sees him to be a talentless idiot whose goal in life is to annoy her endlessly. While she continues to call him an "idiot" from time to time, Sakura abandons many of her convictions about Naruto as the two spend more time together. During each of his battles Naruto proves able to use numerous complicated jutsu in many ingenious ways, causing Sakura to value him as a teammate more with each passing mission. She even begins to find herself envious of Naruto's rapid progression but it also encourages her to do better as well. When Sasuke left Konoha, Sakura, unable to join the retrieval team, asked for Naruto to bring him back, believing Naruto to be the only person capable of getting through to Sasuke. Naruto promised that he will bring Sasuke back and made it his "promise of a lifetime". It is with this that Sakura realized Naruto's true feelings for her as she cried when he is left in the hospital after his failed attempt in retrieving Sasuke. While Naruto still maintains that he will bring Sasuke back someday, Sakura resolves that next time they will bring him home to Konoha together.
In Part II
Sakura begins to learn of the various hardships in Naruto's life, particularly that he is the container of the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox and that Akatsuki seeks to capture him because of it. Furthermore, should Akatsuki succeed in capturing Naruto and remove the demon fox from his body, Naruto will die. Because of these revelations, Sakura has acquired a worrying mentality for Naruto, and cries over the various difficulties he faces. To help him in overcoming these obstacles, Sakura has become very protective of him and she wishes to prevent him from being captured by the Akatsuki. Upon finding that the medical abilities she has learned over the timeskip are ineffective in overcoming the demon fox, Sakura tries to see if there are other things she can learn to be of more use to Naruto. Sakura is generally more accepting of Naruto's personality traits and is much more capable of working well with him, as Kakashi commented. She was also observed by Sai, who commented on the close relationship between Naruto and herself and how gentle she can be with him at times. However, she draws the line at his growing perversion, although she can be just as perverted at times.
Independent of her feelings for her teammates, Sakura's holding of herself sees a change during Part I. While she does not realize it at the time, Sakura's initial role is guarding Team 7's object of interest while Naruto, Sasuke, and Kakashi fight off any hostile forces. It is not until the second phase of the Chunin Exams that Sakura realizes how unfavorable this role is, as she is the sole protector of her defeated teammates during an attack by the Sound Genin. Although she attempts to fend them off with a series of preset traps, her efforts prove futile against the Genin team and Kin Tsuchi is able to grab Sakura by the hair and immobilize her. As Kin condescends her for putting more effort into her appearance than her ninja abilities, Sakura becomes distraught that people are always fighting for her because she can't fight for herself. Deciding to change this, Sakura cuts her hair with a kunai to free herself from Kin's grasp and does all in her power to battle the Sound Genin, buying enough time for reinforcements to arrive. This new resolve remains constant throughout the rest of the series, as Sakura readily comes to the aid of a teammate in need of protecting.
Within Sakura resides an "Inner Sakura," a manifestation of her inner emotions that, aside from comic relief, serves as a representation of Sakura's actual opinion on things when she outwardly displays something opposite. Inner Sakura's appearances are typically marked by an exclamation of "Shānnarō". The phrase has no literal meaning, but is usually translated as "hell yeah," "hell no," or "damn it" depending on the situation. VIZ replaced the phrase with "Cha!" in the English anime, similar to what they did with Naruto's "dattebayo" to "Believe it!." Inner Sakura's appearances are fairly infrequent, her last appearance being Sakura's fight during the Chunin Exams (where it is implied that Inner Sakura may be similar to a separate entity in Sakura's mind). Inner Sakura briefly resurfaces later on during one of the anime's filler arcs, in which she fears that she is less observant than even Naruto is, and again at the start of Part II. This large gap between appearances is likely due to Sakura becoming more comfortable with herself, and no longer having what she says contrast how she actually feels.
AbilitiesAt the start of the series Sakura has few defining abilities, the only notable trait being her extraordinary intelligence. Having honed the art of memory and taking tests during her time in the Academy, Sakura can answer questions others in her age group cannot. This is most immediately apparent during the written portion of the Chunin Exams, where Sakura is the only Genin capable of answering the test's questions without cheating. Aside from this, Sakura's talents are initially lackluster, her overall skill and stamina being below average. As such she acts as the final defense for Team 7's objective, fending off any opponents that get past Naruto, Sasuke, or Kakashi. Soon after one of Team 7's first missions, however, Sakura discovers that she has excellent control over her chakra, allowing her to use jutsu to their maximum efficiency. This also makes her naturally attuned to using genjutsu, though she is never actually seen using such an ability.
Sakura's chakra control is put to little use in Part I, due primarily to nobody training her in how to use it in battle. The only contribution it makes is during Konoha's invasion, where her chakra control allows her to become one of the few Genin able to repel the genjutsu that befalls the area and makes everyone fall asleep. After Sasuke leaves Konoha and Naruto proves unsuccessful in bringing him back, Sakura becomes Tsunade's apprentice and begins to receive training that will put her chakra control to use. While the things she learns are seen in practice during the anime's filler arcs, they do not begin to play a big role until Part II.
With Tsunade's training, Sakura becomes an excellent combat medic-nin. Her medical abilities have thus far allowed her to heal the fatal injuries of others with relatively little effort and, as seen in the anime, reconstruct dead bodies. Her skills are greater than that of many experienced medic-nin, as she is able to cure, with little effort, injuries others would deem a lost cause. This is first seen when she uses Poison Extraction Technique (毒抜きの術, Dokunuki no Jutsu?) to utilize chakra to pull some poison from Kankuro's body without doing bodily harm to him, and then proceeds to make an antidote for the poison that no others have managed to create. In her training Sakura has also learned to pick up on an enemy's movements in a short period of time, as good medics need to be able to avoid damage and survive a battle if they are to fulfill their purpose.
In battle, Sakura can rely on the strength taught to her by Tsunade. By building up and releasing her chakra with precise timing, Sakura can easily decimate most obstacles and turn them to rubble. Over time and through repeated use, Sakura has become able to use this strength instinctively and does not need to put any effort into using it. Creating this strength is an impossible task to do without precise chakra control, as noted by Kakashi. Sakura gathers as much chakra as she can in her fist and releases in when she makes contact with a foe. Sakura wears gloves where the chakra is concetrated and released, to avoid damaging her hands. This strength, coupled with her medical expertise, her quick temper, and her natural beauty has caused many to see Sakura as another Tsunade, and even capable of eventually surpassing Tsunade herself.