Note: This post may be edited in the future to add more detail and accuracy.
Yep. I meant what I said in the title. Every. Word.
I’m not taking it back. I’m not going to tell you that I “actually mean this”. This is something that I plan to present as a possible consideration.
Now if you are a reader of ShawarmaHead Studios, you know the drill. If you are new here at ShawarmaHead Studios, then please read the disclaimer below.
Disclaimer: If you dislike Sakura, it is highly recommended that before reading the potential triggers below. Please review the definition of fast that we use at here at ShawarmaHead Studios.
Current Thought-Nuggets About Sakura
Sakura is universally and irrationally hated in the Naruto Fandom. There are some who like her better in Shippuden when she is older and ‘more useful’. But overall, Everyone hates her.
Here are some reasons why:
- She ‘treats’ Naruto badly (some have even said cruelly), not considering his feelings
- Only likes Sasuke for his ‘cool’ looks, is obsessed with him
- Poorly developed character, Masashi Kishimoto did not write her well (I have a short post regarding this ‘There are no strong female characters in Naruto’
- Is a damsel-in-distress
- She is not a ‘good’ person
- She is a bad friend because she ended her friendship with Ino
All of these reasons were taken from the comment section of a post on a blog called ‘Black Nerd Problems’ called ‘The Story of Haruno Sakura: Why Naruto’s Main Woman Character is Hated, Underrated and Underappreciated’.
If your reason is not on the list, then take a fast from that reason too. I need your full attention for what will be discussed below.
ShawarmaHead’s History with Sakura
Now, Haruno Sakura (Sakura Haruno for my lovely dubbed watchers) is a character my twelve-year-old self disliked. But just like my simple reasons for disliking Stephanie Meyer (Review here), I found out that I disliked her for a very simple reason compared to my more well-educated naruto watching peers.
I didn’t like her because she made fun of Naruto for being an orphan. Which is why I stopped disliking her in the same episode when she felt bad for what she did and tried to change. Seriously. that was the beginning and end of my hate for Sakura.
That was of course before I was introduced to the anime community and learned that there were many other different reasons to hate Sakura. I didn’t really know what to think about them. I didn’t hate Sakura, but I still didn’t like her either. So if anyone made a good Sakura joke, I’d laugh right along. No harm no foul.
As I got older, I grew to hate her again, especially compared with my favorite character Hinata. Hinata had an interesting power, came from a noble family and was kind and sweet (According to how I saw her THEN, not now). I would sometimes even actively look for more reasons to hate her. I didn’t care that it was irrational, the jokes were funny and I agreed with most of them.
But once again, I got older.
When I began to take fiction more seriously, I questioned my hatred towards her. I never blind to how irrational it was even as a twelve-year-old. But I didn’t have any reason to like her. So I just kept her in a neutral position until I could decide further.
Well now, I have decided.
This is About More Than Just Hating Sakura – We Are Taught to Hate Normal, Human Teenaged Girls
When reading the comment section of that blog post on Black Nerd Problems ‘The Story of Haruno Sakura: Why Naruto’s Main Woman Character is Hated, Underrated and Underappreciated’, you become quickly acquainted with the fact that the hatred directed at Sakura sound like they are projected onto her from the insecurities of many fans.
Take this comment for instance:
I must politly disagree. Sakura is despised because of her obsession with Sasuke(even after he nearly killed her many times) and her stomping on Naruto’s(initial) feelings for her. She never gave a coherent reason for liking Sasuke other than his looks. She abandoned a potential relationship with her best friend(and pure nice guy) Naruto for a guy who never gave her the time of day just because he was popular and handsome. How shallow is that? And Sasuke still ignores her in Gaiden. – Commentor from the Blog
The fan highlights a few problems they have with Sakura
- Never gave a coherent reason for liking Sasuke other than looks
- Abandoned a potential relationship with her best friend (Translation: Didn’t give the nice guy a chance)
- She didn’t choose Naruto (The Nice Guy) which makes her shallow.
No hate, of course, against the fan who wrote this. I am simply using it as an example. But these reasons don’t resonate as actual reasons to dislike her as opposed to a reflection of deep-rooted insecurities within THIS fan as well as many others.
These fans came to this anime for wish fulfillment, many of them young boys.
What is one of the many things a young, insecure boy hates to have to face? A real girl.
But of course, not all Naruto fans are boys, there are plenty of girls who are into the show as well. Including me at one point. But many of them also hate Sakura.
And to be honest, sadly that actually makes a lot of sense to me. It is them I want to focus on today.
We as girls are taught to hate and be cautious of one another. That we treat each other worse than boys treat each other. That we are sneaky, cruel and untrustworthy. When I think back to how I viewed other girls as a teenager, I distanced myself from anyone ‘girly’ because I genuinely thought that it signaled a genuinely bad person.
I’m not kidding.
For someone, who tried her best not to judge people, I didn’t even blink when doing this. I did not overtly display any signs of contempt, I was very quiet and did not voice my true opinions about anything to anyone for a long time. But I did stay away from them.
To this day, I do not know why I felt like this. I know that at the age of 7, I still loved dresses and would spend hours in my mother’s bedroom trying on her earrings. But something changed between the ages of 8 and 10. I suddenly stopped liking dresses and ‘girly’ stuff declaring myself a tomboy.
I DID have poor experiences with girls growing up. I was bullied by many of my own ‘friends’. I got to the point where I would expect something to go wrong every school year at some point.
But when I genuinely think back to it now. Boys treated me even WORSE than they did. But I never interpreted their behavior as harshly as I interpreted the behavior of their female counterparts. A boy could openly call me names and backstab me because they thought it would impress my friend who they had a crush on. But if a girl looked at me funny, I would be angrier about that.
The only answer I have to this is that the media I consumed taught me in subtle ways to interpret female behavior that way. In fact, I don’t see many depictions of openly rude behavior of young boys in the media. Young boys were, more often than not, morally upright protagonists in the media I consumed. If young boys were depicted as rude or cruel, it was not depicted as behavior worthy of contempt, rather it was depicted as normal and expected.
But more than anything, I think media depictions of female relationships with one another did the trick.
In fact, its rare that I as a girl have ever come across depictions of interesting, positive female relationships. Better yet, I have yet to see depictions of young teenage girls that wasn’t met with irrational scorn and eager dehumanization.
Unless of course the teenaged girl ‘isn’t like other girls’. You know, the ‘You’re the GoOd oNE!’.
Lindsay Ellis put it quite bluntly in her ‘Dear Stephanie’ video.
“And as long as I’m committing heresy, I know I may get blowback for stating what is kind of the obvious to everyone of all stripes, but we, and by we, I mean our culture. We kind of hate teenage girls. We hate their music, we hate their insipid backstabbing, we hate their vanity, we hate their selfie sticks, we hate their makeup, we hate their stupid books and the stupid sexy actors they made famous and their stupid sparkly vampires. And then we wonder why so many girls are eager to distance themselves from being the object of societal contempt. Hell, there is a reason why in 1999 I went hard on the new metal, while openly broadcasting my disdain for the boy bands that other, lesser more womanly girls voted for on TRL”
Female Naruto fans hated Sakura because she was an accurate depiction of a perfectly normal, human teenaged girl. In all of her insecurities, her mistakes, her struggles, and her growth.
Male Naruto Fans hated Sakura because she was an accurate depiction of a perfectly normal, human teenaged girl who was not going to do and be exactly what their favorite TV shows and movies always taught them girls would do for them. Right nice guys?
In a shonen anime that does everything in its power to remove the viewer from reality, Sakura’s pure humanity is very out of place. For viewers that want a self-righteous, unchallenging escapist experience, her presence is a slap in the face.
Masashi Kishimoto Made a Mistake in Including Sakura
According to Comicbook.com, Kishimoto reported that he was very confused by the hatred directed towards Sakura
When asked about the girl, Kishimoto said he tried to write Sakura as a realistic girl with faults and all. The creator said Sakura was meant to depict a girl’s ‘real’ self and act as a relatable character for his female readers to latch onto. So, naturally, Kishimoto was a bit surprised when Sakura became a scapegoat for angry fans.
– Megan Peters: ComicBook.com
It was this feedback, in fact, that got him to change Sakura for Shippuden. But her development didn’t end the backlash against her character. Considering what I just wrote above, it makes sense as to why.
The problem isn’t Sakura, she is a normal teenaged girl. According to how our media depicts teenaged girls in general, that is enough grounds for her to be punished.
No matter what she does, until she behaves LESS like a teenaged girl and more like how we want her to behave. A girl who is wise beyond her years, never gets angry and expresses her true feelings ESPECIALLY at the boys and men in her life and only falls in love with the ‘good guy’ because it will reflect how ‘non-shallow’ and ‘intelligent’ she is. She will never be acceptable.
Sakura’s Humanity does not belong in Naruto. In fact, it doesn’t belong in anime at all.
Anime Does Not Celebrate the Human Experience
Back in 2013-2014 (I’m not sure exactly when) Hayao Miyazaki said something that threw the anime community into a stir. Some of these fans oversimplified what he said as ‘Anime Was A Mistake’
However, that wasn’t quite what he said…Not Even Close.
You see, whether you can draw like this or not, being able to think up this kind of design, it depends on whether or not you can say to yourself, ‘Oh, yeah, girls like this exist in real life. If you don’t spend time watching real people, you can’t do this, because you’ve never seen it. Some people spend their lives interested only in themselves. Almost all Japanese animation is produced with hardly any basis taken from observing real people, you know. It’s produced by humans who can’t stand looking at other humans. And that’s why the industry is full of otaku! – Hayao Miyazaki
Now many focused on the fact that he was critiquing the otaku community. Which he was. But not as much attention was given to the absolute GEM that he just produced.
“Its produced by humans who can’t stand looking at other humans”
When I read this quote. I understood what it meant IMMEDIATELY.
The majority of anime is a created as a form of escapism (Even the good ones like One Punch Man). To escape reality. To escape the imperfections of the human realm. It is consumed at its best, out of frustration with reality.
At its worst, it is consumed out of a hatred for humanity.
It’s essentially makeup and cosmetics for a different type of insecurity.
It was also the reason why I connected with Hayao Miyazaki’s work so quickly. It wasn’t just the animation. It was the storytelling. The very format of how he writes. The HUMANITY of his work. Hayao Miyazaki’s films are the antithesis of anime. Anyone who calls these films ‘ANIME’ does not understand his work.
To call Hayao Miyazaki films, ‘anime films’ is an insult to what they stand for.
This. My Dear Readers. This is the reason why Sakura is hated. This is the reason why anime as a whole is antihuman.
If you love anime. You will hate Sakura.