Transparent edti of the SS portion in the 686 colour spread! Feel free to use it on your blog and stuff. ^_^
Mangastream plz, we know you ship them :3
Sakura sacrificed years of growing her hair long so she could protect Naruto and Sasuke, just like she sacrifices three years of accumulated chakra to help the two of them have a chance to defeat Kaguya.
Okay Naruto fandom! There is a lot of controversy about this so… let’s talk about chapter 685 and this page!
I’m going to put a disclaimer here that while I do ship SasuNaru, I also like to look at the canonical evidence and character development fairly. Including literary themes Kishimoto is setting up. So this won’t be bashing/building any ships, it’s going to be looking at what’s going on in Sasuke, Sakura and Kishimoto’s heads in that moment.
To start… what is Kishimoto doing in this chapter? If we remember back to chapter 680 page 7-9, Sasuke basically tells Naruto “Kakashi and Sakura are useless in this battle, I’m only saving you Naruto.” Which Naruto isn’t happy about and argues against. Sasuke doesn’t show any indication of changing his mind though. He’s fighting for the greater good after all. And no matter what his personal feelings may be in this situation, strategy dictates don’t waste your stamina on protecting pawns. Focus on protecting the important chess pieces. So he’s protecting himself and Naruto, because no one else can seal Kaguya.
It’s established Sasuke thinks Sakura is useless to the battle. It hurts Sakura’s feelings. Sasuke belittles her own strength and progress. She is a strong kunoichi after all, she worked hard to get to where she is now. And while Sasuke has a point…
Is Sasuke right? Is Sakura useless in this battle despite all her hard work and effort? Is Kishimoto going to go from a message in the early manga saying "Hard work and effort can overcome genius" to "Hard work and effort don’t matter, only genius and fate do".
With 685, Kishimoto tells us… "No." Hard work and effort CAN make a difference. You should never underestimate someone just because you think you can do it all on your own. Sasuke’s primarily a solo-fighter. He wants to do everything by himself, and his own personal journey had to teach him that… everything is better with teamwork.
Right now in the manga, the only fighter Sasuke respects is Naruto. Besides Kaguya, Naruto is literally the only shinobi Sasuke perceives as being his equal. Everybody else Sasuke could wipe out now in an instant. So in Sasuke’s mind, Team 7 right now is… him and Naruto. And forget the useless rest.
But here he is… stuck in a dessert… lost and wandering. Jutsu aren’t helping, he can’t find Naruto, and Naruto’s not coming to find him either. Sasuke’s trying to find a way out, but nothing’s working. And suddenly… There are Obito and Sakura of all people, yelling “SASUKE-KUN! OVER HERE! HURRY!” Sakura uses every drop of chakra she has, and they barely make it. Sasuke just managed to squeeze through thanks to his teleportation jutsu.
Sasuke trades his own life and wellbeing for Sakura’s beat up chuunin jacket. That is some heavy symbolism right there. That chuunin jacket represents all of Sakura’s hard work and progress, and the damage to it is the damage she took in this battle… for his sake. That vest is a literal representation of Sakura’s personal sacrifice for Uchiha Sasuke. For Sasuke’s sake but… also for Naruto’s sake.
So there they are, Sakura’s at the verge of passing out from exhaustion. She’s wounded, sweating, and can barely stand. And Sasuke’s holding her upright, side-eyeing her like… "Okay… I couldn’t do it by myself, you saved me… I was wrong." Sakura saved him, when not ten chapters ago Sasuke admitted he wouldn’t have done the same for her. It takes a lot for him to even say his general thank you to both Sakura and Obito. Sasuke’s not going to apologize (or maybe he is later) but… he sure as heck is going to re-evaluate the importance of other people in a battle. Sakura’s not useless.
What is Sakura thinking? “Oh thank god that worked!” She never would have forgiven herself had she fallen short at the crucial moment. It would have made HER feel as if her own training was for nothing too. She just proved herself to Sasuke and… she proved herself to herself too. She still loves him, whether as a teammate or as a love-interest, or both. And this was one thing she COULD do for him. And for Naruto too, because Naruto is still out there fighting Kaguya and she wants to do her part.
Remember, Sakura said "I will no longer look at their backs as they get stronger, I will stand with them." And in a way, this was her moment. It was a small moment, but it was her doing the best she could, with what she had. And thankfully… her best was enough.
Not that she couldn’t have had a better moment, since this still centers around her love and sacrifice for Sasuke. But she proved him wrong. She is important to their team after all, and without her and Obito they’d all be screwed right now.
So is this the defining SasuSaku moment everybody’s going on about? Honestly… I don’t think so. Not yet anyway. You can certainly read more into it if you like. I mean, Sasuke is certainly handsome in that drawing, showing man-cleavage. And Sakura is pretty hot with that ripped sleeve and those acid wounds. But the author intent, what Kishimoto mostly wanted to show, is that Sakura is a part of team 7 too. And Sasuke will have to admit that now. That she’s useful and that he owes her his life. I don’t think Sakura’s ever saved Sasuke’s life before. Sasuke respects her now.
And that’s way better than any love confessions could ever be.