Character design is a big part of Naruto’s appeal, so it’s time to appreciate the most underrated character design, Sakura Haruno.
Serial, Naruto is filled with iconic backdrops and character designs. Almost any anime fan can recognize Uchiha Ridge or Akatsuki’s red clouds. These memorable aesthetics make the world of Naruto stand out from other anime. However, good design is not only memorable. Really awesome design connects and supports the story themes as well.
There is one character whose design reflects both their personality and the growth of their character over time. Sakura Haruno’s character design fits perfectly with her development as a person. At each step, her outfit and style of choice says something about her character. Since the beginning of Naruto up to Boruto, Sakura’s design has deep significance for history.
Sakura is not prepared for the world of ninjas in part 1
Even at the very start of the series, Sakura’s character design makes a strong statement about who she is. She has long hair that goes down her back and wears a dress that ends at the knees. Sakura invokes a traditionally feminine aesthetic that looks good but isn’t entirely combat-friendly. In fact, she’s actually grabbed by her hair while in the Forest of Death, prompting her to cut it.
When Sakura is first introduced, it is clear that she is not a physical fighter. She is incredibly intelligent but sorely lacking in physical strength. She mainly focuses on impressing Sasuke and winning his heart instead of developing his ninja skills. His ineffective outfit and hair in combat shows that, from his perspective, his appearance is a more important property than his duties as a ninja.
As the story of Part 1 progresses, Sakura learns that in order to be a great ninja, she has to change. She realizes that to achieve her goals, she cannot rely solely on her literary intelligence or on the help of Naruto and Sasuke. Sakura decides to become stronger and to fend for herself. This change in personality is reflected in the change in the conception of his character.
Sakura grows to maturity in part 2
Sakura has perhaps had the most drastic change from any other character in Part 2. Her look goes from a traditionally feminine aesthetic to one that says she’s ready for a fight. She decides to keep her hair short so that there is no repeat of the Forest of Death incident. The gloves and tall boots indicate that she plans to use her hands and legs a lot more in combat. The knee-length dress has also disappeared, replaced by a skirt that allows much more mobility.
Part 2 marks Sakura’s transformation into a frontline fighter. She can decimate a battlefield and save the lives of her comrades if they are injured. She worked hard and trained to be able to keep up with Naruto and Sasuke. Her new look in Part 2 confirms this change in her character. She prioritizes combat effectiveness over her appearance while sporting a look that shows her personality.
Her Part 2 outfit still has the same color scheme as her Part 1 outfit. This shows that aspects of Sakura, like her personality, have transferred to Part 2. For the remainder of the series, Sakura retains this general conception. It changes a bit after WWII Shinobi but the basics remain. As long as Sakura is needed to fight, her character design remains combat ready.
Sakura kisses who she is in Boruto
By the time Boruto begins, the world has entered an era of peace. Ninjas are not as necessary and many characters have moved on to less heavy professions in combat. Sakura is no longer an active ninja and her design reflects that. Now that she doesn’t need to fight so much, she’s back to dressing in a more traditionally feminine way.
She wears a long dress again, recalling her design from Part 1. She also wears high heels, bracelets, long nails, and even makeup visible in some cases in the manga. During flashbacks, when her daughter is young, it is also revealed that Sakura grows back her hair. When there is no threat of danger, Sakura dresses and does her hair however she wants.
Every outfit Sakura wears reveals something about her character. It is possible to follow your growth as a person only from the conception of your character. She starts out as a rather immature girl who chooses beauty and style over practicality and efficiency. She then matures and always makes sure that she is ready for whatever challenges the chaotic world of ninjas throws at her. By the time she reaches adulthood, the world is safe enough for her to dress as she likes it, while still maintaining an air of professionalism worthy of the director of the medical clinic and the best healer in the village.
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