kanae_88: (SasuKarin [Lily fanart])
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aka; Kishimoto’s writer intent

Aside everything I’ve said in the previous section, another useful way to determine a pairing’s chances at being canonized is to take into account the writer’s intent. In this case, there are various factors that can be detected in Kishimoto’s writing that both, suggest the effort and thought he has put into this pairing, and his intentions regarding it.

a) The amount of moments they’ve gotten

This one speaks for itself, I believe. Like I mentioned as I was introducing this manifesto: while many are quick to dismiss this pairing, in reality the development SasuKarin has gotten through Part II is more substantial than that of many of the non-canon pairings that have been around since Part I. What I’m trying to say is: many are convinced of the canonization of pairings that don’t even have a quarter of the substance SasuKarin has received. And when one considers such is the case despite the fact that Naruto has been running for 15 years while SasuKarin has been present solely for 7 (counting the 2 years where they went MIA), that’s got to be meaningful.

Especially if one takes into account the fact that Kishimoto has to have given the pairing considerable consideration and regard to get them there. This regard is evidenced in various ways; like for example, the fact that it was Karin and SasuKarin who were the threshold for Sasuke’s descent into ‘true’ darkness. Or how Kishimoto continuously brought up SasuKarin (and in a positive, significant light, at that) through Suigetsu and Juugo while SasuKarin were separated. Or even Sasuke’s uncharacteristic smile to Karin during the Chuunin Exams, and the attention to detail Kishimoto paid to the flashback as a whole. And, most recently, how during the time of Sasuke's temporary death, the only character whose feelings [regarding the matter] Kishimoto focused on were Karin's.

The aforementioned instances also signal another remarkable fact: Kishimoto does not only give focus to Karin's feelings for Sasuke, he also gives focus to Sasuke's side of their bond. In fact, one could say he gives both sides equivalent focus—and this is a trait that not many of Kishimoto's potential couples share.

There is also the fact that Kishimoto saved Sasuke and Karin’s encounter (plus the stab being addressed, the mysteries surrounding their shared pasts, Karin’s feelings finally getting out in the open and Suigetsu's apparent knowledge of them, so on so forth) to what he, himself, considers the ‘highlights’ of the climax.

Q5: Now that we've entered the climax of the Great Shinobi World War arc, please tell us what some upcoming highlights will be!
A: Everything from here on out will be a highlight!!

- Kishimoto Interview in Weekly Shounen Jump (x)

Speaking about focus,

b) Kishimoto’s habit of singling out Sasuke and Karin among Taka

It’s true. He sometimes does it in subtle ways, and sometimes in more obvious ones. From having a whole chapter dedicated to them, from they being the ones with the most dialogues and the ones whose thoughts Kishimoto’s focuses on the most. And while this is more like a bonus rather than weight to the argument, this habit of his can be noticeable even in the 3rd Databook.

In order to "locate Itachi and fight him one-on-one to settle the scores", Sasuke picks out three people. Hoozuki Suigetsu, the prodigy from the Hidden Mist. Karin, the brilliant, lone female of the group, who boasts an outstanding Gift of Perception. Juugo of the Scales, originator of the Cursed Seal.

See what I mean? While the other two get a single compliment, Karin is continuously praised throughout the Databook.

Granted, the Kage Summit arc and what has happened since then completely proved that this (Kishimoto highlighting Sasuke and Karin) is indeed the case. Not only does he separate them from Suigetsu and Juugo (as such making sure that it is Karin and SasuKarin rather than Taka as a team that play the role of threshold), but when the latter two finally appear, it’s to talk about Sasuke and Karin. Even during their second appearance, Kishimoto outright states that one of the reasons why Suigetsu sticks around is because he enjoys getting in SasuKarin’s way; so it is indeed fairly evident that their dynamic lies at the core of the team. Especially considering that, as I’ve pointed out a couple of times above, Kishimoto let Suigetsu and Juugo already be reunited with Sasuke, while he saved Karin’s reunion with them for later. And more recently, it is to Karin's drive and urgency to get to Sasuke that Kishimoto has been focusing on.

And while not directly related to SasuKarin, it’s also worth mentioning that Kishimoto making Karin an Uzumaki adds even more weight (though in a completely different way) to my previous point about Karin being able to stand with Sasuke on equal ground.

c) Recurrent Themes (how SasuKarin ties in)

On the subject of Kishimoto’s writer intent, there are a couple of themes that have been continuously brought up thorough the manga; and SasuKarin happens to fit very well with many (if not most) of them. For example:

✦ “Even the roughest woman is tender to the guy she loves
It’s easy to see how SasuKarin fits that quota. Especially because, as stated in the page, she may be ‘tender’ to the man she loves, sure. But that is special only because said ‘rough woman’ is just as bossy, feisty and rough to him; which again, Karin is to Sasuke. Sasuke himself acknowledges back in 348 that she isn’t easy to handle, in reference to her attitude. And we have seen Karin give him a hard time countless of times, so we all know where he is coming from.

Yet, at the same time—we all know that there is a side of her that she shows only to Sasuke. And why, it is tender. So SasuKarin fits down to a Tee one of the tropes and dynamics that Kishimoto seems to support when it comes to his couples (Shikaku and Yoshino, Tsunade and Jiraiya—though they never got the chance to be together, Minato and Kushina, among others.)

“... Do you have someone who is special to you? ... When you have something special that you want to protect... only then can you become truly strong!”
Sasuke usually gets his power-ups due to his hatred (though we know where that took him last time); yet, there have been two instances in Part II where he harmonized with one of the manga’s most important themes: that of drawing strength from one’s bonds. One is 414, where he casts an Amaterasu after being moved by Taka (Karin included) and the second is, of course, 415. What is noteworthy about Chapter 415 is that by risking his life for Karin’s, Sasuke was, in fact, jeopardizing his revenge and unconsciously placing her wellbeing before it—something he has only done two other times (one for Naruto, one for Team 7) both of which took place back in Part 1. Atop of that, he actually awakens a new ability for Karin, so it really does go hand in hand with this memorable quote from Haku.

And in chapter 663, Kishimoto delivers the exact same thing again—except this time, he does it through Karin, who awakens her dormant Uzumaki powers at last due to the strenght of her feelings for Sasuke, whom she (obviously) wants to protect at all costs.

There are a few more, like Ending the Curse of Hatred (with which SasuKarin nicely ties in, because while it's up to Naruto and Sasuke to put an end to it, as descendants of the Rikudou Sennin outright unifying the Elder Brother’s clan with the Uzumaki would be a nice way to symbolize the end of that grudge, and a new beginning), and also that of Selfless Love, where much like Naruto's and Jiraiya's feelings for their special someone, all Karin wants is to see Sasuke happy—be it with her or not.

Lastly, there is another thing that—while not being a recurring theme, Kishimoto has also pointed out in the manga. That is:

- The lack of suffix
While many may have not noticed this, the truth is Karin uses no suffix with Sasuke. She calls him Sasuke, period. The reason why I’m bringing this up is because Kishimoto himself has highlighted this. Through Sai, Kishimoto has given his thoughts about suffixes and more importantly, the absence of them:

In order to hasten the development of understanding between yourself and others, the first thing to do is reduce any emotional barriers. For instance, when addressing someone, by using suffixes such as “-san” and “-kun”, you’ll remain distant from that person, never seeing any reduction in emotional barriers.”
“To combat this, one should first take the initiative to stop using such suffixes […] by doing so, one is able to position themselves in a particularly special and close relationship.

- pages here & here

So far, there are three girls in the manga who’ve had an obvious crush on someone. Those are Sakura, Ino and Hinata; and they call their crushes “Sasuke-kun” and “Naruto-kun” respectively. Ino and Hinata aren’t particularly close with their respective crushes, but Sakura, while becoming his teammate and friend, continues to call him “Sasuke-kun” even today. So this is another trait of Sasuke and Karin's dynamic that separates it from that of other girls who have had feelings for him in the manga.

d) Their Similar Pasts

I’m sure everyone here who has read a Naruto fanfiction at least once in his/her life, has come across one of the countless Sasuke/OC fanfics that depict him falling for a girl that’s basically the female version of him; from the higher-than-thou attitude to being collected, down to the fact that her whole clan/village/country was murdered, too, and she was the sole survivor. And said clan of hers? It’s a special snowflake, of course. Just as if not even more special than the Uchiha. Oh, and does she have special powers due to said special clan? Well, of course she does!

Well, here you have her. And in canon, from Kishimoto’s own mind, pen, and words. It seemed far-fetched, didn't it? But it seems Kishimoto thought otherwise; and think he did, even going as far as to give them such a similar background for them to connect over. As a matter of fact, they have everything they need to connect over.

And from a story-writer’s point of view? That says a lot.

e) The amount of canonical commentary regarding them

Aside from building dynamics and being instrumental pieces for characterization, writers use character's dialogues for many things; from being narrative tools to deliver exposition to hyping up techniques and power-levels (that's shounen for you).

And of course, they are also used to deliver insight into certain relationships. This insight can be positive or negative; a passing comment or a constant happening; focus on only one character's feelings or both.

In SasuKarin's case, the comments they've gotten so far have been positive, constant and they not only touch upon Karin's feelings for Sasuke, but on Sasuke's side of their bond as well. More than that: rather than being mere observations that do nothing but state the obvious, some of these comments actually hint at mutual SasuKarin - and none of this should be taken lightly.

Because the fact that the content of said commentary has been overwhelmingly positive on both ends and a constant (literally every character who has interacted with Karin and Sasuke for an extended period of time eventually makes a comment regarding them. So far these are: Suigetsu, Juugo, Orochimaru, Kabuto and even Obito) seems to indicate that Kishi is trying to make a point.

Taking into account the type of character Sasuke is (closed-off to love and without interest in romance, mysterious and aloof to the point we hardly if ever get his POV) it's easy to see why Kishi uses third party commentary as narrative device to draw attention to Sasuke's side of his bond with Karin.

And that is yet another reason why the content of the most tellings remarks —that Sasuke knows Karin "quite well", that she is his "favorite", that they've been "about to hook up"— is so remarkable (and telling).

f) The importance given to what happened between Karin and Sasuke

But singling them out and making sure that Karin matched Sasuke in all ways possible though nice, weren’t the only things Kishimoto did.

He also added some mystery to their bond; a mystery that’s so relevan, that he couldn’t reveal it in the Databook and wanted to reveal it in the manga itself.

Databook 3 - Kishimoto Question and Answer Session
Q. Why did the Kyuubi's seal gradually fade?
Q. Why was Naruto able to grow up to four tails?
Q. What did Karin do to Sasuke in the past?
Q. Is Kushina alive?
Q. How did Kakashi awaken his Mangekyou Sharingan?
A. It's a secret!! Just keep on reading the manga!

Look at the questions it got grouped with; questions of undeniable plot-relevance. Those are the ones that Kishimoto cannot reveal lightly; because he already has a role planned for those, and they are so important that the story has to reach a determinate point before he can address them. Case in point, it took him 500 chapters to address Kushina’s status; and it’s only now that Tobi has been unmasked, that we got a reply about Kakashi’s Mangekyo.

Even if said mystery were turns out to be the fact that they met during the Chuunin Exams (though as previously mentioned, one would have to wonder how did Suigetsu know about that in the first place - which in turn becomes a mystery of its own), the fact remains that Kishimoto still considered it important enough to group it with questions of such caliber.

And that says miles about the importance of SasuKarin to the respective characters—and about its potential for the future.

Because they are relevant, far from fodder, like many naysayers are so quick to ignorantly claim—and that brings me to the 3rd point I wanted to address, because it’s always important to consider both sides of the coin to realize if there’s a hole in one’s standpoint.

Is there a hole in this, though? Let’s see.

Or, Return to the Index (comments go here as well).

April 2013

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