kanae_88: (Karin [412])
kanae_88 ([personal profile] kanae_88) wrote2013-04-20 08:53 pm
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Why SasuKarin is not like SasuSaku, much less "SS Redux"

You can also find this essay in my tumblr, HERE. I'm posting it here as well because the it's easier to browse this way.

Those who know me have probably seen me say that I'm over the never-ending pairing wank that goes down in this fandom, but if there's one misconception that still irks me after all these years, it's this one.

For years I've seen people say that: "there's no way I can ship SasuKarin, it's basically the same thing as SasuSaku or even worse. Liking it while disliking SasuSaku is hypocritical."

And all I can think about is: you haven't even bothered to actually look at SasuKarin, have you?

SasuSaku and SasuKarin are not the same. Their similarities are purely circumstantial (having feelings for him, being the female on his team, nearly dying by his hand). But when it comes to their roots and their substance; to their dynamics, to the things that makes each of these two couples what they are—they are fundamentally different.

I realize that there's no point in saying that without explaining my reasons for thinking as such, so here I'll try to explain what (to me) are some of the biggest differences between them. However, please note that it is just my personal opinion (I'm sure we all find these two couples different for, well, different reasons). And it'll most likely be a long post because I've been holding myself back from addressing this misconception for nearly 4 years now.

But before I get started on my perspective, there's something that I need to address from the get-go. A truth that I've seen being overlooked or outright denied way too often. That is: Sasuke cares about both of them and I say cares because we all know that despite what might have gone down / may still go down from now on, by the end of the manga, Sasuke will have mended his bonds with those dear to him. Kishi is predictable like that, lol.

And both of these girls qualify in that very, very reduced ‘precious people’ list. When it comes to Sakura, Sasuke basically outright admits that he considers Team 7 as his precious people in Chapter 133. When it comes to Karin there are no words to accompany it, sure, but Sasuke still demonstrates it fairly clearly through his actions. I've been over that a thousand times already, so rather than repeating myself I'll just say that one only needs to look at his expressions when he thought he would lose her to know he considers her as such as well.

So, what is it that makes me feel that it’s perfectly valid and not hypocritical in the slightest to strongly advocate for SasuKarin, while having SasuSaku as my most disliked couple in the series? 

I'll break it into four parts:

1. SasuSaku and SasuKarin: An Overview.
    → SasuSaku
    → SasuKarin
2. Each girls' behavior around Sasuke.
    → Sakura
    → Karin
3. Their respective dynamic with Sasuke.
    → a) Team 7 and Team Taka
    → b) ‘Darksuke’: aka, the Kage Summit fiasco
    → c) Sasuke’s behavior towards Sakura and Karin
4. Kishi’s themes and as such, his writing intent.

1. SasuSaku and SasuKarin: An Overview

In Chapter 484, Sakura has a flashback to some of her moments with Sasuke, and thus ends up showing the reader what, for all intents and purposes, most likely were the beginning stages of SS (these flashbacks take place during a pivotal character moment for Sakura; if something more meaningful between her and Sasuke went down and kickstarted her feelings for him, this is the place where she would have remembered it, IMO). 


If you ask me what I see here, I see Sakura harboring a crush on the handsome, aloof, cool boy for… apparently no reason aside from the fact that, well, he’s aloof and handsome and cool; because here we don't see Sasuke doing anything else aside from being aloof and handsome and cool. Her crush is normal, and understandable. And it’s also pretty much the same thing that's going on in the rest of her class. In fact, when describing Sakura's character in Volume 3, Kishimoto calls Sasuke her "arbitrary choice of love object" (according to the official translation. The fan scanlation has it as 'selfish' instead).

Granted, Sakura grows to care about him as more than just the boy she's crushing on when they're put together on Team 7, and her feelings for him strengthen considerably. I believe this is something we can all agree on, despite our personal perspectives about said feelings. 

Point is, once Team 7 is formed, Sakura is capable of forming a bond with Sasuke. However, despite the developed camaraderie, the care and everything they went through, it's interesting to consider that Sakura herself gives us a clear idea of how she perceives Sasuke's end of their bond, based on what went down during their time as Team 7:


Going by her words, there's a sense of distance there; which is nothing to be surprised of considering Sasuke's personality. But it's not her words alone, not really: what she's saying fits perfectly with everything that happened on panel.

My point here is not that distance, though; like I mentioned above, I find that pretty normal given Sasuke's character. I'm bringing this up because Sakura here is talking based on boththe stuff we saw on panel and the stuff that went down off-panel. If you ask me, it leaves the reader little room for interpretation: what we see of SasuSaku is what we get. (This will become relevant once we reach Karin's side of the equation).

I always like looking at second opinions though; especially on manga, which is a medium where the mangaka use third parties to shed light into matters that they either want to explain or bring up to the readers' attention. In this case, the one to turn to is naturally the other member of their cell. So, what does Naruto recall when he thinks of Sasuke and Sakura?


It’s the exact same thing Sakura herself recalls:



In both instances we can see Sakura harboring a crush on him and Sasuke being the picture of indifference (or "apathy", as the 2nd databook puts it). In other words, Sakura’s perspective is consistent with how an outsider perceives SasuSaku; I find this suggests quite consistently that there’s nothing hidden there, nothing to see ‘underneath the underneath’. Kishi could have used different panels to 'sum up' SasuSaku, but he didn't. He could have given Sakura a more meaningful reason to harbor feelings for him, but he didn't.

She is one of his precious people, yes. But I see nothing that highlights Sakura in regards to Sasuke; nothing that suggests to me, as the reader, that I'm meant to perceive their individual bond as special among Sasuke's bonds.

Let's now compare this with Karin:

When Karin gets her 'pivotal flashback'™ moment and looks back to the moment SasuKarin began, what does she see?



Sasuke—broody, aloof, apathetic—Uchiha Sasuke not only saves her life (as such, giving her a weighty reason for harboring feelings for him) but he also goes out of his way to give her the only smile of its kind that he has given anyone in the manga so far.

That alone marks the first clear, substantial difference between SasuSaku and SasuKarin for me. How am I supposed to take them as "the same" when there's already a stark difference in their roots alone? Doing so would be to miss the forest for the trees and terribly oversimplify things. 

Now, Karin has not directly addressed how she feels Sasuke might perceive her; unlike Sakura (as a matter of fact, "what was I to you" is a question that remains to this day. but I digress, else I get sidetracked!).  

So, since Sasuke and Karin hardly ever put anything into words and are more about actions rather than anything else, it's not surprising that Kishi once again resorted to speaking to the reader through a third party to shed some light into the matter.

Let’s take a look at how the other members of their cell perceive their bond:



Allow me to focus on Suigetsu first: the first thing that jumps out to me is that Suigetsu is pretty much implying that, as far as he is concerned, Karin's feelings for Sasuke aren't exactly one-sided or unwelcome (check out his wording on 574. he uses a phrase that implies the two in question [Sasuke and Karin] are "about to hook up" - there's no ambiguity there). He says this based on what he has seen throughout the years, because he does know them since their time in Oto. He has access to stuff the reader has yet to see. Remember he already knew about Karin's feelings for Sasuke by the time of her introduction to the manga. In other words: he has seen what went down off-panel. Us readers haven't. There are things about SasuKarin that we don't yet know of, and those things helped shape Suigetsu's perspective of their bond. Ultimately, what those things are is besides the point; what matters here is that they exist.

Now, there's Juugo: Juugo, who is basically on the same page as the reader, having only come in contact with SasuKarin relatively recently, agrees. “I see,” ("souka") he says. He does not contradict nor argue Suigetsu's observation, nor his implications. At the contrary: he goes as far as outing Suigetsu for wanting to come in between SasuKarin and chides him for it. 

The implications here are clear, IMO. Those closest to the respective pairings in question (due to being in the same team as them, and as such, spending the most time with them) got distinctly contrasting impressions of SasuSaku and SasuKarin. While Naruto remembers Sakura openly demonstrating her affections for Sasuke and Sasuke being the picture of indifference (a memory Sakura herself recalls and thus, an impression she herself reaffirms), whatever Suigetsu remembers gave him the opposite impression; that is, of a Sasuke who is not entirely indifferent to Karin’s affections. And Juugo accepts this as truth. Now, the point here is not whether you think Suigetsu is right or wrong: the point is how differently Kishi made third parties perceive SS and SK. The point here is his authorial intent.  He is bringing up these two bonds to the readers in different ways, with different implications—for a reason.

Moreover, then there's Tobi outright stating that Karin is Sasuke’s ‘favorite’ and Tobirama's words in 619 indirectly implying Sasuke must have 'really strong feelings' for Karin, since otherwise his Mangekyo wouldn't have reacted to her plight in 415 (and it did react).

In other words: Karin has been highlighted in regards to Sasuke; which does give me, as the reader, enough groundwork to ponder whether I am meant to perceive their individual bond as special among Sasuke's bonds (his bond with Naruto notwithstanding, of course).

And that marks what, to me, is the second pivotal difference between SasuSaku and SasuKarin after giving them a (vastly general) overview.  (I won't be going into each girls' respective feelings for him or their compatibility with him because that'd be opening a can of worms).

But there are many more:

2. Each girls' behavior around Sasuke

This is one of the things that makes SasuSaku and SasuKarin fundamentally different in my eyes. In fact, to me they're arguably opposites in this regard. 

Just like before I'll start by talking about Sakura. How does Kishimoto describe her?

"[...] but I think she [Sakura] is a cheerful, good character. The type that wants to be leader and is energetic and, in front of Sasuke, childlike." (x)

"She has flaws in her personality, like stalking Sasuke." (x)

And the 2nd Databook?

"In front of Sasuke, her personality changes but his apathy is constant"

"(Inner Sakura) A strong ‘other Sakura’! In front of Sasuke, the difference between their actions make it impossible for them to be the same two people. Is this a part of her charm?"

So we have that Sakura, a headstrong, witty and assertive young girl apparently cared more about getting on Sasuke’s good side and making a good impression on him than about being herself. She even had an ‘Inner Sakura’ ('a strongother sakura!') that expressed her opinions while she outwardly swallowed them down in front of Sasuke.


And on that subject, because I've often seen people bringing up that Sakura has talked back to Sasuke and citing the FoD as example every single time; well, yeah. That's basically one out of two times in which she has done so (though I'm sure there are more to come, and I'm looking forward to them). The first time is indeed when she yells at him that at least Naruto wasn't a coward, and the second is in Chapter 485. The first one took place in dire circumstances; it was in the middle of a 'life or death' situation. And the second can hardly be considered as a normal, day to day basis thing, can it? In other words, these instances are exceptions rather than the rule.

How did Sakura behave around Sasuke on a normal, day to day basis?



And how's her actual character?



Allow me to clarify: this isn't  matter of Sakura resorting to smacking Sasuke around or not; I'm not saying that she should, that's not my point at all. My point is simply that, if I were meant to believe that during their time together Sakura and Sasuke developed a good, healthy base to have a relationship in the future, she should have been capable of being herself around him and let him feel the full extent of getting on her bad side when he does, rather than being submissive to him, period.

But she just didn't; she resorted to crying and feeling miserable instead, and I just can't find anything healthy about that. That's not the Sakura I know and love. In that regard, as far as I'm concerned, Sakura's feelings for Sasuke were detrimental to her. 

Now, let's look at Karin:

Contrary to what seems to be a popularized fandom belief, Karin's feelings for Sasuke have actually never been detrimental to her character (no, not even going back to him was detrimental, because her line in 485 has been grossly misinterpreted). The one time she reacts in any way that could be considered 'submissive' to him is Chapter 465, when she is facing a Sasuke she does not understand and is trying to figure out what in the world is going on with him. In other words: it's an exception rather than the rule.

The rest of the time, this is how Karin is around other characters (namely, Suigetsu, whom she is the nastiest to):





And this is how Karin is around and towards Sasuke:





She may love him, but she doesn’t change herself. If Sasuke doesn’t like what she’s got to say, then that’s his business; not hers. She is not any less feisty toward him just because she loves him.

Moreover, while Sakura hid her real self from Sasuke and developed an ‘Inner Sakura’, I'd argue Karin is the direct opposite:


Karin only shows the softer, girly side of her personality to Sasuke. In other words, Sasuke is the only person she trusts with the ‘whole’ her. She lets him see both the rough and the tender, and does not try to conceal her flaws.

On top of that fundamental difference, there's also the whole 'fangirl' business. Unlike Sakura, Karin is tsundere for SasukeThe only girl in the manga to be tsundere over him, at that!

That makes it so not only do their feelings for Sasuke affect them differently; they also express them differently. So, then, why is it that I'm supposed to take SasuKarin as a SasuSaku redux when they're different even when it comes to that?

And of course, given those fundamental differences, their respective dynamics with Sasuke greatly differ as well.

And that takes me to Sasuke himself:

3. Their respective dynamic with Sasuke (both individually and as part of Team  7 and Team Taka respectively)

I think my ramblings above give a good picture of my perspective on this matter. But it's worth going a bit deeper about a couple of things, because I do honestly believe there are more things that contribute to differentiate them from one another. So, please, indulge me for a moment.

a) Team 7 and Team Taka

As I more or less mentioned above, Sasuke grew to care about Sakura as a member of Team 7. But aside from that, I honestly can't recall a time when he has meaningfully individualized her from it  (and if I'm overlooking something, please do point it out; it'd be much appreciated!).



During her confession? For the vast majority of it we see him thinking of Team 7 and addressing her as a member of his cell even when Sakura has clearly turned the spotlight of the conversation onto herself and how she feels about what he's doing.



Even in the aftermath of the other outstanding moment Sakura and Sasuke shared without Naruto around, aka the FoD hug, what do we see Sasuke thinking about?


During the Chuunin preliminary matches, rather than remembering Sakura hugging him, he remembers both Naruto and Sakura. Naruto doesn't even know about the Cursed Seal, so his flashback to Naruto is even of something completely unrelated. Yet, even though this was IMO the perfect opportunity for Kishi to individualize Sakura and highlight her in Sasuke's mind; he didn't. He added Naruto in instead and made Sasuke have a Team 7 moment.

Another perfect opportunity to highlight her would be when she was caught in Gaara's sand. Alas, given that while Sakura's life was at risk Kishi did not give Sasuke not even a single panel panel of Sakura focus the way he gave Naruto, I believe Kishi was making sure that Sasuke being willing to sacrifice himself was perceived to be as to ensure both, Sakura's and Naruto's survival (I'm sure some SS'ers would argue that it's open to interpretation; for the sake of argument, even if I were to concede that [which I wouldn't, to be honest], all that would go to show is that Kishi did not make it explicitly about Sakura, since otherwise there would be no room left for any other interpretation). 

Sasuke’s bond with Sakura exists, yes, and it's precious; but in the context of Team 7. I honestly don't see any Sasuke-Sakura outside Team 7. Even in Part II, when the time comes to give focus to the individual bonds inside the team, Sakura has spent the vast majority of it worrying more about how Naruto feels about his bond with Sasuke, rather than her individual bond with Sasuke.

Because even in the context of the Team, another member always came first for Sasuke: Naruto. This was made even clearer in 485, wherein Sakura herself backs away and leaves Sasuke in Naruto’s hands. Which, I personally saw as an acknowledgement of the fact that she cannot reach nor affect Sasuke the way Naruto can.


Now, let's talk about Karin:

Unlike Sakura, when it comes to Sasuke Karin actually happens to be the member that's been individualized the most out of Taka.

Not only did their bond begin outside the context of Team Taka, but, if you ask me, Kishimoto has highlighted her and thus individualized her from the team. Rather than boring you all by going into details, I'll just go for the clearest example: remember how I mentioned that back in the battle against Gaara, Sasuke was willing to sacrifice himself to protect Sakura and Naruto? Chapter 414 is arguably similar in the sense that, while he had no need to lay his life on the line, Sasuke does show that he wants to protect his team. So here, he shows that he appreciates Taka as a whole; Karin included. 



However, in 415 we effectively have Sasuke going the extra mile and awakening a new power for Karin and Karin aloneThis is no team moment and can't be deconstructed as such, because he is actually risking the team's lives for her and Juugo is against it. It's no matter of interpretation; it's fact. It's a one man effort for one person and one person only: Karin. And thus, Sasuke is doing it out of how he feels about her as an individual, and is instinctively giving more weight to her well-being than to Suigetsu's or Juugo's. 



To cite more recent (and obvious) stuff, there's also Sasuke's apology to Karin. The first (and only, for the moment) apology he has given anyone in the manga. And honestly, even if he does end up apologizing to more people in the future (which he should), nothing will make this any less meaningful. Because while he faced Konoha with a clear "I know you're pissed but I don't care what any of you think about me" attitude, and he evidently didn't entertain any thoughts about apologizing to Suigetsu and Juugo for ditching them, fact remains he reacted to and apologized to Karin the very moment he saw her (and yes, the apology was genuine). 

So, to conclude this portion: Karin has been individualized from the team in regards to Sasuke. Not only through actions, but also through words: 


As Kishi even had Tobi explicitly point out that Karin is Sasuke's favorite.

a. One that enjoys special favor or regard.
b. One that is trusted, indulged, or preferred above all others, especially by a superior: (x)
And Suigetsu and Juugo perceive Sasuke and Karin as en unit within the team:

b) 'Darksuke': aka, the Kage Summit fiasco

I have to admit I'm no fan of the Kage Summit arc as a whole (and I say that not as a SasuKarin fan but as a fan of the series). Putting my shipper hat back on, as a Sasuke and SasuKarin fan, you will never ever see me using what transpired between SS at the time from Sasuke's end as an anti-SasuSaku argument. Because what is true for SasuKarin is also true for SasuSaku: that is, Sasuke wasn't himself back then. 

That said, things change when I shift my focus entirely towards Kishi's writer intent. Because writer-intent wise,  I find that it can and should be argued that there are differences between what happened between Sasuke and Sakura and what happened between Sasuke and Karin.

The most pivotal one being, of course, the roles of each happening. On one hand have that Sasuke sacrificed Karin, an event that effectively served as his Moral Event Horizon and, as such, was meant to have an effect on both parties. 

If you don't believe me, look at Sasuke's reaction the first time he thinks he has beat Danzou:

Now compare it to his reaction once he he has beat Danzou at the cost of sacrificing Karin:

The difference is striking. And it's safe to say that sacrificing Karin is what marked the difference, considering both outcomes were the same as far as Sasuke was concerned: beating Danzou. The prize to be paid in order to do so is what differed. To add to that, it's also worth noticing that in the two chapters were the SasuKarin plight took place, the chapter titles were dedicated to it: Sacrifice (480), Once More... (482. Which, by the way, was the chapter of the SasuSaku reunion. But it was instead titled after Karin's desire to see Sasuke's smiling face "once more...".) 

Allow me now to compare this with the way Kishi handled what happened between Sasuke and Sakura. Not only did Kishi have Sasuke giving no signs whatsoever of being affected by either murder attempt (1 | 2), but, if you ask me, both times his attempts on Sakura's life were pretty much used as plot-devices; not to produce a determinate effect on either character, but to give momentum to a third party's arrival. In the first case, it was to Kakashi's (and it is this arrival that gets the chapter title: Master and student meet again). In the second, to Naruto's (and, again, the chapter title goes to Naruto's arrival: Team 7 reunited!). In neither case does Kishi give any meaningful amount of focus to what transpired between SasuSaku, and aside from showing Sakura crying, neither does he show any follow-up on either instance (and that still remains true to this day, since it's Karin whom Kishi has bringing up what Sasuke did to her left and right).

The reason for that is very simple. It's because the Sasuke we were dealing with by the time Sakura arrived, already was an 'entirely different Sasuke'. He already was a Sasuke who has 'entered true darkness' and it was sacrificing Karin that served as the threshold to mark that moment. Kishi had nothing to establish regarding Sasuke's change through his interactions with Sakura, because it was something that had already come to a head through his interactions with someone else.

Just as Teachan once said, since Sakura was already on her way there, Kishi could've easily had her playing the role of his threshold. But he didn't. And, in my opinion, that's partly because Sasuke's interactions with Karin served to build up a better contrast, considering that the only other time Sasuke had interacted with Sakura in Part II (and he was sane back then so I can indeed take it into account), this happened:

Notice how Kishi has third parties commenting on the fact Sasuke means serious business both times; that wouldn't exactly serve to highlight any kind of contrast, would it?

Now, compare it to this:

I think it's safe to say it's not just me who sees the contrast is glaring and deliberate, right? Add to that the fact that risking his life for Karin's in 415 was arguably the last meaningful 'good deed' Sasuke did before the Kage Summit  (I say 'arguably' because sparing Killerbee also counts; but being willing to risk his own life for somebody else's obviously holds more merit in this regard), and how he is now turning around to sacrifice that very same girl, and it's easy to see why Karin played the role she played.

There's much more I could talk about here: the clear differences between Karin's flashback and Sakura's, etc, but I believe (hope) those examples already helped me illustrate my perspective, because this thing is getting way too long orz

c) Sasuke's behavior towards Sakura and Karin

... I think it was probably a mistake to leave this for last. So I'll try to be brief, I hope?

I'll work based on the assumption that we're all familiar with Sasuke's dynamic with Sakura; and by his dynamic with Sakura I'm obviously talking about Part 1, because they've hardly interacted in Part II. When it comes to SasuKarin, it's the opposite; but what little we have seen of their pre-Part II selves was fairly particular. 

In part 1 we saw Sakura constantly pine after Sasuke's attention; however, Sasuke never, ever, gave her a smile even remotely similar to the one he gave to Karin, and the best part is that Karin didn't even have to do a single thing to get that smile out of him.

Another thing that marks a difference between Sasuke's respective dynamics with them is that while he cares about both, it is Karin to whom he has given his full acknowledgement. He values her and her abilities enough to actively seek her out and recruit her into his team, consider her 'essential' and admit it to her face, and trust his back to her in battle. For those who are into covers' side-text, the one for 351 helpfully illustrates that Karin is: "the Kunoichi Sasuke has acknowledged is the strongest".

Currently, Sasuke is definitely aware of Sakura's progress and, I'd dare say, even proud of her (though this is just my perspective, of course); however his dynamic with Sakura was built upon entirely different bases. And while I do not doubt that there'll come a time when Sasuke will give Sakura his full acknowledgement (which she deserves), the fact remains that Karin already had it and she will still remain the first girl he has acknowledged in such a way.

Sasuke's acknowledgement and consequently, his respect, is what I feel marks one of the three fundamental differences between his respective dynamic with Sakura and Karin. While Sasuke never had any qualms telling Sakura to "shut up", "stay out of my business", "this has nothing to do with you", slapping her apples, so on so forth, the usual Sasuke (aka, not Kage Summit Sasuke) never responded to Karin in such ways. As a matter of fact, she seems to be the only one he allows to talk back to him and complain to her heart's content without saying anything in return (Suigetsu usually gets things that go from Sasuke's classic 'shut up' or 'it's none of your concern' to 'if you don't like it, go home'), and he even chides Suigetsu when he picks up a fight with Karin and when Karin's the one to pick it up.

So, again, tell me why in the world is it that I should feel like I'm shipping SasuSaku redux when one of the main things that made me dislike SasuSaku is not a part of SasuKarin's dynamic?

Before moving onto the remaining two of what I call 'fundamental' differences, I have to address the 'Genjutsu compliment' because that's another thing I see being brought up all the time. As if that instance alone overrides all the times Sasuke was an ass to Sakura (though I agree he never meant any harm; that's just the way he is. Alas, I'll talk about this later). Yes, he did notice Sakura was down and he complimented her Genjutsu to raise her spirits; but why was Sakura down in the first place?

Two chapters before that:

This takes me to what is, to me, the second pivotal difference between these two pairings: while Sasuke not mincing his words can and does hurt Sakura's feelings, Karin is a different matter altogether because her attitude is nearly the same as Sasuke's. Take him turning down her advances in 355 for example; Karin gets annoyed at his single-mindedness, but it does not emotionally affect her in the slightest, while during Sakura's confession we saw what kind of effect Sasuke's usual behavior had on Sakura. This alone makes SasuKarin more compatible in my eyes; they're capable of being themselves while interacting with each other, and none of them gets hurt by the others' roughness, bluntness or social inexpertise. More importantly, Karin does not openly fawn over him nor fangirl him; instead of doing that, she gives him a hard time to the point Sasuke himself agrees that Karin "isn't easy to handle". 

That is exactly how I feel Sasuke's dynamic with his potential romantic interest should be; and it's pretty much the opposite from SasuSaku's dynamic. So, again, they are not similar at all in this regard and I can't see why I should find them as such.

Lastly, the third and what might turn out to be the most pivotal difference of them all, if Kishi addresses it it canon: Sasuke and Karin share a similar past. We have seen over and over through his interactions with Naruto just how  much weight Sasuke puts on "knowing the pain of loneliness" and "that of loss". This is a bridge he and Sakura do not have. She did try to understand, but it's clear by her confession alone that she didn't quite manage to do so. And this is not her fault, not at all; but the fact remains that Karin sharing a similar past with Sasuke (both the sole survivors of a tragedy) gives SasuKarin common ground for there to be a mutual understanding between them; an understanding born from  a theme that has always been at the core of Sasuke's character, and that greatly contributed to his most important (alive) bond: the one he has with Naruto.

And this, (un)surprisingly, is yet another thing SasuSaku and SasuKarin do not have in common. 


4. Kishimoto's recurrent themes 

I've been over this in the Manifesto, so forgive me for cheating and copy-pasting myself at some bits!

"[...] 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
I've already more or less explained why SasuKarin fits that quota town to a Tee, so I'll just say why I feel this quote can't be applied to SasuSaku. The reason being that, just as the page stated, what makes the behavior of said rough woman special, is that she is just as rough, bossy and feisty to the guy she loves. That is what makes her being 'tender' around him so special, IMO. It's noteworthy due to the dichotomy; a dichotomy Sakura->Sasuke never had, but that SasuKarin does possess because Karin is tsundere for him.

And it goes without saying that this is exactly the kind of couple dynamic that Kishimoto seems to favor; with a healthy dose of the man in question being actually scared of his tsundere girlfriend on the side.

(notice Karin is meant to sound angry in here)

Only one of these two couples currently fits that trope; protip, it's not SasuSaku, because while Sakura is indeed a tsundere, she is not tsundere for Sasuke but for someone else entirely. 

"✦ ... 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! 
To put it shortly, I can't apply this quote to Chapter 133 (Sasuke asking Naruto to save Sakura and then run away), because while he obviously wanted to protect them both; he didn't really get the chance to do so. He got no power-up out of it, he beat no insurmountable odds to save Sakura; Naruto did. Meanwhile, I can very well apply it to Chapter 415 because Sasuke's Sharingan did react to Karin's plight, he did get an eye power up and he did beat up the odds. So, IMO, 415 really does go hand in hand with this memorable quote from Haku.  And now I can also apply this quote to Karin->Sasuke thanks to Karin awakening her dormant Uzumaki powers for him. So again: Kishi's authorial intent shines through, IMO.

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 Sakura and Tsunade respectively, all Karin wants is to see Sasuke happy.

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 (or 'bastard'. or 'shithead'. it all depends on her mood lol). The reason why I’m bringing this up is because Kishimoto himself has highlighted this; in the form of 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 andclose relationship.” - pages here & here

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 not only from SasuSaku, but also from his dynamic with the other girls who've had feelings for him in the manga.

In conclusion: no, I don't feel hypocritical at all when I say I don't like SasuSaku in the slightest but absolutely adore SasuKarin. Neither do I feel like I'm making this distinction is out of bias, because as far as I'm concerned, Kishimoto has written and developed both pairings in fundamentally different ways; and only one of those appeals to me. 

If you actually read this far: thank you, and have a great day! 


I agree with you!

[personal profile] hopelessinlove 2014-12-27 08:59 am (UTC)(link)
I ship Sasukarin for the same reasons you listed. I liked that he respected Karin as not only a ninja but a person. The fact that she was an Uzamaki made it so much better.
Plus she didn't take any of Sasuke's crap.

Sakura should have gotten over her crush on Sasuke and ended up with someone who saw her potential from the very beginning like Lee. It would have really shown her characters growth.