Movie Reviews

Naruto's Sequel Has NOT Solved The Series' Issue With Women

Warning: SPOILERS for chapter #6-2 of Naruto: Sasuke’s Story – The Uchiha and the Heavenly Stardust.

Despite fans’ hopes that the new Naruto sequel, Sasuke’s Story, could solve the series’ long-standing issues with women’s representation, the depiction of Sakura in the latest chapter proves that the beloved franchise has still not gotten over its most significant hurdle.

One of the biggest criticisms against Naruto was the treatment the series reserved for its female characters. While the early part of Naruto introduced many compelling women, such as Sakura, Hinata, and Tsunade, by the end of the series these characters had faded into the background. Even worse, in the main sequel, Boruto, both Sakura and Hinata were relegated to the role of housewife, and Tsunade barely appeared. Fans hoped that the manga adaptation of the light novel Sasuke’s Story, which focuses on Sasuke and Sakura’s adult relationship as a married couple, could fix some of these problems, but they have been proved wrong.

Related: Sakura Beats Naruto & Sasuke In Official Popularity Poll

Chapter #6-2 of Naruto: Sasuke’s Story – The Uchiha and the Heavenly Stardust sees the Uchiha couple head out to the place where the mysterious Ultra Particles (a substance needed to heal Naruto from an incurable illness) are hidden after Sakura (proving she is smarter than Sasuke) has solved the riddle of their location. Jumping down from a high window, Sasuke lands flawlessly, while Sakura stumbles, leading to a chivalrous moment where her husband catches her in his arm. Later, when the two are discussing their relationship, Sakura mentions that a real wedding ring would not look good on her rugged hands, and Sasuke thinks about the labor that his wife is enduring during his absence, which includes cooking and washing dishes.

Previous chapters did a good job of rekindling the couple’s relationship, especially with the moment when Sasuke gave Sakura a ring carved with chakra. This helped in dispelling the image of Sasuke as an unloving, almost abusive husband, but this latest chapter shows that Sakura’s portrayal has not improved much. Any shinobi can jump from a window without trouble, and Sakura is a powerful and experienced Jonin. Also, while the scene with the house chores was meant to show Sasuke’s guilt for leaving his family alone while on missions, there was really no need to reinforce the image of Sakura as a woman relegated to housewife duties.

It seems that, no matter how much Naruto tries, women’s representation will always remain the biggest issue of the franchise. In Boruto, the most important female character, Eida, is defined by her beauty and her power of making everyone fall in love, which is again not a great way to fight stereotypes. Hopefully, the series will do better in the future, but for now, Sakura‘s representation in Sasuke’s Story confirms that Naruto has still not solved its issue with women.

More: Sakura Finally Gets Her Time to Shine in Naruto’s New Sasuke Sequel

The latest chapter of Naruto: Sasuke’s Story – The Uchiha and the Heavenly Stardust is available from Viz Media.

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