52 – Chapter Notes

Author’s note: It’s a mix of spoiler and regular notes, so just one big long thread of story notes:

• A single look between Tsunade and Kakashi. She flashed her amber eyes at him, and he cleared his throat softly in acknowledgement. And that was all it took to change Sakura’s fate. — The idea is they both know Sakura is lying. And they both know something else happened. Sakura thinks it’s about her, in a completely negative way. But the reality is they know Sakura is an unknown power source, and that Chiyo was way worse than she let on. This is showing how Sakura’s story about her abilities/power is parallel Naruto’s story about his power. Both are anomalies. And no one yet knows what they are capable of. Tsunade and Kakashi are not being mean to her. It’s in fact the opposite. They know she’s so much more powerful than she’s letting on. But they are giving her space to come into her own. Although that doesn’t make Sakura feel any better in the moment.

• If she told them, then she’d have to reveal what she’d done, to herself and to Gaara. If she let anyone even see her healing chakra now, they’d know how different she was. Just the fact that she had actually changed her chakra form…. She didn’t even know that was possible. Maybe it wasn’t. Maybe that was Chiyo’s poison…. — Just leveling up the consequences of Sakura’s battle. The Leaf and the Sand are not exactly allies. And the nature of jinchurikis is a closely guarded secret by each village. So there is no way Sakura could have known what Gaara was unless he told her himself. And having Sakura’s chakra form be force to change to Chiyo’s rope/puppet master form to survive just seems like an adequate “battle scar” from Chiyo and this fight.

• She told herself to remember, to never, ever forget: They knew things about her. Perhaps they all did, even back to her teachers at the academy. And they didn’t tell her. She had to find it out from an enemy. — This line could have been said by a young Naruto in the original manga. So I wanted Sakura to be the one to experience that betrayal by the village, since she is the one with the unknown super power growing up in the village instead of Naruto.

• Kakashi was grim. Sakura thought she’d never seen him look so anguished. He tipped his head at Tsunade, almost as if he was silently pleading with her.  Again, another unspoken communication passed between them. “Yes, you should go,” Tsunade said quietly. “Update the others. Maybe there’s still some hope,” but she shook her head as if even she didn’t believe what she was saying. She dismissed him with a single nod, then he was gone in a swirl of leaves. — Sakura, of course, doesn’t know, but the whole reason Kakashi went to the desert was to try to find Naruto. It’s his whole life’s purpose. So Kakashi is basically begging her to leave so he can go update the small band of shinobi that are still trying to find Naruto. 

• “But teaming up with a woman like that,” she growled the words, “then fighting against a shinobi like Sasori…” Her voice trailed into a long exhale. She looked down at the scroll. “You should have been better prepared. And I blame myself for that.” — Tsunade and Chiyo were lifelong enemies. She doesn’t address it here directly to Sakura, but it’s in everything she says about Chiyo.

• “It is your choice, of course,” Tsunade said. There was disappointment in her tone, but her words were without malice. — This is a big, unwavering principle of Tsunade’s character. It will come back again and again for both Sakura and Naruto.

• Tsunade put her fingertips on writing. Speaking softly, she pushed her energy down into the paper until the writing glowed with her chakra. Then rings of text began to move…. They swirled around and around, faster and faster, until the it looked like a luminous whirlpool. In the center, the glow slowly spread to the diamond. — The sealing jutsu comes from the Whirlpool nation, so the formation it takes on the page is in that shape. And of course, that’s where they perfected the technique of harnessing and housing bijuu. So this is a reference to Kushina’s lineage through Naruto. And the seal that Tsunade uses was from their lost village. Like all things, Tsunade is using it for good, to having extra healing and strength when she needs it. But later in the same chapter, the anbu Hawk insinuates Sakura might be able to use it for something very different.

• Tsunade brought her hand closer, and it was then Sakura noticed the swirling pattern that moved with the panes of the crystal. Like a whirlpool. Tsunade paused. “It is not from Konoha, as you may have guessed. It was retrieved from another country that perfected these types of sealing techniques. A country that long ago disappeared beneath the waves.” — So Sakura’s seal links her directly to Naruto. But she won’t know that for a long time!

• “Do you know how to apply an appearance-shifting jutsu? You learned should have learned it in one of your academy classes.” Sakura nodded, although she was a little confused. It was simple, one of the first justus they learned. It didn’t seem like something that would hide such a powerful mark. — This jutsu is the same one Naruto uses to hide his whisker marks. Both he and Sakura use this simple jutsu in a really powerful way. Because of course Itachi learned it from the top Anbu in Konoha, same as Tsunade. Then he taught to Naruto. So now, both Sakura and Naruto both had hidden symbols of power marked on their faces, hidden from everyone except the most powerful. Another little parallel.

She took a shaky breath. It was gone. No one else would ever know. She could go on like it never happened. — Coping skills that are not the best.

Tsunade voice was soft but clear. “No. I would never force her—” Shizune swept aside that line of reasoning. “I know how you feel about letting people have a ‘choice,’ but this…. This is different!” Tsunade still just shook her head.  — All of this about Tsunade and Chiyo will be part of Tsunade’s backstory.

• “But it doesn’t matter. If she’s finally dead than that history is buried with her. There’s no one left who even remembers.” She smiled briefly, a flicker of triumph in her face. “It’s like it never happened.” — Paralleling Sakura here. Tsunade is handling her traumatic past in the same way. Both think if they bury it deep enough it won’t come back to haunt them. And both, of course, are wrong.

• But Tsunade didn’t seem to care. Without even looking at it, she flicked back the carved frog and flattened the parchment with one hand. She began writing, not with the practiced hand of a Kage, but in a fast, sloppy, sideways scrawl of a personal note. — So a frog scroll, very old and official looking, but Tsunade is writing a sloppy personal note on it. If you hadn’t already guessed, it’s to Jiraiya. More on him in the future.

• The one thing she most wanted an answer about was the one thing she had no words to describe. The monster trapped inside Gaara. She didn’t know what it was. She didn’t know how she had ever trapped it again. Sasori was trying to say something to her at the end, when his voice dwindled down to nothing. “Gee— Joon— Jin….”  — Sakura trying to piece together the word she doesn’t know and that the few people in the village who know what it is are allowed to say. Jinchuriki. It’s the key to unlocking the whole mystery around Naruto…but she just doesn’t have it yet….

• Neither option was appealing. And breaking in to the Hokage’s office was a line she was not yet prepared to cross. — foreshadowing. There will be a time in the future when she will be desperate enough to cross that line.

“Interesting,” he said, as if she’d answered him. He looked her up and down again, and then at her forehead before continuing with a conspiratorial grin, as if this was a friendly conversation. “And don’t worry. No one else can see it. I am Hawk. And I’m an expert in seals very much like yours.” — So the idea is that, just like there are some who are searching for Naruto because they served and loved Minato, there are also those who are studying and cultivating Minute’s powers, to make sure they don’t die with him. They aren’t so interested in finding Naruto as much as they are interested in controlling him when they do.

“It is. And yet, it is so much more,” he said smoothly taking a step towards her. “It’s very useful. An empty chamber. To be filled with power. Your own…. Or someone else’s.” He tipped his head so his eyes looked straight out at her, glittering as if he shared a secret with her. “It is a very powerful tool, in the right hands.” — Hawk is directly referencing jinchurikis. Tsunade uses the seal to hold chakra to heal people or to protect or defend. Hawk uses his seal to contain bijuu with. Same resource, entirely different uses. He is dropping hints and testing Sakura’s knowledge as well.

The smile returned to his voice. “We are both on the same side Haruno-san. Anbu has many more resources to someone of your skillset than just delivering scrolls.” — The first overt off of another path for Sakura in the village. This whole scene foreshadows some of Sakura’s struggles in the future. 

• “You will not hear it spoken, nor read it on a page. The same Kage that first made that seal forbid it from being recorded. If you want answers within Konoha’s walls, you will have to come to us. We can tell you what you want to know…about what you’re seeking…and about your own abilities….” — This is all about Naruto and jinchurikis. And it’s an implied offer for Sakura to come be on the highly secretive team of Anbu who keep all the secret knowledge of how to trap and pass on bijuu from one jinchuriki to the next. Sakura doesn’t know this yet. But her power has now made her visible to not only bad people (like Chiyo), but also people in her own village who do bad things for ‘good’ causes (like Anbu, Root, and those who control jinchurikis). 

• He stepped back from her and the air shifted around him as if it was enveloping him. The light slanted, and he had disappeared into it. — His jutsu is a variation of Katsuro’s light-shifting jutsu that allows him to disappear in plain sight. It would have been an Uchiha jutsu, and Katsuro learned it from Itachi. And that’s why Kakashi can see right through it. The idea is that others in the village would have tried to replicate the Uchiha jutsus instead of letting them all die out after Itachi killed the rest of his family. Hawk is searching out old jutsus and reusing them for his own purpose, instead of letting them die with the Uchiha or with the Yondaime.

Her relationship with Sasuke was a partnership of strengths. They never spoke about the things that were terrifying. They never spoke about the moments where they felt weak or vulnerable. — NaruSaku foreshadowing. If her relationship with Sasuke is about being strong for each other, then her (future) relationship with Naruto will be about vulnerabilities and things that they can share only with each other. Both relationships are valid, and both come from a place of love and mutual respect…but only one runs truly deep.

• She could already hear the excuses, see him pleading earnestly for her to believe him that he couldn’t get away until it was safe, and then begging her to tell him everything. And it felt right. So right. Like throwing open long-shuttered windows and letting light into the darkness. — She is remembering Katsuro, the way he was, and feeling that old feeling of seeing the painting in the temple, of things untouched in the darkness and of bringing them back into the light. Totally connects up with her experience in the cavern as well.

Golden afternoon sunlit streamed down through the trees. Wind rolled through the canopy, leaves fell lazily around her. The open feeling that the breeze across her skin brought was the balm she had been yearning for since she escaped the cavern.

 – Sakura blinked at the golden road as it wound through the woods. She only knew one person who would do such a ridiculously stupid thing as sneak up on a shinobi and throw things at them.

– That golden feeling of being around him rushed through her. She wanted to see him. Needed to see him. Katsuro…. — Tying the golden color to Katsuro. And his wind thing. Sakura feels all of it, and it’s the perfect setting for him to return in. It feels like him. That’s why it’s all so deceptive….