Anonymous said: kuroko no meme
It’s almost difficult to love Sakura, simply because she’s too human. We expect a character in her situation to be either a monster or a perfect victim. But someone who struggles painfully with her own natural selfishness and hates herself too much for it? That’s hard. That’s not a character we get so often.
Sakura hurts me a lot.
She bustles about the Emiya household, joining Shirou and Taiga to finally form a family with them, but never does she truly consider that it is something that can end happily, something that can be real. It’s all play-acting. It’s all a desperate last dream before reality comes crashing down and rips out her heart and makes her the shell of something else.
But there’s this tiny part of her that does insist, “It can be real someday,” and even though she probably hates that part of her for treacherously trying to give the rest of her hope, she lets it drag her along in the dream.
And then Heaven’s Feel happens, and Shirou, Shirou of all people, the boy who is the one bright spot in her life, he does something she never expected. He agrees with that part of her. He says that it’s real.
And all of this right as the darkness is descending. Is it any wonder things go wrong the way they do?
I have more I want to say, but I don’t know when I’ll be able to do it. Sakura hurts me.
I’ve seen an analysis of how the images of Shirou with each heroine reflect his development over the routes, and I agree with it—but I think you can do it this way as well. Look.
In Fate, he is embraced by someone he loves. Saber rushes forward to hold him, but Shirou himself is still too wrapped up in his ideals to hold anyone—or even truly realize that they’re stopping him.
In Unlimited Blade Works, he wants to embrace someone he loves, but he can’t. Rin looks up and forward to him, but Archer stands with his arms at his side, unable to hold her: his ideals stand between them, and he knows it.
In Heaven’s Feel, he embraces someone he loves; he opens his arms to hold Sakura, having finally cast aside his borrowed ideals so they no longer stand between him and the one he loves.
Here’s the thing about Sakura Matou: she is in every way a victim of abuse. She is the picture-perfect example of someone who has, for most of her life, been tormented, violated, and treated as an object by the very people who she should have been able to rely on to support, protect, and cherish her.
But not quite. See, “picture-perfect” is really exactly the wrong word to use there. Normally, characters like her, meant to be rescued by the hero from their darkness, are pure. They keep the masks on neatly at all times before revealing in the most dramatic and attractive way possible that really they have terribly low self-esteem due to all their torment and must be rescued by some confident man. Sakura doesn’t do that. She says passive-aggressive things and she gets jealous. She wishes bitterly to get better while being resigned to the reverse, because her life has left her mentally, emotionally, and morally exhausted, and even if she’s rescued, it won’t be pretty. It won’t be delicate and pure.
Because you don’t go through the things Sakura Matou has been through without being corrupted by it. You don’t collapse into the pit of misery without being stained by the time you get fished out of it. And given everything she’s been through, Sakura damn well does a good job of surviving as a decent person until it’s finally too much.
But the fact that she does a good job isn’t really the point. The point is that when it does become too much, there is someone there who doesn’t care how corrupted and stained she is, because she is still a human being worth loving, even if no one in her life before him told her so.
She doesn’t have to deal with trauma in the approved way. After everything she’s been through, she can give up. She can lash out. She can rage and seethe with passive-aggressive bitterness. And it doesn’t make her worthless and despicable. That’s the point. That’s why I’ll love her even when Heaven’s Feel gets dark and she gets terrible. Because I approve of that message. Sometimes, it’s something we need in our fiction.
I just really enjoy it when Shirou and Sakura are normal together.
This is a boy who’s been running on the fumes of trauma for ten years, nearly killing himself almost nightly with magic in a constant attempt to follow a borrowed dream that will destroy him because it’s the only way he knows how to live. This is a girl who’s been living through unimaginable torture for eleven years at the hands of the people who should be caring for her, with no escape in sight. And in that sea, they’ve stumbled onto this little island of ordinary life that the two of them can’t possibly find anywhere else.
Another thing I wanted to mention, after finishing Heaven’s Feel.
Oh, yeah, that’s my one sticking point with it too? On a more general and less specific level than you described, though that’s definitely part of it.
Yeah, I think it’s pretty clear in the True End epilogue that they went through a whole lot to deal with their issues.
Can we just pause for a moment here to appreciate how incredibly fucked up Shirou is? Look at how much shit the stupid kid has to go through before he finally figures out how to want things for himself. Most people can do that without getting thrown into a magical fight to the death, being forced to throw away their old dreams, nearly dying a million times, losing an arm to pure darkness, and finding out their girlfriend is an eldritch abomination. But not Shirou Emiya!
And for all that it’s often uncomfortable and disturbing when things get dark, that’s got to be part of why I like his relationship with Sakura Matou. There’s a real sense of them going through hell together in order to discover, quite simply, how to live. They and they alone teach each other how to be complete human beings instead of merely vessels for someone else’s wishes.
I know that a lot of people see Sakura as exceptionally selfish and her relationship with Shirou as particularly screwed-up and clingy and wrong, but I can’t get behind that for a very simple reason. When we see Shirou and Sakura together in the other routes and at the beginning of Heaven’s Feel, it’s established that under what passes for normal circumstances together with them, they’re pretty normal and stable together. They’re the most normal and stable thing in each other’s lives.
The way Sakura behaves during the darker parts of Heaven’s Feel isn’t representative of her or her relationship with Shirou as a whole, because this is the worst possible time in her life, and no, she’s not going to handle it perfectly and sail serenely unaffected through the storm, because she’s not perfect. But she isn’t exceptionally selfish or awful, either—she’s human.