Sakura Haruno (春野 サクラ Haruno Sakura?) is a fictional character in the Naruto universe created by Masashi Kishimoto and developed into a media franchise, which consists of a series of manga, anime, soundtracks, OVAs, movies, video games, and other collectibles. Sakura has become the series' female lead, although she was not immediately intended for the role. Kishimoto has had difficulty in drawing her, resulting in Kishimoto inadvertently emphasizing certain parts of her appearance, including her large forehead.
In the anime and manga, Sakura is a kunoichi affiliated with the village of Konohagakure, and part of Team 7, which consists of herself, Naruto Uzumaki, Sasuke Uchiha, and their sensei, Kakashi Hatake. Sakura initially has an infatuation for Sasuke, praising him at every juncture, and heaping scorn upon the less skilled Naruto. Over the course of the series, she begins to shed this singularly driven persona, and grows more appreciative and accepting of Naruto; in Part II, she begins to develop a closer bond with him as they both share in their goal to bring their departed teammate Sasuke back. Sakura has appeared in several pieces of Naruto media, including the four featured films in the series, all of the original video animations, and several video games.
Numerous anime and manga publications have praised and criticized Sakura's character. She was initially noted to be a stereotypical shōnen character, serving as a love interest for the protagonist, and served little purpose in the series initially beyond being comic relief. Her emergence from this stereotype as the series progressed, however, has been celebrated by reviewers. Amongst the Naruto reader base, Sakura has been popular, placing high in several polls. Several pieces of merchandise have been released in Sakura's likeness, including a plush doll and key chains.