Sakura heard the outcry of those around her but ignored it as she darted forward, catching the brunt of Naruto as he fell. She grunted, bracing her feet and slowly brought both of their bodies to the ground. She pressed her fingers to his pulse, glad to find it steady and strong. His skin, however, was cool to the touch and ashen grey. What the hell was going on?
“Naruto,” Sakura murmured, balancing his head on her lap. His eyelids fluttered slightly but remained firmly shut. “Naruto.”
“What the hell happened?” Menma demanded, brushing her shoulder brusquely as he sat down next to her. He took in the way her hands caressed Naruto’s temples and scowled. “Take your hands off him!”
“W-What?” Sakura said, so startled that she did as he asked. She looked to him, confused. “I’m trying to help him, Menma.”
Menma glared at her, leaning in close. “I’ve overheard my parents talking with Hashirama. Strange things are happening in Pompeii. The forest is…doing something to people. And it’s your fault!” His voice was soft, but Sakura saw a few onlookers react to the statement in shock.
“My fault?” Sakura asked, frowning softly. “I have nothing to do with this.”
Menma sneered, shaking his head. “So you say. All I know is mom and dad wouldn’t want you touching Naruto so back off.”
Because of the new DLC coming out, I’ve been looking back at the Sound Four and the Sasuke retrieval arc… and it was actually kind of weird how the Sound Four themselves were treated by the narrative. With very very few notable exceptions, (like Mizuki lmao) most plot important villains in the series have been treated sympathetically, or at the least got something exploring their background to explain their circumstances as to how they got in their position.
But the Sound Four… kind of… never got that? It was weird. Like it’s implied that they were either captives or experiments of Orochimaru, if not both. The anime even adds that they became the Sound Four as a result of having to murder a bunch of other captives to survive.
In fact they’re treated as oddly unsympathetic, like they’re shitty bullies you’re supposed to hate. And, yeah, admittedly, they’re pretty shitty bullies. But a lot of characters who would later become protagonists started out as shitty bullies too.
It’s even weirder when you put them up against Kimimaro, who was also a shitty bully, but he got his entire set of flashbacks explaining why he was loyal to Orochimaru. Hell, he even got his expanded when Jugo showed up. Both Gaara and Lee got upset over him. But the Sound Four, even after they were revived? Nope, nothing. They’re even shown to be ~powered by hate~ or something ridiculous like that. Like what the fuck.
They were fourteen year olds. They were Neji’s age, younger than Temari. They got dragged out of whatever lives they had before and made to be Orochimaru’s playthings. They were just dumb kids, god damn it. Why were they portrayed as some great evil?