I think my thing with age gap is that, if the two people had a close relationship when one of them was a kid and the other one wasn't....I struggle with that. Just the idea of Kakshi watching her slowly grow into a woman and then one day realizing he is attracted to her after a certain point, I cannot. I'm convinced a part of him would always see her as a child to him. If it's AU where they meet as adults I don't mind though. Their hair color compliments somehow...
You know, it’s totally ok that it squicks you! It’s completely alright if you want to say “I only like KakaSaku in AUs where they meet as adults” (or in AUs where they’re the same age).
Personally, I actually like the appeal of “whoa I thought our relationship was X but now suddenly I want it to be Y” in ships, that’s a major theme in my OTPs across many fandoms. For one thing, that’s built-in drama. Person A wants the relationship to change, but Person B isn’t sure, and then Person B suddenly realizes it but Person A has gone away, Person B you must chase Person A down! EXCITEMENT. Also: external opposition? Taboo?? I MUST HIDE MY FEELINGS AND PINE SECRETLY FOR LO, MY LOVE CAN NEVER BE??? 😍😍😍
Specifically with Kakashi and Sakura, a big reason why I ship them is that while genin Sakura certainly does intend to respect and obey him and view him as an authority figure (because she’s a Good Girl), right from the get-go she doesn’t really. Inner Sakura (her true feelings) laughs at Naruto’s prank, and she’s appalled at his lateness and trolling. The entire time she’s a genin, I’m convinced that Kakashi never truly registered her potential. The most frequently cited example of this, because it really is appalling, is when Sakura mastered tree walking the first try–#1, Kakashi merely uses her accomplishment to ridicule and shame the boys, turning them against Sakura (teamwork, Kakashi??? hello???); #2, her “reward” is to sit on the bridge with Tazuna while Kakashi trains the boys without her. Nice. And during the time skip, it’s fairly obvious that Kakashi and Sakura didn’t interact–otherwise Kakashi wouldn’t have been so completely gobsmacked at her unleashing the Fifth’s strength. He wasn’t merely surprised, he was stunned.
The inference that he thought Sakura completely incapable of learning Tsunade’s techniques so fast is inescapable. He knew she was training with Tsunade, so Sakura using Tsunade’s technique shouldn’t have shocked him so much, right? Yet it did. Because he completely discounted Sakura’s ability.
That’s slow to change as well. Even though Sakura’s fight against Sasori was far more successful than Kakashi and Naruto’s against Itachi and Deidara, even though Sakura is spending every moment of her free time researching and begs him in the hospital to help find a way to improve, does Kakashi bother to come up with a training regimen for Sakura? Nope. He and Yamato train Naruto alone, and they get Asuma involved as well.
Now, to a huge extent, to me, this is just a symptom of what should have been an overarching problem in the series: short-term thinking. It is completely natural that short-term thinking would be ubiquitous in a society undergoing constant warfare and violence. But short-term thinking causes problems, and when those problems are attacked with more short-term thinking, things can turn to shit so fucking quickly. Each of Kakashi’s decisions to prioritize Naruto and Sasuke so exclusively make sense through a short-term focus. His decision to teach Sasuke the chidori to fight Gaara makes sense through a short-term focus. It’s only when you step back and look at the pattern that you realize how fucked up these decisions are.
So when does Kakashi start to realize how wrong he’s been? In my opinion, it all comes home to him during the Five Kage Conference and his fight with Sasuke–a fight that prominently features the chidori that Kakashi is responsible for choosing to teach Sasuke. Kakashi says right out in this arc that he was a bad teacher. He is correct.
It’s the Fourth War when I see him really changing his view towards Sakura, and realizing just how much this wonderful, amazing, strong kunoichi isn’t the Sakura he thought he knew. But there’s a snag. She’s still all hung up on the guy who literally everybody treated as more important than her safety from day one! Oops!
DAT CHEEK BRUSH THO.
And we haven’t even gotten into all the things that Sakura doesn’t know about Kakashi! So yeah the stage is set for amazing things, potentially, but this is Naruto so we don’t get nice things. But who cares, really? I mean, fuck, I ship all the canon ships except SS, so just take it from me: you do not want your Naruto ship to be canon. My God! You want Kishimoto writing your OTP?! You want Studio Pierrot writing it?!?! I ship NaruHina and I’ll never be the same. Don’t do that to them. Keep them in fandom, where they’re safe from the shitstorm that is the rest of post-699 Naruto.
*coughs* I seem to have run off the rails, anon, sorry about that. Onto your last point.
I am convinced that a not insignficant portion of Sakura’s shippability is her colour scheme. You wouldn’t think pink hair and green eyes would blend so well, but for some reason it really does? She just looks good with everyone!