The Black Holy Mother Governing over Both Peace and Darkness
Sakura is a first-year student at Homurahara Academy. Shirou is an older student who belongs to the same archery club as she, and Shinji is her older brother. When Shirou stopped participating in club activities because of Shinji, Sakura felt responsible and took it upon herself to apologize to Shirou. This quest to make amends resulted in Sakura assisting with domestic chores around the Emiya household. Sakura was a pretty depressing individual at first, and basically had no idea how to perform any domestic duties. As she spent more time at the Emiya household, however, she eventually learned to cook Western food better than her instructor Shirou, and Taiga's influence gradually transformed Sakura into a more cheerful girl. Sakura had harbored a secret crush on Shirou since her middle school days, but despite how obvious she made her feelings, Shirou was too oblivious to notice.
Sakura was originally born in the Tohsaka household and is Rin's younger sister. Desiring a child possessing Magical Paths, the Matou household adopted Sakura and raised her as their successor. Though she did summon Rider, Sakura felt no desire to participate in the Fifth Holy Grail War and instead surrendered her rights as a Master to her adoptive brother Shinji.
Being quite timid, Sakura is easily influenced by those around her and bears it all in a stoic manner. This suppressive combination of personality traits seeded her downfall, however, as Sakura's route involved her turning into a homicidal monster. Only through the combination of Shirou's strong will and the devotion of her sister, who she both admired and envied, was Sakura brought back to the path of salvation.
Character Data 003
|Affiliation||Homurahara Academy class 1-B|
|THEME COLOR:||Cherry blossom|
|TALENTS:||All domestic chores, giving massages|
|LIKES:||Sweets, scary stories|
|DISLIKES:||Physical exercise, scales|
|RIVALS:||Illya, Rin Tohsaka|
Sakura was born as the second daughter to the Tohsaka household, but she was given up in response to an adoption request from the Matou household, with whom the Tohsakas shared a long-standing alliance. This adoption resulted in some rather complicated interpersonal relationships for Sakura. Her biological parents are Tokiomi and Aoi Tohsaka, and much like her sister Rin, Sakura was born with a remarkable level of magical aptitude. After making the transition from her life as Sakura Tohsaka to her new life as Sakura Matou, she suffered greatly under Zouken's use of worms to physically prepare Sakura for the use of Matou magecraft. This forced adjustment resulted in Sakura's eyes and hair changing color, and she also had a counterproductive effect in general since the true depths of Sakura's magical abilities remained untapped.
Sakura's adoptive brother Shinji was born without Magical Paths and felt quite jealous of his new little sister. This childish envy soon manifested itself as bullying and harassment to varying degrees. Shinji also put Sakura through many terrible years of sexual abuse.
"Magical Paths" is used in this official localization, but has not been used since. This term should simply be "magic circuits".
Character Discussion with Kinoko Nasu & Takashi Takeuchi
THE CATALYST FOR SAKURA MATOU'S BIRTH
TAKEUCHI: From the earliest stages of Sakura's concept, she was set to be a heroine who was suffering from lots of psychological damage. For this reason, I knew I would be designing a character who looked more introverted and quiet. There are some generally accepted standards when it comes to stereotypically appealing elements of girl characters specific to the "gal games" genre, and I wanted Sakura to have the lion's share of these design elements when compared to the other two heroines.
DESIGNING RIN'S OUTFITS
TAKEUCHI: Since Rin was taking the honor roll student role, we wanted the school uniform to suit her better than any of the other characters. For this reason, we used Rin as the base model when designing the school uniform, but she ended up appearing in the game wearing her casual clothes more than any other outfit. In the end, her casual outfit became the "default" outfit for Rin's character. I suppose we could blame that on Archer, too.
NASU: When did we decide on the color scheme for Rin's casual clothes?
TAKEUCHI: I'm pretty sure we settled on red as her theme color right from the start. As I recall, the choice came rather easily.
FINANCIAL STATUS OF THE MATOU HOUSEHOLD
NASU: Unlike the Tohsakas, the Matous are landowners who own plots of land in various regions. For this reason, the Matou household's finances are relatively stable. Their main source of income is the rent they charge mages who wish to make use of the spiritual lands in their possession.
TAKEUCHI: I kind of wondered about this, because I noticed no one in Sakura's household seemed to have a regular job, but now I get it.
DESIGNING SAKURA'S OUTFITS
TAKEUCHI: It was all about a subtle kind of allure... I think. Instead of aiming for the obvious kinds of "moe" or "erotica" , I imagined her as someone who naturally and subtly exudes her own distinct brand of sexiness. Unfortunately, there's a very fine line between "subtly sexy" and "just plain boring". Of course, now that I think about it, I'm just spouting the obvious. (laughs)
NASU: I find that whenever we try to talk about Sakura's outfits, we always end up talking about Dark Sakura. Having said all that, I'll be the first to admit that I really like the Dark Sakura design. What if we were to explain away Sakura's usual blandness by saying it was all intentional in order to provide a strong contrast to Dark Sakura's design?
TAKEUCHI: You know... Dark Sakura's shadow would look like a black octopus.
NASU: An adorably terrifying weiner octopus? (A "weiner octopus" is a food item found in Japanese lunches where a hot dog weiner has been cut to resemble an octopus. - Ed.)
TAKEUCHI: Nasu asked for a situation where the characters were being killed by "some inexplicably weird mystery... thing..." and this is the design I created based on that request.
NASU: I wanted the murderous guest to be something rather inorganic... like a geometric sci-fi "visitor" rather than a "creature" from a horror film. I described it as "...like a teru teru bozu gone wrong." and as soon as I saw that Dark Sakura design, I knew Takeuchi had hit the nail on the head! I hadn't finished writing out the script at that point so there was a definite air of doubt floating around the staffers, and I had a heck of a time convincing everyone that this design was exactly what we needed. You know when that girl in "The Ring" comes crawling out of the television set? I always scoff at that scene and think to myself, "This fool has finally taken on a physical form! now all it will take is one of my precisely aimed low kicks and she's done for good!" I don't know why, but a humanoid creature of tangible flesh just seems less scary sometimes, as if we are able to convince ourselves on some level that a creature with substance and fleshy physical form can be defeated. That's why It was important to me for Dark Sakura to look like an otherworldly entity that humans simply could not fathom and no amount of vigorous kicking could destroy.
TAKEUCHI: The inability to understand is, after all, the root of this thing we call "fear"
THE CATALYST FOR DARK SAKURA'S BIRTH
NASU: From a very early stage, we knew the plot would involve Sakura becoming a boss character. Following the same line as Kohaku from "Tsukihime" and Fujino Asagami from "Kara no Kyokai", we knew Sakura was going to suffer an emotional and psychological break. The design started off with the general shape of a hot dog weiner, and when Takeuchi presented the rough draft to me, I knew immediately that it was the right way to go.
TAKEUCHI: Since we were going to go with a dark version of Sakura, I figured we should change up her visual design by a good margin and really gave her a boss-like vibe. NASU: To be honest, I didn't expect him to change Sakura so much but it was definitely a pleasant surprise. I really like the way the veiny patterns on her skin look like infections.
TAKEUCHI: I wanted the patterns to look like curses. Illya has those tattoo things all over her body, so I wanted Sakura's patterns to look like visual representation of a hex or curse.
REGARDING DARK SAKURA'S CHARACTER DESIGN
NASU: Sakura is the symbol of loss and betrayal, like Gilgamesh but in a different way. It was important that people didn't perceive her as a villain, though, because we intended her to be more like a victim or sacrifice. In that regard, I think Dark Sakura's design is perfect. By the way, why is she barefooted?
TAKEUCHI: I don't know... because being barefooted makes her creepier?
NASU: I guess it's true that Japanese ghosts traditionally appear barefooted... makes for those super creepy footstep sounds.
THE MESSAGE SAKURA MATOU CARRIES AS A CHARACTER
TAKEUCHI: We haven't really talked about regular Sakura here... is that okay? This always happens when we talk about Sakura. Of all the characters, Sakura has the most standing pose images by far.
NASU: Yeah, hands down!
TAKEUCHI: There are so many versions. Honestly, I feel like Sakura would have turned out to be a great kid if she had grown up in a normal household. She's very thoughtful and kind.
NASU: We initially considered going with a "Yamato Nadeshiko" type, the "idealized Japanese woman".
TAKEUCHI: In other words, the usual heroine you'd find in an adult game... the kind of girl most players would be thrilled to have as a loving and devoted wife. To that end, it was important for us to provide as many sensual and intimate scenes for her as possible. Sakura is one of the characters with whom physical relations actually lead to a very real and proper kind of live. I hope we succeeded on that front.
NASU: Sakura is one of those characters who is easy to imagine as a really person existing in our world. In many cases, changing just one little thing about a person could easily turn them into a Sakura... but not a Dark Sakura. (laughs)
TAKEUCHI: I feel like we got a positive response to Dark Sakura than we were expecting. To be honest, a part of me was prepared for Dark Sakura to be a complete failure. (laughs) I suppose it didn't hurt that she was easy to include in just about any store scenario. I do, however, feel like I need to learn a lesson from Sakura... The fact that "Sakura = Dark Sakura" for most people means the impression Dark Sakura left on players was a little stronger than intended. I never meant for Dark Sakura to completely overshadow normal Sakura.
NASU: It's only after she overcomes the darkness that Sakura takes on her true form!
TAKEUCHI: I really like how the post-darkness Sakura turned out. I feel like she turned into a figure of pure love, someone who can accept anyone just the way they are. In that way, I believe Sakura from "hollow" represents Sakura in her most natural state. With all that experience under her belt, I feel like she finally evolved into a full-fledged heroine.
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