InoSaku (いのサク InoSaku) is the term used to refer to the romantic relationship between Ino Yamanaka and Sakura Haruno, in which Ino plays the dominant role and Sakura the submissive role. The term for the couple where the roles are reversed is SakuIno (サクいの SakuIno). Sakura and Ino (サクラといの, Sakura to Ino)
Chunin Exam Arc
During their childhood, Sakura was a shy, timid girl who was often teased about her large forehead. She lacked any self-esteem until she befriended Ino, who gave her a ribbon and told her to show off her forehead rather than hide it in order to stop the teasing. The two became best friends, and Sakura was able to gain self-confidence because of Ino's encouragement.
Later, Sakura told her group of friends that she'd finally found a boy she liked and was surprised when they correctly guessed Sasuke Uchiha. As it turned out, Ino also had a crush on Sasuke, though she didn't say anything at the time.
Before they graduated from the academy, Sakura told Ino that she knew about her crush on Sasuke, and that she was breaking their friendship at that point. She then proceeded to hand her the ribbon Ino had given her as a child, stating that they were now rivals and that she wouldn't lose to her anymore.
Sakura and Ino are revealed to be rivals for Sasuke's affections. They tend to argue in a comical manner whenever they're in each other's company, and they often refer to each other by derogatory names ("Forehead Girl" for Sakura and "Ino-pig" for Ino), much to the displeasure of the other.
When the two, along with their teams, go into the forest of death, Sakura ends up getting into a battle with Sound Nin while also protecting Sasuke and Naruto, who are unconscious at this point. Little did she know that Ino and her team were watching the exchange, and after much inner conflict, Ino decides to come to her former friend's aid and even helps Sakura fix her hair (which she cut off during the battle) after the fight was over. However, they soon go back to their bantering ways.
During the Chuunin preliminary matches, they are chosen to fight each other. However, neither uses her full strength because of the friendship they had in the past. Sakura notices that Ino is being soft on her and uses taunts and insults in order to get her to fight to her fullest potential. After several minutes of battling, the match ends up in a tie, much to the chagrin of both girls. However, Ino hands Sakura her forehead protector and says that she's grown into a beautiful flower. Their friendship seems to have been repaired at this point, though they decided to remain rivals in the end.
They are seen together at numerous points after this, and though they are still rivals, they're able to act civilized with each other. They're seen sitting together at the Chuunin exams, where Ino tries to reassure Sakura that the then-absent Sasuke will definitely appear, and they cheer for him together when he arrives. Ino also goes with Sakura to visit Sasuke in the hospital later in the series and even helps her pick out a flower to bring to him, and she makes a second visit with her by the end of Part I, showing that their relationship has been repaired.
Ten-Tails Revival Arc
Before Inoichi's death, he gives Ino his last words about being proud that Ino was someone who would always protect her friends. Stating that he's proud that Ino had truly grown to reflect the meaning of their clan's flower symbol. During the war as the battle continues to rage on, Sakura thinks to herself of how much and how hard her teammate is working, Ino helps clearify and reassures her. When Ino's teammate recovers, she thanks Sakura.
- At the beginning of the series, despite the two no longer being friends, they were still shown to care for each other
- During their fight in the Chunin preliminaries, Ino is initially unable to go all-out against Sakura due to their past. It is only when Sakura provokes her does she take the fight seriously.
- The two are considered as childhood friends to love rivals, having a strong bond.
- The two have shown to have comedical bickerings throughout the series, but are still remained and shown as great friends.
- Sakura is shown to have a high amount of respect towards Ino since their childhood.
Shikamaru to Ino about Sakura - Chapter 53:
- "Sakura's alone, what are you gonna do, Ino? She's in trouble. Didn't you guys used to be good friends..?"
Sakura to Ino - Chapter 53:
- "Hey... Ino-chan.. I heard you also like Sasuke-kun. Then.. I guess from now on.. we're rivals."
Ino to Sakura - Chapter 54:
- "Everyone makes fun of you because of your forehead, huh? --- You try and hide it with your hair, you look like a ghost. Come here again tomorrow, I'll give you something nice. --- See, you're much cuter this way. You can have that ribbon. They make fun of you because you try and hide it. You have a cute face, so show it confidentally. Confidentally!!"
Ino about Sakura - Chapter 54 + 57:
- "Bahh.. she's just hiding her feelings" --- "Pft.. Sakura's hiding her feelings again.."
Ino to Sakura - Chapter 71:
- "Like the sakura flower in the spring time, the cosmos is the most beautiful flower in autumn."
Ino to Sakura about Flowers and when Sakura asks about the Ribbon - Chapter 71:
- "I thought it would be a waste for you to wither away as a bud. There's no meaning to a flower unless it blooms. It might even turn out to be.. a flower even more beautiful than a cosmos."
Sakura about Ino - Chapter 71:
- "Ino.. I have always believed those words you told me.. I always hoped they were true.. I wanted to be like you, you were my goal. Thanks to that, I am here now. That's why, Ino.. I want this to be an all out fight."
Sakura to Ino - Chapter 71:
- "I'm returning this ribbon. From now on, I'm no longer the girl that follows you around.. --- The time when I put this headband on my forehead, is the time, as a female shinobi, that I won't lose to you.."
Ino to Sakura - Chapter 73:
- "You've bloomed into a beautiful flower.."
Among the Fans
InoSaku is actually a very popular Yuri couple. It is most likely supported due to the two girls being rivals and childhood friends. It's often companioned by HinaTen. It's a rival pairings are NaruSaku, ShikaIno, SaiIno, and SasuSaku.