snarl growl fume... >.
Just got a review "correcting" my Japanese, to the effect of "kun is only for boys in middle school to high school." Followed by "not to be picky or anything," which is right up there with "I don't mean to be critical but" as completely ineffective ways to try to brush over being the exact thing you're claiming not to be.
And YES, I DO actually know what I'm doing when I have Iruka use -kun with ALL THREE of the genin. -Kun is also used for someone you're in a superior-inferior relationship with (bosses and senior employees call younger/junior employees of both genders -kun), for men of approximately the same age (even thirties-forties) who consider themselves closer friends than -san indicates, from some high school students about high school girls as well as boys, and generally whenever someone's trying to go out of their way to be gender-neutral but emphasise the vertical-but-in-group rather than horizontal-and/or-out-group relationship from the speaker to the referent.
In my case, I'm specifically having Iruka call Sakura "Sakura-kun" because he's not demeaning her the way "-chan" would be for a near-highschooler, but he's also not promoting her over the boys by calling her "-san." He's taking the elder-to-younger same-organization language-approach specifically. Most of the time, women DO get subtly-demeaned or pushed away by using either diminutive -chan or distancing -san in business settings. Iruka's *specifically* not making that distinction between the genders when he talks to the kids -- he's calling all three of them -kun and emphasising their working-in-the-same-organization (i.e. Konoha ninja) relationship now that their teacher-student relationship is ended. And he's emphasizing their equal status with each other in ways that most people wouldn't bother with; most people would verbally separate Sakura from the boys as a matter of course and make her feel even more at-a-distance from them -- but my Iruka's not doing that because I see that evenhandedness of language and of treatment as an integral part of his character.
(He also called her Sakura-kun in the series, if you listen. At least, I'm 98% sure I wasn't hallucinating that. I went through several episodes listening for samples of how he spoke before I ever started writing, and that was in my notes. Maybe I was hallucinating, but in either case, I have a REASON for it...)
Kakashi is exhibiting more typical (and more gender-condescending) language use by calling her Sakura or Sakura-chan vs Naruto/Sasuke and Naruto/Sasuke-kun. He does it specifically to get a little verbal poke-tease in, to make her steam a little at being patted on the head and not considered "san" material yet, and it's not necessarily because he thinks of her as less than or different than the boys... although it wouldn't surprise me if he did.
By using the same suffix for all three of the kids, Iruka is making a point of not judging Sakura in particular and kunoichi as a class to be either inferior to or more distant than the boys in particular and shinobi as a class.
And he DOES specifically use -chan on his grade-school children in the story -- both with female Megumi-chan and male Jirou-chan. He also makes the distance-distinction with Satori, whom he calls Satori-san despite the fact that she's also a girl Sakura's age, because he doesn't have the history with her that he has with the three from Konoha. So he treats Satori more as a young almost-stranger than as a fellow Konoha "employee"/in-group member of the same organization (ninja).
So people who are at a greater distance get the usual suffixes. But he feels closer to his Konoha students than to people in the town they're visiting, and in-series he's scrupulously impartial when it comes to how he treats his students, whether it's scolding Naruto before taking him for ramen or whether it's not passing the boy although he feels sympathy specifically because a ninja has to be held to equal standards of performance despite the teacher's feelings...
But the only way this comes out in the English version of his diction is by using that slightly-unusual-sounding-on-the-surface -kun for Sakura. There's a lot you'd see in the verb structures if I were writing this in Japanese -- but if I were writing this in Japanese, a lot of people wouldn't be able to read it. I'd bet almost anything that that reviewer is among them.
I know Iruka's diction is unusual according to the far-oversimplified textbook-Japanese you get out of an online dictionary. I'm doing it that way ON PURPOSE, for a precisely calculated statement about his perception of his relationship with various people and the nature of the world in general...
Now. Granted. 98% of the fanfic writers out there wouldn't get an "atypical" use of -kun right, just like 70% of fanfic writers are congenitally incapable of telling the difference between oneesan (big sister) and oniisan (big brother). So I can't statistically blame the person for assuming I'm a fangirlese-speaking moron.
But since I'm NOT just a fangirlese-speaking moron, it steams my buns...
off to fume for a while, then try yet again to get this darn side story finished...