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frame|The Naruto: Shippūden logo. The plot of the second part of the manga and anime series Naruto, titled Naruto: Shippūden (疾風伝?, lit. Hurricane Chronicles) in the anime and simply Part II in the manga, is set two and a half years after the present timeline in Part I. The new setting for the series begins with volume 28 (chapter 245) of the manga. The anime adaptation of the manga started airing on February 15, 2007, premiering with the first two episodes debuting in a one hour special. The US publication of the manga will begin in January 2008, in the US issue of Shonen Jump.
The new story revolves mainly around Naruto Uzumaki's and Sakura Haruno's new adventures and their search for Sasuke Uchiha after he left Konoha to gain Orochimaru's power. The plot later involves new major characters, such as Sai and Yamato. The plot also shows a more active Akatsuki in their quest to obtain all the tailed beasts.
thumb|100px|Naruto Uzumaki at age 15, after his two and a half year absence. To prepare for the eventual confrontation with both Akatsuki and Orochimaru, Naruto leaves the village and undergoes intensive training under Jiraiya. At the same time, Sakura becomes Tsunade's apprentice, and Sasuke trains under Orochimaru. Thus, each of the three members of the original Team 7 is now training under one of the Legendary Sannin.
When Naruto returns to the village two and a half years later, he is reacquainted with his friends, who have all risen in rank in his absence. Most of his comrades have since become Chunin; Kankuro, Temari, and Neji Hyuga have become Jonin; Gaara has even become the Fifth Kazekage: Naruto, meanwhile, is now the only Genin left. Jiraiya leaves Naruto with Kakashi Hatake, and along with Sakura, the three of them become a new team. To commemorate, they conduct another bell test, with Naruto and Sakura succeeding this time.
Rescue Gaara arc
In Sunagakure, the Akatsuki team of Deidara and Sasori make their way to the village in search of Gaara. Deidara goes off to fight Gaara alone while Sasori guards the entrance. Gaara intercepts Deidara during the battle and manages to crush one of Deidara's arms using his Desert Coffin. Despite his improved ability, Gaara's newfound desire to defend Sunagakure proves to be his downfall. When Deidara tries to destroy the village with his exploding clay, Gaara absorbs the blast by levitating the sand below. A direct attack by Deidara forces him to recall the sand which crushed Deidara's arm, which contains a small portion of exploding clay within. The clay then detonates, incapacitating Gaara.
After Deidara departs with Gaara, Kankuro attempts to stop the Akatsuki members alone, but his puppets are easily fought off and destroyed by Sasori, who is revealed to be the maker of Kankuro's puppets. Sasori poisons Kankuro in the process, leaving him to die. The Akatsuki duo take Gaara back to their lair, where their leader summons a massive statue to extract and seal Gaara's demon. The sealing ritual takes three days.
Upon hearing of Gaara's kidnapping, Team Kakashi leaves for Sunagakure with Temari, who is in Konoha to help with the most recent Chunin Exam. On the way, Naruto tells Sakura and Temari that he is the host of the nine-tailed demon fox and that Akatsuki is after the demon inside Gaara. This gives Sakura some insight into what Naruto has gone through. After learning this she vows to do everything she can to protect Naruto from being a victim of Akatsuki. Temari is thankful that there is someone who can understand what Gaara has gone through, and she's grateful to Naruto for changing Gaara and attempting to save him.
After arriving at Sunagakure, Team Kakashi learns of the attack on Kankuro. Despite the failed attempt by the medics on-hand, Sakura cures Kankuro, thus demonstrating her skill with medical jutsu. Sakura also develops several portable antidotes rather quickly. Using a piece of Sasori's clothing found on one of Kankuro's destroyed puppets, Team Kakashi is able to track him, thus leading them to Gaara. Temari offers to assist them, but Chiyo, another puppeteer and Sasori's grandmother, goes in her place. Back in Konoha, Tsunade decides to send Team Guy as backup for Team Kakashi.
In a forest, Kakashi and Naruto are able to defeat Itachi after some effort using one of Kakashi's clones and Naruto's new Great Ball Rasengan, the clone being used to hold Itachi in place long enough for the jutsu to connect. Meanwhile, Team Guy is largely disabled by Kisame, leaving Guy himself to fight Kisame alone. Guy emerges victorious by opening six of the eight chakra gates to perform his Morning Peacock technique, which allows him to pummel Kisame to death. However, both Akatsuki members are actually entirely different people in disguise. They were made into weaker copies of those they were impersonating through the leader's Shapeshifting Technique.
Despite their victories, the two teams realize their battles were distractions to buy time for Akatsuki to extract the Shukaku from Gaara, which will kill him if completed. At the Akatsuki hideout, a barrier is blocking the entrance. Directed by Kakashi, Team Guy removes the four seals maintaining the barrier, but a failsafe creates clones of them as a further distraction. Ultimately, the many delaying tactics employed by Akatsuki are successful, as Naruto and Kakashi find Deidara and Sasori guarding Gaara's lifeless body. While Chiyo and Sakura fight Sasori, Deidara flies off on a clay bird with Gaara's body, with Naruto and Kakashi in pursuit.
Although Sasori "wears" his puppets and controls them from inside, this technique of puppeteer fighting soon proves to be futile against Sakura and Chiyo. By controlling Sakura like a puppet, Chiyo is able to get Sakura close enough to demolish the puppet with one punch.
With his first puppet destroyed, Sasori is revealed, looking just as young as he did when he left the village. He summons another puppet to continue the battle: the Third Kazekage. It is here that Sasori reveals that he not only killed the Third Kazekage, but actually made his body into a puppet. Likewise, he has done the same to 297 other people. He plans to do the same to Chiyo and Sakura after winning. With its unique Iron Sand ability mixed with Sasori's poison, the Kazekage puppet is exceptionally dangerous. Chiyo summons two more puppets to fight against it. These puppets were Sasori's parents, which he had turned into puppets and left with the village when he deserted it. At first, Sasori's Kazekage puppet proves to be more than a match for both Sakura and Chiyo, using its poisoned Iron Sand to disable both of them. However, the antidotes Sakura had developed earlier allows them to continue fighting. Having been trained by Tsunade to pick up the enemy's attack patterns, Sakura is able to easily dodge Sasori's subsequent attacks and demolish the Kazekage puppet.
Down another puppet, Sasori reveals the secret of his youth: he made himself into a puppet. In this form, he has numerous weapons to fight with, and can even reassemble himself when destroyed, making him almost impossible to defeat. The only part of him that remains alive, and thus able to use chakra, is his heart, contained in a talisman labeled 蠍 (Sasori, "Scorpion"). In response, Chiyo uses White Secret Technique: Ten Puppet Collection of Chikamatsu to summon Monzaemon Chikamatsu's ten masterpiece puppets. To mock the display, Sasori uses his Red Secret Technique: Performance of a Hundred Puppets to summon 100 of his human puppets.
After a spectacular battle between the two puppet groups, Chiyo throws a chakra-sealing orb to Sakura to use on Sasori. Though it appears successful at first, Sasori manages to abandon his body beforehand and take over a spare among the many puppets he had summoned earlier. Using the momentary distraction, Sasori stabs Sakura with a poisoned sword. In doing so, however, he falls into a secondary trap created by four of Chiyo's puppets, which have formed a seal on the ground. Sasori is now immobilized since he needs to use chakra to animate his puppet body, allowing Chiyo to use the mother and father puppets to stab him through his heart. In spite of the victory, Chiyo believes that Sasori allowed himself to be killed — he saw the attack coming and chose not to react, and died in a way similar to how his parent puppets used to embrace him.
At the end of the battle, Chiyo, Sasori, and Sakura are all fatally wounded, but Chiyo uses a jutsu she originally developed for Sasori to save Sakura's life. The jutsu uses the user's own life energy, making it fatal to use to animate a puppet, but Chiyo survives since Sakura was still alive. Sasori's last words (as a reward to Sakura for defeating him) are that he has a spy in Orochimaru's ranks, whom he is supposed to meet in Kusagakure in ten days.
Meanwhile, Naruto and Kakashi chase after Deidara. Kakashi activates his own version of the Mangekyo Sharingan, but it is difficult to aim properly and only manages to remove Deidara's remaining arm (he was aiming at his head). Naruto manages to destroy the clay bird using his Rasengan and retrieves Gaara's body. Enraged, Naruto sends a demon-fox-powered clone to attack Deidara, who attempts to get away since he no longer has any arms. The clone is able to defeat Deidara by creating more clones, but this Deidara is also a clone. Still enraged, Naruto starts to appear feral as two tails of chakra begin to form, causing his clones to experience a burning sensation in their stomachs. Kakashi recognizes this as a bad sign and uses a special seal he received from Jiraiya to stop the transformation from proceeding any further. Naruto subsequently reverts back to his normal form.
As the rest of Team Kakashi and Guy catch up with Naruto and Kakashi, Neji spots Deidara attempting to escape. Cornered, Deidara moves to the remains of his bird and swallows some of the clay, turning himself into a human bomb. Neji realizes what's about to happen and quickly directs the group to leave, fearing that not everyone will get away in time. As the dust settles, Kakashi collapses from exhaustion, explaining that he used his Mangekyo Sharingan to send Deidara to another dimension. With Naruto carrying Gaara's body, the two teams head back to Sunagakure.
Stopping in a grassy field near the village, Sakura checks on Gaara and pronounces him dead. Naruto grows very upset, lashing out verbally at Chiyo. As he begins to cry, Chiyo moves towards Gaara and tries to use her resurrection technique, but doesn't have enough life force left. Naruto gladly lends his own chakra, and Chiyo is able to revive Gaara at the cost of her own life while the shinobi of Suna look on.
Back at the battleground, Deidara emerges from the ground, revealing that it was his clone that destroyed itself. He goes off looking for the right arm that he lost. After finding it, he encounters Zetsu and Tobi, a mysterious individual who wishes to take Sasori's place in Akatsuki. Tobi's carefree attitude about Deidara's condition angers Deidara, and he attempts to strangle Tobi with his feet after one-too-many callous remarks.
After paying their respects to Chiyo, and bidding Gaara and his siblings farewell, the Konoha shinobi return home. Kakashi is still exhausted from his overuse of his Mangekyo Sharingan and has to be carried back by Guy. Guy does so piggyback style, disturbing everyone present except Lee, who remarks that Guy is training. Lee then proceeds to offer to carry Neji, who bluntly refuses.
Gaara is still able to control sand but it is unknown whether the loss of Shukaku has affected his usual attacks, supposedly the sand no longer acts on its own accord to create its usual barrier around him.
When they arrive at Konoha, Kakashi is confined to the hospital and is unable to lead the team until he recovers. Naruto searches the village to find a possible replacement, as well as a third team member. During this time, he meets Shino, Kiba, Hinata, Choji, and Ino again.
Naruto meets his "third man" before actually learning who he is. While talking with Choji and Shikamaru, the ninja, later introduced as Sai, attacks them and is warded off by the trio. Sai was sent by Danzo to replace Sasuke. Sai is a member of the now-defunct independent subdivision of ANBU called Root.
It is also discovered that some of the village elders are worried about the possibility of Naruto being captured by Akatsuki. Tsunade convinces them to let him go by assigning Yamato, an ANBU captain, as the temporary leader of Team Kakashi. They are to travel to the World Bridge in Kusagakure to meet Sasori's spy.
The Sasuke and Sai arc
Encounter with Orochimaru
thumb|Naruto in his four-tailed demon fox-transformation, charging up his mysterious attack in the fight with Orochimaru. Team 7 takes on their new mission, and a great amount of tension begins to build in the team, especially between Naruto and Sai. Naruto dislikes Sai since their interactions are similar to those between himself and Sasuke in the beginning of the series. Making matters worse, Sai nonchalantly mentions Sasuke's treachery, greatly irritating both of his teammates to the point that Sakura punches him in the face.
Yamato, disguised as Sasori, goes to meet the spy. The spy is revealed to be Kabuto Yakushi, but the jutsu binding him to Sasori had been dispelled long ago. Orochimaru appears and attacks Yamato, destroying the disguise. Orochimaru reveals that he had performed experiments on Yamato and 59 other children, giving them the First Hokage's DNA in an attempt to replicate his Mokuton kekkei genkai. Yamato was the only survivor. Orochimaru then calls out the rest of Yamato's team and taunts Naruto by speculating whom is now stronger: Naruto or Sasuke. Naruto, provoked by the mere mention of Sasuke's name, transforms first into his three-tailed fox state, then into four-tailed state shortly thereafter.
It is revealed that during the time skip, Jiraiya was nearly killed by Naruto's four-tailed transformation. The demon fox's chakra becomes so intense that it simultaneously burns Naruto's skin and rapidly heals the burnt tissue. This speeds up cell division dramatically, decreasing Naruto's overall life span.
In his four-tailed state, Naruto fights Orochimaru to a draw. After Orochimaru retreats, Naruto is unable to distinguish friend from foe and attacks Sakura when she tries to calm him down. Yamato finally gets close enough to use Hokage-Style Sixty-year-old Technique: Enclosed Hermitage Return to Society, a demon-controlling technique, to revert Naruto back to human form.
With Naruto's transformation reversed, Sakura uses her medical skills to heal Naruto's severe injuries, still suffering herself from her previous injury. Though Sakura is upset at how little she can do, Yamato states that it is the strength of her feelings for Naruto that matters most.
Meanwhile, Sai reveals to Orochimaru that he is a messenger from Danzo. Sai, Orochimaru and Kabuto leave to a secret hideout. Yamato watches the encounter with a wood clone and pursues Sai. Yamato is not fooled when he finds a decoy disguised as Sai's corpse.
Naruto wakes up to find Sakura injured and the surrounding landscape destroyed. Yamato steps in to inform Naruto about the real cause of the destruction when Sakura hesistates to tell Naruto the real cause of her injury. In addition, Yamato tells Naruto that the only way to save Sasuke and protect the village is to rely on his own chakra, not that of the demon fox.
Meanwhile, Sakura goes through Sai's belongings and finds his art book. The sketchbook contains drawings of Sai and what the team assumes is his older brother growing up and going through a gauntlet of enemies. On each subsequent page, Sai takes the weapons and armor of his previous opponent. The center pages, where the two brothers are supposed to meet, are unfinished.
At Orochimaru's hideout, Yamato reveals that he was able to track Sai through a special plant seed hidden in his breakfast. He gives Sakura and Naruto similar seeds to make sure they can find each other if separated. Once inside, Yamato leads the team to a room where Sai is being kept hostage. Sai tries to lie about his mission, but an accidental smile allows Naruto to call his bluff. Sai then states that his mission is a failure and confirms that Danzo is indeed planning another strike at Konoha. However, he is also acting as a spy for Danzo, since Danzo knows as soon as Konoha is destroyed, Orochimaru will turn on him. Sai disapproves of rescuing Sasuke, saying that Sasuke doesn't see Naruto as a brother and that Orochimaru is too powerful for them. Naruto replies that he and Sasuke have a special bond, and that he will fight Orochimaru with everything he has to get Sasuke back, even if it means sacrificing his own life.
At this point, Kabuto shows up and frees Sai, but Sai shocks everyone by helping Yamato immobilize Kabuto. Kabuto is forthcoming, providing information on the interior of the lair, but not Sasuke's actual location. Team Kakashi splits up to search for Sasuke, with Naruto teaming with Sai and Sakura with Yamato. Naruto, still tired from his injuries, collapses, and Sai suggests taking a rest; Naruto is notably less hostile towards Sai at this point. Sai begins to talk about his brother, who resembles Naruto. The short chat soon ends as Orochimaru appears. Naruto tells Sai to find Sasuke while he holds off Orochimaru. As Yamato and Sakura arrive to back Naruto up, Orochimaru again mentions that he does not wish to kill them since both parties oppose Akatsuki. Orochimaru then leaves in order to locate Sai. Yamato finds a "Bingo Book" (a list of people who are marked for assassination) in Sai's bag, with Sasuke's name in it. Naruto and Sakura realize that another part of Sai's mission is to kill Sasuke, who had been listed as an enemy of Konoha by Danzo. Naruto is speechless, realizing that Sai has duped him with his "fake smiling" act.
Sai manages to find Sasuke in his room, and wakes him up. Sasuke, angry at Sai's mention of "bonds", blows up the room. Sakura spots Sai in the hallway and runs to him. Though she means to attack Sai, Sasuke quietly says Sakura's name, stopping her in her tracks. Naruto, in his weakened state, finally catches up, coming face to face with Sasuke again.
Meeting Sasuke again
As Sasuke observes the new Team Kakashi, Sai explains to Naruto and Sakura that his desire to protect the bond between Naruto and Sasuke has overridden the mission Danzo gave him. Sasuke replies that he has broken his bond of friendship with Naruto and that the only bond he has left is a bond of hatred.
As both Sai and Yamato move to try and protect Naruto, Sasuke uses Chidori Current, which projects electricity around his body and his new chokuto, to repel them. He manages to stun Naruto and Sai, then wound Yamato. As Sasuke fights Yamato, Naruto undergoes a partial demon fox transformation. In Naruto's mind, the imprisoned demon fox implores him to release the seal. When Naruto refuses, the demon scoffs, saying Naruto has always come to him in times of need and that Naruto is worthless without his power. Suddenly, Sasuke appears in front of the demon fox, stunning both of them. Sasuke marvels at the source of Naruto's power. As Sasuke begins to push the demon fox back into its cage, the demon fox then remembers his past history with the Uchiha clan. He states that Sasuke may possess chakra even more evil than his own, "just like that Madara Uchiha." The fox also warns Sasuke not to kill Naruto, stating that he would regret it.
Outside of Naruto's mind, Yamato pushes the sword out of his wound and tries to trap Sasuke in a wooden prison. Sasuke blows a hole through the roof of the prison to escape. Naruto yells out to Sasuke that Orochimaru just wants to use Sasuke as the next container for his soul, but Sasuke doesn't care as long as it helps to kill Itachi. Yamato then tells Naruto and Sakura that he didn't want to hurt Sasuke in front of them, but he has no choice and will finish the confrontation. Sasuke plans to do the same, but Orochimaru returns just in time to stop Sasuke from performing a jutsu. Kabuto tells Sasuke to leave the Konoha shinobi alive so that they might oppose Akatsuki. Sasuke tells Kabuto that's a poor excuse to not kill Naruto, but leaves with them anyway. Naruto is upset by the meeting and by how weak he is in comparison to Sasuke, but Sakura and Sai both assure him that they will help bring Sasuke back.
The team reports back to Konoha, during which Naruto tells Tsunade that they have not given up and will continue. Pleased by this response, Tsunade assigns the team a new mission. Sai reports to Danzo, who is displeased that Sai has failed his mission. Sai asks to remain with Team Kakashi and Danzo warns Sai that developing emotions will only lead to hatred and conflicts. Sai has flashbacks of recent events, ponders his own feelings, and realizes that he now has friends. Sai adds a title ("Friends") to a picture in front of his window, the first picture he has ever given a title. Having reclaimed his emotions, he heads off with Naruto, Sakura, and Yamato to begin their new mission.
Hidan and Kakuzu arc
Two newly introduced Akatsuki members, Hidan and Kakuzu, are chasing after the host of the two-tailed cat, Yugito. Despite fully transforming into her two-tailed state, Hidan and Kakuzu defeat Yugito. After the battle, Hidan performs a gruesome religious ritual, greatly annoying Kakuzu, a money-obsessed bounty hunter. Zetsu appears and takes charge of Yugito, ordering the pair to proceed to the Land of Fire and their next target.
Hidan and Kakuzu stop by a nearby temple and kill the head monk Chiriku, a former bodyguard for the Land of Fire's nobility. One monk manages to escape and informs Tsunade of the incident. Tsunade orders Shizune to mobilize a new task force, the Niju Shotai. Asuma's group, consisting of himself, Shikamaru, Kotetsu Hagane, and Izumo Kamizuki, leaves for the temple.
Team Asuma arrives at the ruins of the temple and realizes that the Akatsuki pair has taken Chiriku's body to a bounty station. The team prepares to intercept the killers at the station, and a monk prays for the team's safety. When the monk expresses concern for their safety, Asuma reveals that his bounty is five million ryō higher than Chiriku's. Meanwhile, Hidan and Kakuzu collect the bounty on Chiriku's head and turn over the corpse as proof.
Elsewhere, Deidara, having regained his limbs and now paired with Tobi, confronts the three-tailed beast. Tobi acts strangely flippant before the battle with the immense aquatic beast. After subduing the monster, Tobi claims he single-handedly won the battle, provoking another comedic attack from Deidara.
thumb|200px|Naruto Uzumaki using his shadow clones to train. After the encounter with Sasuke, Naruto realizes that Sasuke may be getting too strong for him. Kakashi reveals a special training method which takes advantage of Naruto's high chakra. It involves the Multiple Shadow Clone Technique. Unlike an ordinary clone, a shadow clone passes back any experience it gains to the original. Because he has an inordinate amount of chakra, Naruto can create a comparatively large number of shadow clones, thus allowing him to train hundreds of times faster than a normal shinobi. Yamato also assists in Naruto's training by helping to restrain the demon fox.
Kakashi explains that there are five basic types of elemental chakra — fire, wind, water, lightning and earth. He pulls out special cards which react differently to each person's chakra: it will burn for fire, split for wind, crumple for lightning, turn to dust for earth, and turn wet for water. Naruto flows his chakra into the card and it splits, indicating he has an affinity to wind, a type that is very well suited for combat because of its ability to "blow past anything and slice things to bits."
Meanwhile, Asuma and Shikamaru are playing Shogi. Shikamaru notices that Asuma is playing differently from normal and asks if something is wrong. In describing things, Asuma describes Shikamaru in terms of shogi as a Knight, being weak in terms of power but having a unique style of movement that resembles Shikamaru and his flexibility in his thinking. Shikamaru then asks what piece Asuma resembles. Asuma then answers that he is just a pawn. Shikamaru guesses that the Hokage is the king, but Asuma tells him that it's not, and that someday Shikamaru will understand.
The first phase is for Naruto and his clones to cut a leaf with his chakra. Naruto asks if there's anyone in Konoha that can help him, and Kakashi tells him to find Asuma. Asuma gives Naruto a few pointers using his trench knives as an example. They're made of a metal that absorbs chakra, the effect of which is determined by the user's chakra nature. Asuma explains that wind chakra must be sharpened like a blade by splitting the chakra in two and bringing the parts together to form a tight edge. He demonstrates this by having Naruto toss a knife at a tree with him: Naruto's sticks in the tree while Asuma's goes straight through it and pierces a rock.If he had used his full chakra, the knife would have also gone through the rock. Using this advice, Naruto is able to completely split a leaf, but passes out after dispersing his clones. Kakashi warns him that this training is going to wear him down quickly, and that he needs to rest for the next phase of his training: slicing a waterfall in half.
The next step of Naruto's training progresses slowly. When Naruto complains, Kakashi notes that even Sasuke took several days to learn to manipulate an element, while Naruto did it in a few hours. By nightfall, Naruto hasn't managed to cut the waterfall. Naruto reflects on his fonder memories of Sasuke and decides to train through the rest of the night. By the next day, he and all his clones are able to cut the waterfall. Yamato is surprised by Naruto's progress, but Kakashi is not, since he understands how Naruto feels about Sasuke. Kakashi declares they can finally move into the final stage of Naruto's unique jutsu creation. However, the constant training has exhausted Naruto once more. Kakashi immediately rushes to his side concerned that he may have pushed Naruto too far this time. However, when Naruto moans that he's hungry, Kakashi relaxes.
After enjoying a meal at Ichiraku Ramen, Naruto is anxious to go on with his training. Kakashi and Yamato explain "nature manipulation" and "form manipulation" to Naruto again. Kakashi reminds Naruto that all the training till now has been nature manipulation and that the Rasengan is an example of extremely advanced form manipulation. By adding nature manipulation together with form manipulation, a ninja's power can grow by leaps and bounds. However, this is an extremely difficult task; even the Fourth Hokage was unable to complete the Rasengan by combining nature and form manipulation. Kakashi believes that Naruto is the one who will finally surpass the Fourth Hokage. As the two Jonin leave, Yamato commends Kakashi for his smooth talk. Kakashi corrects him, saying that he sincerely believes in Naruto.
Akatsuki vs. Niju Shotai
At the bounty station, Kakuzu explains that Hidan, an immortal, is the only ninja capable of surviving Kakuzu's indiscriminate attack strategies. This is the reason for their partnership, despite their ideological differences.
As Asuma's group moves toward the bounty station, Asuma explains that he and Chiriku both belonged to the 12 Guardian Ninja of Konoha, and that their relationship was akin to Shikamaru's relationship with Choji. Asuma stopped smoking because he needs no distractions if he is to fight Chiriku's killers.
Naruto is again training with his clones, trying to infuse the Rasengan with wind chakra. Unfortunately, the jutsu consistently explodes, frustrating them to such degrees that a clone will start drawing upon demon fox's chakra. Yamato reverses the transformations, and Kakashi reminds him that success or failure rests on Yamato's ability to control the demon fox.
At the bounty station, Asuma's team attacks Hidan. Izumo and Kotetsu stab him in the chest with their large kunai; however, Hidan is merely annoyed by the attack. Asuma's team quickly realizes that Hidan cannot be killed by normal means. Kakuzu appears and prepares to join the fight, but Hidan tells him to stay out of it. Asuma proceeds to fight Hidan alone. Hidan manages to cut Asuma's cheek and licks the blood off his scythe just as the latter uses a fire jutsu. Hidan draws a seal beneath him just as the jutsu hits. It burns Hidan's robe, but he emerges unscathed. Instead, Asuma's right arm is badly burned; the damage meant for Hidan has somehow been turned back upon himself. Hidan has also transformed; his skin is black with white accents, giving him the appearance of a Grim Reaper. Hidan tells Asuma that any pain he feels is transferred to Asuma. Since he's immortal, Hidan needs only to inflict a fatal wound on himself to kill Asuma.
Luckily, Shikamaru catches Hidan in another Shadow Bind before he can do so. Kakuzu offers to help, but Hidan waves him off, claiming he can beat all four by himself. Going over every motion Hidan made to start the ritual, Shikamaru figures out Hidan's ability: Hidan first needs to consume his opponent's blood and then stand within his ceremonial circle. Shikamaru explains that in order to save Asuma, all he needs to do is move Hidan out of his circle.
After Shikamaru tests his theory, he traps Hidan with Shadow Sewing. Hidan asks Kakuzu to help him, but Kakuzu nonchalantly replies that he told Hidan to be careful. Asuma slices Hidan's head off with his chakra blades, and it falls next to Kakuzu. Rather than killing Hidan as expected, the head starts talking, calling Kakuzu a bastard for allowing him to be decapitated. Hidan asks Kakuzu to bring him his body, but Kakuzu grabs his head instead, saying that it is lighter.
Shikamaru falls from exhaustion as Hidan complains about the pain of being decapitated. Asuma, Kotetsu, and Izumo stand in amazement and plot their next move. Kakuzu suddenly attacks Asuma, then grabs Hidan's body. He reattaches Hidan's head using threads from his arms. Kotetsu and Izumo attempt to strike Kakuzu, whose forearms extend, grabbing both of them by the throat. Meanwhile, Hidan jumps back into the circle, linking himself back to Asuma, and deals himself a fatal blow to kill Asuma.
Asuma collapses as his team looks on helplessly. Hidan reverts to his normal form as Kakuzu prepares to finish off the others. A flock of crows suddenly appear, distracting the Akatsuki pair. Ino and Choji appear to assist in moving Shikamaru and Asuma to a safer location as Aoba Yamashiro and Raido Namiashi back them up. Shikamaru senses Asuma's pulse, and tells Ino and Choji to take him back to Konoha. Kakuzu isn't willing to let a bounty like Asuma go, and Hidan is similarly unwilling to let his enemies live, but the Akatsuki leader contacts them telepathically and forces the pair to retreat, wanting to seal the three-tailed beast Tobi and Deidara recently captured.
Despite the timely rescue, Asuma's wounds are fatal. Asuma dies, but not before smoking his last cigarette and sharing some final words with Ino, Shikamaru, and Choji. Shikamaru lights another of his cigarettes, which he begins to smoke himself. He tearfully mumbles that he hates cigarettes as they make his eyes water — a reference to when Team 10 first met their sensei.
As Akatsuki commences with sealing the three-tailed beast, the leader explains their goals to Hidan and Tobi. Akatsuki's overall goal is world domination. To achieve that goal, the leader has set up a three-step process to work their way to it. First, they plan to obtain a large amount of money to support their organization. Second, they plan to set up a mercenary group loyal to no village. Because there haven't been any wars in some time, they can convince the smaller countries to hire them over the larger asking prices of the five main villages. By using the tailed beasts, they can start wars and then immediately quell them, convincing every country to depend on them and monopolizing the shinobi market. Finally, after they're the only major force of shinobi in existence, they can easily conquer the world.
Team 10 returns to Konoha and informs Tsunade of what had happened. Tsunade sends out the message for the funeral to everyone, but Shikamaru has a message for Kurenai from Asuma and will tell her what has happened himself. Naruto has nearly created the jutsu when they are informed of Asuma's death and rush back to the village. Shikamaru tells Kurenai the message and she collapses from grief. At the funeral, Konohamaru cries for his uncle while Naruto comforts him. Shikamaru doesn't attend the funeral and spends his time seemingly formulating a strategy and learning how to use Asuma's trench knives. He also picks up Asuma's smoking habit.
Akatsuki vs. Team 10
The new three-man Team 10 (Shikamaru, Ino, and Choji) prepares to leave and continue Asuma's mission. Tsunade refuses to let Team 10 go; they lack a captain. Kakashi volunteers, and the four-man team heads off. Later in the woods, Shikamaru devises a new attack strategy that includes Kakashi.
The bounty collector has been detained at Konoha. Meanwhile, Sakura volunteers her team as backup to Team 10. Tsunade gives Yamato 24 hours to have Naruto's jutsu completed, or else she'll send another squad to assist team 10.
After Akatsuki finishes sealing the three-tailed and two-tailed beasts, Kakuzu and Hidan are allowed to leave. Hidan wants to go back to the bounty house, but Kakuzu is smart enough to avoid the obvious ambush that would be waiting for them. Ino uses a nearby bird to spy on them and discover their route, and Team 10 moves to ambush them.
Shikamaru sneaks his shadow near Hidan and Kakuzu, who both manage to jump out of the way. However, Shikamaru manages to pin their shadows in place using chakra knives imbued with Shikamaru's unique chakra. Using his shadow, Shikamaru takes control of Hidan and uses him to attack Kakuzu. However, Kakuzu has thought a step ahead and uses his detachable limbs to grab the knife pinning his shadow from underground, allowing him to dodge the attack. Choji's attack also proves to be useless, since Kakuzu can harden his body like iron. Suddenly, Kakashi appears behind Kakuzu and impales him through the chest using his Lightning Blade.
Meanwhile, Naruto's training has paid off; he is able to smash a giant crater in the earth using his new jutsu. Yamato decides to explain elemental strengths and weaknesses to Naruto. This is the reason Kakashi's Lightning Blade pierced Kakuzu's earth-hardened body. Naruto hopes aloud that his new abilities will be sufficient to beat Sasuke and bring him back to Konoha.
Back at the battle, Kakashi attempts to attack Hidan, but is kicked away by Kakuzu, who seems unfazed by the supposedly fatal blow. Kakuzu takes off his cloak, revealing four animal masks on his back, one of which is now broken. The masks separate from Kakuzu's body and take the form of three shadowy wraiths. At the same time, Hidan frees himself from Shikamaru's Shadow Imitation.
Hidan fights Kakashi. Kakuzu's bird mask appears and attacks both Hidan and Kakashi; Hidan's immortality allows him to attack suicidally with impunity. After blocking a lightning attack with two simultaneous Lightning Blades, Kakashi and Team 10 begin to look noticeably ragged, barely dodging a flame attack from Kakuzu's fire mask.
It turns out that Kakuzu has a total of five hearts, each stolen from the body of a fallen shinobi. Each heart prolongs Kakuzu's life and allows him access to the heart's elemental affinity. Shikamaru concludes that the only way to prevail is to separate Kakuzu from his immortal partner.
Once again capturing Hidan with a Shadow Imitation jutsu, Shikamaru drags Hidan to an isolated location rigged with booby traps. However, Shikamaru's chakra runs out, which frees Hidan from the jutsu. Hidan successfully attacks him and begins the voodoo ritual.
Kakuzu reveals that the first Konoha ninja he ever fought was the First Hokage. As Kakashi is about to be killed, Kakuzu grabs his chest in pain. This is due to Hidan stabbing himself as part of his curse ritual: the blood he consumed was actually Kakuzu's.
Team 7's Arrival
Hidan does not immediately realize what has happened, but Shikamaru attacks him to illustrate the point. However, Shikamaru is weakened from the extended use of his shadow jutsu and cannot hold down Hidan for long, he watches Hidan advance to strike the single blow for his ritual.
Kakuzu manages to recover by using his remaining masks as a distraction: two of them attack while the third sacrificing its heart to replace Kakuzu's. Using his threads, Kakuzu ensnares all three members of Team 10 and prepares to obliterate them with his masks. As he attacks, Naruto's and Yamato's Drowning Maelstrom Technique surrounds Team 10 and blocks the blast. Team 7 appears.
Kakashi, Ino, and Choji are relieved at Team 7's arrival. Yamato orders Sai and Sakura to back Shikamaru up, and Kakashi summons Pakkun to lead them. Naruto resolves to defeat Kakuzu on his own. Yamato explains that Naruto is only halfway done with his new jutsu, but assures Kakashi that Naruto is a completely new ninja.
Hidan fails to kill Shikamaru, as the latter ensnares him with a shadow once more. Having prepared the area in advance, Shikamaru uses his shadows to pull the explosive tags onto Hidan, and open a deep pit beneath him. Hidan insists that he'll survive the attempt, even if only his head remains intact, and kill Shikamaru in turn. Shikamaru calmly explains that they are on his clan's land, and that his clan will keep Hidan buried for eternity. Lighting a cigarette, Shikamaru sees a vision of Asuma, who congratulates him before disappearing. Saying his last goodbye, Shikamaru tosses the lit cigarette at Hidan, igniting the explosive tags and causing a massive explosion. Hidan survives the explosion, and insists that he will "bite" Shikamaru to death, all the while proclaiming that his god Jashin will punish Shikamaru. Shikamaru ignores the threats and tosses a kunai with exploding tags into the hole. The explosion causes the hole to cave in, burying Hidan in rubble.
thumb|Naruto's Wind Release: Spiraling Shuriken Meanwhile, Naruto launches a preliminary attack with his clones to test Kakuzu's weaknesses. Naruto and his clones then begin preparing an extremely powerful jutsu. Kakashi realizes through a flashback that Naruto may indeed surpass the Fourth Hokage. The new jutsu reshapes into Wind Release: Spiraling Shuriken. Kakuzu is visibly concerned by the new jutsu.
Naruto fails to connect with his new jutsu and is subsequently captured by Kakuzu. Kakashi and Yamato interfere and save Naruto. Yamato explains that, despite its shape, the Spiraling Shuriken is a close-range technique and requires a direct hit. After a brief break, Naruto again insists on fighting Kakuzu by himself.
Preparing his jutsu, Naruto once again creates three clones. Kakuzu opts for a long-range strategy and releases a large amount of thread from every seam on his body. However, Kakuzu is fooled by Naruto's strategy and is subjected to the full force of the Spiraling Shuriken. With his two reserve hearts destroyed and his actual body shredded, Kakuzu is utterly defeated.
Elsewhere, Sai and Sakura discover that Shikamaru has singlehandedly beaten Hidan. Back with the rest of the team, Kakashi mentions that Naruto's abilities have now surpassed his own. Kakashi walks into the crater where Kakuzu lies and finishes him off with a Lighting Blade.
Team 7 and Team 10 return triumphant to Konoha. Shikamaru visits Asuma's grave with Kurenai, who is now pregnant with Asuma's child. Later, while playing shogi with his father, Shikamaru comments that the identity of the king piece is the next generation of Konoha ninja. Despite this revelation, he loses the game with his father.
Sasuke vs. Orochimaru
At Orochimaru's lair, a sick Orochimaru is confined to his bed. As Kabuto exits to get more medicine, a blade made of lightning chakra shoots towards Orochimaru through the door. Orochimaru quickly blocks it with his arms and thinks to himself that he does not recognize the shape manipulation, though the chakra itself seems familiar. The blade belongs to Sasuke, who had stopped by to finish Orochimaru off before he left to take on Itachi. He claimed that he had nothing more to learn from Orochimaru and decided to tell him off, which angers Orochimaru and drives him into a state of insanity.
thumb|Orochimaru's true form, made of many white snakes. After pinning Orochimaru's arms to the wall, Sasuke attempts to deliver a finishing blow, forcing Orochimaru to ditch his body, revealing his true form: a composite serpent-like entity made up of countless white snakes. Sasuke manages to block simultaneous attacks from Orochimaru's composite snakes from all directions using his Level 2 cursed seal. Sasuke compares Orochimaru's ambitions to how a snake dreams of flying and tells him that he will get that chance in the talons of a hawk, as he sprouts his curse seal wings.
After he severs Orochimaru's head from his body, Sasuke believes he has won. However, Orochimaru's poisons paralyze Sasuke, and he then lunges at him, swallowing him whole. Sasuke finds himself inside Orochimaru: the place where the body-transfer jutsu takes place. Orochimaru relives a flashback of when he confronted Itachi while in Akatsuki. He finds Sasuke's eyes to be similar to those of Itachi's on that day, and anticipates taking possession of those eyes. After the fight, Kabuto returns with the medicines, but views a scene consisting of Sasuke standing over Orochimaru. Kabuto asks Sasuke which one he is, to which Sasuke replies by showing Kabuto what happened. Sasuke states that he has merely taken over.
After defeating his mentor, Sasuke frees Suigetsu, whom Orochimaru had imprisoned in a glass tank filled with water. Sasuke leads Suigetsu to the Land of Waves to retrieve Zabuza Momochi's sword from his grave. Upon their arrival, Sasuke notices the bridge that was being built during his time there, now named The Great Naruto Bridge. Suigetsu picks up the sword at Zabuza's grave and explains that he trained under the Seven Swordsmen (which his senpai, Zabuza, belonged to). With the sword, he claims, he might even be able to beat Sasuke. After collecting it, they head for their next target.
After arriving at the base, Sasuke and Suigetsu meet Karin, who sensed their arrival. Sasuke tells Karin to join him, which surprises her. Sasuke replies that since Orochimaru is now gone, there is no need for her to continue to keep watch over the prisoners she is currently guarding, telling an annoyed Suigetsu to free them. Karin relents, but still refuses to go. Sasuke decides that he will just have to find someone else. However, Karin has a quick change of personality and agrees to go if he really wants her to. Suigetsu advises they leave since Karin clearly doesn't want to go. When Sasuke says she's changed her mind, Karin puts her glasses back on and denies this in a rather embarrassed manner, saying that she's coincidentally going the same way they are, at least for the moment.
As the three make their way to the North Hideout, Karin explains that Sasuke's next target, Jugo, is the means behind Orochimaru's development of the cursed seals. When the group gets there, prisoners infected with the cursed seal surround Sasuke's group. When Karin informs them that Jugo is not among the prisoners, Sasuke and Suigetsu dispose of them without killing them (something Sasuke suggests). Having found the keys to Jugo's cell, Karin uses her tracking ability to find him, misleading Suigetsu to the wrong direction while she is at it. At Jugo's cell, Karin unlocks the door, and Sasuke goes in first. Jugo, who had decided that if the first person to open the door was a guy, he'd kill him, seems delighted to see Sasuke and rushes in for the kill. Sasuke fails in his attempts to reason with Jugo. Jugo and Sasuke have a quick cursed-seal battle, before it is interrupted by Suigetsu. Suigetsu then appears to take over the fight, explaining that beating Jugo to a pulp is the only way to calm him. Jugo morphs his piston arm into a massive forearm blade to deal with Suigetsu. After they ignore Sasuke's requests to stop, Sasuke wraps the two in summoned snakes and exudes an enormous amount of murderous intent. Jugo's transformation recedes, and he suddenly rushes back to his cell, demanding they lock it. Karin explains that while the rage-driven Jugo may be violent and bloodthirsty, Jugo himself has no desire to harm anyone.
Jugo finally agrees to go with Sasuke after hearing that Kimimaro, who was consistently able to stop Jugo's rage-driven rampages, died to bring Sasuke to Orochimaru. With his team gathered and dubbed "Snake" by Sasuke, Sasuke reveals their goal: to kill his brother Itachi. Suigetsu, who wants to take Kisame's sword for himself, is willing to participate. Karin, being enamored with Sasuke, also agrees to help, though she is unwilling to admit that her admiration is the reason. (Suigetsu teases her about it, saying that he knows about something Karin did to Sasuke long ago. However, Karin punches Suigetsu in the face before he can reveal her secret.) Finally, Jugo acquiesces to see how strong Sasuke is, believing he is Kimimaro's reincarnation.
Sakura arrives at Naruto's home to tell him to wash up and get ready. They meet up with Tsunade and Jiraiya, and Tsunade informs them of Orochimaru's death at Sasuke's hands, which Jiraiya's most trusted sources have confirmed. Both Naruto and Sakura seem very happy to hear the news, expecting that now that Orochimaru is dead, Sasuke will finally return to Konoha. However, Jiraiya tells them that is not exactly the case.
Hunt for Itachi Uchiha
In Konoha, Naruto and Sakura come to the same conclusion as Sasuke, reasoning that his desire for revenge will drive him to kill Itachi. Therefore, they decide the simplest path to Sasuke is to find Itachi. As both teams resolve to find Itachi, both he and Kisame wait for the leader to contact them after having captured the host of the four-tailed beast. Once they get into contact with their leader, Akatsuki goes over the recent deaths of Hidan, Kakuzu, and Orochimaru, and Sasuke's new team. Knowing that Sasuke could potentially disrupt their plans, the leader warns everyone to be careful, especially Itachi and Kisame.
In Konoha, Kakashi discusses the overall plan to find Itachi and Kisame. Since simply killing Itachi first would make finding Sasuke impossible, they need to capture him. For that purpose, Team Kakashi is joined by Team 8. Meanwhile, Sasuke takes his team to an old Uchiha outpost run by talking "ninja cats" to stock up on supplies. After Akatsuki finishes sealing the four-tailed beast, Deidara and Tobi decide to either track down Kakashi and Naruto or go after Sasuke.
As Deidara and Tobi search for either of their two targets, the two teams split up. The Konoha ninja split into groups of three: one ninja and two of Kakashi's Ninken. Naruto is accompanied by Hinata and Yamato due to Akatsuki's pursuit of him. Meanwhile, Sasuke's group splits up to gather info on Akatsuki. As they search, the Ninken accompanying Sakura catch Sasuke's scent. Her search leads her into a city, but she is unable to find Sasuke. As she walks through a crowd, the ninken comments how the scent is "moving away," right as Karin is walking by her.
Kabuto reveals himself to Naruto's group, and gives them a book that details everything they learned about Akatsuki. He thanks Naruto for inspiring him to find his own purpose in life, and reveals that he absorbed Orochimaru's remains into himself: about 30% of his body is now Orochimaru's. With it, he plans to become even greater than Orochimaru. After evading Naruto and Yamato, he explains that he needs to control Orochimaru's power, which is slowly taking over his body, after which he will come after Sasuke for killing Orochimaru, and then Naruto.
Sasuke vs. Akatsuki
Elsewhere, Deidara and Tobi attack Sasuke. Sasuke slices through Tobi with his sword, but to Sasuke's surprise Tobi shakes off the attack. Deidara tests Sasuke's speed with a barrage of exploding clay spiders. Sasuke avoids the attack and Deidara escapes Sasuke's counterattack by detonating a clay spider that he throws between himself and Sasuke. In response to Sasuke's speed, Deidara creates a giant clay dragon. The fight forces Sasuke to use his level 2 cursed seal, as Deidara's dragon can spit up miniature bombs to attack with. In addition, Deidara has Tobi seed the area with land mines. Despite the large trap, Sasuke manages to turn it against Deidara by using his sword as a stepping stone, jumping from it to attack Deidara and force him into his own minefield.
Deidara survives the explosion and flashes back to his first encounter with the Sharingan. Having been forcibly recruited into Akatsuki by Itachi, Deidara experienced his second level Sharingan first-hand. Unwilling to accept that the "art" of the normal Sharingan could surpass his own art, Deidara eats his own clay using his real mouth and creates his C4 Garuda, a giant clay clone of himself. The clone bursts into microscopic explosives, which destroy their targets from the inside. Sasuke, with his Sharingan, is able to track the cloud of microscopic explosives and sneak up on Deidara using a genjutsu. Deidara, however, has trained himself to dispell such genjutsu with his left eye, leaving a clay clone in his place as Sasuke's target. Sasuke attacks the clone with a Chidori, but the clone locks around Sasuke's arm as it hits, allowing Deidara to perform what he considers the finishing move.