"Drive Towards Darkness" (闇への疾走, Yami e no Shissō) is episode 196 of the Naruto: Shippūden anime.
Recalling how Naruto summoned Gamabunta during his fight with Gaara, Sasuke was frustrated at Naruto's spike in strength. After destroying a tree with his Chidori, he noticed a small girl named Naho who was about to fall off a cliff towards her death and promptly saved her. Because Sasuke did not know that she was a relative of the Fire Daimyō, he did not treat her with the respect she was used to, causing her to become infatuated with him.
Naho was later sent to Konoha where Tsunade appointed Naruto and Sakura as her bodyguards while Sasuke and Kakashi were on a mission of their own. Because Naho explicitly wanted Sasuke, Naruto used the Transformation Technique to disguise himself as Sasuke. The trio were soon ambushed by a bandit named Sadai, who wanted to kidnap Naho for money. Using his Multiple Shadow Clone Technique, Naruto attempted to dazzle Naho by using his "Sasuke Punch" and "Sasuke Kick" to take out the bandits and tried to defeat Sadai with his Naruto Uzumaki Combo, which he refined into the Lion Combo since he was impersonating Sasuke. However, Sadai was unfazed by the attack, prompting Naruto to strike him with Rasengan, only to be shocked that it did not work as well.
Meanwhile, Sasuke and Kakashi discovered that their mission, which was to apprehend wanted criminals in the Land of Fire, were planning to kidnap a girl named Naho, whom Sasuke recognised. As Sadai defeated Naruto, the transformation technique dispelled and Naho was shocked to see that it was not Sasuke. As she cried for Sasuke, the latter arrived. Sadai noticed his Sharingan and mused how he had met Itachi and how he had thought that Itachi had killed the entire Uchiha clan, and theorised that Sasuke must not have been worth killing. Incensed due to the fact that Itachi had said those same words, Sasuke destroyed Sadai's armour with his Fire Release: Great Fireball Technique and struck him in mid-air with his Chidori. As Naho watched in horror, Sasuke began to beat the man to inches of his life, with Sadai's blood splattered on Sasuke's face. Sadai was saved by the arrival of Kakashi, and Sasuke decided to return to Konoha. Naho became scared of Sasuke; however, she was comforted by Naruto, who told her that Sasuke was going through some problems and that he was usually a nice guy, and that he would take her to meet him once he calmed down.
- When Sakura recalls when Sasuke told her that Naruto was the one who saved her from Gaara, Naruto and Kakashi are seen holding one another and marching happily through the street. However, in the original episode, Sasuke revealed the truth to Sakura at a training ground, where Naruto was trying in vain to convince Kakashi to teach him the Chidori.
- During his fight with Sadai, Sasuke is seen with a three-tomoe Sharingan. However, he did not activate the third tomoe until his fight with Naruto at the Valley of the End.
|Role||Seiyū||English Voice Actor|
|Naruto Uzumaki||Junko Takeuchi||竹内 順子||Takeuchi Junko||Maile Flanagan|
|Sakura Haruno||Chie Nakamura||中村 千絵||Nakamura Chie||Kate Higgins|
|Sasuke Uchiha||Noriaki Sugiyama||杉山 紀彰||Sugiyama Noriaki||Yuri Lowenthal|
|Kakashi Hatake||Kazuhiko Inoue||井上 和彦||Inoue Kazuhiko||Dave Wittenberg|
|Fifth Hokage: Tsunade||Masako Katsuki||勝生 真沙子||Katsuki Masako||Debi Mae West|
|Pakkun||Shinpachi Tsuji||辻 親八||Tsuji Shinpachi||J.B. Blanc|
|Suigetsu||Takashi Kondo||近藤 隆||Kondō Takashi||Grant George|
|Karin||Kanako Tojo||東條 加那子||Tōjō Kanako||Ali Hillis|
|Itachi Uchiha||Hideo Ishikawa||石川 英郎||Ishikawa Hideo||Crispin Freeman|
|Sadai||Takuya Kirimoto||桐本 拓哉||Kirimoto Takuya||Richard Cansino|
|Naho||Tomoko Kaneda||金田 朋子||Kaneda Tomoko||Kari Wahlgren|