The Kazekage Rescue Mission (風影奪還任務, Kazekage Dakkan Ninmu), known simply as Kazekage Rescue (風影奪還, Kazekage Dakkan) in the anime, is an arc from Part II of the series. This arc sees the rescue of the Fifth Kazekage from Akatsuki. It spans through volumes 28 to 32, or more specifically, covers chapters 245 to 281 of the manga and episodes 1 to 32 of the Naruto: Shippūden anime. In the manga, it is preceded by Kakashi Gaiden; in the anime, it is preceded by the Sunagakure Support Mission. In both medias, it is followed by the Tenchi Bridge Reconnaissance Mission.
Returning to Konoha
To prepare for the eventual confrontation with both Akatsuki and Orochimaru, Naruto left the village and underwent intensive training under Jiraiya. At the same time, Sakura became Tsunade's apprentice, and Sasuke trained under Orochimaru. Thus, the three members of the original Team 7 were now training individually under each of the Legendary Sannin.
When Naruto returned to the village two and a half years later, he was reacquainted with his friends, who had all risen in rank in his absence. Most of his comrades had since become chūnin; Kankurō and Temari had become jōnin, as well as Neji. Gaara has even become the Fifth Kazekage: Meanwhile, Naruto is the only genin left, aside from Sasuke, who never became a chūnin because of his leaving the village and becoming a missing-nin. Jiraiya left Naruto with Kakashi Hatake, and along with Sakura, the three of them became a new team. To commemorate the event, they conducted another bell test, with Naruto and Sakura succeeding by attempting to reveal the ending of Icha Icha Tactics, forcing Kakashi to close his eyes (because his Sharingan could read Naruto's lips) and block his ears. When he opened his eyes he realised that Naruto and Sakura were holding the bells.
In Sunagakure, the Akatsuki duo of Deidara and Sasori made their way to the village in search of Gaara. Deidara went off to fight Gaara alone while Sasori guarded the entrance. Gaara intercepted Deidara during the battle and managed to crush one of Deidara's arms using his Sand Binding Coffin. Despite his improved ability, Gaara's newfound desire to defend Sunagakure proved to be his downfall. When Deidara tried to destroy the village with his Explosive Clay, Gaara absorbed the blast by levitating the sand below. A direct attack by Deidara forced him to recall the sand which crushed Deidara's arm, which contained a small portion of explosive clay within. The clay then detonated, incapacitating Gaara.
After Deidara departed with Gaara, Kankurō attempted to stop the Akatsuki members alone, but his puppets were easily fought off and destroyed by Sasori, who was revealed to be the maker of Kankurō's puppets. Sasori poisoned Kankurō in the process, leaving him to die. The Akatsuki duo took Gaara back to their lair, where their leader summoned a giant statue to extract and seal Gaara's demon. The sealing ritual took three days.
Upon hearing of Gaara's kidnapping, Team Kakashi left for Sunagakure. On the way, they met with and were joined by Temari, who was on her way back from being Suna's representative at the Chūnin Exams in Konoha. On their way, Naruto told Sakura and Temari that he is the host of the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox and that Akatsuki are after the demon inside Gaara. After learning this, Sakura vowed to do everything she could to protect Naruto from being a victim of Akatsuki. Temari was thankful that there was finally someone who could understand Gaara, and grateful to Naruto for changing Gaara and attempting to save him.
Konoha Against Akatsuki
After arriving at Sunagakure, Team Kakashi learned of the attack on Kankurō. Despite the failed attempt by the medics on-hand, Sakura cured Kankurō, thus demonstrating her skill with medical techniques. Sakura also developed several portable antidotes rather quickly. Using a piece of Sasori's clothing found on one of Kankurō's destroyed puppets, Team Kakashi was able to track him, thus leading them to Gaara. Temari offered to assist them, but Chiyo, another puppeteer and Sasori's grandmother, went in her place. Back in Konoha, Tsunade decided to send Team Guy as backup for Team Kakashi.
While Team Kakashi tracked Sasori through the piece of clothing, the Akatsuki leader sent Itachi Uchiha and Kisame Hoshigaki to deal with Team Kakashi and the approaching Team Guy, respectively. In a forest, Kakashi and Naruto were able to defeat Itachi after some effort using one of Kakashi's clones and Naruto's new Big Ball Rasengan. Meanwhile, Team Guy was largely disabled by Kisame, leaving Guy himself to fight Kisame alone. Guy emerged victorious by opening six of the eight chakra gates to perform his Morning Peacock technique, which allowed him to pummel Kisame to death. However, both Akatsuki members were 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 realised their battles were distractions to buy time for Akatsuki to extract Shukaku from Gaara, which would kill him if completed. At the Akatsuki hideout, a barrier was blocking the entrance. Directed by Kakashi, Team Guy removed the four seals maintaining the barrier, but a failsafe created clones of them as a further distraction. Ultimately, the many delaying tactics employed by Akatsuki are successful, as Naruto, Kakashi, Sakura and Chiyo found Deidara and Sasori guarding Gaara's lifeless body. This lead to Naruto entering tailed-beast state rage upon seeing Deidara sitting on the Kazekage's corpse. While Chiyo and Sakura fought Sasori, Deidara flew off on a clay bird with Gaara's body, with Naruto and Kakashi in pursuit.
Chiyo and Sakura vs. Sasori
Although Sasori "wore" his puppet and controlled it from inside, this technique of puppeteer fighting soon proved to be futile against Sakura and Chiyo. By controlling Sakura like a puppet, Chiyo was 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 summoned 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, and planned to do the same with Sakura and Chiyo after winning. With its unique Iron Sand ability mixed with Sasori's poison, the Kazekage puppet is exceptionally dangerous. Chiyo summoned two more puppets to fight against it. These puppets were puppet versions of Sasori's parents, which he had made to remind him of them after they were killed by Sakumo Hatake early in his childhood. The puppets were left with the village when Sasori deserted it. Using the Iron sand and poison, the Kazekage puppet was a tough fight for Sakura and Chiyo. However, the antidotes Sakura had developed before departing from Sunagakure allowed them to continue the fight. Having been trained by Tsunade to pick up the enemy's attack patterns, Sakura was able to easily dodge Sasori's subsequent attacks and demolish the Kazekage puppet.
Down another puppet, Sasori revealed the secret of his youth: he had made himself into a puppet. In response, Chiyo used White Secret Technique: The Chikamatsu Collection of Ten Puppets to summon Monzaemon Chikamatsu's ten masterpiece puppets. To mock the display, Sasori used his Red Secret Technique: Performance of a Hundred Puppets to summon 100 of his human puppets. During the fight between these puppets, Sakura used a chakra-sealing orb on Sasori. Though it appeared successful at first, Sasori revealed another ability he had. As a puppet, Sasori did not only have numerous weapons to fight with, he could also reassemble himself when destroyed, making him seem impossible to defeat. However, it was revealed that the only part of him that remained alive, and thus able to use chakra, was his heart, which contained a talisman labelled Sasori (蠍, Literally meaning: Scorpion). When trapped in a seal performed by four of Chikamatsu's puppets, Chiyo used the mother and father puppets to stab through his heart. In spite of the victory, Chiyo believed 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 parents used to embrace him.
At the end of the battle, Chiyo, Sasori, and Sakura were all fatally wounded, but Chiyo used a technique she originally developed for Sasori to save Sakura's life. The technique uses the user's own life energy, making it fatal to use to animate a puppet or reanimate the deceased, but Chiyo survives since Sakura was still alive. Sasori's last words (as a reward to Sakura for defeating him) were that he had a spy in Orochimaru's ranks, whom he was supposed to meet in Kusagakure ten days later.
Naruto and Kakashi vs. Deidara
During the time of the fight with Sasori, Naruto and Kakashi were chasing after Deidara. Kakashi activated his own version of the Mangekyō Sharingan and aimed to use it to take Deidara's head. However, it was difficult to aim, and all he managed to remove was his arm. Deidara tried to retreat, but Naruto destroyed his clay bird with Rasengan and retrieved Gaara's body. Enraged and powered by the Nine-Tails' powers, Naruto seemed to be defeating Deidara with Rasengan, but it turned out to be a Clay Clone. Still enraged, Naruto started to appear feral as he transformed into his two-tailed form. Kakashi recognised the bad sign and used a seal tag he had received from Jiraiya to stop the transformation from proceeding any further. Naruto subsequently reverted back to his normal form.
As the rest of Team Kakashi and Team Guy caught up with Naruto and Kakashi, Deidara found himself unable to escape. He swallowed some clay, turning himself into a human bomb. Neji saw this and tells everyone to get away. Deidara then swelled up and detonated. As the dust settled, Kakashi collapsed from exhaustion, explaining that he used his Mangekyō Sharingan to send the explosion to another dimension. With Naruto carrying Gaara's body, the two teams headed back to Sunagakure.
Stopping in a grassy field near the village, Sakura checked on Gaara and pronounced him dead, making Naruto very upset. Chiyo moved towards Gaara and tried to use her reincarnation technique, but didn't have enough life force left to bring Gaara back to life. Naruto gladly lent his own chakra, and Chiyo was able to revive Gaara at the cost of her own life while the shinobi of Suna watched.
Back at the battleground, Deidara emerged from the ground, revealing that it was his clone that destroyed itself. He went off looking for the right arm that he lost. After finding it, he encountered Zetsu and Tobi, a mysterious individual who wished to take Sasori's place in Akatsuki. Tobi's carefree attitude about Deidara's condition angered Deidara, and he attempted to strangle Tobi in a comical fashion 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 returned home. Naruto stated that these situations were always a bit awkward right before Gaara extends his hands to him in gratitude. Not too sure how to react a small trail of sand wraps itself around Naruto's hand and brings it to Gaara's. As the Konoha-nin prepare to leave, Kakashi was still exhausted from his overuse of his Mangekyō Sharingan and had to be carried back by Guy. Guy does so piggyback style as he found it easier to carry him for an extended period of time, disturbing everyone present except Lee, who remarked that Guy was training. Lee then proceeded to offer to carry Neji, who bluntly refused.
|#||English title||WSJ release date||Volume number|
|245||"Naruto's Homecoming!!"||14 February 2005||28|
|246||"The Pair's Growth!!"||21 February 2005||28|
|247||"Intruders in Suna"||28 February 2005||28|
|248||"Suna's Welcome Attack…!!"||7 March 2005||28|
|249||"As Kazekage…!!"||14 March 2005||28|
|250||"New Team, First Mission!!"||21 March 2005||28|
|251||"To Suna…!!"||28 March 2005||28|
|252||"Feelings, Running Wild…!!"||4 April 2005||28|
|253||"Reliable Reinforcements…!!"||11 April 2005||28|
|254||"Brothers…!!"||18 April 2005||29|
|255||"Approaching…!! "||25 April 2005||29|
|256||"The People Blocking the Way!!"||2 May 2005||29|
|257||"Kakashi's EXP"||9 May 2005||29|
|258||"Guy vs. Kisame!!"||23 May 2005||29|
|259||"Itachi's Power…!!"||30 May 2005||29|
|260||"Kakashi vs. Itachi!!"||6 June 2005||29|
|261||"Jinchūriki…!!"||13 June 2005||29|
|262||"Raging Feelings…!!"||20 June 2005||29|
|263||"Getting Angry with a Loud Voice…!!"||27 June 2005||30|
|264||"Sasori's Art…!!"||4 July 2005||30|
|265||"Granny Chiyo and Sakura"||11 July 2005||30|
|266||"Sasori, Revealed…!!"||18 July 2005||30|
|267||"Intense Determination…!!"||25 July 2005||30|
|268||"Puppet Master vs. Puppet Master!!"||1 August 2005||30|
|269||"What I Can Do…!!"||8 August 2005||30|
|270||"Miscalculation…!!"||15 August 2005||30|
|271||"Unknown Power…!!"||22 August 2005||30|
|272||"Granny Chiyo vs. Sasori…!!"||5 September 2005||31|
|273||"The Last Battle!!"||12 September 2005||31|
|274||"An Unfulfilled Dream"||19 September 2005||31|
|275||"Reward…!!"||26 September 2005||31|
|276||"The New Sharingan!!"||3 October 2005||31|
|277||"The Ultimate Art!! "||10 October 2005||31|
|278||"Gaara's Death"||17 October 2005||31|
|279||"A Miraculous Power…!!"||24 October 2005||31|
|280||"Entrusted Feelings!!"||31 October 2005||31|
|281||"The Road to Sasuke!!"||7 November 2005||32|
|#||Episode Title||Japanese Airdate||English Airdate|
|1||"Homecoming "||15 February 2007||28 October 2009|
|2||"The Akatsuki Makes Its Move"||15 February 2007||28 October 2009|
|3||"The Results of Training"||22 February 2007||28 October 2009|
|4||"The Jinchūriki of the Sand"||1 March 2007||28 October 2009|
|5||"The Kazekage Stands Tall"||15 March 2007||4 November 2009|
|6||"Mission Cleared"||29 March 2007||11 November 2009|
|7||"Run, Kankurō"||29 March 2007||18 November 2009|
|8||"Team Kakashi, Deployed"||12 April 2007||2 December 2009|
|9||"The Jinchūriki's Tears"||12 April 2007||9 December 2009|
|10||"Sealing Technique: Phantom Dragons Nine Consuming Seals "||19 April 2007||16 December 2009|
|11||"The Medical Ninja's Student"||26 April 2007||23 December 2009|
|12||"The Retired Granny's Determination"||3 May 2007||31 December 2009|
|13||"A Meeting With Destiny"||10 May 2007||31 December 2009|
|14||"Naruto's Growth"||17 May 2007||31 December 2009|
|15||"The Secret Weapon is Called…"||24 May 2007||31 December 2009|
|16||"The Secret of Jinchūriki"||31 May 2007||6 January 2010|
|17||"The Death of Gaara!"||7 June 2007||13 January 2010|
|18||"Charge Tactic! Button Hook Entry"||21 June 2007||20 January 2010|
|19||"Traps Activate! Team Guy's Enemies!"||5 July 2007||27 January 2010|
|20||"Hiruko vs. Two Kunoichi!"||19 July 2007||3 February 2010|
|21||"Sasori's Real Face"||26 July 2007||10 February 2010|
|22||"Chiyo's Secret Skills"||2 August 2007||17 February 2010|
|23||"Father and Mother "||2 August 2007||24 February 2010|
|24||"The Third Kazekage "||9 August 2007||24 February 2010|
|25||"Three Minutes Between Life and Death"||16 August 2007||3 March 2010|
|26||"Puppet Fight: 10 vs 100!"||23 August 2007||10 March 2010|
|27||"Impossible Dream"||30 August 2007||17 March 2010|
|28||"Beasts! Alive Again!"||13 September 2007||24 March 2010|
|29||"Kakashi Enlightened!"||27 September 2007||31 March 2010|
|30||"Aesthetics of an Instant!"||27 September 2007||7 April 2010|
|31||"The Legacy!"||18 October 2007||14 April 2010|
|32||"Return of the Kazekage"||25 October 2007||21 April 2010|