|This is the article on the story arc. For the actual invasion, head to Konoha Crush.|
Konoha Crush (木ノ葉崩し, Konoha Kuzushi) is an arc from Part I of the series. This arc sees Orochimaru's attempt to destroy Konohagakure. It spans through volumes 13-16, or more specifically, covers chapters 116 to 138 of the manga and episodes 68 to 80 of the Naruto anime. This arc is preceded by the Chūnin Exams and followed by the Search for Tsunade.
The Third Hokage vs. Orochimaru
With the invasion of Konoha's start, Suna and Oto ninja pour into Konoha, using giant snakes to topple the village's protective wall. As this goes on, the Fourth Kazekage holds a kunai to the Third Hokage's neck, holding him hostage and allowing them both to get to the roof of their sitting area without confrontation. As Anbu members try to come to the Third's rescue, the Kazekage's minions erect the Four Violet Flames Formation, preventing anyone from getting in or out. As the Kazekage begins to mock the Third for getting so old and even going so far as to call him "sensei", the Third realises that the Kazekage is actually Orochimaru in disguise, who sheds his disguise so that he can face his former master face to face.
The Third Hokage, knowing that Orochimaru has come to kill him, removes his Hokage outfit, revealing his fighting gear underneath. Orochimaru comments that the Third came prepared for their battle, and the two stare each other down. When one of the tiles on the roof cracks, they begin their battle. The Third starts by sending hundreds of shuriken at Orochimaru, who blocks the attack by summoning three coffins to shield himself. The Third, recognising the coffins, deduces what Orochimaru is trying to do and attempts to stop the coffins summonings, though only two coffins open, and the reanimated corpses of the First Hokage and Second Hokage step out. The two deceased Hokages greet the Third and comment on the impressiveness of Orochimaru being able to summon them. In response, the Third states that he regrets having to see the two again as opponents and tells them to prepare for defeat.
Orochimaru prepares the two Hokages for battle, removing the effects that death has had on their bodies and erasing their personality. Angered by Orochimaru's use of his former teachers, the Third attacks the group, though his efforts are neutralised and he is thrown back and restrained by the First Hokage's ability to summon trees. Realising he's outnumbered, the Third summons Enma to help him in battle, who transforms into a large staff to give the Third a weapon. With Enma in hand, the Third tries to attack Orochimaru though he is again repelled by the other two Hokages. Using his failure as an opportunity, the Third plants explosive tags on the two Hokages, taking away each of their legs. The legs, however, regenerate, showing the Third that conventional attacks are useless.
Out of options, the Third prepares to use the only jutsu that will work, though Orochimaru first decides to show him something. Removing the mask he had been wearing, Orochimaru reveals his "true" face, that of a young woman, whose body Orochimaru had stolen and begun to occupy. Recognising this as Orochimaru's success in finally achieving a path to immortality, the search for which he had been expelled from Konoha for, the Third begins to understand why Orochimaru has come to Konoha: to take the body of Sasuke Uchiha. Determined to not let this happen and to rectify his mistake of allowing Orochimaru to escape years earlier, the Third creates two shadow clones, and all of the Thirds prepare to use Dead Demon Consuming Seal, a technique the Third claims Orochimaru, despite his extensive knowledge of jutsus, has never seen before.
As the demon called forth by the seal, only able to be seen by the Third, readies itself, the Third is forced to endure the other two Hokages' blows, weakening his old body even more. As soon as the seal is ready for use, the Third's shadow clones each grab hold of a Hokage and the demon plunges its hands into each. Momentarily regaining their senses, the Hokages all apologise to each other, the First and Second for the trouble they've caused the Third, and the Third for the fate he has sentenced them to. The demon pulls the souls of the First and Second from their bodies and seals them within the bodies of the Third's shadow clones, causing the clones to disappear in a puff of smoke.
No longer inhabited, the First and Second's bodies dissolve, revealing themselves to in actuality be the bodies of Zaku Abumi and Kin Tsuchi, two Genin Orochimaru had entered into the Chunin Exams and had now sacrificed for his means. Angered by Orochimaru's careless use of his subordinates, the Third grabs Enma and exchanges blows with Orochimaru and his Kusanagi Sword. Throwing the Kusanagi and Enma aside, the Third grabs onto Orochimaru and the demon of the seal plunges its hand into Orochimaru. Sensing that his soul is being removed from his body, Orochimaru calls his Kusanagi to him, stabbing the Third in the back.
This turn of events forces the Third to halt the removal of Orochimaru's soul, the latter of which questions why he didn't block the attack. The Third explains that in exchange for using the sealing technique, the user is sentenced to death, as was demonstrated by its use by the Fourth Hokage on the demon fox years earlier. Due to large amount of his soul that has been removed, Orochimaru is now able to see the demon of the seal, just in time to witness the consumption of the Hokage souls affected by it. Once eaten by the demon the souls are trapped in its belly, forced to spend eternity in a constant battle of hate with one another. This revelation brings fear to Orochimaru's eyes, who tries to ensure the Third dies before he can be given that same future.
As the Hokage battle goes on, the Jonin in the audience that had managed to repel out Kabuto's genjutsu begin to confront the invading ninja, determined to protect the audience from stray attacks. Meanwhile, Baki informs Kankurō and Temari to take Gaara elsewhere, his injury making him useless for the planned invasion. Sasuke, confused about what is going on, follows the three, wanting to finish his fight with Gaara. Kakashi watches Sasuke go off, unable to leave his current duty of protection. He does, however, notice that Sakura too has managed to shake the genjutsu, and tells her to wake Naruto and Shikamaru so that they can follow Sasuke. She does so, though she finds that Shikamaru was also unaffected by the genjutsu, choosing to pretend like he had so that he could avoid being drawn into battle. To help in their pursuit of Sasuke, Kakashi summons Pakkun to guide them, and the four set off.
As the group leaves the stadium and enters the forest, Pakkun senses that they are being followed by nine Oto ninja. To act as a distraction and buy the others some time, Shikamaru stays behind to slow down the ninja. After altering his surroundings to give the impression that the group went in a different direction, Shikamaru lies in wait for the following invaders. Once they catch up and take notice of the apparent change in course, Shikamaru traps the group with his Shadow Imitation Technique. Shikamaru notices, however, that he has only managed to catch eight of the nine, indicating that one ninja had been following behind to protect the others.
Running low on chakra and therefore running out of time that he can restrain the ninja with, Shikamaru throws shuriken at the group so that he can find out the location of the ninth. The shuriken are all stopped by the free ninja's needles, and Shikamaru tries to extend his shadow to the ninja's location, though he doesn't have enough shadow to work with. After keeping the eight at bay for a while longer, Shikamaru's chakra runs out, and he is forced to release the group. Freed, the group encourages the ninth ninja to be the one to kill their captive, and in response a ninja appears behind Shikamaru. The ninja, however, catches everyone by surprise, as it is revealed to be Asuma Sarutobi with the ninth ninja in tow. In a flash, Asuma takes out the other eight, and he tells Shikamaru to take a rest.
Sasuke eventually manages to catch up to Gaara, Kankurō, and Temari. As Kankurō prepares to fight Sasuke in the hopes of giving Temari and Gaara time to escape, Shino Aburame arrives to fight Kankurō in Sasuke's stead, wanting to have the fight he had been denied during the finals. As Sasuke goes off to continue his pursuit of Gaara, Kankurō unveils his puppet, Karasu, and Shino readies his bugs for battle. Kankurō uses Karasu's new arsenal of weapons to try and poison Shino, though Shino's bugs allow him to make a number of otherwise impossible evasions. As Kankurō continues to direct Karasu, Shino is able to navigate his bugs in secret to Kankurō's location, which consume his chakra and prevent him from moving. With Kankurō no longer able to move, Shino collapses, Karasu's one successful strike finally taking effect.
As Kankurō and Shino's fight draws to a close, Sasuke again manages to catch up to Gaara, who having sensed Sasuke's arrival, swipes Temari out of the way. As Gaara's contemplations of killing Sasuke increase, his "transformation" begins with his sand forming a new monstrous arm. With the arm, Gaara is given increased speed and strength, forcing Sasuke to begin his assault with another Chidori, a technique he is only capable of using a twice a day. As Gaara charges at Sasuke, Sasuke unleashes his jutsu, slicing Gaara's arm in two. Though the technique is successful in injuring Gaara, it does nothing but increase his desire to fight, causing him to spout a tail of the same nature as the arm. As Gaara charges again, his speed once again increased, Sasuke is forced to use Chidori a third time, pushing him to his limits and forcing him to activate the curse seal given to him by Orochimaru. Though Sasuke's attack once again slices Gaara's arm in two, Sasuke's use of the curse mark drains his remaining energy and causes him to collapse. As Gaara makes for the finishing blow, Naruto arrives and kicks Gaara away.
As Sakura and Pakkun start to tend to Sasuke, Naruto attempts to figure out who Gaara is, his face now partially transformed as well. Upon learning that the beast is Gaara and remembering Gaara's vow to kill to prove his existence, Naruto yells to the others to run away. Gaara, however, has already made his move and charges at the downed Sasuke. Sakura, her willingness to help others strengthened during the Chūnin Exams, shields Sasuke and prepares to attack Gaara if necessary. Due to the look in Sakura's eyes, Gaara is unable to bring himself to harm her, instead using his arm to pin her to a nearby tree. To save Sakura, Naruto charges at Gaara though only manages to get himself swatted aside. To help him in his battle, Naruto attempts to summon Gamabunta, though is only able to summon Gamakichi, a considerably smaller toad that does nothing but taunt Naruto.
Unimpressed by Naruto's attempt at a summon, Gaara gives the battle a stipulation: using his sand to keep Sakura pinned to the tree, Gaara causes the sand to slowly form a tighter hold on her, forcing Naruto to defeat him before Sakura suffocates. With the new incentive for battle made, Gaara hurls Sand Shuriken at Naruto, who grabs Gamakichi to shield him from the attack. This onslaught allows Gaara another chance to further his transformation, now having two beastly arms and his face being that of his final transformation. His attacks ineffective against this new form, Naruto decides that, to save Sasuke and Sakura, he will battle with his life, and pulls out all of the stops for the battle.
After creating a number of shadow clones, Naruto uses the clones to launch himself at Gaara. Though Gaara swats him aside once again, Naruto manage to plant an explosive kunai under Gaara's tail, something that just so happens to be Gaara's weak spot. Before Naruto can collide with the surrounding trees, Sasuke catches him and tells him to save Sakura and run. Naruto, remembering the time Sasuke risked his life to save him, says that he will be the one to fight Gaara, since the two are so much alike. Repeating his promise to protect those precious to him, Naruto taps into the demon fox's chakra, enabling him to create 1,999 shadow clones.
With his army of shadow clones, Naruto uses his Uzumaki Naruto Two Thousand Combo, sending wave after wave of attacks at Gaara and pushing Gaara to his limits of endurable damage. Not wanting to lose, Gaara completes his transformation, destroying all of Naruto's shadow clones and transforming into a tanuki that stands many times higher than the tallest tree. Determined to make Naruto pay for forcing him into his final form, Gaara begins to encase Naruto in his Sand Binding Coffin. Before the compacting effects of the technique can begin, Naruto again taps into the power of the demon fox, and again attempts the Summoning Technique. Finally successful, Gaara's coffin expands and bursts, with Naruto riding upon Gamabunta's head ready for battle.
Gamabunta, having yet to find Naruto worthy of commanding him, is reluctant to fight for Naruto. Gamakichi, revealed to be Gamabunta's son, encourages the giant toad to accept Naruto due to Naruto's earlier protection of him from Gaara. Upon learning that Naruto helped his son and that Gaara had picked on a member of the Gama family, Gamabunta decides to help Naruto and unsheathes his equally giant sword. Charging at Gaara, Gamabunta puts all of his might into his sword swing, though is just barely successful at cutting off Gaara's arm. Impressed with Naruto's display of abilities, Gaara emerges from the sand tanuki's forehead and puts himself to sleep, awakening the personality of the One-Tailed Shukaku sealed within Gaara.
Now freed from the restraints imposed upon it by Gaara's consciousness, Shukaku is able to use its more devastating abilities, each of which Gamabunta is unable to counter completely. Because toads lack natural weapons such as fangs or claws, Gamabunta asks Naruto to help him transform into something more capable of close combat. Choosing the first animal that comes to mind, Naruto transforms Gamabunta into a giant fox, allowing the latter to bite and tear at Shukaku. With Gamabunta locked in combat with Shukaku, Naruto leaps from Gamabunta's head to that of Shukaku, punching Gaara and waking him up, forcing Shukaku back into submission.
With Gaara awake again, his first priority becomes protecting himself from Naruto. As Gaara's sand tries to again encase Naruto, a now untransformed Gamabunta uses his tongue to shield Naruto. Naruto, determined to now defeat Gaara and save a Sakura who is running out of time, taps into the demon fox's power for one more attack. With chakra radiating from him, Naruto breaks free of Gaara's shackles and charges at Gaara, who manages to use his sand to restrain Naruto's hands and legs. Using the only weapon he has left, Naruto puts all of his energy into a headbutt. Naruto's last desperate attack being right on the mark, Gaara's strength is sapped and the giant tanuki disintegrates. Gamabunta, worn out by the battle, returns home with Gamakichi, though not before complementing Naruto's outstanding fighting abilities. As the two Genin fall through the air, each manages to land on neighbouring treetops and each prepares for what will be their last exchange of blows. Once each is ready, the two leap at one another, their destinies about to be decided
Back at the stadium, the Jōnin of Konoha observe their field of victory, the bodies of Oto and Suna ninja strewn across the arena. The battle between the Third Hokage and Orochimaru has, over the past hour, not changed, as each is still locked in place; the Kusanagi in the Third's back and the soul partially removed from Orochimaru's body. The Third, wise as he is, has used this time to come to the conclusion that he no longer has the strength needed to completely remove Orochimaru's soul, and decides instead to make this Orochimaru's last battle. Having the demon of the seal turn its attention to Orochimaru's arms, the Third prepares to complete the only seal he can now make.
Hoping to break the Third's will to go on, Orochimaru reminds his former master of the casualties Konoha has suffered at the hands of his invasion, saying that Konoha will crumble. Disheartened that Orochimaru would so quickly forget the abilities of Konoha's ninja, the Third reminds his former student of the Konoha ninja's desire to protect their village. All throughout the village, battles between Konoha's elite and the invading forces rage on, and despite the overwhelming forces united against them, the fighting few of the village utterly defeat the enemy. Determined to prove his point and to finally prove to Orochimaru that power does not lie within knowledge of techniques, the Third seals Orochimaru's arms, taking away his ability forevermore of using jutsu. As Orochimaru's arms fall useless to his sides, the Third bids his final farewells, in unison with Naruto's defeat of Gaara.
Naruto and Gaara fall to the earth, and the Third Hokage falls over dead with a grin on his face. Enraged that, even in death, the old man could manage to smile, Orochimaru calls for assistance, and Enma, now free, honours his old friend by removing the blade from his back before disappearing. As Orochimaru's subordinates gather their leader and flee, the Jōnin in the stadium confront the only two remaining invaders. With Kakashi's encouragement, Kabuto removes his Anbu disguise and whispers to Baki that they should retreat. As the two disappear, other battles conclude: Temari picks up a defeated Kankurō, Sakura is freed from Gaara's sand, and Naruto approaches a defeated Gaara.
Fearing that Naruto means to do him more harm, Gaara beckons him to stay away. Upon getting close enough, instead of harming Gaara, Naruto displays pity, stating that he too knows the pain of being alone. Naruto, however, was able to find people to nurture his pain and bring him hope, and states that if Gaara ever again tries to hurt those people that have brought him happiness, he will again be forced to again take action. Gaara, in disbelief, realises that Naruto's strength comes not from his desire to help himself, but to help those that are dear to him, which begins to change Gaara's outlook on life. Sasuke gathers up Naruto, extremely impressed and jealous of Naruto's display of strength. Likewise, Temari and Kankurō retrieve a beaten Gaara, who, for the first time ever, apologises to them. As the last of the invading Oto and Suna ninja flee the village, the elite of Konoha gather upon the resting spot of their Hokage's body. During the Hokage's funeral a few days later, the ninja of Konoha vow to remember his sacrifice forever.
|#||English title||WSJ release date||Volume number|
|116||"Konoha Crush…!!"||8 April 2002||13|
|117||"The Mission Given…!!"||15 April 2002||13|
|118||"Confinement…!!"||22 April 2002||14|
|119||"My Life…!!"||29 April 2002||14|
|120||"Hokage vs. Hokage!!"||6 May 2002||14|
|121||"The Horrible Experiment…!!"||13 May 2002||14|
|122||"The Inherited Will!!"||3 June 2002||14|
|123||"The Final Seal"||10 June 2002||14|
|124||"An Eternal Battle…!!"||17 June 2002||14|
|125||"The Time of Awakening…!!"||24 June 2002||14|
|126||"Negligence…!!"||1 July 2002||14|
|127||"The True Feeling of Life…!!"||8 July 2002||15|
|128||"Crossing the Limits…!!"||15 July 2002||15|
|129||"Pain…!!"||22 July 2002||15|
|130||"Love…!!"||29 July 2002||15|
|131||"The Name Gaara…!!"||5 August 2002||15|
|132||"The Two… Darkness and Light"||12 August 2002||15|
|133||"The Strong…!!"||19 August 2002||15|
|134||"The Naruto Shinobi Handbook!!"||26 August 2002||15|
|135||"A Storm-Like Battle!!"||9 September 2002||15|
|136||"The Final Blow…!!"||16 September 2002||16|
|137||"Konoha Shinobi…!!"||23 September 2002||16|
|138||"Konoha Crush, Ended!!"||30 September 2002||16|
|#||Episode Title||Japanese Airdate||English Airdate|
|68||"Zero Hour! The Konoha Crush Begins!"||28 January 2004||6 January 2007|
|69||"Village in Distress: A New A-Ranked Mission!"||4 February 2004||13 January 2007|
|70||"A Shirker's Call to Action: A Layabout No More!"||11 February 2004||20 January 2007|
|71||"An Unrivaled Match: Hokage Battle Royale!"||18 February 2004||27 January 2007|
|72||"A Mistake from the Past: A Face Revealed!"||25 February 2004||27 January 2007|
|73||"Forbidden Secret Technique: Dead Demon Consuming Seal!"||3 March 2004||3 February 2007|
|74||"Astonishing Truth! Gaara's Identity Emerges!"||10 March 2004||10 February 2007|
|75||"Sasuke's Decision: Pushed to the Edge!"||17 March 2004||17 February 2007|
|76||"Assassin of the Moonlit Night"||24 March 2004||24 February 2007|
|77||"Light vs. Dark: The Two Faces of Gaara"||31 March 2004||3 March 2007|
|78||"Naruto's Ninja Handbook"||7 April 2004||10 March 2007|
|79||"Beyond the Limit of Darkness and Light"||14 April 2004||17 March 2007|
|80||"The Third Hokage, Forever…"||21 April 2004||24 March 2007|