"The Top-Secret Mission Begins!" (極秘任務スタート, Gokuhi Ninmu Sutāto) is episode 41 of the Naruto: Shippūden anime.
An infuriated Naruto, now in his three-tailed form, prepares to attack Orochimaru. Kabuto, sensing the attack, decides to strike Naruto from behind with his Chakra Scalpel. Naruto notices him coming and emits a roar, and his chakra sends Kabuto flying backwards into Sakura, knocking her out. Kabuto continues to soar through the bridge, with Sai and Yamato moving out of the way, as he crashes into a tree in the woods. Naruto's attack ends up destroying the Tenchi Bridge, and he goes after Orochimaru, who is on the other side of the bridge. Sai claims that it is the perfect time for his real mission to start, and using his Super Beast Imitating Drawing technique creates a giant ink bird. He begins to fly in Naruto and Orochimaru's direction while Sakura, who is knocked out, begins to fall off the bridge. Yamato asks Sai to catch her, but Sai, despite being able to do so, avoids her and lets her fall. Yamato uses his Wood Release ability to steady the collapsing bridge and to catch Sakura.
On the other side, the three-tailed Naruto manages to rip Orochimaru's arm off. Orochimaru, however, uses a body replacement technique that causes him to materialise and regurgitate a new body from his mouth, restoring the limb he had lost. Orochimaru claims that Naruto still isn't good enough and that he's not as strong as Sasuke. In the woods, Kabuto uses his chakra to heal his wounds, while remarking that he finally understands why the Akatsuki are after Naruto, having experienced a sample of the true power of a jinchūriki.
Naruto begins to fade into the recesses of his mind, where he finds himself in a dark area covered with water. However, as the light appears, he sees Sasuke running. Naruto attempts to follow him, but is unable to run through the water quickly enough to catch Sasuke, who is riding on top of the water. As the water rises, Naruto struggles to move underwater as Sasuke disappears from view. Naruto recalls his last fight with Sasuke, and how he was unable to prevent his friend from defecting and joining Orochimaru. He berates himself for lacking the strength to stop Sasuke, and vows that he will not allow Sasuke to break the bond of friendship they have between them. Naruto then begins to float through the water until he reaches a huge cage. Naruto begins to slip through the bars of the cage, which is where the Nine-Tailed Fox is imprisoned. The demon fox holds Naruto in his palms as he begins to allow his power to take over Naruto.
In the real world, the chakra of the Nine-Tailed Fox begins to rip, burn and peel away Naruto's skin, leaving just blood and chakra; his peeled skin is soon incinerated by the chakra. Naruto sprouts a fourth tail, and enters into his Version 2 form. Yamato and Sakura notices a smoke-like trail left by his chakra while Sai observes the transformation from above. Yamato stays with Sakura while creating a wood clone to find Naruto. Naruto's painful transformation causes him to emanate a wave of chakra, which cracks the trees around them and bursts the giant ink bird Sai is riding on. The Yamato wood clone manages to protect itself by using Wood Release: Wood Locking Wall, forming a wooden shield. Orochimaru, who also survives the attack, states that Naruto has managed to pique his interest, and wonders what the outcome will be. The Yamato wood clone then sees Naruto's four-tailed form, and curses himself for being unable to prevent it. Naruto, now having no skin, no conscious hold on his body and covered only in blood and chakra, lets out a devastating roar.
|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|
|Yamato||Rikiya Koyama||小山 力也||Koyama Rikiya||Troy Baker|
|Sai||Satoshi Hino||日野 聡||Hino Satoshi||Benjamin Diskin|
|Kabuto Yakushi||Nobutoshi Kanna||神奈 延年||Kanna Nobutoshi||Henry Dittman|