|This is the article on the group. For the arc, head to Twelve Guardian Ninja.|
|Twelve Guardian Ninja|
|Twelve Guardian Ninja (守護忍十二士, Shugonin Jūnishi, Literally meaning: Twelve Gentlemen Guardian Ninja)|
|Manga||Volume #35, Naruto Chapter #314|
|Anime||Naruto Shippūden Episode #58|
|Novel||Itachi Shinden: Book of Bright Light|
|Appears in||Anime, Manga, Novel|
The Twelve Guardian Ninja (守護忍十二士, Shugonin Jūnishi, English TV: Guardian Shinobi Twelve, Literally meaning: Twelve Gentlemen Guardian Ninja) were the bodyguards of the Land of Fire's daimyō. Membership is indicated by the waistcloth they wear, marked with the kanji for "Fire" (火, Hi).
The group was composed of twelve skilled ninja drawn from around the Land of Fire. Their only task was to protect the country's daimyō, even at the cost of their own lives. In Itachi Shinden: Book of Bright Light, two Guardian Ninja accompanied the daimyō on his annual trip to Konohagakure, but were paralysed by the masked man; the man was driven off by Konoha's Itachi Uchiha and Kakashi Hatake. The Guardian Ninja were eventually disbanded.
In the anime, around two years after the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox's Attack, six of the Guardian Ninja – led by Kazuma – came to believe that the daimyō should be the only authority figure in the Land of Fire. To that end they made plans to overthrow the Hokage, which would then be followed by conquering the surrounding countries. When the daimyō found out about this, he ordered the six loyal Guardian Ninja (Asuma Sarutobi, Chiriku, Kitane, Nauma, Tōu, and Seito) to stop the six conspirators. Of the twelve, only Asuma and Chiriku were known to survive the battle; Kazuma also survived and went into hiding so that he could continue his plans.
Even though the Guardian Ninja disbanded, its former members are still famed in criminal circles, earning them bounties on the black market: Chiriku has a bounty of 30 million ryō and Asuma has a bounty of 35 million ryō. It is because of these bounties that Chiriku and Asuma are killed by Hidan and Kakuzu of Akatsuki, though only Chiriku's bounty is actually collected upon.
- In the anime, the Twelve Guardian Ninja were apparently reformed at some point, as Shikamaru Nara is invited to join. Shikamaru declines, saying that he would rather stay in Konoha and protect his friends.
- Kinkaku Force — a group of shinobi from Kumogakure.
- Seven Ninja Swordsmen of the Mist — a group of shinobi from Kirigakure.
- Puppet Brigade — a group of shinobi from Sunagakure.
- Explosion Corps — a group of shinobi from Iwagakure.