|This is the article on the arc. For the group, head to Twelve Guardian Ninja.|
The Twelve Guardian Ninja (守護忍十二士, Shugonin Jūnishi) is an arc of the Naruto: Shippūden anime. It covers episodes 54 to 71. The arc expands upon the Twelve Guardian Ninja and Naruto's wind training through the introduction of a boy named Sora. This arc is preceded by the Tenchi Bridge Reconnaissance Mission and followed by the Akatsuki Suppression Mission.
Naruto has been having nightmares about the release of the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox's power. Meanwhile, Sai reads a book at the Konoha Library until Sakura sees him and comments to herself about him having "a human side". She invites Sai to come with her and Naruto to meet Kakashi. Before leaving, he talks to Sakura and Naruto about friendship, and he nicknames Sakura "ugly", causing her to pummel the two. Afterward, Kakashi informs Naruto that he has special training that will make him strong quickly. They are cut off by Team 10, who have come to visit. Sai lunches with them and, trying to make friends, he angers Sakura by calling Ino "beautiful" after concluding that women do not like to hear how they really are, and that it would be best to say the opposite of what he truly thought.
Kakashi was released from the hospital and promptly began Naruto's training program. Naruto learned that he has wind-style chakra. Yamato helped by setting up the training field with his special technique. Naruto also learned that he can use his Multiple Shadow Clone Technique to speed up his training, since whatever the clones learn, the original user learns upon the clone's dispersal. Naruto and his mass of clones each took a leaf and attempted to slice it in half with wind chakra as the first step to creating his new technique.
Naruto and his clones continue to work on chakra nature manipulation by slicing leaves. After some struggling, Naruto approaches Asuma, who is also a wind type, for advice. After which, Naruto is subsequently able to slice a leaf in half. Asuma and Yamato then head out with their teams on new missions. It is revealed that Asuma is the Third Hokage's son and that he is in a relationship with Kurenai. Meanwhile, on a hill overlooking a burnt village, four cloaked figures discuss the awakening of the Land of Fire by eliminating Konoha.
Naruto, Sakura, Sai and Yamato head out for a new mission near the Fire Temple. When the other party fails to show up at the rendezvous point, the team gets separated and Naruto stumbles upon one of the four hidden tombs they came to protect. Due to a misunderstanding, he fights one of the monks-in-training from the Fire Temple, Sora, who also uses wind chakra based techniques. After the confusion, the monks and Team Kakashi travel to the Fire Temple, and Naruto recognises it from his nightmare.
The temple monks explain that the tombs hold the loyal bodyguards of the Fire Daimyō. Naruto observes Sora sparring with other monks and becomes offended upon realising he is holding back. Naruto challenges Sora, but just as the matter is about to get serious, another monk stops him. Naruto realises Sora is despised by the other monks as he was himself and wishes to befriend him. Naruto visits Sora again and observes him practising his wind technique in earnest, hoping to get strong enough to avenge his father. They later return to the temple to receive news that another tomb has been robbed.
Tsunade suspected that Danzō was plotting something, and ordered an investigation of him. Team Kakashi, Chiriku and Sora noticed the coffins moving on their own, but failed to intercept them. The coffins emerged on a cliff, where the leader of the enemy ninja ordered his subordinates to deal with their foes. The ninjas turned the area into a maze of rocky canyons and pits, full of deadly traps. The team members were separated from each other, and began facing off against the enemy separately. Yamato speculated that the ninja might have orchestrated the theft in order to target someone on his team.
Team Kakashi begins facing off against the enemy shinobi. Yamato eludes his opponent, Fudō, by faking his death. Sora, unwilling to look for Naruto, goes off on his own. Back in Konoha, Danzō reveals that he is aware that he is being watched by Tsunade's Anbu. Naruto fights Fūka, whose kiss is fatal and shows her ability to use earth, fire, water and lightning techniques. Sai manages to escape from his attacker, Fuen, and later saves Sakura from an enormous spider, becoming injured in the process. Sora then hits upon the enemy leader, Furido, and it is revealed that he was the group's target. Furido taunts Sora until he unleashes his true powers, before informing Sora that he is planning to use the four corpses to save the Land of Fire. Naruto continues his fight with Fūka and learns that she can use all five basic elements. Fūka manages to kiss Naruto and begins draining his chakra. Realising that Naruto is in trouble from extra-sensory perception, Sora rushes to rescue him. Sakura, Sai and Yamato arrive to help, but are trapped by Fudō and Fuen. Fūka drains Naruto's chakra until she begins drawing on the chakra of the Nine-Tails, which is too unnatural for her to successfully absorb. The enemy team retreats when Chiriku brings reinforcements.
Asuma's team returns from its mission. Team Kakashi returns to Konoha as well, with Sora replacing Sai on the team. Naruto tries to show Sora around Konoha but Sora goes his own way. Sora's insults precipitate a brawl with Kiba and Chōji, with Naruto and Rock Lee joining in. Shikamaru and Asuma stop the fight. Later Asuma tells Sora he knew Sora's father, who is revealed as one of the Guardians involved in the coup attempt. He also shows Sora his chakra blade attack. Furido and the other body snatchers begin their attack on the Kohaku clan.
Asuma supervises Naruto and Sora's wind chakra training, and notices that Sora, like Naruto, has very powerful chakra. Tsunade and Yamato learn from Chiriku that Sora was inadvertently responsible for an incident in which the Fire Temple was destroyed. Later, Asuma gives Sora a claw made from the same materials as his Chakra Blades. It is revealed that Asuma killed Sora's father Kazuma, who had planned to kill the Hokage. Furido then approaches Sora, telling him that Asuma is responsible for his father's death and passing him two "king" pieces from a shōgi set for Asuma. Danzō mysteriously disappears. Naruto approaches a furious Sora in the training grounds, who easily throws a chakra-powered kunai through a tree and destroys the stone behind it.
Danzō is brought in for questioning after being caught meeting with a young Rain ninja named Tatsuji. Sora confronts Asuma upon being spotted by Yūgao Uzuki and other Anbu. Sora then is turned in to Tsunade by Yūgao and another Anbu member. Asuma admits to having killed Kazuma. He attempts to attack Asuma, his arm once again assuming a demonic form. However, attacking Yugao and the other Anbu who had got in his way, trying to stop Sora. Afterward, Naruto gets injured while shielding Sora from the attacks of an unknown individual, presumably from Root. Furido then approaches Sora, telling him to kill both Asuma and the Hokage to avenge his father. Later on, Naruto catches Sora going after Tsunade. Sora retreats as Shizune and a few other ninja arrive, but Naruto pursues him. At that moment, a mysterious lightning storm strikes, cutting off power to the entire village.
With Konoha in complete darkness, the village struggles to defend against the four attackers who have sealed the entire village behind a barrier. The entire village is in a state of emergency. Asuma, commanded by Tsunade to follow Sora and Naruto, finally catches up to them. Asuma realises that the four invaders plan to annihilate the entire village using the lightning powers of the corpses that they stole. The revelation shocks Sora. As Asuma leaves to help hold off the attackers, he instructs Naruto to continue pursuing Sora.
Konoha's ninja fought off the revived zombie members of the Kohaku clan. The four Guardian Ninja, Seito, Tōu, Nauma and Kitane, were also revived. Asuma realised that they were planning to use Limelight, a technique in which the four would create a lightning blast powerful enough to destroy Konoha. Asuma sent Sakura and Yamato after the other three while he remained behind to battle Kitane, but Fuen tackled Sakura and Fudō began to fight Yamato. Meanwhile, Naruto caught up with Sora, but Sora ran off in search of Furido. Naruto tried to pursue him, but was assailed by Fūka. Soon after, Sora reached Furido, who admitted that he had planned to destroy Konoha all along.
Naruto deduces that Fūka's secret consists of switching bodies to use each corresponding element and that her hair preserves her youth and body. Naruto damages her hair and it takes a life of its own dispensing the body, but Naruto finally kills it with a Rasengan. Meanwhile, Asuma manages to break free of the electric barrier, catch up with Kitane and defeat him in a short fight. Realising that Kitane is no more, and that his three other companions were killed, Furido causes the three other ninja guardians to disappear. But Furido has a back-up plan, Sora.
Furido releases Sora's seal, and tells him the truth: Sora is a pseudo-jinchūriki. The chakra that had leaked from the Nine-Tailed Fox when it attacked Konoha 15 and a half years ago was harvested and implanted into Sora. Just then, Asuma arrives at the scene with Naruto. Asuma recognises Furido and it is revealed that he is Kazuma, Sora's father. Yamato, Sakura, Kiba, Lee, Ino, Chōji and Shikamaru also turn up. Enraged, Sora wants to destroy everything, and turns into the three-tailed form of the demon fox. However, Yamato is unable to restrain him, because he does not have the First's necklace on him.
The chakra of the Nine-Tails rages out of control within Sora, preventing Naruto and the others from subduing him. Asuma and Kazuma resume their old battle. Naruto is repeatedly knocked down in his attempts to restrain Sora, and the chakra seeps into him and transforms him as well. Yamato is unable to suppress the Nine-Tails' chakra in both jinchūriki, being prevented by an unknown outside force. Sora's fourth tail emerges, causing the Nine-Tails' cloak to envelop his body. He temporarily gains his own consciousness when he witnesses Naruto stab himself in the leg and successfully prevent the original Nine-Tails' cloak from emerging.
The struggle between Naruto and Sora continues. Asuma and Kazuma fight. Sai arrives, having snuck out of hospital, and binds Kazuma with an ink snake. Kazuma breaks out of Sai's technique and charges Asuma, but is killed. Naruto eventually reaches Sora, who manages to release the Nine-Tails' chakra. However the Nine-Tails' chakra that is released begins to become a miniature Nine-Tails. This provokes Tsunade to head out to engage the beast. It soon became clear that the miniature Nine-Tails could not form without a human host so it dissipated. Sora then leaves the village to travel the world. Asuma and Shikamaru play shogi and discuss who the king of Konoha is. Elsewhere, two Akatsuki members, Hidan and Kakuzu, appear chasing the Two-Tails' jinchūriki.
|#||Episode Title||Japanese Airdate||English Airdate|
|54||"Nightmare"||3 April 2008||3 November 2010|
|55||"Wind "||17 April 2008||10 November 2010|
|56||"Writhe"||24 April 2008||17 November 2010|
|57||"Robbed of Sleep"||8 May 2008||1 December 2010|
|58||"Loneliness"||8 May 2008||8 December 2010|
|59||"A New Enemy"||15 May 2008||15 December 2010|
|60||"Impermanence"||22 May 2008||22 December 2010|
|61||"Contact"||29 May 2008||29 December 2010|
|62||"Teammate"||5 June 2008||5 January 2011|
|63||"The Two Kings"||19 June 2008||12 January 2011|
|64||"The Jet-Black Signal Fire"||3 July 2008||19 January 2011|
|65||"Lockdown of Darkness"||3 July 2008||26 January 2011|
|66||"Revived Souls"||10 July 2008||2 February 2011|
|67||"Everyone's Struggle to the Death"||24 July 2008||9 February 2011|
|68||"Moment of Awakening"||31 July 2008||16 February 2011|
|69||"Despair"||31 July 2008||23 February 2011|
|70||"Resonance"||7 August 2008||2 March 2011|
|71||"My Friend"||14 August 2008||9 March 2011|