The Akatsuki Suppression Mission (“暁”討伐任務, "Akatsuki" Tōbatsu Ninmu), known as the Immortal Devastators — Hidan and Kakuzu (不死の破壊者、飛段・角都, Fushi no Hakaisha Hidan Kakuzu) in the anime, is an arc from Part II of the series. This arc sees Konoha's fight against Hidan and Kakuzu of Akatsuki. It spans through volumes 35 to 38, or more specifically, covers chapters 311 to 342 of the manga and episodes 72 to 88 of the Naruto: Shippūden anime. In the manga, this arc is preceded by the Tenchi Bridge Reconnaissance Mission and followed by the Itachi Pursuit Mission. In the anime, it is preceded by the Twelve Guardian Ninja and is followed by the Three-Tails' Appearance.
Two newly introduced Akatsuki members, Hidan and Kakuzu, were chasing after the host of the Two-Tails, Yugito Nii. Despite fully transforming into her two-tailed state, Hidan and Kakuzu defeated Yugito. After the battle, Hidan performed a gruesome religious ritual, greatly annoying Kakuzu, who was a money-obsessed bounty hunter. Zetsu appeared, and took charge of Yugito, ordering the pair to proceed to the Land of Fire and their next target.
Hidan and Kakuzu stopped by a nearby temple and killed the head monk, Chiriku, a former bodyguard for the Land of Fire's nobility. One monk managed to escape, and informed Tsunade of the incident. Tsunade ordered Shizune to mobilise a new task force, the Nijū Shōtai. Asuma's group, consisting of himself, Shikamaru, Kotetsu Hagane, and Izumo Kamizuki, left for the temple.
Asuma's team arrived at the ruins of the temple, and realised that the Akatsuki pair had taken Chiriku's body to a bounty station. The team prepared to intercept the killers at the station, and a monk prayed for the team's safety. When the monk expressed concern for their safety, Asuma revealed that his bounty was five million ryō higher than Chiriku's. Meanwhile, Hidan and Kakuzu collected the bounty on Chiriku's head, and turned over the corpse as proof.
Elsewhere, Deidara, having regained his limbs and now paired with Tobi, confronted the Three-Tails. Tobi acted strangely flippant before the battle with the immense aquatic beast. After subduing the monster, Tobi claimed he single-handedly won the battle, provoking another comedic attack from Deidara after commenting "Senpai, you talk a lot".
After the encounter with Sasuke, Naruto realised that Sasuke was far too strong for him to possibly defeat. Kakashi revealed a special training method which took advantage of Naruto's high chakra. It involved the Multiple Shadow Clone Technique. Unlike an ordinary clone, a shadow clone passes back any experience it gains to the original. Naruto could create a comparatively large number of shadow clones, thus allowing him to train hundreds of times faster than a normal shinobi. Yamato also assisted in Naruto's training by helping to restrain the Nine-Tails.
Kakashi explained that there were five basic types of elemental chakra: fire, wind, water, lightning and earth. He pulled out special cards which reacted differently to each person's chakra: it would burn for fire, split for wind, crumple for lightning, turn to dust for earth, and turn wet for water. Naruto flowed his chakra into the card and it split, indicating he had an affinity to wind, a type that is very well-suited for combat because of its ability to "blow past anything and slice things to bits".
Meanwhile, Asuma and Shikamaru were playing shōgi. Shikamaru noticed that Asuma was playing differently from normal, and asked if something was wrong. In describing things, Asuma described Shikamaru in terms of shōgi as a Knight, being weak in terms of power but having a unique style of movement which resembled Shikamaru and his flexibility in his thinking. Shikamaru then asked what piece Asuma resembled. Asuma then answered that he was just a pawn. Shikamaru guessed that the Hokage was the king, but Asuma told him that it wasn't, and that someday Shikamaru would understand.
The first phase in the training was for Naruto and his clones to cut a leaf with his chakra. Naruto asked if there was anyone in Konoha that could give him advice, and Kakashi told him to find Asuma. Asuma gave Naruto a few pointers, using his trench knives as an example. They were made of a metal that absorbs chakra, the effect of which is determined by the user's chakra nature. Asuma explained that wind chakra must be sharpened like a blade by splitting the chakra in two and bringing the parts together to form a tight edge. He demonstrated this by having Naruto toss a knife at a tree with him: Naruto's stuck in the tree while Asuma's went straight through it and pierced a rock. If he had used his full chakra, the knife would have also gone through the rock. Using this advice, Naruto was able to completely split a leaf, but passed out after dispersing his clones. Kakashi warned him that this training was going to wear him down quickly, and that he needed to rest for the next phase of his training: slicing a waterfall in half.
The next step of Naruto's training progressed slowly. When Naruto complained, Kakashi noted that even Sasuke had taken several days to learn to manipulate an element, while Naruto had done it in a few hours. By nightfall, Naruto still hadn't managed to cut the waterfall. Naruto reflected on his fonder memories of Sasuke, and decided to train through the rest of the night. By the next day, he and all his clones were able to cut the waterfall. Yamato was surprised by Naruto's progress, but Kakashi wasn't, since he understood how Naruto felt about Sasuke. Kakashi declared that they could finally move into the final stage of Naruto's unique technique creation. However, the constant training had exhausted Naruto once more. Kakashi immediately rushed to his side, concerned that he might have pushed Naruto too far this time. However, when Naruto moaned that he was hungry, Kakashi relaxed.
After enjoying a meal at Ichiraku Ramen, Naruto was anxious to continue with his training. Kakashi and Yamato explained "nature manipulation" and "form manipulation" to Naruto again. Kakashi reminded Naruto that all the training till now had been shape manipulation, and that the Rasengan was an example of extremely advanced shape manipulation. By adding nature manipulation together with form manipulation, a ninja's power can grow by leaps and bounds. However, this is an extremely difficult task; even the Fourth Hokage was unable to complete the Rasengan by combining nature and form manipulation. Kakashi believed that Naruto was the one who could do it.
Nijū Shōtai vs. Hidan and Kakuzu
At the bounty station, Kakuzu explained to Zangei that Hidan, an immortal, was the only ninja capable of surviving Kakuzu's indiscriminate attack strategies. This was the reason for their partnership, despite their ideological differences and dislike for one another.
As Asuma's group moved toward the bounty station, Asuma explained that he and Chiriku had both belonged to the Twelve Guardian Ninja, and that their relationship was akin to Shikamaru's relationship with Chōji. Asuma stopped smoking because he needed no distractions if he was to fight Chiriku's killers.
Naruto was again training with his clones, trying to infuse the Rasengan with wind chakra. Unfortunately, the jutsu consistently exploded, frustrating him to such degrees that a clone would start drawing upon the Nine-Tails' chakra. Yamato reversed the transformations, and Kakashi reminded him that success or failure rested on Yamato's ability to control the Nine-Tails.
At the bounty station, Asuma's team attacked Hidan. Izumo and Kotetsu stabbed him in the chest with their large kunai; however, Hidan was merely annoyed by the attack. Asuma's team quickly realised that Hidan couldn't be killed by normal means. Kakuzu appeared, and prepared to join the fight, but Hidan told him to stay out of it. Asuma proceeded to fight Hidan alone. Hidan managed to cut Asuma's cheek, and licked the blood off his scythe just as the latter used a fire jutsu. Hidan drew a seal beneath him just as the technique hit. It burnt Hidan's robe, but he emerged unscathed. Instead, Asuma's right arm was badly burned; the damage meant for Hidan had somehow been turned back upon himself. Hidan had also physically transformed; his skin was black with white accents, giving him the appearance of a Grim Reaper. Hidan told Asuma that any pain he felt was transferred to Asuma. Since he was immortal, Hidan needed only to inflict a fatal wound on himself to kill Asuma.
Luckily, Shikamaru caught Hidan in another Shadow Bind before he could do so. Kakuzu offered to help, but Hidan waved him off, claiming he could beat all four by himself. Going over every motion Hidan had made to start the ritual, Shikamaru figured out Hidan's ability: Hidan first needed to consume his opponent's blood and then stand within his ceremonial circle. Shikamaru explained that in order to save Asuma, all he needed to do was to move Hidan out of his circle.
After Shikamaru had tested his theory, he trapped Hidan with Shadow Sewing. Hidan asked Kakuzu to help him, but Kakuzu nonchalantly replied that he had told Hidan to be careful. Asuma sliced Hidan's head off with his chakra blades, and it fell next to Kakuzu. Rather than killing Hidan as expected, the head started talking, scolding Kakuzu for allowing him to be decapitated. Hidan asked Kakuzu to bring him his body, but Kakuzu grabbed his head instead, saying that it was lighter.
Shikamaru fell from exhaustion as Hidan complained about the pain of being decapitated. Asuma, Kotetsu, and Izumo stood frozen in amazement, and plotted their next move. Kakuzu suddenly attacked Asuma, then grabbed Hidan's body. He reattached Hidan's head using threads from his arms. Kotetsu and Izumo attempted to strike Kakuzu, whose forearms extended, grabbing both of them by the throat. Meanwhile, Hidan jumped back into the circle, linking himself back to Asuma, and dealt himself a fatal blow in order to kill Asuma.
Asuma collapsed as his team looked on helplessly. Hidan reverted to his normal form as Kakuzu prepared to finish off the others. A flock of crows suddenly appeared, distracting the Akatsuki pair. Ino and Chōji appeared to assist, in which they moved Shikamaru and Asuma to a safer location as Raidō Namiashi and Aoba Yamashiro backed them up. Shikamaru sensed Asuma's pulse, and told Ino and Chōji to take him back to Konoha. Kakuzu wasn't willing to let a bounty like Asuma go, however, and Hidan was similarly unwilling to let his enemies live, but the Akatsuki leader contacted them telepathically and forced the pair to retreat, wanting to seal the Two-Tails they had recently captured along with the Three-Tails.
Despite the timely rescue, Asuma's wounds were fatal. Asuma died, but not before smoking his last cigarette and sharing some final words with Ino, Shikamaru, and Chōji. Shikamaru lit another of his cigarettes, which he began to smoke himself. He tearfully mumbled that he hated cigarettes, as they made his eyes water — a reference to when Team 10 first met their sensei.
As Akatsuki commenced with sealing the two-tailed beast, the leader explained their goals to Hidan and Tobi. Akatsuki's overall goal was world domination. To achieve that goal, the leader had set up a three-step process to work their way to it. First, they planned to obtain a large amount of money to support their organisation. Second, they planned to set up a mercenary group loyal to no village. Because there hadn't been any wars in some time, they could convince the smaller countries to hire them over the larger asking prices of the five main villages. By using the tailed beasts, they could start wars and then immediately quell them, convincing every country to depend on them and monopolising the shinobi market. Finally, after they were the only major force of shinobi in existence, they could easily conquer the world.
Team 10 returned to Konoha, and informed Tsunade of what had happened. Tsunade sent out the message for the funeral to everyone, but Shikamaru had a message for Kurenai from Asuma, and would tell her what had happened himself. Naruto had nearly created the jutsu when they were informed of Asuma's death, and rushed back to the village. Shikamaru told Kurenai the message, and she collapsed from grief. At the funeral, Konohamaru wept for his uncle while Naruto comforted him. Shikamaru didn't attend the funeral, and spent his time seemingly formulating a strategy and learning how to use Asuma's trench knives. He also picked up Asuma's smoking habit.
Team 10 vs. Hidan and Kakuzu
The new three-man Team 10 prepared to leave and continue Asuma's mission. However, Tsunade refused to let Team 10 go, since they lacked a captain. Kakashi volunteered to temporarily fill the gap, and the four-man team headed off. Later in the woods, Shikamaru devised a new attack strategy that included Kakashi.
About three days later, Sakura volunteered her team to back up Team 10. Tsunade told Yamato that Naruto had 24 more hours to complete his new jutsu, or she would send another team as back-up.
After Akatsuki finished sealing the Sanbi and Nibi, Kakuzu and Hidan were allowed to leave. Realising the likeliness of an ambush, Hidan and Kakuzu took another route. Ino used her Mind Body Switch Technique on a crow in order to find the two. Team 10 then went to ambush the Akatsuki.
Shikamaru snuck his shadow near Hidan and Kakuzu, who both managed to jump out of the way. Shikamaru then threw two explosive kunai, followed by Asuma's chakra blades. Shikamaru poured his own chakra into the blades, allowing him to trap the two Akatsuki members with them. Shikamaru then used his Shadow Imitation to make Hidan attack Kakuzu. However, Kakuzu thought a step ahead, and detached his arm, sending it underground. Just before Hidan's attack landed, Kakuzu freed himself with the detached arm. Just as the two were about to counter-attack, Kakashi snuck up on Kakuzu and stabbed him through the heart with his Lightning Cutter. Kakashi then moved to finish off Hidan, but Kakuzu, somehow still alive, surprised Kakashi and knocked him back. Kakuzu then removed his shirt to reveal four masks. Then he split his back apart, and four beasts came out to fight for him. However, one of the beasts died immediately (this mask broke when he released it), as this was the one Kakashi had stabbed.
It turned out that Kakuzu had a total of five hearts, four of which were stolen from the bodies of fallen shinobi, and the one that allowed him to use his Earth Element attack was his. Each heart prolonged Kakuzu's life, and allowed him access to the heart's elemental affinity.
Hidan then attacked Kakashi as a distraction, which allowed Kakuzu enough time to attack with a powerful gust of wind. He then fired two powerful bolts of lightning at Shikamaru and Chōji, but Kakashi blocked it with a Lightning Cutter in each hand. He then attacked with fire, which was dodged by Team 10 and Kakashi. Shikamaru decided to separate Hidan and Kakuzu from each other.
Once again capturing Hidan with a Shadow Imitation technique, Shikamaru dragged Hidan to an isolated location rigged with booby traps. However, Shikamaru's chakra ran out, which freed Hidan from the technique. Hidan successfully attacked him, and began the voodoo ritual.
Kakuzu revealed that the first Konoha ninja he had ever fought was the First Hokage. As Kakashi was about to be killed, Kakuzu grabbed his chest in pain. This was due to Hidan stabbing himself as part of his curse ritual: the blood he had consumed was actually Kakuzu's.
Team Kakashi's Arrival
Hidan did not immediately realise what had happened, but Shikamaru attacked him to illustrate the point. However, Shikamaru was weakened from the extended use of his shadow technique, and couldn't hold down Hidan for long. He watched Hidan advance to strike the final blow.
Kakuzu continued battling Kakashi. However, as Kakuzu prepared to strike with his fire and wind combo attack, Naruto and Yamato intervened. Combining both Naruto's Wind Release: Rasengan and Yamato's Water Release: Tearing Torrent, they formed the Typhoon Water Vortex Technique to block the attack.
Kakashi, Ino, and Chōji were relieved at Team Kakashi's arrival under Yamato's leadership. Yamato ordered Sai and Sakura to back Shikamaru up while Kakashi summoned Pakkun to lead them. Naruto resolved to defeat Kakuzu on his own.
Hidan failed to kill Shikamaru, as the latter ensnared him with a shadow once more. Having prepared the area in advance, Shikamaru used his shadows to pull the explosive tags onto Hidan, and open a deep pit beneath him. Hidan insisted that he would survive the attempt, even if only his head remained intact, and would kill Shikamaru in turn. Shikamaru calmly explained that they were on his clan's land, and that his clan would keep Hidan buried for eternity. Lighting a cigarette, Shikamaru saw a vision of Asuma, who congratulated him before disappearing. Saying his last goodbye, Shikamaru tossed the lit cigarette at Hidan, igniting the explosive tags and causing a massive explosion. Hidan survived the explosion, and insisted that he would "bite" Shikamaru to death, all the while proclaiming that his god, Jashin, would punish Shikamaru. Shikamaru ignored the threats, and tossed a kunai with explosive tags into the hole. The explosion caused the hole to cave in, burying Hidan in rubble.
Meanwhile, Naruto began preparing an extremely powerful technique. Kakashi realised through a flashback that Naruto might indeed surpass the Fourth Hokage. Naruto then used his Wind Release: Rasenshuriken. Kakuzu was visibly concerned by the new technique.
Kakuzu jumped into the air, but Naruto leapt behind him. Kakuzu was forced to sacrifice two of his hearts, and, through that, he was able to shield himself against the attack using his Earth element shield. However, this left him unable to move. Kakashi realised Naruto had surpassed him, and went to finish Kakuzu by stabbing his last heart.
Team Kakashi and Team 10 returned, triumphant, to Konoha. Shikamaru visited Asuma's grave with Kurenai, who had been revealed to be pregnant with Asuma's child. Later, while playing shōgi with his father, Shikamaru commented that the identity of the king piece was the next generation of Konoha ninja. Despite this revelation, he lost the game to his father.
|#||English title||Kanji title||Romaji title|
|312||"The Creeping Threat!!"||忍び寄る脅威!!||Shinobiyoru Kyōi!!|
|313||"The New Twosome!!"||新たなる二人組!!||Aratanaru Futarigumi!!|
|314||"Akatsuki Invades…!!"||“暁”侵攻…!!||"Akatsuki" Shinkō…!!|
|315||"Special Training!!"||特別な修業!!||Tokubetsuna Shugyō!!|
|316||"Training, Begin!!"||修業、始め!!||Shugyō, Hajime!!|
|317||"The Beginning of the Nightmare!!"||悪夢の始まり!!||Akumu no Hajimari!!|
|318||"Smooth Training"||順調なる修業||Junchōnaru Shugyō|
|319||"Driving Forces"||つき動かすもの||Tsukiugokasu Mono|
|322||"That Guy Can't be Killed"||あいつは殺せない||Aitsu wa Korosenai|
|323||"God's Judgement!!"||神の裁き!!||Kami no Sabaki!!|
|324||"Shikamaru's Analysis!!"||シカマルの分析!!||Shikamaru no Bunseki!!|
|325||"There Won't be a Later…!!"||後は無い…!!||Ato wa Nai…!!|
|326||"Desired Pain…!!"||望んだ痛み…!!||Nozonda Itami…!!|
|327||"Amidst Despair…"||絶望の中に…||Zetsubō no Naka ni…|
|328||"Team 10 "||第十班||Daijippan|
|329||"That Goal…!!"||その目的…!!||Sono Mokuteki…!!|
|330||"The Sad News…!!"||悲しき報せ…!!||Kanashiki Shirase…!!|
|331||"Team 10 Sets Out…!!"||第十班が行く…!!||Daijippan ga Iku…!!|
|332||"Shikamaru's Battle!!"||シカマルの戦い!!||Shikamaru no Tatakai!!|
|334||"The Black Transformation…!!"||黒き変貌…!!||Kuroki Henbō…!!|
|335||"The Horrible Secret!!"||恐るべき秘密!!||Osorubeki Himitsu!!|
|336||"Turnabout, Predicament…!!"||一転、窮地…!!||Itten, Kyūchi…!!|
|337||"Shikamaru's Genius!!"||シカマルの才!!||Shikamaru no Sai!!|
|338||"When you Curse Someone…"||人を呪わば…||Hito o Norowaba…|
|339||"The New Technique…!!"||新術…!!||Shinjutsu…!!|
|340||"A Dangerous Bridge"||危ない橋||Abunai Hashi|
|341||"The Fruits of the Training…!!"||修業の成果…!!||Shugyō no Seika…!!|
|#||Episode Title||Japanese Airdate||English Airdate|
|72||"The Quietly Approaching Threat"||21 August 2008||16 March 2011|
|73||"Akatsuki's Invasion"||28 August 2008||23 March 2011|
|74||"Under the Starry Sky"||4 September 2008||30 March 2011|
|75||"The Old Monk's Prayer"||11 September 2008||6 April 2011|
|76||"The Next Step"||25 September 2008||16 April 2011|
|77||"Climbing Silver"||25 September 2008||23 April 2011|
|78||"The Judgment"||2 October 2008||30 April 2011|
|79||"Unfulfilled Scream"||2 October 2008||7 May 2011|
|80||"Last Words"||16 October 2008||14 May 2011|
|81||"Sad News"||23 October 2008||21 May 2011|
|82||"Team 10 "||30 October 2008||4 June 2011|
|83||"Target: Locked On"||6 November 2008||18 June 2011|
|84||"Kakuzu's Abilities"||13 November 2008||25 June 2011|
|85||"Terrifying Secret"||20 November 2008||2 July 2011|
|86||"Shikamaru's Genius"||4 December 2008||9 July 2011|
|87||"When You Curse Someone, You Dig Your Own Grave"||4 December 2008||16 July 2011|
|88||"Wind Release: Rasenshuriken!"||11 December 2008||23 July 2011|