The Itachi Pursuit Mission (イタチ追跡任務, Itachi Tsuiseki Ninmu), known as Master's Prophecy and Vengeance (師の予言と復讐, Shi no Yogen to Fukushū) in the anime, is an arc from Part II of the series. This arc sees the separate attempts of Sasuke Uchiha and Naruto Uzumaki to find Itachi Uchiha. It spans through volumes 38 to 40, or more specifically, covers chapters 343 to 367 of the manga and episodes 113 to 118 and later episodes 121 to 126 of the Naruto: Shippūden anime; two episodes of Kakashi Gaiden are shown in the interim. In the manga, it is preceded by the Akatsuki Suppression Mission; in the anime, it is preceded by the Three-Tails' Appearance. In both medias, it is followed by the Tale of Jiraiya the Gallant.
Sasuke vs. Orochimaru
At Orochimaru's lair, a sick Orochimaru was confined to his bed. As Kabuto exited to get more medicine, a blade made of lightning chakra shot towards Orochimaru through the door. Orochimaru quickly blocked it with his arms, and thought to himself that he did not recognise the shape manipulation, although the chakra itself seemed familiar. The blade belonged to Sasuke, who had stopped by to finish Orochimaru off before he left to take on Itachi. He claimed that he had nothing more to learn from Orochimaru and then continued by mocking him for wasting his power and time, which angered Orochimaru.
After pinning Orochimaru's arms to the wall, Sasuke attempted to deliver a finishing blow, forcing Orochimaru to abandon his body and reveal his true form, a composite serpent-like entity made up of small white snakes. Sasuke activated his cursed seal level 2, and began to fight Orochimaru. He compared Orochimaru's ambitions to how a snake dreams of flying, and told him that he would only get that chance in the talons of a hawk, as he sprouted his Cursed Seal wings.
After he severed Orochimaru's head from his body, Sasuke believed he had won. However, Orochimaru's poison paralysed Sasuke, and the former then lunged at him, swallowing him whole. Sasuke found himself inside Orochimaru: the place where the body-transfer technique took place. Orochimaru relived a flashback of when he confronted Itachi while in Akatsuki. He found Sasuke's eyes to be similar to those of Itachi's on that day, and anticipated taking possession of those eyes. However, Sasuke took over the dimension with his Sharingan and cursed seal, and proceeded to turn the technique against Orochimaru. After the fight, Kabuto returned with the medicines, but viewed a scene consisting of Sasuke standing over Orochimaru. Kabuto asked Sasuke which one he was, to which Sasuke replied by showing Kabuto what had happened. Sasuke stated that he had merely taken over.
After defeating his mentor, Sasuke freed Suigetsu, whom Orochimaru had imprisoned in a glass tank filled with water. Sasuke led Suigetsu to the Land of Waves, to retrieve Zabuza Momochi's sword from his grave. Upon their arrival, Sasuke noticed the bridge that was being built during his time there as a Konoha genin, which was now named the Great Naruto Bridge. Upon retrieving the sword, Suigetsu explained that he had trained under the Seven Ninja Swordsmen of the Mist (which his senior, Zabuza, had belonged to). With the sword, he claimed, he might even be able to beat Sasuke. After picking it up, they headed for their next target.
In the anime, it turned out that the sword was not beside Zabuza's grave, and that a man named Tenzen had claimed it for himself. Sasuke and Suigetsu asked the residents of the village where they could find him. Eventually, they discovered that he resided in a castle south-east of the village. Overnight, Sasuke intruded the castle, and threatened Tenzen to prepare an army of over a thousand men. The next day, Sasuke and Suigetsu prepared to invade the castle. Sasuke offered a wager with Suigetsu, to whoever could retrieve the sword first. Suigetsu later suggested that this had merely been a chance for Sasuke to witness Suigetsu's abilities, which Sasuke neither confirmed nor denied. After a successful attempt of retrieving the sword, they both departed for their next target — Karin.
After arriving at the base, Sasuke and Suigetsu met Karin, who had sensed their arrival. Sasuke told Karin to join him, which surprised her. Sasuke replied that, since Orochimaru was now gone, there was no need for her to continue to keep watch over the prisoners she was currently guarding, and told an annoyed Suigetsu to free them. Karin relented, but still refused to go. Sasuke decided that he would just have to find someone else. However, Karin had a quick change of personality, and agreed to go if he really wanted her to. Suigetsu advised that they leave, since Karin clearly didn't want to go. When Sasuke said she had changed her mind, Karin put her glasses back on after attempting to flirt with Sasuke, and denied this in a rather embarrassed manner, saying that she was coincidentally going the same way they were, at least for the moment.
As the three made their way to the Northern Hideout, Karin explained that Sasuke's next target, Jūgo, was the means behind Orochimaru's development of the cursed seals. When the group got there, prisoners infected with the cursed seal surrounded Sasuke's group. When Karin informed them that Jūgo was not among the prisoners, Sasuke and Suigetsu disposed of them without killing them, as instructed by Sasuke. Having found the keys to Jūgo's cell, Karin used her tracking ability to find him, misleading Suigetsu to the wrong direction while she was at it. At Jūgo's cell, Karin unlocked the door, and Sasuke went in first.
Jūgo, who had decided that if the first person to open the door was a male, he would kill him, seemed delighted to see Sasuke, and rushed in for the kill. Sasuke failed in his attempts to reason with Jūgo. Jūgo and Sasuke had a quick cursed seal battle, before it was interrupted by the arrival of Suigetsu. Suigetsu then appeared to take over the fight, explaining that beating Jūgo to a pulp was the only way to calm him. Jūgo morphed his piston arm into a massive forearm blade to deal with Suigetsu. After they ignored Sasuke's requests to stop, Sasuke wrapped the two in summoned snakes and exuded an enormous amount of killing intent. Jūgo's transformation receded, and he suddenly rushed back to his cell, demanding they lock it. Karin explained that, while the rage-driven Jūgo might be violent and bloodthirsty, Jūgo himself had no desire to harm anyone.
Jūgo finally agreed to go with Sasuke after hearing that Kimimaro, who was consistently able to stop Jūgo's rage-driven rampages, had died to bring Sasuke to Orochimaru. With his team gathered and dubbed "Hebi" by Sasuke, Sasuke revealed their goal: to kill his brother, Itachi. Suigetsu, who wanted to take Kisame's sword for himself, was willing to participate, as Kisame was currently partnered with Itachi. Karin, being enamoured with Sasuke, also agreed to help, although she was unwilling to admit that her admiration was the reason. (Suigetsu teased her about it, saying that he knew about something Karin did to Sasuke a while before. However, Karin punched Suigetsu in the face before he could reveal her secret). Finally, Jūgo acquiesced to see how strong Sasuke was, believing he was Kimimaro's reincarnation.
Sakura arrived at Naruto's home to tell him to wash up and get ready. They met up with Tsunade and Jiraiya, and Tsunade informed them of Orochimaru's death at Sasuke's hands, which Jiraiya's most trusted sources had confirmed. Both Naruto and Sakura seemed very happy to hear the news, expecting that, now that Orochimaru was dead, Sasuke would finally return to Konoha. However, Jiraiya told them that that was not exactly the case.
In Konoha, Naruto and Sakura came to the same conclusion as Sasuke, reasoning that his desire for revenge would drive him to kill Itachi. Therefore, they decided the simplest path to Sasuke was to find Itachi. As both teams resolved to find Itachi, both he and Kisame waited for the leader to contact them after having captured Rōshi, the host of the Four-Tails. Once they got into contact with their leader, Akatsuki went over the recent deaths of Hidan, Kakuzu, and Orochimaru, and Sasuke's new team. Knowing that Sasuke could potentially disrupt their plans, the leader warned everyone to be careful, especially Itachi and Kisame.
In Konoha, Kakashi discussed the overall plan to find Itachi and Kisame. Since simply killing Itachi first would make finding Sasuke impossible, they needed to capture him. For that purpose, Team Kakashi was joined by Team 8. Meanwhile, Sasuke took his team to an old Uchiha outpost run by allies of the Uchiha clan in order to stock up on supplies. After Akatsuki finished sealing the Four-Tails, Deidara and Tobi decided to either track down Kakashi and Naruto or go after Sasuke.
As Deidara and Tobi searched for either of their two targets, the two teams split up. The Konoha ninja split into groups of three: one ninja and two of Kakashi's ninken. Naruto was accompanied by Hinata and Yamato, due to Akatsuki's pursuit of him. Meanwhile, Sasuke's group split up to gather information on Akatsuki. As they searched, the Ninken accompanying Sakura caught Sasuke's scent. Her search led her into a city, but she was unable to find Sasuke. As she walked through a crowd, the ninken commented how the scent was "moving away", just as Karin was walking past her.
Kabuto revealed himself to Naruto's group, and gave them a book that detailed everything they had learned about Akatsuki. He thanked Naruto for inspiring him to find his own purpose in life, and revealed that he had absorbed Orochimaru's remains into himself: about one-third of his body was now Orochimaru's. With it, he planned to become stronger than Orochimaru. After evading Naruto and Yamato, he explained that he needed to control Orochimaru's power, which was slowly taking over his body, after which he would come after Sasuke for killing Orochimaru.
Sasuke vs. Deidara
Elsewhere, Deidara and Tobi attacked Sasuke. Deidara attempted to attack from above using a bomb, but Sasuke used Hidden Shadow Snake Hands to wrap himself with a snake as a shield. Tobi also attempted an attack, but he was scared of Sasuke, and fled from him. Deidara told Tobi he was to handle Sasuke, and tested him with small C1 spiders. Sasuke used the Chidori Senbon to stop the bombs. He then jumped behind Deidara, who used a bomb to distance himself. But Sasuke managed to avoid the bomb. Realising Sasuke's abilities were great; Deidara used C2 next, and summoned a clay dragon as a battle partner. The dragon then regurgitated a cluster of land mines to which Tobi said they were going with "that". Sasuke attacked with Chidori Sharp Spear, but Deidara was out of range. While Sasuke was busy with Deidara, Tobi planted the latter's mines around the field.
Deidara sent a new C2 bomb after Sasuke, and he activated his Cursed Seal level 2 to block the blast (at the cost of one of his wings). He shot two giant shuriken at Deidara. Deidara avoided them, but Sasuke attached wires to them. They impaled Deidara's arms against the dragon, and Sasuke flew up with his Chidori sword and severed one of the dragon's wings off. Deidara fell to the ground toward his land mines which subsequently destroyed the dragon. Tobi cried out for Deidara, but Deidara (who earlier had dislodged the shuriken and was now safely atop one of his clay birds) told him to be quiet. He looked into Sasuke's Sharingan and remembered when he had first saw them in Itachi.
He was once approached by Itachi, Kisame, and Sasori for a proposal. Deidara was chosen to be in Akatsuki, but had refused, loving his position as a terrorist bomber, claiming his works as art and as invincible, and how their beauty came when they exploded. Sasori was interested in Deidara for being an artist and having guts, but claimed he was arrogant and could get himself killed quickly. Itachi decided to fight Deidara, claiming that, if Itachi won, Deidara would join Akatsuki, but if he lost, Deidara was free to go. Itachi shielded himself from Deidara's bombs with shadow clones, and, after a short fight, finished him off with a Sharingan genjutsu, making it seem like Itachi had gained control of Deidara's bombs, and was about to finish Deidara with one. He stopped the genjutsu and freed Deidara, but Deidara was still forced to join for his loss. Deidara was angered at Itachi and the Sharingan, refusing to accept it as an art.
As the battle between Sasuke and Deidara continued, Deidara used his C4, his most powerful bomb. It exploded, and appeared to have killed Sasuke, but it was simply a Sharingan genjutsu from Sasuke, the same one Itachi had used. Sasuke then appeared to have constricted him with one of his bombs, but the genjutsu was dispelled by Deidara, as he revealed his left eye could dispel genjutsu, and since Sasuke had held back when using the technique, unlike Itachi, Deidara was able to dispel it. Deidara tried another C4 on Sasuke using his last bit of chakra, and went to a safe distance, but Sasuke shielded it one last time with his Chidori Current. He then jumped right next to Deidara and gave him a powerful punch to the face.
Realising that Deidara was out of chakra and could not get up, Sasuke asked where Itachi was. Deidara did not answer, and became enraged due to Sasuke being indifferent and uncaring towards his art. He then turned himself into a bomb in a suicide attempt to kill Sasuke. However, Sasuke summoned the snake, Manda, as a shield, and teleported both of them with a technique, at the cost of Manda's life. His team found him after seeing the explosion, and he went with them to rest, explaining what had happened.
Meetings with Itachi
After seeing the explosion, Naruto's team headed to it, and Kiba tracked Sasuke's scent. Back with Hebi, Sasuke asked what everyone had found out about Itachi. Suigetsu and Karin had found nothing, but Jūgo had communicated with the birds, who were able to sense Akatsuki's chakra coming out of their hideouts, which he had marked on a map. They decided to go to the most recently used one to find Itachi. Meanwhile, Itachi headed to an Uchiha hideout, and sent two clones, one to find Naruto, and the other to find Sasuke.
As Naruto's team went to find Sasuke, Karin could sense that they were coming, and informed Sasuke. Hebi then left, and went to the Akatsuki hideout. Before that, Karin realised that the team possessed scent trackers, so she asked Jūgo to have the birds tear up one of Sasuke's shirts, which had a very strong amount of Sasuke's scent on it, and scatter the pieces to throw off Naruto's team. It succeeded, and Kiba could no longer track Sasuke's scent. Naruto realised that they needed to split up, and Naruto encountered Itachi's clone. Itachi claimed that he only wished to talk, but Naruto knew he needed to catch Itachi. Naruto created a shadow clone that attacked with a Big Ball Rasengan, but Itachi was a clone as well. The real Itachi caught Naruto in a Sharingan genjutsu. In the illusion, Itachi asked why Naruto cared for Sasuke so much, to which Naruto claimed that Sasuke was like a brother to him, and that he was more of a brother to Sasuke than Itachi was. When Itachi went on the offensive with his genjutsu, Naruto dispelled it. Itachi then dispelled the clone, having run out of time to talk.
The other clone encountered Sasuke at the Akatsuki hideout. After a short greeting, Sasuke attacked the clone with his Chidori Sharp Spear, but Itachi substituted himself with a shadow clone as a shield. Sasuke was then caught in the clone's Sharingan genjutsu, but he easily dispelled it. Itachi then destroyed the clone, telling Sasuke to go to the nearby Uchiha hideout so they could end their dispute. Sasuke and the rest of Hebi go to the hideout. Sasuke encounters two of Naruto's shadow clones, so he destroys them with Chidori Current punches, and the team continues on. Naruto figures out where Sasuke is, so Naruto's Team goes in pursuit of him. Unfortunately, Naruto's Team encounters Tobi. Naruto attempts two Big Ball Rasengan with shadow clones, but the attacks are absorbed by Tobi. Naruto's team then prepares to finish Tobi off. Meanwhile, Sasuke encounters Kisame, who asks Sasuke to continue on by himself, since Itachi doesn't want interferences. Sasuke had no argument, and left his team with Kisame. Suigetsu and Kisame then prepared to fight for the Samehada. Sasuke then went to the hideout, and prepared to battle Itachi.
|#||English title||Kanji title||Romaji title|
|344||"The Snake and…"||蛇と…||Hebi to…|
|346||"The Secret of the New Technique!!"||新術の秘密!!||Shinjutsu no Himitsu!!|
|348||"The Next Person!!"||次なる一人!!||Tsuginaru Hitori!!|
|349||"At the Northern Hideout"||北アジトにて||Kita Ajito nite|
|350||"Shocking News…!!"||衝撃の報せ…!!||Shōgeki no Shirase|
|351||"A Conversation Between Men!!"||男との対話!!||Otoko to no Taiwa|
|352||"The Goal is…!!"||目的は…!!||Mokuteki wa…!!|
|353||"Akatsuki Gathers…!!"||“暁”集合…!!||"Akatsuki" Shūgō…!!|
|354||"The People Starting to Move"||動き出す者たち||Ugokidasu Mono-Tachi|
|355||"Where to…?!"||どっちへ…!?||Dotchi e…!?|
|357||"Deidara vs. Sasuke!!"||デイダラVSサスケ!!||Deidara Bāsasu Sasuke!!|
|358||"C2 Driving against the Wall!!"||追いつめるC2!!||Oitsumeru Shī Tsū!!|
|359||"Those Eyes…!!"||その眼…!!||Sono Me…!!|
|360||"C4 Garuda "||C4カルラ||Shī Fō Karura|
|362||"The Ultimate Art!! "||究極芸術!!||Kyūkyoku Geijutsu!!|
|363||"Sasuke's Death…!!"||サスケの死…!!||Sasuke no Shi…!!|
|364||"The Target is…!!"||狙いは…!!||Nerai wa…!!|
|365||"Pursue Itachi"||イタチを追え||Itachi o oe|
|367||"Itachi and Sasuke "||イタチとサスケ||Itachi to Sasuke|
|#||Episode Title||Japanese Airdate||English Airdate|
|115||"Zabuza's Blade"||25 June 2009||24 January 2012|
|116||"Guardian of the Iron Wall"||2 July 2009||24 January 2012|
|117||"Jūgo of the Northern Hideout"||9 July 2009||24 January 2012|
|118||"Formation!"||23 July 2009||24 January 2012|
|121||"Assemble"||6 August 2009||25 January 2012|
|122||"The Hunt"||13 August 2009||25 January 2012|
|123||"Clash!"||20 August 2009||25 January 2012|
|124||"Art"||27 August 2009||25 January 2012|
|125||"Disappearance"||3 September 2009||25 January 2012|
|126||"Twilight"||10 September 2009||25 January 2012|