The Gantetsu Escort Mission (丸鉄護送任務, Gantetsu Gosō Ninmu) spans from episodes 209 to 212 of the Naruto anime. This arc is preceded by the Prized Artefact Escort Mission and the Yakumo Kurama Rescue Mission and is followed by the Menma Memory Search Mission.
Naruto, Lee, and Sakura were ordered to help escort a wanted criminal ninja named Gantetsu, who was a member of a criminal group called Shinobazu, to the Land of Forests' capital to be interrogated and standing trial. Upon arriving to their mission, Naruto and the others met Todoroki, one of the head guards. He quickly made it clear that he didn't want the young ninja's assistance. It was clear that for some reason, he had especially high anger towards Gantetsu. During the transfer through a river, the Shinobazu attacked and caused Naruto, Todoroki, and Gantetsu to be separated from the rest of the group. After a short skirmish with the Shinobazu's leader, Shura, they fell off a waterfall, forcing Shura to retreat. While Naruto managed to survive with Todoroki and Gantetsu, they were now lost in a maze-like forest which was also the Shinobazu's home territory. Surprisingly, Gantetsu offered to lead them through it. He explained to Naruto and Todoroki that the Shinobazu were after him to get the money Gantetsu stole from them back and then kill him. Along the way, one of the Shinobazu members, Toki, found and attacked them. With help from Gantetsu, Naruto was able to defeat him. In doing so, Gantetsu had gained Naruto's trust, but Todoroki's rage towards the man seemed to grow even greater.
It was then revealed that Gantetsu killed Todoroki's family five years ago. After learning what happened to his family, Todoroki joined the Land of Forests' police to find his family's killers and trained extensively so he could get revenge. Finally giving into his anger, Todoroki decided he would kill Gantetsu now. Then, another member of Shinobazu appeared named Monju. He captured Gantetsu in a net of steel string and caught Naruto and Todoroki in a constricting trap of more steel string. Later after Monju left with Gantetsu, Naruto and Todoroki used their sweat to weaken the strings and broke free. Naruto then caught up with Gantetsu and Monju, who was fighting Sakura, Lee, and strangely a group of kids. With some shadow clone tactics, Naruto was able to defeat Monju. Unfortunately, Shura then emerged and took one of the kids after Monju told him the boy knew where their treasure was.
The boy turned out to actually be Todotoki's younger brother Akio. Todoroki, who arrived not too long ago, refused to believe it. It was explained that while Gantetsu was once a true member of the Shinobazu, after witnessing the pointless slaughtering his gang was doing, he began secretly saving children from Shinobazu's attacks and sheltering them, starting with Akio. After time, the children began looking to Gantetsu as a father-figure and became a new family. Eventually, he decided that his actions of merely sheltering people wasn't enough and decided to put an end to Shinobazu. He then formulated a plan to steal from them their stolen goods and get caught by the police, knowing that this would drag out Shinobazu and give the opportunity needed to stop them permanently. Despite learning the truth, Todoroki refused to forgive Gantetsu as he still helped in the murder of his parents.
Naruto, Todoroki, and Lee then Gantetsu then joined in saving Akio while Sakura stayed behind to watch the orphans. Upon arriving at the base, Todoroki accidentally set of the alarms. They soon found Akio, only to be caught in a trap set by Shura, who set the building on fire. Naruto left Todoroki and Gantetsu to save Akio while he went after Shura. With the assistance of his shadow clones, he was able to catch up to Shura and defeat him with a Rasengan. Later with the Shinobazu destroyed, Todoroki grudgingly decided to let Gantetsu go and watch over the orphans, swearing he would tell his superiors Gantetsu was killed in the fire. Todoroki also grudgingly decided to let his brother Akio stay and help Gantetsu.
|#||Episode Title||Japanese Airdate||English Airdate|
|209||"The Enemy: Ninja Dropouts"||9 November 2006||31 January 2009|
|210||"The Bewildering Forest"||16 November 2006||25 October 2009|
|211||"Memory of Flames"||30 November 2006||25 October 2009|
|212||"To Each His Own Path"||7 December 2006||7 November 2009|