"The New Target" (新たなる目標, Aratanaru Tāgetto) is episode 33 of the Naruto: Shippūden anime.
Izumo Kamizuki and Kotetsu Hagane are tired, having been up guarding the entrance to Konoha. They notice a tremor, which ends up being Might Guy, running into the village at top speed with Kakashi on his back. Declaring himself as first place, he is soon caught up with by Lee, who declares himself second. Guy tells Lee that he is third and that Kakashi is second, causing Lee to tear up. This is witnessed not only by Izumo and Kotetsu, but by Naruto, Sakura, Tenten and Neji, who have caught up to them as well. The teams then head to the hospital in order to admit Kakashi, who is unable to move after having used his Mangekyō Sharingan during his fight with Akatsuki member Deidara with Tsunade revealing that Kakashi will be bedridden for a week as a result of the battle.
After Kakashi is admitted to the hospital, Sakura sprints off to the balcony, which Naruto notices. On the balcony, she notifies Tsunade and Shizune of Sasori's last words - that one of his spies, who works for Orochimaru, is supposed to be meeting him six days from now at the Tenchi Bridge in Kusagakure. Tsunade brings up the idea that Sasori's final words may be an Akatsuki trap, using the mention of Orochimaru's name as bait. Sakura is still adamant on going, claiming that they will defeat any Akatsuki member they encounter. Tsunade approves the quest, but tells Sakura that since Kakashi is unable to move for a week and that the rendez-vous is in six days, she will need to find a new team member to replace him on the mission. Shizune protests that she'll need to find two, since she believes Naruto should not go on any mission involving Akatsuki interference, and offers her own team. Tsunade responds that Naruto and Sakura are both driven by a need to save Sasuke, to the point where they would give their lives for him, and therefore possess the determination and will to complete the mission successfully, which is what sets them apart from Shizune's team. She also asks Shizune what Naruto would say if he had overheard her; Naruto happens to be standing on the roof, having heard the entire conversation. He announces that he will be on the search for a new team mate and heads off. Tsunade finds Naruto impatient, claiming she hadn't finished her speech about him, while Shizune muses on Tsunade's words (how Naruto has the power to make people rely and depend on him) and remembers that he is the one who won the First Hokage's necklace.
In the village, Naruto begins his quest to find a new teammate, musing that the teammate needs to be someone who is strong enough not to hold them back, someone who is friend in order for teamwork to be efficient, yet someone who is not too attractive as to distract Sakura. His outspoken thoughts are heard by Shino, who tells Naruto that it has been a while since they've met. Naruto is unable to recognise Shino immediately, insulting Shino, who believes that friends shouldn't forget one another. Their conversation is cut short by Kiba, who lands on Shino. Kiba is riding on Akamaru, who has grown to the point where he is big enough to sit on. Naruto recognises Kiba and Akamaru instantly, much to Shino's dismay. Naruto asks Kiba to join him on his mission, but Kiba states that Team 8 has already been assigned a mission and that they are simply waiting for Kurenai. Naruto spots Hinata watching them from afar, the latter of which is shy and embarrassed about encountering Naruto; Hinata faints when Naruto meets her face-to-face. As she recovers, Naruto asks Shino if he could help on their mission, since he considers Akamaru to be big enough to count as a member of a three-man squad. Shino simply remarks that Naruto was able to recognise Hinata as well, irritating Naruto. Naruto then asks Hinata to leave her team and to come with him; his words cause Hinata to go red in the face and to faint again.
Naruto decides to ask Shikamaru for help, but the latter has been assigned by Tsunade to oversee the Chūnin Exams. Chōji appears, carrying Shikamaru's lunch and happy to have a reunion with Naruto. Chōji is willing to come with Naruto on his mission, despite already being assigned to a mission along with Asuma and Ino. Naruto mentions that Chōji has gained weight since they last met, prompting Shikamaru to tackle Naruto while Chōji expands his left arm. At that same moment, a beast made of ink comes charging at them, which Chōji manages to easily destroy. The attack seems to come from a Konoha shinobi (Sai), who is watching the trio from afar. Shikamaru decides to hold Sai in place with his Shadow Imitation Technique, and tells Naruto to handle the situation. Naruto heads towards Sai, only for Sai to paint six more beasts and bring them to life, sending them towards Naruto.
- This episode is the first to take place after Naruto Shippūden the Movie. However since the movies are considered non-canon, it would explain why Naruto and the others did not return to Konoha by then the events of the movie.