Chapter 136: "The Final Blow...!!

" – Naruto’s punch wakes Gaara up, sending the Shukaku’s true self back into Gaara’s mind. However, Gaara still has the massive body of the Tanuki at his disposal and almost crushes Naruto to death. With both Naruto and Gamabunta near exhaustion, Naruto digs deep and begs for the last of the Kyuubi’s Chakra. Surging with power, Naruto delivers a killer headbutt to Gaara, scoring a KO as the monster dissolves into sand. Gamabunta and his child disappear as the boys fall to the ground, spent. Meanwhile, Sarutobi plans to resolve the stalemate he and Orochimaru are locked in. Chapter 137: "The Shinobi of the Leaf...!!" – Assured of his victory, Orochimaru suggests Sarutobi simply submit and die quietly. However, the counterattack has begun and the clans of Konoha fight back, driving away or defeating the Sound and Sand invaders. Although unable to completely seal Orochimaru’s soul, Sarutobi and the Shinigami settle halfway and seal up Orochimaru’s arms, permanently disabling his jutsus. As Orochimaru curses him, the last thing Sarutobi sees is not the devious traitor, but the student he once tutored and admired. Chapter 138: "The Crumbling Leaf, End!!" – Orochimaru and his bodyguards make a sharp escape, with Kabuto taunting Kakashi and Gai as he leaves. Sakura is safe from Gaara’s trap, as he is completely tired out. However, Gaara notices Naruto still able to move, as the young leaf ninja tells him that his philosophy on life can be changed and that even Gaara doesn’t have to be alone. As Kankurou and Temari arrive to carry him away, Naruto’s words seem to sink in and Gaara has a change of heart, apologising to his siblings. However, the ending isn’t quite happy, as Konoha gathers around Sarutobi’s fallen body. Chapter 139: "The Person's Name Is...!!" – Two mysterious men, one formerly of the village, pay a visit to the remains of Konoha. The entire village, ninjas and regular inhabitants, commune to pay their respects for the fallen leader. Jiraiya recalls his days with his teacher, while Kakashi visits the grave of his childhood friend, Obito. Even with Sarutobi’s death, Iruka speaks of the will that was passed from each of the Hokage title bearers, fueled by love for the village. Naruto decides that he will continue his quest and steps towards his goal of being a Hokage himself.

Chapter 140: "Proximity...!!" – While spying on bathing women, Jiraiya is approached by Sarutobi’s advisors. In Hidden Sound village, Orochimaru laments how one small detail would have made his ambition come true, but the person he wanted on his side exceeded even his power and made him leave “that organization”. Baki and another group find Kazekage’s corpse and discover Orochimaru impersonated him and duped them into starting the war. Back at Konoha, Jiraiya refuses to become the 5th Hokage, but suggests another person, who he will fetch. Elsewhere, Kurenai and Asuma run into an old acquaintance... Chapter 141: "Uchiha Itachi!!" – Introduces Itachi and Kisame. The two men trespassing are Itachi, Sasuke’s older brother who murdered all but one of the Uchiha clan and Kisame, a Hidden Mist fugitive that killed a feudal lord. Kisame kicks a fight off with Asuma, while Kurenai provides an illusionary backup. However, Itachi reverses it onto her. As Kisame starts up a fierce water-based Jutsu, someone using the exact same thing cancels it out! Itachi then turns to see the copy ninja Kakashi with a kunai to his neck... Chapter 142: "Kakashi Vs Itachi" – Kakashi and Kisame exchange fighting talk, angering the Mist ninja before Itachi steps up. A fast exchange of jutsus causes Kakashi to mention that Itachi is extremely powerful and not even trying. As if on cue, Itachi uses the Genjutsu skill, “Tsukuyomi”. Even Kakashi’s Sharingan cannot defend against it and he finds himself trapped in a world controlled by Itachi, who puts him through a living hell of being stabbed over and over for 3 days in an instant. Mentally crushed, Kakashi cannot fight back and guesses that Itachi has come for Sasuke. Itachi corrects him, telling him their target is Yondaime Hokage’s legacy... Chapter 143: "Yondaime's Inheritance!!" – Jiraiya spied on Orochimaru after he left Konoha and discovered he joined an organization that Itachi was also part of, “Akatsuki”. Akatsuki split into pairs after Orochimaru left and have done very little so far, but Jiraiya revealed to Kakashi that Akatsuki may want the Kyuubi inside Naruto. As Kakashi confirms this, Itachi asks Kisame to execute him. Before he can, Gai arrives and saves Kakashi. Although Kisame wants to fight, Itachi orders a quick retreat before they get in too deep. Meanwhile, Jiraiya asks Naruto to accompany him on a trip to meet a certain lady,

with the promise of special training on the way. Chapter 144: "A Young Pursuit" – As Jiraiya and Naruto set off, Jiraiya comments that Naruto reminds him of Yondaime Hokage. On a perch above them, the Akatsuki members discuss a strategy for getting Naruto and Jiraiya separated. Sasuke learns that Itachi returned and is chasing Naruto, deciding to follow him. In another town, Jiraiya flirts with a woman and leaves Naruto to practice his training. In a hotel, Naruto answers the door, ready to scold Jiraiya for not training him... and looks up into the eyes of Itachi.