How the Naruto Anime Ended

Though both iterations of the original series are now over, Naruto continues to be one of the most popular shonen franchises of all time. Though it doesn't seem like that long ago for many anime fans, the first Naruto anime actually concluded nearly 15 years ago in 2007.

Surprisingly, the final arc of Naruto, "Sunagakure Support Mission," is a filler arc, not adapted from Masashi Kishimoto's manga. Despite this, the arc does well in showing how far the characters have come before neatly segueing into the sequel series, Shippuden. Here's how the original Naruto anime series wrapped up.

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Sunagakure Support Mission Was Naruto's Final Arc

Sunagakure Support Mission began in Episode 216, with a legion of ninja from Takumi Village waging war against Gaara's Hidden Sand Village, kidnapping one of his students in the process. Hoping to coerce Gaara into using his abilities to power a Takumi Village weapon, the ninja are initially held back by just Gaara and his siblings. Naruto and the Konoha 11 come to their friend's aid, forming teams to face the merciless rogue ninja.

When they finally catch up with their opponents, they quickly realize how much of a fight they're in for, with each of the Takumi rogues, including their seeming leader Hoki, being an expert with all manner of blades and weapons. This allows the group, known as the Shitenshounin, to almost kill Gaara's siblings Kankuro and Temari. While they're intercepted, the Shintenshounin use their powers to override Gaara's sand abilities, putting him in danger of being assassinated, as well.

How Naruto Ended

Rock Lee and Naruto save Gaara, with Sakura healing the injured while several of the would-be attackers are taken out by the combined force of Temari, Kankuro, Shikamaru and Kiba's dog Akamaru. After Gaara beats another with a spear, he pursues their leader in hopes of finding the taken student. Gaara is then trapped in a sphere by Hoki, who drains his chakra out before sacrificing himself to use the energy and revive his fallen leader Seimei. Seimei becomes the ultimate weapon of the fallen Shitenshounin, doing battle with both Naruto and Gaara, who's transformed into the One-Tailed Shukaku in the midst of his anger.

Though this seemingly promises an extensive, grand battle, it all comes to an astonishingly abrupt end with Seimei's defeat. Seimei is quickly killed by Gaara, and everyone goes back to continue their own training and lives. This does illustrate how far the series had come, however, with former enemies Gaara and Naruto as well as the Hidden Leaf and Sand ninja as a whole fighting side-by-side. Likewise, many of the Konoha 11 had grown into formidable fighters in their own right as well as having found particular niches for themselves, like Sakura with her medical training.

From there, the series draws to a close, with Ino being brought under the tutelage of Lady Tsunade and Tenten voicing her disapproval at having been glossed over for the fight against the Shitenshounin. Everyone also sees Naruto off, as he plans to embark on a two-year journey to train with the Sannin Jiraiya. This also shows how the once reviled young boy had become stronger and much more respected among his peers, who now saw him not as a nuisance but instead as their equal and a hero. With Jiraiya having learned of how the Akatsuki planned to attack the Hidden Leaf Village in the future, he and Naruto departed to prepare for the coming fights Shippuden would bring.

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