The Anime-zing Race 2

Episode Nine

Leg Ten

(Shot of all five teams making an absolute mess of Hideki’s room, with all ten intruders eating, sleeping, and mingling in a very confined space. Hideki is considering mentioning something to Satoshi, but doesn’t.)
Satoshi: (VO) The teams will now get a twelve-hour rest period. They do not know where they’re going next. They’ll need to figure out how to get to the next yellow-and-red route marker by solving their clues.

(Shot of Minamo with her Persocon.)

Satoshi: (VO) Will Yukari and Minamo get a boost of momentum thanks to an outstanding Road Block?

(Shot of Touya and Yukito checking in last.)

Satoshi: (VO) And will Touya and Yukito’s newfound rivalry with Jessie and Ayla spirit them out of last place?

(Shot of Jessie and Ayla checking in.)
Satoshi: (VO) Jessie & Ayla were the first team to check in at 11:39 AM.

(Nighttime outside the apartment. Jessie and Ayla are ready to go.)

Satoshi: (VO) They’ll take off at 11:39 PM.

(Jessie opens the clue.)
[JESSIE & AYLA- Rivals- 1st to Depart- 11:39 PM]
Jessie: Head to the home of Minoru Kokubunji and retrieve an oni from his persocon Yuzuki.

(Rapid shots to the upscale Kokubunji residence. Satoshi is at the door with Minoru’s four maid persocons.)
Satoshi: Teams must find the home of Minoru Kokubunji and talk to his main persocon Yuzuki… which isn’t one of these four.

(Satoshi turns to them.)

Satoshi: Although you all are pretty cute. This Minoru kid’s got good taste.

(Shot of Yuzuki, smiling.)

Satoshi: (VO) Yuzuki will give teams an oni and the clue to tell them what to do with it.

(Back in the hallways, both contemplate the clue.)

Jessie: So how do you suppose we find his house?

Ayla: Simple…

(Ayla opens the door and turns to Hideki.)

Ayla: Where’s the Kokubunji house?

Hideki: Um… hold on…

(Hideki pulls out a sheet of paper and starts to write down directions. Ayla turns to Jessie.)

Ayla: That wasn’t so hard.

May: (OS) Write that down for us too!

Noboyuki: Yeah, that would be great. You’re a real pal Hideki!

Hideki: Right, right…

(Jessie and Ayla frown.)

Jessie: Or not…

(Hideki hands the two the directions and they leave.)

Ayla: We’re not sure how Touya and Yukito finished last on the previous leg, but we are positive that they will stage a comeback. The two are much craftier than they look, and will no doubt manage to challenge us again. Hopefully we react better than we did last time.

(Jessie and Ayla hail a cab and talk strategy.)

Ayla: How do you feel?

Jessie: Better. It’s nice to relax for a little bit.

Ayla: As long as we don’t rest on our laurels and work hard to retain our lead, we will be alright for now.

Jessie: Just until Touya and Yukito get their act together.

Ayla: And they will. We know they will.

(They are dropped off in front of the house. They pull their bags out, pay the driver, and head to the front door.)

Jessie: (VO) It’s very clear to us that Touya and Yukito are the best team among the other four. They’re going to be the ones giving us a run for the money… literally. We’re ahead right now, so it’s just a matter of staying ahead as long as we can. Because they’ll be back.

(They enter the doorway and are greeted by the Minoru’s other four persocons.)

Jessie: One of you four Yuzuki?

Minoru’s Persocon: Yuzuki’s upstairs.

Ayla: Thank you.

(They head upstairs and find Yuzuki in a large room. She smiles at them.)

Yuzuki: Hello.

Jessie: We’re looking for a persocon named Yuzuki.

Yuzuki: I’m Yuzuki, how can I help you?

Ayla: We need to get a clue and an oni from you.

Yuzuki: Of course.

(She goes to a table, takes one of each, and hands it to them.)

Yuzuki: Here you are.

(The oni tries to jump out of Jessie’s hands. She catches it.)

Jessie: I almost forgot about these things…

Ayla: Have the oni take you to the Great Naruto Bridge in Water Country.

Jessie: Where?

(Appropriately enough, the bridge’s main founder, Tazuna, explains as we see a breathtaking bridge reaching out from an island.)
Tazuna: (VO) All five of the great teams remaining must use that super oni they’ve been given by the super-fine Yuzuki to go to the Great Naruto Bridge in Water Country. Once there, they will find the next great clue at the border to Fire Country.

(The oni kicks off the process. Jessie and Ayla stand in the center of the circle and start chanting, with the big kicker…)

Jessie / Ayla: Kyu kyu noritsuge!!

[YUKARI & MINAMO- Best Friends / Teachers- 2nd to Depart- 12:12 AM]
Minamo: Head to the home of Minoru Kokubunji and retrieve an oni from his persocon Yuzuki.

Yukari: Surprise, surprise.

(They start laughing as they walk out and fetch a cab.)

Yukari: (VO) Man, we’ve got this down! After going from last to first in the Road Block, I’d say we’re the team to beat.

(Noboyuki and Tenchi are off next after counting their money.)
[NOBOYUKI & TENCHI- Father & Son- 3rd to Depart- 12:15 AM]
Noboyuki: Think we can catch up to the teachers?

Tenchi: Who cares? Let’s just get there as quickly as possible.

(They hail a cab immediately.)

Tenchi: I’ve noticed that we always struggle whenever we’re concerned with our position. If we’re worried about a team behind us, or working too hard to catch up to the team ahead of us, we have problems. If we just worry about what we’re doing, we’re fine.

(Jessie and Ayla are standing on top of a large bridge in the middle of the ocean. After a moment of dazed awe, they get back to business.)

Ayla: Which way are we supposed to go?

Jessie: There.

(She points out a yellow-and-red sign. Both jog in that direction for a good long ways until they find the route marker near a tent. Outside the tent, nine kids are engaged in various activities such as chatting, playing shogi, or trying to kill each other with special ninja techniques. A woman, Yuuhi Kurenai, is watching them go about their antics. As Jessie and Ayla take note of the group, they retrieve the clue.)

Jessie: Take a carriage and with an assigned genin travel to Konoha- the Hidden Leaf Village.

(Yuuhi walks down a forest path.)
Yuuhi: Teams will choose one of the carriages and travel to the center of Fire Country- the Hidden Leaf Village Konoha, about a two day journey. For guidance and protection, they will be assigned one of our genin-rank ninjas to go with.

(Rapid shots to a fenced off edge of the woods.)

Yuuhi: (VO) Once near Konoha, they will find their next route marker just inside Practice Area 44, or as it’s better known- the Forest of Death.

(Jessie and Ayla begin to look at the carriages when Yuuhi approaches them.)

Yuuhi: Okay, you are to be assigned one of these nine ninjas for your trip.

Jessie: Great. How long with this take?

Yuuhi: About two days. There’s some provisions inside.

Ayla: Good to know.

Yuuhi: In order to choose your ninja, please select one of the scrolls on the table.

(She shows them a table, where nine scrolls are neatly lined up. Jessie takes one and hands it to Yuuhi. She opens it, and smiles.)

Yuuhi: Good selection. One of my students. Hinata!!

(The cute bashful bluenette Hinata Hyuuga, and yes Chromus has fallen for her too, steps back as she hears her name. She takes a deep breath and approaches Yuuhi. Jessie and Ayla look at each other.)

Yuuhi: You’re going to be with these two. Alright?

Hinata: Yes…

(Jessie wrinkles her nose as she sees some of the other kids sparring- using all sorts of devilish techniques.)

Jessie: Can you pull crap like that?

(Hinata looks over at the kids, then back at Jessie. She bows deeply.)

Hinata: Um… not as well as they can…

(Jessie looks at Ayla.)

Jessie: Great, a handful of ninjas with mind-blowing techniques and we get stuck with Anna-chan.

(May and Max are ready at the starting mat.)
[MAY & MAX- Siblings- 4th to Depart- 12:21 AM]
Max: Thank you Jessie and Ayla.

May: Hopefully now our taxi can get there.

(They hop in a cab and the two drive off.)

May: (VO) We’ve got to stay on our toes to stay in this game. There isn’t really much room for error now.

(Finally, Touya opens the clue.)
[TOUYA & YUKITO- Best Friends / Students- Last to Depart- 12:24 AM]
Yukito: Kokubunji residence?

Touya: (dry) However did you guess?

Yukito: I wonder if Jessie and Ayla even realize their mistake.

Touya: Probably. I don’t care; let’s go.

Yukito: Right.

(They fetch a cab.)

Touya: Finishing last really hurt. After what happened to Yuki I really thought we’d be invincible after that. And then out of nowhere we struggle a bit and end up in last. I don’t know how it happened, but we sure won’t let it happen again.


(Yukari and Minamo get an oni and a clue.)
[YUKARI & MINAMO- Best Friends / Teachers- Currently in 2nd Place]
Yukari: Have the oni take you to the Great Naruto Bridge in Water Country.

Minamo: Oh, these things again?

(They set up and the oni blasts them into ninja-land.)

(Noboyuki and Tenchi enter the estate.)
[NOBOYUKI & TENCHI- Father & Son- Currently in 3rd Place]
Noboyuki: I guess we have to find Yuzuki in this place.

Tenchi: No problem.

(Tenchi walks up to a Persocon.)

Tenchi: Where’s Yuzuki?

(The Persocon points the way and the pair run upstairs.)

Noboyuki: Why couldn’t I get one like her?

(They find Yuzuki, who approaches them.)

Yuzuki: Are you here for the clue?

Noboyuki: Yes we are! How did you know, I thought you were a Persocon.

Yuzuki: I am. Here’s your clue and your oni.

(Tenchi takes both.)

Tenchi: Don’t worry about it Dad. We’ve got to get moving.

(Meanwhile, Yukari and Minamo are looking at the scrolls.)

Yukari: Hmm… I have to use my hidden abilities to find the best one.

Yuuhi: Please… nobody has the power to read those scrolls…

(Yuuhi stops and scrathes her chin.)

Yuuhi: (thoughtful) Except him…

(Yuuhi starts counting on her fingers.)

Yuuhi: And him… and her… just pick a damn scroll.

Minamo: Yeah, it doesn’t really mean anything.

(Yukari takes a scroll and hands it to Yuuhi, who opens it and calls out.)

Yuuhi: Shikamaru!

(Turn Ruri into a boy and subtract any semblance of cuteness or work ethic, and you’d have Shikamaru Nara. He scoffs and walks up to Yukari and Minamo, eyeing the two.)

Minamo: Hi, my name’s Minamo. This is Yukari.

Shikamaru: Whatever. Let’s go.

Yukari: Shotgun!

(Yukari runs to the carriage, quickly followed by Minamo.)

Minamo: You are not driving that thing!

Yukari: It’s a two-day trip! I’ll have to drive eventually!!

(Yukari turns to Shikamaru, who is taking his bloody time getting to the carriage.)

Yukari: Hey, twerp! You getting on or not?!

Shikamaru: (muttering) Idiot…

(Jessie is driving, while Ayla and Hinata attempt to hold a conversation in back.)
[JESSIE & AYLA- Rivals- Currently in 1st Place]
Ayla: So you really are a ninja?

Hinata: Yes... just not one of the better ones.

Ayla: But you are here. If you aren't one of the better ones, then why are you here?

Hinata: I'm trying to get better. I'm working hard... just like Naruto...

Ayla: Naruto?

Jessie: (OS) Having fun back there?

(Ayla pats Hinata on the forehead.)

Ayla: Keep at it.

(Ayla joins her partner in front.)

Jessie: So what's her power?

Ayla: If Naruto's the name of her parent, sibling, or significant other- don't make her mad.

(Noboyoki and Tenchi look through the scrolls.)

Noboyuki: Pick a card, any card...

(Noboyuki selects one and hands to Yuuhi. And Yuuhi calls...)

Yuuhi: Ino!

(Ino Yamanaka notices Noboyuki and frowns. As she walks up to him, she notices Tenchi. She smiles.)

Ino: Hello.

Noboyuki: Hello there, are you going to be traveling with us?

(Ino frowns at Noboyuki.)

Ino: Oh. I have to go with you too?

Tenchi: Yes, you have to go with us two.

(Ino smiles at Tenchi.)

Ino: We can't ditch the old man?

Noboyuki: Sorry, honey, let's get moving!

(Noboyuki and Tenchi hustle to the nearest carriage. Ino slowly follows.)

Ino: Just don't call me honey...

(May & Max and Touya & Yukito reach the estate at about the same time. Both are told to go upstairs, but both run full speed. This gives Touya & Yukito the advantage. They get the first oni from Yuzuki.)
[TOUYA & YUKITO- Best Friends / Students- Currently in 4th Place]
Touya: Have the oni take you to the Great Naruto Bridge in Water Country.

(May and Max get theirs immediately after. May gets the oni.)
[MAY & MAX- Siblings- Currently in Last Place]
May: Oh... goody... these little guys again.

Yukito: No sense going separately!

Max: Guess not.

(They go through the process together and find themselves at the bridge. The four start running to the side.)

Max: (VO) How fast things change. A little while ago, we were teaming up with Touya and Yukito because we were so far ahead. Now we're giving it our all to stay ahead of them.

(Touya and Yukito win this race with no difficulty, select a scroll, and hand it to Yuuhi. May and Max don't hesitate to pick one as well, with May handing hers to Yuuhi.)

Yuuhi: One at a time please...

(Yuuhi opens Touya & Yukito's scroll.)

Yuuhi: Rock Lee!

(He is drawn in the classic Osamu Tezuka style, but for some reason that makes Rock Lee even more cool. He stops sparring with a girl, briefly knocks fists with her, and runs up to Touya and Yukito. Everything he does or says is ridiculously intense.)

Rock Lee: Rock Lee is here to help!

(Touya doesn't know what to say. Yukito smiles.)

Yukito: Hi, my name's Yukito. This is Touya.

Rock Lee: Pleasure to meet you! I will not let you down! We will get to Konoha safely and as fast as possible.

Touya: That's all I needed to hear- let's go.

(The three run off as Yuuhi announces the final name.)

Yuuhi: Kiba!

(Kiba Inuzuka, with his dog Akamaru resting on his head, smiles confidently and runs up to May and Max.)

Kiba: You couldn't have picked better. I'll...

May: What a cute doggie!!

(Akamaru wakes up suddenly, barks jovially, and jumps into May's arms. May and Max start petting it and scratching it every which way. Kiba is rendered speechless.)

Max: He's so nice. What's his name?

(Kiba can't respond.)

Yuuhi: Akamaru.

May: Akamaru! What a great name! Does he know any tricks?

Kiba: W... what??

(Montage of travel shots as the sun begins to go down. Minamo yawns and nudges Yukari awake.)

Minamo: Are you awake?

Yukari: My turn to drive yet?

Minamo: Might as well bite the bullet. It's been eight hours and I need a break.

(Minamo pulls the carriage over. Yukari takes the reins.)

Minamo: Hold on a sec... we need to give the horse a rest.

Yukari: Who said that?

Minamo: It was in the clue envelope. Tell Shikamaru to give her something to eat.

(Yukari heads back and finds Shikamaru sleeping.)

Yukari: Hey! Feed the stupid horse so we can get moving.

(Shikamaru opens an eyelid... and quickly closes it again.)

Yukari: Are you listening to me?

Shikamaru: No.

Yukari: You're supposed to feed the horse.

Shikamaru: No, I'm supposed to make sure you don't get killed. I don't care about the stupid horse.

(Five minutes later, Minamo is stretching out in back, joining the still-sleeping Shikamaru. Yukari throws a feeder in the back and takes the range.)

Yukari: Stupid ninja.

Shikamaru: (mumbling) Stupid woman that keeps waking me up!

(Yukari takes the reins and takes off full speed, startling Shikamaru. He sits up and looks over at Minamo, doing her best to sleep.)

Minamo: This isn't going to be as easy as I thought.

(Shikamaru shrugs it off and goes back to sleep.)

(It's getting darker. May and Max are stopped. May is still playing with Akamaru as Kiba sullenly looks on.)

Max: You think you can drive for awhile? You've been playing with Akamaru all day and I need some rest.

(May sets Akamaru down and checks on the horse.)

May: No problem!

Max: Good. Come on Akamaru! We're going!

(No response.)

May: Akamaru?

(May looks over at Kiba, who is sitting on the ground, scratching his head. May heads into the woods to find Akamaru, but is greeted instead by Kiba. Another Kiba, who is smiling at May.)

May: Hey! Weren't you??

(Kiba jumps into May's arms, and she collapses under the weight, screaming.)

Max: May!!

(Max runs over to find Akamaru licking May's face.)

May: Kiba stop it!!

Max: May, Kiba's the name of the boy. The dog's Akamaru.

(May opens her eyes.)

May: But Kiba was...

(Kiba joins in, laughing.)

Kiba: That oughtta shut you two up for awhile.

(Kiba heads back to the clearing as May and Max stare at Akamaru, puzzled.)

Kiba: You wanted to see if he knew any tricks!!

(Akamaru barks.)

(In twilight skies, Yukito has the reins and despite the darkness is doing quite well navigating the road. Rock Lee is encouraging him.)

Rock Lee: That's it! Don't let the darkness affect you! I know this road and we can push through this!

Yukito: I can see fine right now. Even in this light I can go for a few more hours.

Rock Lee: That's the spirit!

(Touya pokes his head up and glares at Rock Lee oddly.)

Touya: Weird little freak...

Rock Lee: Did you hear anything?

Yukito: Touya's just jealous of your positive attitude. There's a fork in the road up here. Which way should I go?

Rock Lee: There's not supposed to be a junction here.

(Upon closer examination, it's just a couple tracks that veered off the road and deep into a clearing.)

Yukito: So I should just go straight.

Rock Lee: Straight on to victory!

(Back to Yukari and Minamo. Yukari has the horse cantering along, using a flashlight to light her way. The horse stops abruptly, almost sending her flying.)

Yukari: Why'd you stop?

(Yukari jumps down and shines a light closer. She has reached an impenetrable thicket of trees.)

Yukari: Well who planted those in the middle of the road? Nyamo!!

(Minamo pokes her head out of the carriage.)

Minamo: What?

Yukari: There are trees in our path.

Minamo: Did you lose the path?! Jeez...

(Minamo forces Shikamaru awake.)

Minamo: Hey, we need to get back on the road.

Shikamaru: Did you get lost? Jeez... can't this wait until morning?

Yukari: No! We're in a race, remember?

Shikamaru: So what? I don't know where the hell we are, and it's too cloudy to use the stars to get back on track. Now we can either roll the dice and risk getting even more lost, or we can wait until morning and figure exactly where we are and where we need to go.

Minamo: Well... it'll be hard for the other teams to go anywhere when it's this dark. We won't lose too much time if we camp here for the night. What do you think Yukari?

(Yukari and Shikamaru are already in the carriage, sleeping.)

(Tenchi pulls the carriage over and stops. Noboyuki is asleep in back. Ino is sitting next to Tenchi.)

Tenchi: Is this a good place to rest for the night?

Ino: As good as any.

Tenchi: Great. Um... how do you want to do the sleeping arrangements?

Ino: The... sleeping...

(Ino blushes. Tenchi frowns.)

Tenchi: You stay up here. I'm going in back with Dad.

(Tenchi heads back, muttering.)

(The night passes. The day begins as Jessie and Ayla are moving bright and early.)

Jessie: (VO) We weren't afraid to rest for a few hours that night. We figured most of the other teams did the same thing, and we were pretty comfortable with our lead.

(As they proceed down the road, a group of about ten masked bandits surround the carriage. Jessie stops the horse immediately. Ayla and Hinata both scope out the situation.)

Ayla: What's going on?

Hinata: Um... traveling thieves. They steal from anything that passes by, usually violently.

Jessie: Was anybody aware of that?! Don't we have any protection against these...

Ayla: Jessie?

(Ayla points to Hinata. The ninja nods quietly and exits the carriage. She looks at the bandits, a little fearful. Jessie and Ayla both show concerned for Hinata's safety.)

Jessie: This could be bad.


(Hinata is standing in front of the carriage, pretending to look like she's ready to fight.)

Bandit: Should we skip the part about what we want and just take it instead?

(No reaction. Jessie and Ayla look around nervously as the bandits brandish knives. Hinata steps back momentarily, but a couple charge after her. She puts an arm up to block the attack, but the knife is plunged deep into her arm. Jessie and Ayla turn away in shock and fear... until she turns into a horse feeder. They see Hinata in the clearing to their left.)

Jessie: Hinata??

(The bandits turn to her and chase after her as she runs into the woods.)

Jessie: She's going to be a sitting duck out there. We need to help her.

Ayla: How do you propose we do that?

Jessie: What, you've never gotten in a fight before?

(Jessie jumps down and chases after Hinata. Ayla has no choice but to follow. Jessie bumps into one of the bandits, who puts her into a chokehold and sticks the knife at her throat. Ayla tries to come to Jessie's rescue, but the bandit makes sure to keep her in check as well. Hinata is facing the other way, but suddenly stops moving, stands up straight, and turns around. With a blank stare, she approaches Jessie. The hostage-taker points the knife at Hinata just long enough for Jessie to flip him over her shoulder. She lands on the ground. Hinata pokes him in the chest and he begins writhing in agonizing pain. With that- she quickly goes to work on the rest of the group.)

Ayla: Jessie, are you alright?

Jessie: Fine...

(Jessie watches Hinata as she beats the living tar out of the others. Jessie shakes her head.)

Jessie: Yep... definitely Anna.

(Nearby, Noboyuki, Tenchi, and Ino see Jessie and Ayla's abandoned carriage.)
[NOBOYUKI & TENCHI- Father & Son- Currently in 2nd Place]
Noboyuki: This looks like one of the teams.

Ino: This doesn't look good.

(Ino jumps down and starts looking around. Tenchi joins her.)

Noboyuki: Guys, we may have a chance to get ahead here.

Tenchi: I think this is something more serious, Dad!

(Noboyuki jumps down. Ino stares off and sees Hinata in the distance. Tenchi notices her, and Jessie & Ayla.)

Tenchi: It's Jessie and Ayla. They're in a fight.

Noboyuki: Great! Let them go, we could use the break.

Tenchi: Dad, they may be in serious trouble.

(Ino sees Hinata pause for a moment to catch her breath.)

Ino: Hold on...

(Ino starts a series of gestures... then falls over, saved by Tenchi's catch.)

(On the battlefield, Hinata suddenly lifts herself up and looks around. Unconscious bandits everywhere, and a stunned Jessie and Ayla. She slumps down again and turns to Jessie and Ayla.)

Hinata: Was that good?

(Back with Ino, she regains consciousness. She smiles at Tenchi.)

Ino: Thanks. Forgot to warn you about my mind switch technique.

Tenchi: Mind switch technique?

(Ino walks back to the carriage.)

Ino: They're fine. Let's go.

Noboyuki: Good call Ino!

Tenchi: Um... are you sure? Can't we vote on this!

(Noboyuki helps Ino back on to the carriage. Ino refuses the help.)

Noboyuki: It's 2-1! Sorry!

Tenchi: You're being tyrannical!

(They drive away.)

Tenchi: I don't care if they didn't need it. I really wanted to stop and help. I want to make things up to them somehow.

(Meanwhile, Yukari and Minamo may be back on track, but they've run into a spot of trouble themselves. A lone bandit with a really big sword is threatening the women with a sinister grin. Both teachers look scared out of their minds.)
[YUKARI & MINAMO- Best Friends / Teachers- Currently in 4th Place]
Yukari: Uh... isn't it the twerp's job to take care of this?

Minamo: Yeah... uh... Shikamaru? Any plans?

(Shikamaru wakes up and sees the guy. He also sees the early day shadow of the carriage stretching out. He lazily begins a series of hand gestures.)

Yukari: This is no time to play Cat's Cradle kid!

(Shikamaru stops and sets his hands aside. The bandit drops his sword. Shikamaru raises his hands. The bandit raises his. Shikamaru lazily holds his hands out. The bandit starts choking himself, until he falls over, unconscious. Shikamaru heads back.)

Shikamaru: You woke me up for that??

(More montage as twilight hits again. Touya and Yukito remain steady with Rock Lee.)

Yukito: (VO) It was a very interesting trip. We were still racing, but for a couple days we didn't see any of the other teams. It was almost relaxing in a way, but we still knew that we had to keep our pace or risk falling behind.

(It's almost dark as the first team reaches the edge of Konoha.)
[NOBOYUKI & TENCHI- Currently in 1st Place]
Ino: Right over there. Where that big fence is.

(They guide the carriage over there, and see a big sign marked Gate 12.)

Noboyuki: But the clue said it was Practice Area 44, not 12.

Ino: This is Practice Area 44. Just Gate 12 of it.

Tenchi: Yeah, the clue said it's Gate 12.

Ino: (muttering) Sakura's gate. Why does she get special treatment?

Tenchi: What was that?

Ino: Nothing, Tenchi! I'm happier here with you anyway!

(Tenchi backpedals, which is fine, since Noboyuki pulls him out of the carriage.)

Noboyuki: We'll have time for that later, Tenchi. Let's get this clue.

(Noboyuki checks the door. There's a yellow sign on it.)

Noboyuki: Hours of Operation- Sunrise to Sunset.

Tenchi: Does this mean all the other teams will catch up?

Noboyuki: (down) Yes it does, Tenchi... yes it does.

Tenchi: Great, I'm getting some sleep.

(They hanker down in the carriage. Ino sneaks out.)

Ino: Eh, forget this, I live here.

(She sneaks away as Jessie and Ayla arrive.)

Jessie: Shoot! Someone beat us here.

Ayla: Looks like the place isn't open, though.

(They run out and check the sign.)

Jessie: Sunrise. Shoot again.

(They head back to the carriage. Hinata waits for them.)

Hinata: Since you're here, my mission is technically completed.

Ayla: You did your job. Good work.

Jessie: Yeah, you'll get top marks from us.

(Hinata bows deeply.)

Hinata: Thank you very much!

(Hinata runs off as Jessie and Ayla get back in their carriage.)

Jessie: Nice kid. Just hope she never takes up tennis.

(Touya and Yukito are the next in line.)
[TOUYA & YUKITO- Best Friends / Students- Currently in 3rd Place]
Touya: Looks like two other teams beat us here.

Yukito: But it also looks like it's not open yet.

Touya: Which means we've caught up.

Rock Lee: Great work guys! I now leave you to your task.

(Rock Lee runs off. Touya sweatdrops.)

Touya: Why do I get the feeling these guys weren't really excited about doing this?

(Yukari and Minamo are next. They park the carriage by the other three. Minamo checks out the gate while Yukari and Shikamaru relax in the back. Minamo returns with the news.)

Minamo: Closed until sunrise.

Yukari: Aw, we have to get up at sunrise?

Shikamaru: You do. I'll just camp here tonight.

Yukari: No- we're here. That means you're not.

(Yukari reaches forward to grab Shikamaru. In a swift, effortless move, he grabs her arm and throws her out of the carriage.)

Yukari: I hope nobody saw that.

Touya: Having problems?

Yukari: I would like to report a defective ninja!

(May and Max are the last to arrive, but that doesn't matter since they arrive before sunrise, bid farewell to Kiba and Akamaru, and get some sleep.)

Noboyuki: I was a little disappointed that everybody caught up. I thought we did a good job gaining the lead during that trip.

(Now rested up, the teams are all set to go. Yukari is chatting with Touya and Yukito, with Minamo watching the gate nearby.)

Yukari: Man, you should have seen what we went through. We had a guy that looked like he was about to kill us or even worse! But man, we showed him, right Nyamo?

Minamo: What?

Yukito: Sounds amazing. You're certainly brave to keep going after all that.

(Minamo blushes.)

Minamo: Well... I guess.

Yukari: Yeah, we're brave alright. Especially when we got stuck in the middle of nowhere. That was freaky.

Minamo: That was your fault! You got lost!

Yukito: Definitely brave to go through that!

Minamo: Thanks...

Touya: They're ready to start...

(Touya and Yukito join the other teams at the gate. Yukari looks at Minamo and smiles slyly.)

Yukari: You're so brave...

(Minamo snaps out of her funk.)

Minamo: What?

Yukari: Your little thing for Yukito. It's not going to happen! We're high school teachers. They're high school students. They are our sworn enemies! Now come on and let's kick some ass.

(Minamo shakes it off and heads to the gate.)

Yukari: She'll deny it forever, but I can tell Nyamo has a thing for Yukito.

Minamo: I guess. I just uh... he's very resilient and always has a smile on his face. I mean... yeah.

Yukari: Nyamo's thinks he's just a sexy, sexy bish.

Minamo: What does this have to do with the race anyway??!!

(All ten are amassed at the gate, waiting for it to open. All of a sudden, Yuuhi shows up.)

Noboyuki: Hey! You were back at the bridge!

Yuuhi: So?

May: There were only five carriages. How did you get back here so fast?

(Yuuhi blinks.)

Yuuhi: I'm a ninja.

May: Oh yeah...

Yuuhi: Just a word of warning- if anything jumps out at you, run away really fast.

Yukari: Come again?

(Yuuhi opens the gate. The ten slowly follow, until they see the route marker standing near a clearing about fifty yards away. The five teams make a mad dash. Jessie & Ayla and Touya & Yukito get there first, followed immediately by May & Max, Yukari & Minamo, and Noboyuki & Tenchi.)

Ayla: Detour.

Touya: Fight or Fox.

(Strong, smart, and kind of the silent type, Sasuke Uchiha takes a stroll through the Forest of Death. Eh, might as well- For those who are mainly familiar with Digimon, this one's Koji. Brother issues and all.)
Sasuke: A Detour is a choice between two missions, each with pros and cons. This time, it's a choice between Fight and Fox.

(Full body shot of Sakura Haruno in a clearing, with a small bell attached to her belt. Being a cute girl and one of the main characters and all, you'd probably think she's a lot tougher than she looks. She's not. For those who are mainly familiar with Digimon, this one's Zoe. Uselessness and all.)

Sasuke: (VO) In Fight, teams must pass a typical test given to genin-rank ninjas- the bell test. They must team up against Sakura and retrieve a bell on her belt in order to receive the next clue. Although Sakura is only a genin herself she'll be hard to catch unless teams execute a proper strategy, in which case they could finish very quickly.

(In a more foresty part of the forest is a series of clones of Naruto Uzumaki, standing silently. For those who are mainly familiar with Digimon, this one's Takuya. Goggles, association with the fire element, voice actress, and all.)

Sasuke: (VO) In Fox, teams will find Naruto and a large number of his shadow clones. Through careful observation, they must figure out which is the real one and place a marker on his forehead. If they guess right, they will receive their next clue. If they guess wrong, the clone disappears and they will have to go back for another marker.

(Touya and Yukito don't waste any time with the decision.)

Touya: I can take her...

Yukito: But she's a ninja.

Touya: I can still take her.

(Since Sakura is ready near a clearing, they walk up to her. In the meantime, Jessie and Ayla don't take long either.)

Ayla: Strength over quiet observation, I say.

Jessie: Yep. Not the first fight we've had this leg anyway.

(They also choose Fight, as do Yukari and Minamo. May & Max decide quickly to try the other one, leaving Noboyuki & Tenchi.)

Tenchi: Those three are all going after her. We'd be better off away from the melee.

Noboyuki: Something we have more control over, at least.

(They follow May and Max to Naruto's corner of the woods.)

(Meanwhile, Sakura sees Touya approaching, and quickly gears up in defense. Touya bows once, prompting Sakura to do the same.)

Touya: Enough of that...

(Touya charges and quickly extends a hand towards Sakura's belt. She grabs the hand, twists it around, and attempts to flip Touya over. Instead, Touya jumps up, and tries to kick her. She dodges, he lands, she punches him in the face. He is knocked back momentarily.)

Touya: Little monster...

(With that, the two skilled martial artists begin a remarkable fight that leave the other five would-be combatants watching from the sidelines.)

Jessie: What the?

Ayla: Jessie, let's get the bell.

Yukari: Hold on, I want to watch this!!

(Not only are they watching, but so is Sasuke, and he's just as shocked as they are.)

Sasuke: Are you kidding me?

Yukito: Surprised Touya's that good?

Sasuke: No, I'm surprised Sakura's that bad.

Yukari: Looks like she's kicking some ass to me.

(The fight continues...)


(The other five are giving Touya and Sakura their space, afraid to approach them to grab one of the bells off Sakura's belt.)

Jessie: (dry) With a little bit of ninja training, you can be this good too.

Yukari: Touya's a ninja??

Minamo: That would explain a lot, actually.

Yukito: Touya's not a ninja.

Yukari: How can he go at it with Sakura like that, then?

Yukito: Sister complex.

(Massive sweatdrop. Even Sasuke.)

Minamo: What kind of person has that kind of pent-up anger towards a sibling?

Sasuke: I do.

(Everybody looks at Sasuke.)

Sasuke: With good reason.

Ayla: And what reason is that?

(Sasuke looks at the group, then faces forward.)

Sasuke: I'm a ninja.

Minamo: Good reason.

(At the other venue, May & Max and Noboyuki & Tenchi have chosen separate routes through a maze of hundreds of Naruto's. It's not a pretty sight, since there haven't been so many foxes in one scene since Mole 2.)

Max: So which one is it?

May: I don't know.

(May calls out.)

May: Which one of you is real?!

(Despite the idiotic grin on all of their faces, they remain silent. Because they're ninjas.)

(Noboyuki and Tenchi don't know where to begin. They look around, not seeing anything to set one different than the others.)

Noboyuki: I know!

(Noboyuki leans in and whispers.)

Noboyuki: You know how a sneeze means people are talking about you behind your back?

Tenchi: What does that have to do with anything?

Noboyuki: Did you hear what Naruto did last week? I mean, it was like crazy. The kid did so much weird stuff...

(A Naruto in front of Noboyuki sneezes. Noboyuki dashes around and places a marker on the forehead. The clone vanishes into thin air. Several of the other clones sneeze as well.)

Tenchi: Great. Now we have to go back and get another one.

Noboyuki: How else are we supposed to do this?

(Sakura is tiring very quickly, but still keeping Touya away from the bell. She dodges all of his punches, but tires just long enough for Touya to grab her arm and throw her to the ground. Stunned, Sakura is helpless as Touya grabs her bell.)

Touya: Got it Yuki!

(Yukito, Minamo, and Ayla applaud. Yukari points at Sakura.)

Yukari: She's down! Get her bells!

(She, Minamo, Jessie, and Ayla charge after Sakura. Sakura is slow to get up, and can't guard herself as Ayla snatches a bell away. However, she quickly jumps in the air to avoid Minamo. Exasperated, she lands a few feet behind and waits for Yukari & Minamo's attack.)

(Meanwhile, Touya and Yukito approach Sasuke and exchange the bell for a clue.)
[TOUYA & YUKITO- Best Friends / Students- Currently in 1st Place]
Touya: Find the route marker outside Fight Stadium.

(Rapid shots to a large battle arena, with very large surrounding walls. It's used to host the local little league Shougai matches. Ahh... those were those the days. Instructor Kakashi Hatake explains.)
Kakashi: (VO) Teams must find Fight Stadium in town. The route marker is just outside the competitor's entrance.

(May and Max are still looking for Naruto. Max seems to know what he's looking for though, and is walking pretty quickly past a row of clones.)

May: First pigs, now foxes...

Max: We'll find him.

May: How? They all look alike?

Max: You can't feel it May? These all seem fake. Like they don't have a heart or something.

May: Hey, you're right. So we just need to find the one that feels like a real person.

(After some looking around, they come across one standing in with all the others.)

May: This one feels real.

Max: Yeah. I think so too.

(May puts a marker on Naruto's forehead. He frowns.)

Naruto: How'd you know it was me?

May: It is? Alright!

Max: Just felt right.

Naruto: Shoulda put more chakra into the clones, huh? Oh well...

(Naruto hands May a clue. She excitedly opens it.)
[MAY & MAX- Siblings- Currently in 3rd Place]
May: Find the route marker outside Fight Stadium.

(En route to Fight Stadium, Touya is starting to slow down. Yukito notices.)

Yukito: Tired?

Touya: A little... gotta keep going.

Yukito: Especially since Jessie and Ayla are starting to catch up!

(Touya turns around. Jessie and Ayla are indeed running behind them, and gaining ground quickly. Touya picks up his pace and he and Yukito continue running. Behind them, Jessie and Ayla notice.)

Jessie: Jeez, these guys never get tired, do they?

(Jessie and Ayla start to jog faster. Just enough to gain ground lightly.)

Ayla: Chasing after Touya and Yukito is difficult. On one hand, we really want to pass them, and we know that if we sprint we can do so. On the other hand, this leg is more than just running fast. It's about having the energy to finish, and we had to hold back a little to make sure we would.

(Sakura is giving Yukari and Minamo all they can handle. They go after the girl simultaneously, but she just dodges out of the way.)

Yukari: Jeez, I thought everyone says this girl sucks!

Minamo: We just suck more. You go first this time.

(Yukari attacks and Minamo waits on the sidelines, waiting for Sakura to make a move. She sees Sakura cheat to her side and quickly attacks. Sakura dodges Yukari easily, but doesn't see Minamo until it's too late. Minamo dives and is barely able to secure a bell.)

Yukari: There you go!

(Minamo smiles, nods, and they run off to show Sasuke.)

(Noboyuki and Tenchi are back looking for the real Naruto.)

Noboyuki: Do you have any ideas?

(Tenchi closes his eyes and starts walking around.)

Noboyuki: Tenchi? Tenchi?

Tenchi: Shh... I'm working on it.

(Tenchi heads off in some seemingly random direction. Noboyuki follows silently. Tenchi walks up to Naruto and opens his eyes. He points.)

Tenchi: Him.

(Noboyuki wordlessly puts a marker on his forehead. Naruto folds his arms.)

Naruto: What was that about?

Tenchi: Gut feeling.

(Noboyuki face faults as Naruto hands Tenchi the clue. Tenchi opens it.)
[NOBOYUKI & TENCHI- Father & Son- Currently in Last Place]
Tenchi: Find the route marker outside Fight Stadium.

Naruto: Ooh... have fun!

(Touya & Yukito maintain their lead as they approach Fight Stadium. Jessie & Ayla can be seen behind them, still gaining ground. Touya is really huffing.)

Yukito: I knew your sister complex was going to get you into trouble one day, I just didn't think it would be here.

Touya: Shut up...

(They see the outside of the stadium, which looks like the outside of any arena. The only thing unique is the route marker, which Yukito quickly retrieves. Touya sits down at a nearby bench, breathless.)

Yukito: Road Block. This person must be able to shoot for the top. Would you like me to take this one?

Touya: Yes, please.

Yukito: No problem then.

(Yukito opens the envelope as Jessie and Ayla arrive and head to the route marker.)

(Kakashi is walking through the stadium, where several rows of targets and circles are placed)
Kakashi: Each Road Block is a solo mission, and this time, one person must show proficiency with three basic ninja weapons- makibishi, the kunai, and shuriken.

(Shot of five paths, each with two lines about twenty yards apart, with a two-yard wide circle near one end.)

Kakashi: (VO) Makibishi are small spikes planted on the ground to thwart anyone in pursuit. To pass this stage, a person must take five makibishi, run past the marked line and throw the makibishi backwards so that they all land inside the circle.

(Behind that are tall, narrow posts ten yards away from the throwing line, where Kakashi stands with a knife. Behind the posts is a thick safety screen.)

Kakashi: The kunai is a throwing knife. This time, the person must throw the knife so that it lands and sticks on a post ten yards away.

(Behind that screen is a series of posts with human-sized dolls hanging on them. Each doll has seven red circles on them, each about five inches in diameter. There is one target on the forehead, two on the wrists, two on the shoulders, and two near the chest.)

Kakashi: (VO) With the throwing stars, or shuriken, a person must hit seven different targets from ten yards away. Once all seven are hit, the team will receive their clue.

(Yukito has a slim lead over Jessie as they approach the makibishi stage. That lead evaporates as they both read the clue very carefully to how it's done. Touya and Ayla are on the sidelines, Touya is still catching his breath.)

Ayla: What's wrong? Tired from fighting little girls?

Touya: I can take two more if you want.

(Both cheer on their teammates. Yukito quietly gears himself up. Jessie takes her makibishi and does the same.)

Jessie: (VO) The Road Block was exactly the opportunity we were waiting for. Just me versus Yukito. One on one. It was right there hanging over us, and I think the boys felt that too.

(Yukito starts running, followed by Jessie. As soon as Yukito plants a foot on the other side of the line, he tosses the makibishi back. All five land inside the circle. Yukito turns to judge Asuma Sarutobi, who raises a hand.)

Asuma: All clear!

(Jessie essentially mimics Yukito and does the same. She too manages to get the makibishi in a circle.)

Asuma: You too!

(Touya and Ayla cheer them on as Yukito and Jessie run up to tackle the next event.)

(Meanwhile, May and Max are in a fight of their own as Yukari and Minamo are catching up to them en route to Fight Stadium.)

Max: Oh no! Teachers!

(They are in a full sprint, but Yukari and Minamo are still able to surpass them. However, once they do, Minamo starts to slow down.)

Minamo: Yukari, hold up... tired.

(Yukari slows as well.)

May: Looks like they're tired, Max.

Max: Now's our chance!

Yukari: Crap!

(The four run head-to-head, as Yukari and Minamo are forced to push it to stay ahead of May and Max.)

Minamo: (VO) We just finished up a round with Sakura, and we have no idea where Noboyuki & Tenchi are. So we knew we had to stay ahead of May and Max, but running that distance at that pace was really exhausting.

(They manage to stay ahead of May and Max, but barely.)
[YUKARI & MINAMO- Best Friends / Teachers- 3rd at Road Block]
Minamo: Road Block. This person must shoot for the top.

Yukari: I'll do it!

Minamo: You sure?
Yukari: I've never been more sure of anything in my life.

Minamo: Up to you. If you have more energy than me...

May: Doesn't she always?

(Minamo is a bit startled as May and Max run up to claim their clue. Minamo hands the envelope to Yukari as May and Max claim theirs.)
[MAY & MAX- 4th at Road Block]
Max: Road Block. This person must shoot for the top.

May: Hmm... I don't know about this one.

(Yukari and Minamo take the chance to stay inside.)

Max: We're at a stadium. I don't think I'd be any good.

May: Well, it's not like you're the brains and I'm the brawn or anything.

Max: Then what are you?

May: Um... the person that will do this Road Block?

(Max hands her the envelope.)

Max: Good answer.

(After reading the clue, the two run into the stadium. They see the set-up. May immediately frowns.)

May: What did I get myself into?

Max: Just go for it May! I know you can do it!

May: I hope so...

(As May takes her makibishi, Yukari makes her first attack. She gets overzealous and releases before she steps over the line. Asuma shakes his head.)

Asuma: Foul. You have to step over the line before you can throw.

Yukari: Aw...

(May takes a deep breath, then runs down her path. She steps past the line and hurls the spikes backwards. She stops and looks around- all five spikes are well past the target, and some are even off the path. She turns around and picks four of them up, but can't find the fifth.)

May: Where's the other one?

(She kneels down and finds the fifth one when it pokes her in the kneecap.)

May: Ow!

(She rubs her knee, which starts to bleed slightly. She picks up the makibishi and walks back, wincing a little.)

May: Ow... this is going to be bad... I just know it.


(Yukari and May are getting ready to make their second attempts. May is still in a little bit of pain from the spike to the knee.)

Minamo: (concerned) May, are you alright?

May: Fine! Ow...

Max: Hang in there May!

(Yukari charges. This time, she waits until she definitively steps on the line before throwing. She successfully lands every spike.)

Asuma: That's more like it!

(Yukari claps, happy with herself. May sighs and prepares to make another run. She goes a little slower because of her knee. May crosses the line and lightly throws them back.)

Max: That's it!!

(May turns around. They have all landed.)

Asuma: Good job. Want me to clean that knee up quick?

May: Yes, please.

(May heads over to Asuma. He already has a kit out with some ointment.)

Max: Try not to take too long, May!

(Meanwhile, Yukito and Jessie are trying two very different approaches with the kunai. Yukito is being very careful, and takes a lot of time with each throw. Meanwhile, Jessie is more rapid-fire, taking minimal time to aim before releasing. Neither of the two have hit yet.)

Touya: Pick up the pace, Yuki!

Yukito: You can't rush this, Touya!

Touya: Jessie's about to prove you wrong!

(Jessie smirks a bit, but her next throw misses well to the right. She quickly goes back for another kunai.)

Yukito: (VO) I practice kyudo, which is very deliberate and slow. It's more about the form than actually hitting the target. So it was a little strange for me with the kunai, since it was the exact opposite- I had to hit the target as fast as I could.

(Jessie quickly gets another kunai. This time, she hits. Instructor Gai Maito gives her the thumbs up. He's cut from the same Tezuka-patterned cloth as Rock Lee.)

Gai: Perfect! Move on!

(Jessie pumps a fist excitedly and runs to the side. She high-fives Ayla as she moves on to the final stage. Meanwhile, Yukari is coming up from the other side.)

Touya: Yuki! Let's go!

(Yukito takes a cleansing breath, throws, and connects. He smiles as he wordlessly moves on.)

(Noboyuki & Tenchi finally make it to the stadium. Tenchi gets the clue.)
[NOBOYUKI & TENCHI- Father & Son- Last at Road Block]
Tenchi: Road Block. I'm doing it.

Noboyuki: Works for me.

Tenchi: Demonstrate proficiency with three ninja weapons... sounds like fun.

Noboyuki: Yeah.

(They rush in and see May leaving for the second stage, with a bandage around her leg. Tenchi heads up to the makibishi. After looking at the path for a little bit, he nods. Tenchi charges down, reaches the end, and throws. They land cleanly.)

Noboyuki: Way to go!

Tenchi: Thanks!

(They head to the next stage.)

(At the final stage, Jessie already has one of the targets hit as Yukito arrives. Yukito takes a look at the targets for a moment.)
[JESSIE- 1/7 Targets Hit, YUKITO- 0/7 Targets Hit]
(Jessie throws five shuriken consecutively. Only one of them hits a target. Yukito takes five shuriken from the nearby bin, takes a breath, and throws one. It hits. He takes another breath. It hits.)
[JESSIE- 2/7 Targets Hit, YUKITO- 2/7 Targets Hit]
Touya: Nice shot Yuki!

(Yukito smiles. Jessie takes a deep breath and fires another five in a row. This time two hit. Yukito throws three more. Only one hits.)
[JESSIE- 4/7 Targets Hit, YUKITO- 3/7 Targets Hit]
Ayla: Keep going, Jessie.

(Jessie and Yukito both go after more. Yukito smiles.)

Yukito: This is kind of intense, isn't it?

(Jessie has absolutely no response for that. Yukito heads to his line and quickly fires one. It hits. Jessie steps and fires five. All miss. She quickly goes back for more as Yukito fire two more. One hits.)
[JESSIE- 4/7 Targets Hit, YUKITO- 5/7 Targets Hit]
Jessie: Dammit!

(Yukito fires another one. It misses. Jessie throws another five, this time slowing her pace a little. She hits one, so she is forced to return for more. Yukito has two shuriken left. He throws one, which hits. Jessie quickly runs back up to the line, just as Yukito throws his final one. It hits. Kakashi raises an arm.)
[JESSIE- 5/7 Targets Hit, YUKITO- 7/7 Targets Hit]
Kakashi: You got it.

(Jessie is left stunned as Yukito runs up to Kakashi. Kakashi hands Yukito the clue as Touya joins them.)

Touya: Good work. Let's get out of here before we open it.

Yukito: Sure thing, Touya.

(Jessie is too shocked to throw for a few moments.)

Ayla: Jessie? Jessie?!

Jessie: I lost...

(Touya hands Yukito his bag as they race to the opposite entrance of the stadium. Once there, Yukito opens the clue.)
[TOUYA & YUKITO- Best Friends / Students- Currently in 1st Place]
Yukito: Run to the top of Hokage Tower, the Pit Stop for this leg of the race.

(Rapid shots through the town of Konoha to a large tower, with many marks to establish it as Hokage Tower. Inside, rapid shots to the roof, and a very sparse room.)
Arumi: (VO) Teams must travel on foot to Hokage Tower, ninja central of this neck of the woods and the tenth Pit Stop in the race. The last team to arrive here will be eliminated.

(Back in stage two, Yukari is not having much luck as May arrives and starts.)

Yukari: Damn... these kids are going to catch up.

Minamo: Yukari! Just slow down! Think! Aim! Whatever!

(Yukari aims briefly.)

Yukari: Okay... I'll do this your way!

(Yukari takes her time with a couple throws. Both fail. Fortunately, May is having just as much trouble and isn't putting any pressure on. However, now Tenchi is coming up to the kunai section.)

Minamo: Yukari! Just pretend the post is Mr. Kimura!!

(Yukari turns to Minamo and puts a hand on her hip.)

Yukari: Nyamo, that's a homocidal tendency and that's just wrong.

Minamo: Just do it!

(Yukari focuses for a second and throws a pair of kunai. One hits.)

Yukari: Alright! Hooray for homocidal tendencies!

(Yukari happily heads to section three. Meanwhile, May is clearly struggling. She hasn't hit anything remotely close to the kunai.)

May: I can't do this Max!

Max: Just keep trying! You'll hit it eventually.

(Meanwhile, Noboyuki is staying silent, letting Tenchi do his thing. Tenchi misses, but not by much.)

(Jessie is really taking her defeat personally. Ayla walks up to her.)

Ayla: Jessie. You need to finish.

Jessie: I know... I just can't believe that...

Ayla: I can't believe you're slowing down. You'll have another chance.

(Ayla helps Jessie up. Jessie calms herself down, even ignoring the storming Yukari.)

Jessie: Okay, here we go...

(Jessie throws a few shuriken and after some time is able to get the last two.)

Ayla: Good work.

(A little down, she gets the clue from Kakashi and she and Ayla run out. Meanwhile, Yukari is starting to struggle again, but stops for a moment and scrutinizes the target. Yukari takes a deep breath and throws four shuriken simultaneously. Two of them hit the shoulder targets. Minamo's eyes jolt open.)

Minamo: Holy moly...

(May and Tenchi are still throwing kunai, but Tenchi's are much closer to the post than May. May stumps off for awhile.)

May: This is really bugging me, Max. Why can't I do this?

Max: Just watch what Tenchi does. He's getting much closer.

(They watch Tenchi and see his form, throwing the kunai almost like a frisbee. He misses the target, but just so.)

May: Okay... I think I see...

(Tenchi throws again. It hits.)

Tenchi: Yeah!

(Tenchi runs past May and Max and around to the third stage.)

Max: Okay... I think we're in trouble.

(May stands up and throws a kunai, mirroring Tenchi's form. It sails well to the right, but she had a much better control on it. She continues to take a deep breath.)

May: I just have to relax and do this... no pressure...

(At the large Hokage Tower, Touya and Yukito don't waste a minute admiring the structure. Instead, they run up the stairs and to the top floor, where Arumi and Konoha's 3rd Hokage, Sarutobi, wait at the mat. On the nearby marker is a sign, with “NARUTO” written in large green letters and “KONOHA” written in small white letters. Touya and Yukito step on the mat.)

Hokage: Welcome to Konoha, the Hidden Leaf Village.

Arumi: Touya and Yukito?

(Touya and Yukito smile. Arumi does the same.)

Arumi: You're team number one.

Touya: Great job, Yuki.

Yukito: You too Touya.

(They hug briefly.)

Arumi: Nice leg for you two. Worst to first, huh?

Touya: We knew we would have to work a lot harder to keep pace with Jessie and Ayla. We really did that today. This was a great moment for us.

Arumi: Well, hope you can keep it up 'cause tomorrow's another story.

(Yukari and Tenchi are both shooting shuriken. Because Yukari got a good head start, she has a lead, but Tenchi hits another one.)
[YUKARI- 5/7 Targets Hit, TENCHI- 3/7 Targets Hit]
Minamo: Let's go, Yukari! Whatever worked with the kunai, work it here!

(Yukari nods, focuses again, and throws four shuriken simultaneously. Two hit the remaining targets. She raises her arms in victory and joins her partner to get the clue from Kakashi.)

Yukari: Run to the top of Hokage Tower, the Pit Stop for this leg of the race. The last team to arrive will be eliminated.

Minamo: Awesome job, Yukari.

(Minamo hands Yukari her bag and they head out.)

Minamo: So did you pretend that target was Mr. Kimura again?

Yukari: Nope. Someone else that always gets on my nerves.

Minamo: Ah.

(Yukari looks back.)

Yukari: (sotto) Too bad they didn't have pigtails as targets.

Minamo: What was that?

Yukari: Nothing!!

(Behind them, a little bit later, Jessie and Ayla check in, somewhat upset.)

Hokage: Welcome to Konoha, the Hidden Leaf Village.

Arumi: Jessie and Ayla? You're team number two.

Jessie: You know, that just doesn't seem good enough anymore.

Arumi: Why's that?

Ayla: We were beaten. Very fairly, very honestly.

Jessie: It was just my abilities against Yukito's and I lost. It's both the best way to lose and the worst way to lose. It stings right now.

(Tenchi continues with his shuriken, and with nobody else around, has aced most of the rest of the targets. He throws another one, which is on the borderline of his final target.)
[TENCHI- 6/7 Targets Hit]
Tenchi: Hey! Is this one good?

(Kakashi stands up and looks at the target. He removes his facemask and analyzes the target with his normally hidden eye. He smiles and replaces his mask.)

Kakashi: It's on. You're good.

Noboyuki: Nice shooting, Tench!

(Yukari and Minamo jump on the mat with no hassle.)

Arumi: Yukari and Minamo? You're team number three.

Minamo: We'll take it!

(They high-five.)

(May is getting much closer with the kunai.)

Max: You can do this May. There's no pressure anymore.

May: That's because we're going to get eliminated!

Max: Don't think about that! Just think about hitting that target!

(May throws and misses. A few tries later, she hits it.)

May: I got it? I got it!

Max: Alright!!

(May hugs Max excitedly.)

Max: Now you have the last stage!

(May slumps down.)

May: Oh man...

(They run to the shuriken stage. Nobody's there except Kakashi reading his dirty manga.)

Max: Yep... no pressure.

(Noboyuki and Tenchi step on the mat at Hokage Tower. Arumi fakes being serious again, but she's not fooling these two.)

Arumi: Noboyuki and Tenchi? You're team number four.

(Tenchi smiles and gets a pat on the shoulder from Noboyuki.)

Noboyuki: We're still hanging in there, aren't we?

Tenchi: By a thread, but we'll take it.

Arumi: Congratulations, guys.

(It takes some time for May to complete the shuriken task, but she does and she gets the clue from Kakashi. She and Max make the short walk of shame to Hokage Tower, where the 3rd Hokage and Arumi await.)

Hokage: Welcome to Hidden Leaf Village.

May: Hi Arumi, sorry to keep you waiting.

(Arumi smiles.)

Arumi: It's okay. May and Max?

(Arumi frowns, but May and Max already are well aware of what she's about to say.)

Arumi: You're the last team to arrive. You have both been eliminated from the race.

(Both are smiling. They nod in complete understanding.)

May: That's okay. We had a great time.

Max: We were here a lot longer than we expected to be, that's for sure.

May: Yeah. We came here for the experience of traveling to different places and seeing all the cool stuff there is to see. And we saw so much already, so we're not disappointed about this being over. I mean, look around- we're in this beautiful country and we're drowning in ninjas; how awesome is that?

(The Hokage laughs a little.)

Max: (VO) You never know what you're capable of until we're put to the test. And we were certainly tested here. I accomplished things that I never realized that I could do. And May was equally impressive with the way she held her head high the whole time.

May: Yeah, it was a little concerning at first, because Max is the youngest person in the race, and after Chiharu & Yamazaki left I was the second youngest. So the fact that we could go through all of that and still come out of it smiling says a lot.

Max: What amazes me the most is that I don't think we've ever gotten along this well. I mean, I've come to realize that May's pretty cool for an annoying big sister.

May: We saw everything we asked for, we met so many interesting people, and we both ended up coming closer together as a result. Was this fun? We could have been given half of what we had and it would have been fun. This whole experience was simply indescribable.

End of Episode Nine

Author's Notes
I've said this countless times, but I think it's really a telling sign in reality fanfiction- Naruto is now the only series I have ever used that has not been licensed for an American release, and that includes the next offering. Kodocha? Licensed. Azumanga Daioh? Already out on DVD. Jungle wa Itsumo Hare Nochi Guu? Believe it or not. Remember- Love Hina and InuYasha were just obscure fansubs when I started writing. What makes Naruto special is that it's already an immensely popular series, as any trip to a convention will indicate. While the manga is a big contributor, it still says quite a bit that an unlicensed series can make so much noise. Incidentally, the reason it's still unlicensed is because of the massive bidding war going between the various companies. Whoever wins has instant bank.

I originally was going to say that Hinata was the only cute bashful bluenette Chromus hadn't fallen for yet, but just because he hasn't used her in fanfic doesn't mean he doesn't love her. Of course, considering what went with Anna, being left out of his fanfics isn't the worst thing for her. While I tend to agree with Jessie's comparisons to Anna, Hinata's cute little crush on Naruto tends to lead people to compare her to a different bashful bluenette. That and her name's a dead giveaway.

Despite the fact that the series is named after one character, everyone in the country seems to get some of the spotlight at one point in the series (you can imagine all the angsty flashbacks). I managed to jam as many characters as I could in here, but I do apologize for any fans of the other four rookie genins from Konoha- Neji, TenTen, Chouji, and that creepy bug guy whose name I can't remember. I love TenTen to death but it would be hard to comically mismatch her with a team.

I may be the only one laughing at the whole “I'm a ninja” bits. That's a bit of a running gag in my anime club, as we discovered that any question anybody could possibly ask regarding the logistics of Naruto can be answered with “because he/she/it is a ninja.” I say “it” to cover all bases- Kiba's dog is technically a ninja. That covers everything from “How did he turn into seven kunai?” to “Why is she having an angsty flashback in the middle of a fight to the death?”

Sorry if I offend any Zoe fans, but let's face it- take Ranamon out of the picture and she doesn't do a damn thing the whole series. I'm also not worried about offending Sakura fans. They already know she's useless. Sakura even knows she's useless.

For those who came in late, Shougai is the name of the super-evil “battle to the death” reality series the AA concocted in Grim Reality. This features prominently in Naruto's chuunin exams, as a ninja version of Shougai is used to whittle down the applicants (after the Battle Royale themed game of capture the flag, that is.). The only major difference is that in Shougai, the characters didn't die because of a special machine. In Naruto, the characters don't die... because they're ninjas. See how this works?

Kyudo is the Japanese style archery Yukito and Mizuki-sensei practice right before the whole Last Judgement thing in CCS. The emphasis is more on appearance and form than actually hitting the target.

Next Time on The Anime-zing Race:
* The push for the finals increases tensions and leaves one team in heartbreak.
* The battle between Jessie & Ayla and Touya & Yukito continues, but through the odd channels of the leg's tasks.
* A strategic blunder by Noboyuki makes Tenchi question his father's commitment to winning fairly.