The Akatsuki serve as one of the biggest groups of villains in the Naruto universe. Their goal is to capture the tailed beasts, take control of them, and use them as weapons of war. However, each member has their own set of motivations that keep them going - Deidara lives to create explosive art, Hidan sets out to serve his god, Itachi wants to protect Konoha from the Akatsuki, and Obito wishes to restart the universe according to his manipulative ancestors' plan.
Whether it's their personal goals or those of an organization, every member of the Akatsuki takes part in multiple battles that are varying levels of epic. The best Akatsuki fights in Naruto Shippuden are showstoppers, and they show off the visual panache that makes Naruto such a beloved program. Among the top contenders are Sasuke's showdown with his older brother Itachi, Naruto taking down Pain, and Shikamaru's revenge on Hidan - but even less dramatic fights like Suigetsu's sword fight with his old mentor Kisame are still pretty riveting.
Naruto Vs. Pain
When Pain attacks Konoha, it takes the entire village to subdue him - but the one who ultimately takes him out is Naruto Uzumaki. After wreaking havoc on the village, Pain has nearly defeated Naruto - but Hinata unexpectedly jumps in to save his life, and admit her romantic feelings for Naruto as she does so. Though her attempts buy Naruto some time, Pain ends up stabbing Hinata in the chest. Crazed with grief, Naruto nearly releases the Kyuubi to take on Pain, but thanks to guidance from his father's spirit, he retains his humanity, enters sage mode, and defeats Pain with a combination of physical attacks and discussion.
Some people hate when Naruto does this - they call it Talk no Jutsu and feel like it gets in the way of the excitement. But others value these moments because it shows Naruto's incredible empathy. After overpowering Pain, he's able to talk to him about completing his mission to become the greatest Hokage in Konoha's history.
Sasuke Vs. Itachi
Sasuke's showdown with his older brother is possibly the most powerful scene in all of Naruto, battle or not. Sasuke has spent the entire series putting himself in horrifically dangerous situations to be ready to take on the brother who slaughtered their clan. Sasuke's utter hatred for Itachi contrasts with Itachi's overpowering love for Sasuke as they do their best to take each other down. They use every attack in their arsenal, including Sasuke's Kirin, which draws lightning out of the clouds. Coupled with Itachi's powerful genjutsu techniques, it becomes a real grudge match, an utterly epic showdown.
By the end of the fight, both of them are so exhausted that they can barely move. As they're on the ground struggling to survive, Itachi tries to connect with Sasuke one last time by poking him in the forehead - a symbol of his affection during their childhood. This scene is all the more impactful in retrospect after learning Itachi's true motivations for slaughtering his clan.
Kakashi Vs. Obito
Obito and Kakashi have a long and painful history, and they carry their unresolved feelings into their fight. The two decide to stop using genjutsu, and face each other head-on using only physical attacks. As they move through this gorgeously animated fight sequence that easily rivals anything else Naruto has to offer, they remember what it was like to fight each other as children.
This underscores how devastating it is that they're now on opposing sides of a war. It also highlights how much both of them have changed - Kakashi for the better, and Obito for the worse. The fighting is clean and uncomplicated, and it helps to reinforce the scene's emotional resonance.
Team Asuma And Team Kakashi Vs. Hidan And Kakuzu
After Asuma's death at the hands of the Akatsuki, his students are devastated and want revenge. Originally, they want to take on Hidan and Kakuzu without any assistance, but they end up accepting Kakashi's help. It isn't going to be easy - Hidan is functionally immortal, and Kakuzu has five hearts that he stole from other shinobi, all of which allow him to use different jutsu.
This fight showcases Shikamaru's incredible strategic mind - he decides to separate Kakuzu and Hidan, letting the rest of his squad handle Kakuzu while he takes on Hidan alone in the Nara forest. He covers him in explosive tags, buries him underground, and sets off the tags with Asuma's lighter. It's an incredibly chilling moment.
Meanwhile, the rest of Team Kakashi is tasked with taking down Kakuzu, which they accomplish through a series of impressive attacks, including the debut of Naruto's Rasenshuriken. The fight offers a combination of emotional catharsis and utterly impressive moments.