5 Anime characters who can outsmart Shikamaru from Naruto (and 5 who don't stand a chance)

Shikamaru from Naruto is a genius (Image via Studio Pierrot and Sunrise Studio)
Shikamaru from Naruto is a genius (Image via Studio Pierrot and Sunrise Studio)

Not every anime character is endowed with incredibly superior intellect and reasoning skills, and Shikamaru Nara from Naruto is one of the few exceptions. Although he might hide these qualities under his laziness and lack of effort, his intelligence and composure have saved his teammates and the village of Konoha countless times.

However, the world of anime has several characters with mind-bending capabilities when it comes to intellect like Lelouch Vi Britannia from the Code Geass series. Shikamaru went through significant character development shortly after Asuma's death and he became a really mature, calm and dependable shinobi.

Beating Shikamaru when it comes to wits is difficult but not impossible for a few anime characters and this article lists five of them followed by five other characters who don't even stand a chance.

Disclaimer: This article reflects the opinions of the writer and the information is based on fan-based polls.


Kiyotaka Ayanokoji from Classroom Of The Elite and 4 Anime characters with superior intellect than Shikamaru from Naruto

1) Kiyotaka Ayanokoji from Classroom Of The Elite

Kiyotaka Ayanokoji from Classroom Of The Elite (Image via Lerche Studios)
Kiyotaka Ayanokoji from Classroom Of The Elite (Image via Lerche Studios)

Akin to Shikamaru's aloof tendencies, Kiyotaka Ayanokoji is an incredibly intelligent student. He maintains an average grade on purpose and is quite adept at reading people's emotions. While he has been socially awkward throughout the series, this is for the sole purpose of maintaining his anonymity. However, Shikamaru's battle IQ doesn't compare to him.

His utter disregard for everything might have stemmed from his complicated past, but recently he's been showing a lot more emotion and seldom socializes with his peers. Winning is everything to him simply because that is how he was brought up and he holds the caliber of someone enrolling in a dream school just to get the freedom he deserves.


2) Senku Ishigami from Dr.Stone

Senku Ishigami from Dr Stone (Image via TMS Entertainment)
Senku Ishigami from Dr Stone (Image via TMS Entertainment)

Unlike Shikamaru, Senku may come off as an egotistical individual as he holds great pride in his knowledge of science. However, he never belittles people based on their intellect and people are automatically attracted to his smart and charismatic personality.

Senku is a stern believer in science and approaches every situation with a logical mindset. Having a selfless nature with a fine moral compass helps him use his abilities and knowledge for the betterment of those around him. He might not have much physical prowess but he follows his own rules of never giving up.


3) Light Yagami from Death Note

Light Yagami from Death Note (Image via Madhouse Studios)
Light Yagami from Death Note (Image via Madhouse Studios)

Light is the mastermind of this critically acclaimed anime and his wits know little bounds. He crafts unique and out-of-the-box plans to prevent the law from catching him. He continues to believe that a godlike power was bestowed upon him, so he develops a god-like complex.

The Death Note affects Light's psyche a lot and his sense of morality and justice grows rusty as he becomes overconfident in his abilities. He matched L Lawliet's extreme intellect by crafting schemes of his own to defend his identity,


4) Lelouch Vi Britannia from the Code Geass series

Lelouch is probably one of the most sophisticated anime characters out of the names on this list. Hailing from an aristocratic family, Lelouch is known to be proud of his incredible intellect and has a disregard for things that seem trivial to him like high school. To fans, he seems like a firm believer in Stoicism due to his collected nature, which can also be said about Shikamaru in Naruto's final arc.

However, he remains unfazed amidst the chaos of the battlefields and doesn't let his emotions get in the way of making tough decisions. He is at peace with sacrificing soldiers and civilians alike if it means victory for his side. Contrary to his harsh demeanor on the battlefield, his care and compassion for the people he loves have been shown in the anime once in a blue moon.


5) L Lawliet from Death Note

L Lawliet from Death Note (Image via Madhouse Studios)
L Lawliet from Death Note (Image via Madhouse Studios)

Death Note deals with a lot of intense battles of wit and sometimes baffles indulgers with its unique storytelling and characters. L Lawliet is one such character who appears to be weird and unsettling at the beginning of the series. However, his grasp over criminology combined with his skilful intellect gave him the upper hand against an opponent like Kira.

Fighting a battle where the enemy can be anyone is unfair, but L gives his best to find Kira's real identity. His plans were immaculate and Shikamaru probably wouldn't have too much of a chance against L when it comes to intellect.


Johan Liebert from Monster and 4 Anime characters who don't stand a chance at outsmarting Shikamaru

1) Johan Liebert from Monster

Johan has been a master of manipulation ever since he was a mere child and his charisma affects people on a psychological level, in the gruesome anime called Monster. However, Shikamaru's status as a problem solver and quick thinker can't be challenged by the likes of Johan.

While Johan could be the Hannibal Lecter of anime, his absence of a moral compass and evil mentality will always be overpowered by Shikamaru's intellect and sense of justice.


2) Yumeko Jabami from Kakegurui

Yumeko Jabami from Kakegurui (Image via Lerche Studios)
Yumeko Jabami from Kakegurui (Image via Lerche Studios)

Yumeko's story stems from her talent for gambling and her abilities have been put to good use at Hyakkaou Private Academy. The anime features intense situations which require exceptional intellect to overcome, but here is why Jabami falls behind. As a gambler, the chances of defeat are always persistent and losing is acceptable to Jabami due to this very reason.

Thus, the drive to win no matter what is absent from Jabami's arsenal and Shikamaru would surely take advantage of Jabami's weakness when it comes to a clash of intellect.


3) Orochimaru from Naruto

Orochimaru from Naruto (Image via Studio Pierrot)
Orochimaru from Naruto (Image via Studio Pierrot)

Orochimaru's reputation as a genius has never been questioned long after he betrayed the village of Konoha, but it's a shame that all of his plans seem to fail. However, he tries to stay one step ahead of everyone in an anime where twists and turns are quite common.

Orochimaru singlehandedly carried out several experiments to live an immortal and powerful lifestyle and would have been successful in his plans if not for the protagonist's involvement in his progress. However, in a battle of wits, Shikamaru takes the lead here as his plans to overcome any situation were trustworthy and dependable.


4) Saitama from One Punch Man

Saitama from One Punch Man (Image via Madhouse Studios)
Saitama from One Punch Man (Image via Madhouse Studios)

Saitama's capabilities in combat know no bounds. Every villain in the One Punch Man universe up till this point could not push Saitama to his best at this point in the story. However, it's a completely different story when it comes to wits as Saitama is definitely not on the list of the smartest characters in anime.

Under his massive physical prowess, Saitama is a regular and goofy individual who can never expect to win a fight of mental strength against the likes of Shikamaru. Saitama's addition to this list is quite ironic as even though extremely powerful villains fall prey to his powers, his personality cannot handle Shikamaru's intellect. Finally, a battle he "may" not win with punches.


5) Askeladd from Vinland Saga

Askeladd (Image via Wit Studio)
Askeladd (Image via Wit Studio)

Vinland Saga is an anime that thrives on emotional storytelling and features several political and chaotic situations which may affect one's moral compass. However, Askeladd is a sly and manipulative warrior who outsmarted several capable individuals like Thors using his sheer cunning and disregard for morals and justice.

His lack of honor and loads of charisma made him a successful Viking band leader, but that ended quickly when Thorkell's men massacred the frustrated Vikings under Askeladd's command. Shikamaru will do his absolute best to take good care of teammates while Askeladd hates the crew who look up to him as their leader.


Final Thoughts

Shikamaru is undoubtedly a tough competitor when it comes to intellect, but he is definitely not unbeatable. He inherited his wits from his late father, Shikaku Nara, and now his son exhibits tendencies which are gravely closer to his father's.

Outsmarting one of the smartest ninjas in Konoha would be quite difficult if anime characters like Light Yagami never existed. Fans love to see battles which include psychological warfare, as the sheer excitement in them can sometimes overpower hyped-up physical battles in anime.