The 20 Smartest Anime Characters Who Are Simply Genius, Ranked

Genius anime characters often become fan favorites as they impress us with their brilliance. Here are my favorites of all time.
The 20 Smartest Anime Characters Who Are Simply Genius, Ranked

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Anime series—particularly shonen anime—often feature "all brawn, no brain" characters who are incredibly strong but excessively stupid. They pretty much only know how to fight.

Those characters are often contrasted with other characters who are unreasonably smart or clever, who are there to save the day when brute force can't solve the issues at hand.

Genius characters in anime often stand out for their insane plays and crafty strategies that always go according to plan. Yet, when done well, these characters usually have fatal flaws that balance things out.

From main characters to side characters to one-off characters, anime is home to some of the smartest characters in fiction. Here are my picks for the best genius characters in anime!

20. Saiko Intelli (My Hero Academia)

Most people wouldn't care for a cup of tea when they're out on the battlefield, but for Saiko Intelli, it's the trigger that activates her Quirk called IQ, which boosts her intelligence after taking a sip.

When her intelligence is boosted, she can formulate complex strategies to defeat her opponents, to the point that she almost defeats Momo Yaoyorozu and her team during their battle. However, her plans can still be flawed and her Quirk still has weaknesses.

Though not as smart as the rest of the characters on this list, she's still brilliant and worthy of a spot of recognition.

19. Yukio Okumura (Blue Exorcist)

Yukio Okumura is one of the twin sons of Satan in the series Blue Exorcist. Despite being pretty young like his brother Rin, he's already a professor at the cram school of True Cross Academy and a skilled exorcist of the True Cross Order.

Unlike other exorcists of his age, Yukio possesses great skills and knowledge that he uses to exorcise the demons infesting the human realm. However, he hides his true self whenever they're out in public, maintaining a "good boy" facade in front of ordinary people.

18. Nami (One Piece)

The Straw Hat Pirates of One Piece are a crew comprised of smart individuals (well, with a few exceptions), including a doctor, an archaeologist, an inventor, and a shipwright.

But the most notable member whose expertise is essential for pretty much every single one of their adventures? Their navigator, Nami.

By reading the weather, the currents, and the skies, Nami can predict what's going to happen at sea and plan their routes accordingly, even to the point of escaping through violent waves and whirlpools.

17. Meteora (Re:Creators)

Before she was brought to and manifested in the real world, Meteora was just an NPC in a game. More specifically, she was a librarian.

Meteora is able to quickly adapt to the world she's in because she's already extremely knowledgeable to start with, and a lot of that is due to the role she had in that game.

She has the stereotypical traits of a critical thinker: cold, silent, and stoic. However, she uses the information she gathers and analyzes it for the good of others, becoming the tactician of the group against Altair.

16. L (Death Note)

L is the infamous detective from Death Note who's in charge of the Kira Case and tasked with figuring out the identity of the mastermind behind the mysterious deaths occurring around Japan.

Even with just his first move, he makes great progress. He's able to deduce that Kira is located in Japan and that his mysterious killings aren't random. There's reason to it all.

With these clues at hand, he follows logical progressions—along with a few tricks up his sleeve—that lead him toward identifying Kira. Little does he know that Kira has been beside him all along.

15. Armin Arlert (Attack on Titan)

Armin Arlert of Attack on Titan is a core member of the Scout Regiment alongside Eren, Mikasa, and the rest. He's a critical thinker at heart, who ends up growing into the squad's tactician.

With his logical deductions and clever ruses, he helps his comrades identify, trap, and reveal the traitors in their midst.

But he isn't just smart; he's exceptionally brave! Armin is willing to stand by his ideals, and he was even ready to give up his life as he stood by his best friend Eren with cannons and blades pointed their way.

14. Shikamaru Nara (Naruto)

From a very young age, Naruto's Shikamaru Nara was already showcasing his near-superhuman ability as a strategist and tactician. This is what makes him a valuable asset to any team he's a part of.

Despite his genius, Shikamaru might just be the laziest guy in the entire series. Everything is an inconvenience to him, and he rarely has the motivation to put his exceptional mind to good use.

Only in the most dire of situations will he step up, like the time his team was without a leader and he helped lead everyone to success in accomplishing their mission (in his own stylish way).

13. Bookman (D.Gray-Man)

Bookman comes from a clan that holds the duty to record things: historical events, wars and battles, and even the most secret of meetings. His clan is neutral when it comes to conflict and only acts as observers, all in the pursuit of eliminating bias from their records.

The current Bookman knows more intel about all sides of the war than anyone else, as he was formerly allied to the Noah Family (to gather true information from that side) and now to the Black Order.

With the long history of facts that's recorded in his mind, he has a vast amount of knowledge about pretty much everything. It makes him both impressive and frightening in a way.

12. Shinichi Kudo (Case Closed)

Shinichi Kudo is a famous high school detective who was turned into a child by the Black Organization. Now, as Conan Edogawa, he solves cases that even the grown-ups have a hard time figuring out.

With the help of Professor Agasa's inventions—including a voice-changing bow tie and a tranquilizer watch—he's able to solve the toughest cases without revealing his true identity.

Though he's extraordinarily smart, he does have a weakness: Shinichi Kudo is tone-deaf and that carries forward to his Conan Edogawa form, which nearly gives away his identity at times.

11. Meruem (Hunter X Hunter)

Meruem is the king of his Chimera Ant colony in Hunter X Hunter. Even when he was only a few days old, he exhibited intelligence far greater than any full-grown human being (most likely because his mother's diet consisted of humans).

To prove that he's actually smart and not just an all-powerful being who relies on brute strength alone, he went up against board game champions after only reading the rulebooks and ended up surpassing their many years of playing experience.

10. Ray (The Promised Neverland)

With his hyperthymesia—the ability to spontaneously recall events and dates—Ray of The Promised Neverland is able to remember details from when he was still a baby (even before he was born).

With this gift, he's able to discern the truth of the Grace Field House and the fact that they're going to be fed to demons.

As one of the highest quality products of the Grace Field House, Ray has a high intellect, as shown by his top grades and his ability to accurately point out a text in a book and even its location on the shelves.

9. Norman (The Promised Neverland)

Like the aforementioned Ray, Norman is another high-quality product of the Grace Field House of The Promised Neverland, having a well-developed brain and massive intellect.

While Norman wasn't part of the escape plan—he was already shipped out by then—everything worked out well for the rest of the kids thanks to his brilliant planning and his relaying of those plans to Emma and the others (who executed it perfectly).

8. Senku Ishigami (Dr. Stone)

In Dr. Stone, Senku Ishigami is humanity's last hope as he's the one who holds the knowledge of how to revive the people who were petrified and how to bring back the lost technologies of yore.

Thanks to his interest in science from a young age, he accumulated and stored all kinds of facts and figures that end up coming in handy when the fallen world needs to be restored.

Little by little, he starts to build equipment that was vital for human civilization, like sulfa drugs, magnets, glass, and even the first phone. But even though he has the knowledge, he lacks the strength to gather and build these things, so he also relies on his team.

7. Sora and Shiro (No Game Life)

Sora and Shiro are stepsiblings, but I'm listing them together because they're popularly known as a single entity named "Blank."

We don't see them save the world with superpowers, but their great minds help them survive their new world where almost everything is solved by game fights.

What makes this duo a fantastic bundle is that while Shiro is a master of calculations and logic, Sora possesses great skills in deception, analysis, tactics, and strategies. When separated, they're vulnerable; together, they're unstoppable.

6. Dr. Vegapunk (One Piece)

The character of Dr. Vegapunk has always been one of the many mysteries of the One Piece anime series, intriguing viewers since the earliest arcs. His name was teased several times in the story and he was claimed to be the World Government's brightest mind.

Spoiler warning!

What makes Dr. Vegapunk unusually smarter than even the smartest minds is his Nomi Nomi no Mi Devil Fruit, which allows the user's brain to accurately store an indefinite amount of information.

Equipped with this expansive knowledge, he's able to create all kinds of advanced weaponry for the World Government and the Marines, including the human weapon Bartholomew Kuma (and later the Pacifistas which were modeled after him).

5. William James Moriarty (Moriarty the Patriot)

Unlike the "no brain, all brawn" protagonists common in shonen anime, anti-heroes are starkly different. Many anti-hero characters are smart in terrifying ways, able to turn the tides of battle with well-timed trump cards, unbound by black-and-white morality.

William James Moriarty is a great example of this. Even from a young age, he was able to orchestrate perfect crimes using nothing but critical thinking and flawless planning.

Now, he's using his intellect, connections, resources, abilities, and dark acts to change the unjust society he lives in.

4. Sherlock Holmes (Moriarty the Patriot)

Since we have William James Moriarty on this list, it only makes sense to include Sherlock Holmes, too!

Sherlock Holmes is a detective of the highest caliber, the unbeatable rival to Moriarty's genius, and a very special piece that's needed by Moriarty to accomplish his good-yet-evil master plans.

Like William James Moriarty, Sherlock Holmes is an incredibly sharp individual who's able to decode every piece of evidence at hand and quickly formulate the strategies needed for his next move.

3. Light Yagami (Death Note)

We've already talked about L, the incredibly smart but quirky detective who manages to trap Kira with his first move. But when it comes to Death Note, Light Yagami is far smarter—to the degree that he ends up being too manipulative for his own good.

With his carefully planned strategies, he's able to escape and avoid suspicion from other people (including L) and he manages to go on with his goal of cleansing the world with the power of his Death Note.

2. Ranpo Edogawa (Bungo Stray Dogs)

Ranpo Edogawa is a member of the Armed Detective Agency. Unlike other members, he's not Gifted—but he believes he is, and he even named his ability "Super Deduction."

His ability is proven when Dazai tries to nullify Ranpo's ability during an instance where Ranpo finally "activates" his Gift.

In the end, Super Deduction isn't a supernatural ability that allows him to solve cases. He's simply so smart that he's able to deduce cases and discover pieces of evidence using only his intellect and fast thinking.

1. Bulma (Dragon Ball)

Bulma stands out as the smartest individual in the Dragon Ball series. Not only did she create a spaceship for traveling to distant planets, but she also built a vehicle that defies the laws of nature: a time machine that allows traversal across timelines.

In the Dragon Ball franchise, traveling through time may be ordinary for certain godlike figures—Beerus and Whis come to mind—but for ordinary humans, this is a world-changing feat.

In the Dragon Ball GT series, she also uses her genius to replicate a device that allows Vegeta to turn into his Great Ape form (essential to his Super Saiyan 4 transformation).