Tuesday’s Top 5: Smart Anime Characters

Tuesday's Top 5

Before getting into this list, I will point out that one of the most annoying things in stories than an anime character who the audience is told is smart who then acts like a complete air-head for the entire run-time. I get that some characters are smart in one specific skill and therefore have issues at other things, but some supposedly smart characters just act really dumb. Therefore, my list is focusing on consistency. Characters who are smart and who consistently seem to think through their actions, even if they don’t always draw the right conclusions.

That said, I’d love to know who you would have included on your list of smart anime characters so please leave a comment below.

Please note, there will be spoilers below.

Honourable Mentions: Light (Death Note), Uruhara (Bleach), and Ami (Sailor Moon).

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Number 5: Lelouch (Code Geass)


Realistically I understand the Lelouch made a lot of mistakes. Still, given he was a high school student who was presented with a sudden opportunity to take what he wanted, he actually thought through quite a few things and had a lot more success than he might have if he wasn’t such a quick thinker. Ultimately, for all the mistakes Lelouch made, he found a way back and some of his plans were pretty brilliant. Probably Lelouch’s biggest problem early on was over-confidence but after the end of season 1 he seemed to overcome that and from then on he was pretty good at what he was doing.

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Number 4: Rei (March Comes in Like a Lion)


Rei is a genius Shogi player. He doesn’t get much about life and what he does get, he overthinks horribly, but considering his age and experience, the boy is pretty smart. Even though he puts himself down all the time and, particularly in season one, he paints himself in a negative light, he’s someone who is managing to live on his own, study his craft, and attempt to finish school mostly on his own. He’s one smart cookie and one who deserves to give himself a bit of praise every now and then for what he has achieved and he shouldn’t worry so much about his failures.

Number 3: Kurisu (Steins;Gate)

Steins - Microphone

I had a hard time deciding between Okabe and Kurisu, but ultimately Kurisu is the more logical and the one more likely to put the hard work in to figure out what makes things tick. Okabe’s more manic approach may stumble upon a success every now and again, but Kurisu is the one who can begin to understand the how and the why and the limitations. Almost all of the adaptations to the phone-microwave as the series went on were because of Kurisu’s testing and meticulous work and so she well and truly deserves her place on this list. That and she managed to not kill Okabe for calling her Christina.

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Number 2: Tatsuya Shiba (The Irregular at Magic High School)


For someone who can’t perform well on the standardised tests of his world, Tatsuya Shiba more than makes up for it everywhere else. Brilliant at magical theory, manipulating magical devices, and generally figuring out ways around his limitations, he’s more or less unstoppable (which would kind of be why so many people throw the overpowered label at him). Be that as it may, he’s a very smart character and one I would not want to be up against in any battle of wits – though that’s probably true of every character on this list.

Number 1: Korosensei (Assassination Classroom)


For all that he ended up an experiment that went a bit wrong, Korosensei proves over and over again that he knows his stuff as a teacher. He delivers the curriculum across a range of subjects and also expands the students’ knowledge into a whole range of fields.  If it wasn’t for the whole blow up the world thing, he’d be the perfect teacher and he certainly deserves his place as number one on my list.

And that’s my list but I’d love to know what would make your list.

Thanks for reading.

Karandi James


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28 thoughts on “Tuesday’s Top 5: Smart Anime Characters

  1. Hm…
    I have to say that Irregular has one of my least favorite supporting casts. I understand, in theory, what you mean about a colorful cast.
    In practice, I don’t feel like Tatsuya’s classmates add anything in terms of conflict. They don’t conflict directly with him or his sister in a meaningful way, so they seem unimportant to the narrative. Also, it’s super annoying when I watch them fight, and I think to myself, why isn’t Tatsuya just doing the whole thing?
    The only colorful characters are his sister and the red guy- because they have a bit of conflict with Tatsuya in their motivations.
    He has no engaging competition. He has no engaging interpersonal relationships. And he has no engaging conflicts. Therefore, he is one of the most boring characters I’ve seen- no matter how cool his powers are.
    I think Aikawa Jun was Tatsuya done better. Smarter and stronger than everyone else- direct competition with her is just dumb! But that doesn’t mean that people can’t be in conflict with her! (I can’t explain fully b/c spoilers for third novel.)
    She brings out a different side of the characters she interacts with. Her overbearing strength, intelligence, and will are too much! Her relationships with even people on her side reflect the deep impact that she should naturally have on them.
    The cast of Irregular seem even worse b/c they’re too dumb to notice how freakin’ weird Tatsuya’s personality is. Tatsuya’s intelligence is in a world full of idiots… so it has no impact on me.
    So, for me, the cast makes Tatsuya worse!

  2. Irregular at a magic high school…
    Isn’t having a Mary Sue a cheat?
    If he’s allowed, then Aikawa Jun from Zaregoto should be fine for my favorite suggestion?
    She’s a totally overpowered character who embodies strength in every way- including intelligence- and still has enough fun and vigor to make her a loveable character! (Literally created to subvert the dispassionate Mary Sue)

    1. I don’t much like the Mary Sue label in the first place. Tatsuya is overpowered by any definition, but I quite like him as a character. Admittedly, if he was a one man show he would get a bit dull, but they manage to put another energy in the support cast around him to make it work. And his intelligence is the main point repeated over and over rather than any other strength (at least until the end), so I felt it fitting he be added to the list.

  3. I’m surprised Light only made it as an honorable mention. Although he’s not one of my favorites either, so I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise?

    1. Light might be smart but he ultimately gives in to ego and fails to achieve his goals due to totally preventable mistakes if he’d just kept that close attention to detail from earlier in the series. Light from the first ten episodes definitely deserves a spot on the list. Light by the end of the series does not.

    1. Probably a lot of FMA characters who could place on a list like this: Hughes, for instance, started figuring out what was going on before anyone else, and was only taken out because of emotional manipulation; he was never outsmarted.

    2. My issue with Edward is as smart as he is, he does some really stupid things some times. It kind of drives me crazy that he can be so smart and yet so dumb sometimes in the same scene and yet it is all part of his charm as a character.

  4. Cool list even though I’m not familiar with most of those anime series. Some of my honorable mentions for intelligent protagonists would be…

    Yugo Beppu from Yugo the Negotiator
    Isumi from Hikaru no Go
    Shizuka from Sailor Victory (funny enough, she has the same Japanese VA as Ami Mizuno/Sailor Mercury)
    Ido from ID-0
    Nemu from Haibane Renmei

    1. I find it amazing that Isumi would be anyone’s choice! Sadly, I can’t seem to remember much about him. What is it about him that stands out to you?

      1. Isumi is an atypical smart character in my eyes. There’s certainly the age factor since he’s the “big brother” of the Insei test arc with all the candidates. He also acts more mature than the other Insei prospects even when he makes some mistakes like the part where he misplaces a stone when he was up against Hikaru. It takes a lot of wisdom and self-control to do what he did after acknowledging his flaw.

    2. Thanks for sharing for your list. I’m kind of not familiar with most of the ones on your list but there are so many great smart anime characters out there.

      1. No problem. I feel like so many people aren’t familiar with the anime I’ve watched, but at the same time, I’m not familiar with that much of the newer stuff. That is true about there being plenty of smart anime characters.

  5. L too from Death Note. Katsuragi who was super smart at dating sims. I always thought that his form of genius was funny and I was a bit jealous of his skill.

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