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The 20 Smartest Anime Characters Of All Time, Ranked


It is easy for someone new to anime to assume that it’s filled with nothing more than constant battles. So much of the lore surrounding anime is related to the action-shonen genre that it is understandable for newcomers to believe that. However, there are many more thought-provoking anime with some of the most intelligent characters in the genre.


RELATED: 10 Anime Characters Who Are Always One Step Ahead

Many anime delve into the psychology of the human mind, as well as some deep scientific themes that challenge viewers. The smartest characters often provide much-needed logic to both their peers and audiences alike. While there are many intelligent characters, these are some of the smartest.

Updated on November 22, 2022, by Alexandra Locke: Intelligent anime characters have been staples in the genre for years. Many of them regularly share or display their knowledge to others, while other characters tend to hide their smarts from their peers. This list has been updated to add even more of the smartest characters found in anime.

20/20 Vash the Stampede Hides In Plain Sight

Trigun

Vash the Stampede is just as intelligent as he is lucky. Viewers know from the first episode of Trigun exactly who Vash is. If it were not for Vash’s ability to think on his feet, his identity would have been outed immediately, and audiences would have gotten no second episode.

Vash is a master at manipulating his character, generally projecting an energy that could not possibly belong to such a notorious criminal. It takes a powerful brain to effectively manipulate everyone, making Vash among the smartest characters.

19/20 Ray Remembers Everything With His Photographic Memory

The Promised Neverland

Ray Is Smug In Promised Neverland Anime

Unlike most people, Ray never lost the memories he had when he was an infant. Because of this, he knows that the orphanage he lives in is actually a farm where demons use to raise children before eating them.

Ray dedicates his entire life to rescuing his closest friends from Grace Field House during The Promised Neverland, planning his every move for years and figuring out how to escape. Without him, all the children he called his family would have suffered a tragic fate.

18/20 Winry Rockbell Is A Mechanical Genius

Fullmetal Alchemist

Winry Rockbell smirking in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood.

Working-class crafters often go overlooked for their ability to put together complex parts into a fully functional whole. Winry Rockbell of Fullmetal Alchemist fame is a next-level craftsperson whose mechanical knowledge is astronomical.

Winry knows everything about automail, as evidenced by her understanding of Ed’s arm when the two first reconnect. When it comes to gear and the people who wear them on their bodies, there are not many engineers who can take care of people better than Winry.

17/20 Bulma Brief Has Shown Her Genius Over The Decades

Dragon Ball

Bulma with hands up from Dragon Ball.

Bulma is one of the most iconic smart people in the history of anime. She held the title long before the anime boom. Since her introduction to Dragon Ball, Bulma has always come through with a new invention that conveniently helps the situation.

RELATED: 10 Times Bulma Was The Smartest Dragon Ball Character

For instance, she created the Dragon Radar and helped perfect time travel. In the case of the now non-canon Blutz Wave Ray, she has sometimes more hurt than helped. However, her genius still shines through, even when working for the bad guys.

16/20 Conan Edogawa Solves Mysteries No One Else Can

Detective Conan

Conan Edogawa Smiling from Detective Conan.

Even though the protagonist of the Detective Conan series looks like a kid, he’s actually a master detective. He has the deductive powers and skills of an adult detective because he was turned into a kid after being force-fed an experimental drug.

His youthful appearance does not mean that he only solves childish mysteries. Conan solves high-profile mysteries like other adult detectives. However, to maintain his cover, he takes advantage of his condition and pretends to just be a normal kid.

15/20 Karma Akabane Wants Everyone To Know He’s Superior

Assassination Classroom

Karma In Assassination Classroom

Karma Akabane is a sharp-witted student of Class 3-E in Assassination Classroom. When he actually bothers to sit for his tests, he regularly tops the entire grade, and he fights to become the number one student.

Additionally, Karma is a brilliant observer who preys upon people’s weaknesses to get what he wants. This makes him one of the best assassins in the class, coming in second only to Nagisa Shiota. Karma is a driven and intelligent individual who would do whatever it took to prove he is the best.

14/20 Ami Mizuno Is One Of The Smartest Students In Japan

Sailor Moon

Ami Mizuno wearing Computer Glasses from sailor Moon

Ami Mizuno is the smartest member of the Sailor Scouts in Sailor Moon. She is nationally ranked for her school test scores, and her intellect regularly helps the Scouts in making critical discoveries. Plus, her analytical skills are beyond compare.

Ami is also an excellent strategist who can accurately analyze and dissect enemies’ movements and fighting styles during battle. Her intelligence gives the Scouts the upper hand in many fights and helps them overcome galactic evils.

13/20 Armin Arlert Always Has A Plan

Attack On Titan

Armin attack on titan

While he is not as physically strong as his comrades, Armin Arlert is the smartest character in Attack on Titan. Rarely does he not have a plan whenever the Survey Corps is on a mission, and his friends often look at him as their leader.

If it were not for Armin, the identity of the Female Titan would never have been revealed, nor would the Survey Corps have been able to defeat her. Armin’s intelligence is so great, that it becomes the deciding factor in saving humanity later in the show.

12/20 Tenya Iida Is A Resourceful Hero Hindered By Self-Doubt

My Hero Academia

Tenya Iida angrily trying to get people to evacuate the school safely in My Hero Academia.

Where other anime characters are great at improvising when things go wrong, My Hero Academia’s Tenya Iida is a master at planning, so he will never have to. Taking into account his age, he is an incredibly resourceful hero hindered only by his self-doubt.

With more confidence, his brains and might could easily allow him to exceed his brother, Tensei, as a speedy Engine hero. Until then, his training at U.A. High will shape him into a better man, hopefully preparing him for such a responsibility one day.

11/20 Houtarou Oreki Manages To Find His Passion

Hyouka

Houtarou Oreki from Hyouka.

Houtarou Oreki is an apathetic high schooler in the show Hyouka. Although he is smart, he hates being around people and prefers to do as little as possible to get by. However, that changes when he meets the effervescent Eru Chitanda.

After meeting Chitanda, Oreki discovers his proclivity for solving mysteries, proving just how observant he is by helping her solve the mystery of her missing uncle. The more cases the Literature Club solves together, the more Oreki shines as the sharp detective he is.

10/20 Norman Uses His Intellect To Save His Family

The Promised Neverland

Norman in Season 2 of The Promised Neverland.

Further proving how prodigious the young cast of The Promised Neverland is, the only child from Grace Field House who is smarter than Ray is Norman. Once he learns about the demons outside the orphanage, he is shipped out and presumed dead.

Because of this, he came up with a plan after predicting everything that would happen in the weeks before the next child would be shipped. Norman tells his plan to Emma, and she carries it out successfully. Norman manages to save his family without even being there to see it though.

9/20 Madara Uchiha Lives On His Own Terms

Naruto

Madara Uchiha in front of yellow background from Naruto.

Madara Uchiha is easily the greatest tactician in Naruto. Given the rules of the Naruto Universe, it is not easy to come back from the dead, but Madara manages it. He is a master of several jutsu and has a voice that can call together armies.

Madara uses his intelligence to devastating effects. His sole purpose seems to be causing trouble and overshadowing others. Beyond that, he has the freedom of living life on his terms, ultimately dying only when he willed it.

8/20 Shikamaru Nara Just Wants To Be Lazy

Naruto

Shikamaru Nara Using Shadow Possession Against Hidan & Kakuzu in Naruto.

Shikamaru Nara is a shinobi and member of the Nara clan in Naruto. Shikamaru’s greatest wish is to be lazy, yet his knowledge and battle prowess prevent him from living a carefree life. He has not only mastered the Nara clan’s shadow-based jutsu, he has even gone on to invent some of his own.

Shikamaru is a loyal friend, who does his best to protect his allies at all costs. Though this often leads to him taking on more responsibility, Shikamaru always chooses his friends over his desire to be free.

7/20 Zen-Oh Is Smarter Than He Looks

Dragon Ball

Zen-Oh with mouth open from Dragon Ball.

Though he may not always show it, thanks in part to his incredibly simple character design, Zen-Oh is incredibly smart. The only caveat is that his naivety often keeps him from using what he knows to the best of his ability.

RELATED: 15 Things You Didn’t Know About Zeno In Dragon Ball Super

Zen-Oh in most ways acts like a selfish child, but he is also capable of great things and seems to comprehend the subtleties of all twelve Dragon Ball Universes, which is not an easy feat. Even Whis, who is also a pretty intelligent figure, does not have the knowledge, let alone the power, of Zen-Oh.

6/20 Senku Ishigami Is A Scientist, Even In The Stone Age

Dr. Stone

Senku Ishigami with hand on head from Dr. Stone.

Senku is a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to the world of science in Dr. Stone. Where somebody like Bulma Brief focuses mainly on tech, Senku is a master of just about everything, from physics to chemistry to biology, and can make just about anything, even with very few resources.

Beyond his immense breadth of knowledge is his ability to draw complex conclusions from new information. Senku is also a competent strategist, leading the charge against Tsukasa and other threats in the Stone World.

5/20 L Manages To Corner Kira Multiple Times

Death Note

L crouching down and looking up in Death Note.

L is the greatest detective in the world of Death Note. He solves many cases over the years, beginning his career at a very young age. The only case that ever truly challenges him is the Kira Investigation.

L quickly discovers that Kira is in Japan. From there, he begins working with a task force there, which leads L to figure out Kira is Light Yagami. However, it is hard for him to prove this. This forms the basis of one of the best rivalries in all anime.

4/20 Korosensei Is The Hero His Students Needed

Assassination Classroom

Korosensei surrounded by anti-him weapons from Assassination Classroom.

It takes a special kind of genius to elect to destroy the moon to become a teacher, all in a bid to help failing students who do not fit the mold. However, that is exactly what Koro-sensei does. Even though he is an unstoppable monster with a myriad of powers, Koro-sensei spends his time changing the lives of his students.

Korosensei’s plan is as beautiful as it was layered. This all culminates in an ending that hits Assassination Classroom fans hard as they have spent two whole seasons watching it unfold through subtle hints and reveals. Koro-sensei was the hero his students needed all along.

3/20 Dio Brando Always Finds A Way To Survive

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure

Dio Brando holding the blade of a knife in Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure.

Many of the villains in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure are incredibly intelligent. The antagonists in this series are exceptionally creative and malicious, much to the credit of its creator, Hirohiko Araki.

RELATED: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: 9 Ways Dio Brando Is Unlike Any Other Shonen Villain

Easily the most devious of any JoJo’s villain, Dio’s incredible creativity is what allows him to be such an enduring threat to the Joestar family. His cunning and follow-through are unmatched in the series, a tribute to his smarts and planning.

2/20 Kiyotaka Ayanokoji Is Hiding A Dark Secret

Classroom Of The Elite

Kiyotaka Ayanokōji from Classroom of the Elite

Classroom of the Elite‘s protagonist, Kiyotaka Ayanokoji is one of the students of Class D in the prestigious Koudo Ikusei High School. Although he is in the worst class, Ayanokoji seems to have an ulterior motive for being there. Ayanokoji often displays an air of cynicism, but viewers know that he is really hiding some deeper secret that the others have yet to discover.

Despite this, Ayanokoji uses his superior intellect to help advance Class D to the top. Though he usually steps in at the last minute, fans can always tell that he has been three steps ahead of everyone the entire time. Ayanokoji is not one to flaunt his brain. Instead, he hides in the shadows until the right moment.

1/20 Light Yagami Managed To Defeat L

Death Note

Light Yagami from Death Note laughing evilly.

In anybody else’s hands, the user of the titular notebook in Death Note would have been identified and caught quickly. However, Light Yagami continues to kill for years, despite L being smart enough to confirm that he is in Japan.

It is only thanks to a combination of his own hubris and underestimating fellow geniuses like Near that he is defeated. Regardless, it is clear that no other person in that world could have caused as much societal impact if they were given the same tools.

NEXT: 10 Anime Characters Who Are Smarter Than They Look



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