The 20 Greatest Battle Of Wits In Anime History, Ranked

List Rules
Vote up your favorite battle of wits in anime.

Sometimes, what determines the outcome of a battle is not physical strength, but intelligence. For this list, we're counting down some of the best battles of wits in anime, because it's great to see characters' flexing their brainpower. 

Many of the best mind games in anime appear in shows that center around the concept - pretty much every conflict in Akagi and No Game No Life are resolved this way. But they also appear in places that you might not expect them to, like in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, and Bleach. Wherever they crop up, these battles are sure to make you think, and entertain you at the same time.


  • 1
    357 VOTES

    Light Vs. L - 'Death Note'

    Light Vs. L - 'Death Note'
    Photo: Madhouse

    The first half of this series is dedicated almost entirely to the battle of wits between Light and L. L is trying to prove that Light is responsible for the heart attacks criminals are suffering. Meanwhile, Light is not only trying to stop L from catching him, he's also trying to secure his place as god of the new world.

    One of L's more impressive moments is when he tricked Light into revealing his location by pretending to reveal his identity using a proxy, and using the location that it was aired in to narrow down Kira's location. Meanwhile, Light's greatest triumph was when he manipulated a Shinigami into doing his dirty work for him. 

    357 votes
  • 2
    238 VOTES

    Lelouch Vs. The Britannian Empire - 'Code Geass'

    Lelouch Vs. The Britannian Empire - 'Code Geass'
    Photo: Sunrise

    Everything that Lelouch does is marked by his knack for strategy. He rarely fights using physical means - rather, he uses his Geass powers to control people into performing actions that will benefit him, or tries to arrange his revolutionary or political power to his benefit. In all things, he plays the long game. The most dramatic example of this comes at the end of the series, where he decides to sacrifice his own life on the grounds that if he lets his friend Suzaku eliminate him while dressed as his alter ego Zero, in order to unite the world in hatred against him under Zero's banner. 

    238 votes
  • 3
    214 VOTES

    Isabella Vs. The Children Of Grace Field House - 'The Promised Neverland'

    Isabella Vs. The Children Of Grace Field House - 'The Promised Neverland'
    Photo: CloverWorks

    When Emma, Norman and Ray discover that if they don't figure out a way to escape, they'll be sold to demons as meat, they immediately start devising a plan to escape. Their caretaker Isabella tries her hardest to thwart them, but ultimately doesn't have the heart to go through with her plans.

    The orphans enact a number of strategies, including scoping out the layout of the house and its surroundings, secretly training the younger kids through play, and ultimately pulling off a plan that involved a faked suicide and burning the house down. The whole thing is especially impressive since the characters in question are all twelve and under. 

    214 votes
  • 4
    138 VOTES

    Sora & Shiro Vs. Jibril - 'No Game No Life'

    Sora & Shiro Vs. Jibril - 'No Game No Life'
    Photo: Madhouse

    Before coming to the world of Disboard, Sora and Shiro were unbeatable at video games, but unable to accomplish much in their real lives. In Disboard, everything is determined by games, so they quickly gain power and influence. All of their battles invoke their wits to some degree, but one of the most interesting examples comes when they take on Jibril, a member of the Flügel race who maintains an impressive library. Sora and Shiro want access to the library, so they challenge her to a game of materialization shiritori, where the words they choose disappear or are added to reality.

    They manage to win by changing the laws of physics and creating a hypernova. Without quick thinking and a lot of background knowledge, neither party would have made much progress.

    138 votes
  • 5
    128 VOTES

    Miyuki Shirogane Vs. Kaguya Shinomiya - 'Kaguya-sama: Love Is War'

    Miyuki Shirogane Vs. Kaguya Shinomiya - 'Kaguya-sama: Love Is War'
    Photo: A-1 Pictures

    Love mind games but prefer rom-coms to action? Then you'll love Kaguya-sama: Love Is War. In this series, student council members Miyuki Shirogane and Kaguya Shinomiya are constantly trying to trick the other into being the first to admit that they have a crush on the other.

    In many cases, their attempts aren't especially clever, like when they refuse to be the first person to text the other or when Kaguya comes up with a contrived plot to share an umbrella with Miyuki. But no matter how miserably their plans fail, it's clear that their minds are in hyper-drive the whole time. 

    128 votes
  • 6
    134 VOTES

    Class 3-E Vs. Koro-sensei - 'Assassination Classroom'

     Class 3-E Vs. Koro-sensei - 'Assassination Classroom'
    Photo: Lerche

    Assassinnation Classroom is about a group of middle school students who are trying to take down their teacher, a tentacle monster who threatened to destroy the Earth. Many of their strategies show great intelligence, like when they collectively try to figure out his weak points. But Koro-sensei is strategizing too. His real goal has nothing to do with destroying the world, but with finding a way to prevent it while emotionally supporting a group of children that he cares for deeply. 

    134 votes