Ranking Every Major Shonen Protagonist By How Smart They Are

When most people think of shonen protagonists, they don't think of characters who are particularly smart. But while characters who rely less on brains and more on instinct like Luffy, Goku, and Natsu do exist, there are also some straight-up brilliant protagonists like Senku Ishigami and Light Yagami.

For this list, we'll be looking at the smartest shonen anime protagonists...and the not-so-smart. Your job is to vote up the big-brained characters and vote down the ones whose strength lies in other areas. While some characters' are clear cut cases of brilliant or not, there are others whose intelligence is kind of middle of the road. What's the best ranking of intelligence? That's up to you. 


  • Senku Ishigami is a straight-up genius. After waking up from petrification, he learned how to survive in a wilderness environment that he'd never experienced. But he did more than just survive - he began recreating the technology that defined his former world. Most of us have no idea how medicine and cell phones are made, let alone how to create them from the natural world, but Senku has all this knowledge locked and loaded in his exceptionally powerful brain. 

  • Light Yagami - Death Note
    Photo: Madhouse

    Light Yagami has clearly never taken a sociology class in his life and knows next to nothing about what actually causes criminal behavior. That said, his strategic mind can't be beat. He not only figures out how to use the Death Note and build a following for himself, he also manages to stay one step ahead of the world's greatest detective for most of the series. 

  • Edward Elric is a little too smart. As a small child, he didn't have the common sense not to try and revive his mother, but he did have the intelligence to figure how to execute the failed alchemical plan. Luckily, the Gate took his limbs, not his brain, so he could figure out how to solve the problem he created - and plenty of other problems, too. 

  • Loid Forger is the greatest spy in all of Westalis. Nobody gets that designation without a powerful brain. Loid shows off his smarts by obtaining key intelligence for his government, coming up with complex strategies, and retaining massive amounts of information on everything from enemy stats to details about penguins. 

    But for all his intelligence, he hasn't figured out that his wife Yor is an assassin and his adopted daughter Anya is a psychic. Yet, anyway.