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In our world, a "genius" is someone who is extremely smart, analytic or a fast learner.

Although there are similarities between our and the Naruto universe definition of "Genius", I still feel that it's not the same.

What is considered a "Genius" in the Naruto world? Is Naruto a genius? Is Sasuke a genius? Itachi? Nagato? I don't see it as strictly being smart.

  • Famous but underused words by Syndrome "Once everyone is Super, no one will be". Applicable here, because if everyone was a Genius, then by definition no one would be. We never get a proper line in the Naruto verse, but Id wager that Somewhere between the lower and upper levels of Jounin would be a solid minimum, with only a few exceptions possible. Even Hidan shows a very high degree of competence and skill while fighting, and hes one of the dumbest strong guys out there. – Ryan Nov 3 '16 at 15:33
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I'd define "genius" by breaking down and analyzing the concept of "proficiency".

I like to think that for any skill, people are born with varying levels of ease in picking up the skill and/or developing it (nature). Extreme examples include people who feel like "I've done this before", which have some parallels with the awakening of Kekkei Genkai in the Naruto universe. From "baseline" level of ability, people can work to raise or lower their proficiency in proportion to how much effort they spend (nurture).

I would say that a "genius" is someone who was born with an extremely high level of baseline proficiency. Hence, with regards to your question, does a genius have to be smart, analytical or a fast learner? These three qualities differ slightly in character:

  • Concerning the skill of intelligence, people who are born smart are geniuses, but people who became smart after studying/practicing very hard need not be.
  • Concerning the skill of analyzing the battle situation, people who are born analytical are geniuses, but people who became analytical with decades of battle experience need not be.
  • Fast learners "develop their skill abnormally quickly" so they can be all considered geniuses (very fast learners, that is).

According to my definition, Jinchuuriki and lineages of powerful Kekkei Genkai (such as the Sharingan or Rinnegan) automatically qualify as geniuses. Interestingly, in the real world we don't have that much of "inherited genius" to be unleashed, so this is unique to the Naruto universe. Thus, to answer your question, Naruto, Sasuke, Itachi and Nagato are indeed geniuses; from Morpheus's answer, Shikamaru is one too.

However, it is important to define the scope of one's genius; different types of genius cannot be compared.

  • Shikamaru is a genius when it comes to "being smart" or "analyzing the battle situation".
  • Byakugan users are sensor-type geniuses.
  • Rock Lee is a proficient Taijustu user but is not a genius; he simply worked extremely hard to attain that level of skill.
  • Naruto and other Jinchuuriki are geniuses in chakra-intensive (and thus powerful) techniques.
  • Naruto is also a sage mode genius (being able to perfectly balance natural energy with his own chakra).
  • Regarding JNat's comment to the question, Naruto's proficiency in many other skills (walking on trees comes to mind) came from extensive training due to his spirit of "never giving up", but he cannot be considered a genius for those.
  • However, Naruto may be a genius at learning and picking up most skills quickly; coupled with his determination, that is a potent self-improvement skill in itself.
  • We have Kekkai Genkai in the real world. Someone whose born with ridiculous math skills early on has a form of KG. Or someone like LeBron James who at 17 is drafted to the NBA or a 16 year old who is a world class tennis champion or the fifteen year old programmer that sold his company to Yahoo for 30 million or something. KG definitely exist in the real world. – Curtis Sumpter Jul 15 '13 at 15:10
  • Rock lee however is a genius at understanding the Chakra gates. Specifically what kind of genius that makes him I cant say, but his ability to learn and unleash them, (up to the 5th gate as a genin at around age 13/14) is something even kakashi acknowledged as genius.the Gates are not easy to open. – Ryan May 24 '16 at 18:14
  • @ryan Isn't it also said in the anime/manga that Rock Lee is a genius at hard work? – Gravinco Nov 3 '16 at 14:00
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Sasuke is a genius, he's gifted, comes from a gifted clan (one of the most gifted in the Shinobi world).

Naruto is not a genius. He doesn't excel in his first years: while Sasuke did everything easily and without making mistakes, becoming the most popular kid in the Academy, Naruto, in plain terms, sucked.

When he was asked to do the clone he completely failed:

Naruto clone fail

I don't think however that being a genius is necessarily a matter of being born in a powerful clan. Naruto's father was powerful, yet Naruto sucked. Hinata is weaker than Neji yet she comes from the main family.

I think that genius, after such considerations, is a union of, at least, clan and environment.

  • And yet, Naruto has (and utilizes, by the way) the potential to beat any of those so-called "geniuses". So how does that settle with your theory? – Madara Uchiha Jan 18 '13 at 23:11
  • @MadaraUchiha I don't see why you think it's incompatible. Naruto is stubborn but the good side of this is that he works hard and trains until he sees results because he believes in himself, in order to show everyone else his value. The ultimate way to show this is becoming Hokage, the most powerful ninja of the village. – Alenanno Jan 19 '13 at 1:16
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    @MadaraUchiha Naruto is in no way a genius. Rock Lee and Naruto bond very early over the fact that neither of them are geniuses. A genius is someone that excels very early and almost effortlessly early in life. It's natural. It's exemplified by Neiji and Sasuke. But geniuses often stall or walk into darkness, i.e. Orochimaru. But just as Rock Lee said, a genius can only be defeated by effort. Thus the balance between geniuses and others. – Curtis Sumpter Jul 15 '13 at 15:08
  • Naruto is clearly a genius. His initial problems were due to the seal placed on his chest blocking his own chakra from being utilized properly. After the seal on his chest was adjusted he began to easily excel in difficult jutsu. After it was removed he has no issues at all with chakra usage. In the example of the Rasengan he found a way around forming it. Also not to mention that Naruto's family is showing it self to have very powerful chakra, and abilities in the range of proper GK abilities themselves tied to their chakra. He's mastered techniques that only legendary nins have. – McFuu Jul 20 '13 at 7:52
  • @McFuu I disagree with him being a Genius. He can't do stuff easily like other "geniuses". He works hard for every jutsu, Rasengan included. His ability is that he is really determined, he works hard, and never gives up. For the Rasengan he found a way to form it using clones, while a Genius would have just done it without that kind of help. – Alenanno Jul 20 '13 at 9:05
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Genius can be defined as a single strongly marked capacity or aptitude. Characters are called geniuses because they don't need to work as hard others to become good at something.

For example: Compare Sasuke and Rock Lee. Sasuke is considered by a lot of the cast to be a genius. He learns techniques easily, and has been shown to improvise in combat better than others. On the other hand, Rock Lee has to train very hard to keep up with his peers.

  • 1
    Maybe you could elaborate a bit: is Naruto a genius too? He has a "strongly marked capacity or aptitude" too (which is to never give up). – JNat Jan 18 '13 at 19:29
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    I want to accept this answer, but it feels to me that it lacks in detail. Would you mind detailing some more on the subject? – Madara Uchiha Jan 18 '13 at 19:31
  • I wasn't sure how to expand the answer, so I added an example. – TurkeyFried Jan 19 '13 at 16:33
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I would assume that in Naruto terms it's much more to the perceptiveness and the analytical nature a character shows in adapting to a tougher battle scenario, which rules out characters like Naruto and Rock Lee. I can make a point with respect to Kakashi's quotes about Naruto because Kakashi always remarks to him that he can surpass 4th Hokage but never really compliments him on being a genius. Kakashi is sure that Naruto can surpass him through sheer hardwork and training.

Secondly the characters who I really think standout for genius terms are Sasuke, Shikamaru and Itachi. As for Shikamaru, there are plenty of scenarios all over the manga, most notably the one where he first assumes task as squad leader to retrieve Sasuke where he formulates the best formation to go after the Sound Four with the squad which was put up as quickly as possible and his attention to detail outlines that. Also in the very first fight he is shown on the anime in the chunnin exams against the sound girl, he deceives her with the landscape easily and he claims that ninja should be very perceptive to their surroundings and where they fight.

Sasuke always has been shown to be a battle genius in all his fights. The most notable to re-iterate my point would be his fight with Deidara where he quickly nullifies all strategies of Deidara (who himself was shown to be a very good tactician the way in which he approached his fights with Gaara and Naruto and Kakashi prior to that as well) and beats him with a technique to spare as well. (Although Sasuke after Mangekyou started spamming Susanoo greatly he is still shown having a great battle prowess.)

Itachi even though we never get to see him in so many fights throughout the series, he is shown as the guy who sets very high standards for Sasuke to follow when he was a kid. The most notable thing I can think of is how he gets out of the Edo Tensei from Kabuto very easily.

All these characters can fight harder as much as everyone else but most importantly they fight smarter. They look for the loop holes in the enemy's weakness rather than attack the enemy head on.

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