Best Manga With A Smart/Genius MCThis post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. (Learn more).
Using an idiot character as the protagonist is way easier than having a smart MC.
Although the character’s intellect is in no way a reflection of the mangaka’s intellect, a mangaka still has to be smart enough to make the characters look smart.
However, a manga with genius characters has an alluring charm.
It forces you to think whether there’s an underlying meaning behind every act, scene, and dialogue.
If you’re looking for some manga with smart protagonists, well here’s our list of some good choices.
15. The World God Only Knows (Kami nomi zo Shiru Sekai)
Following the story of a legendary “God of Conquest”, The World God Only Knows tells how an otaku gets blessed by a god and forced to live a real life dating sim.
The protagonist of this series isn’t called the “God of Conquest” for nothing.
He takes pride in being able to catch any 2D girl’s heart.
That’s where his genius comes in.
Unlike a typical genius, Keima’s smarts only shows itself while playing dating sims. He can accurately analyze and deduce the correct method of finishing the game. What’s more is that he can even play four games at once if he puts his entire being into it.
14. Gamble Fish
Yes, this series is about gambling.
It’s not just gambling using cards, though. The games even include finding treasure and billiards, and the protagonist always has a way of winning despite being an amateur at some games.
This series’ protagonist is not only smart, but he’s also very sharp-witted.
Needless to say, the gambles he plays almost always require cheating.
However, he can almost always instantaneously see through the tricks and devise some of his own.
13. No Game, No Life
No Game, No Life was originally a light novel, then it got a manga adaptation in 2013.
In 2014, it also got an animation.
It follows the story of two game whiz siblings. They’re peerless geniuses when it comes to strategy, cheating, and bluffing.
They’re hardcore gamers who even think the world is nothing but a lame game. When they get transported into a new world where everything must be settled through games, their genius brightly shines through.
They’ve defeated one big name after another in their own games. And they did it using out of the box methods.
This is an adventure well worth following.
12. Liar Game
Forced to play something called the Liar Game, the heroine of this series gets dragged into a world of lying.
In the game, the players either take home a huge sum of cash, or get buried in debt.
And like the name suggests, the best way to win is through lying.
The protagonist is a professional swindler whose goal is to save the heroine and end the game, which results in a cacophony of schemes.
The mind games, calls to human nature, and selfishness in this manga are outstanding. This could have gone higher on this list, if the heroine wasn’t so obnoxious.
Great mystery stories are those that also make the readers guess.
Set in a school in a fictional country in Europe, the protagonist here is accused of murder simply because he’s present in the crime scene.
In order to prove himself not guilty, he seeks the help of the recluse (but genius) Victorique.
After she clears his murder charges, they work to solve more complex cases. These cases are quite interesting, since the clues and details are also available to you.
That means you can try your hand at solving the cases as you read along.
10. Detective Xeno and the Seven Locked Murder Rooms (Tantei Xeno to Nanatsu no Satsujin Misshitsu)
As the title suggests, this series is about Detective Xeno solving the mysteries behind seven locked room murders.
To put things into perspective, locked room murders are exactly what they sound like:
Murders done inside locked rooms without any sign of anyone escaping.
To up the difficulty, the seven locked murder rooms are created by a single genius architect. Each room utilizes different principles and laws of physics, too.
Needless to say, the titular detective’s deduction and reasoning skills are the best.
What’s interesting about this series is not only Xeno’s intellect, but also the execution of the murder. The rooms are perfectly designed, and are pure works of genius.
9. SKET Dance
Now this story follows the eccentric members of the SKET Brigade, formally known as Living Assistance Club.
The leader of the trio has an interesting ability that allows him to fully concentrate for a short period of time, allowing him to solve various cases.
He might not be as smart as the other protagonists in this list. But he still gets the job done.
In addition to that, the way the SKET Brigade solve cases with their little antics are very entertaining to read.
8. Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion (Code Geass: Hangyaku no Lelouch)
Lelouch is an undeniable genius.
A madman, but definitely a genius.
With the Geass that C.C. gave him, he manages to create revolution under his alter, Zero.
Lelouch is a careful, scientific man. Although he’s smart, he makes sure to plan thoroughly and execute countless experiments.
He even manages to make the whole Britannia dance on his palms, making him both the hero and the antihero at the same time.
7. Tomodachi Game
Tomodachi Game is a tricky manga.
It starts like any average manga, but quickly whirls into a masterpiece.
The story is about a group of friends that got dragged into the titular game, because one person in their group applied for it. In this game, friendships are broken.
However, the protagonist turns out to be inappropriate for the game since he’s deemed as a “monster”. Yet he easily defeats the first two games and proceeds, challenging the administrator.
And just like the manga itself, our protagonist starts off bland.
But after a few chapters he shows his twisted and villainous side. It turns out he’s actually a mad genius.
6. At night I move (Yoru ni Naru to Boku wa)
Following his sister’s death, this series’ main character vows to put justice into his own hands.
When the culprits have finally been freed, he uses his head to commit the perfect crime.
However, intellect cannot make up for lack of strength and technique. He gets beat up and sent to the hospital.
Then he acquires a supernatural ability to enter other people’s dreams.
And our MC uses his ability to its limits. Partnered with his intellect, he manages to manipulate people through the power of suggestion alone.
What’s more, he’s doing this while a sharp-witted cop is hot on his trail.
5. Detective Conan
Conan is probably the greatest kid detective in manga history.
I mean, the series has reached more than a thousand chapters. That means Conan has already solved plenty of cases.
And the cases that Conan faces are in no way easy. Almost all of them are puzzling, to say the least.
Conan’s intellect is noticeably up there among the top of the top. Perhaps the real question we should be asking is just how many more needles can Detective Mouri’s neck take?
4. The Promised Neverland (Yakusoku no Neverland)
This series is seriously conniving.
It starts off with a few children enjoying themselves in what seems like an orphanage. But soon after, it’s revealed that they’re merely livestock for demons.
What seems like an orphanage at first, turns out to be a farm cultivating children’s brains.
The thin silver lining about such a horror is that the protagonists are all geniuses.
Even though they’ve barely hit puberty, they manage to figure out a way to outwit their “Mama” and escape the orphanage. Not only that, but they even manage to solve clues and trace the true head of the operation.
Similar to Gamble Fish, Usogui is a manga about gambling.
However, Usogui is ten times more intense than Gamble Fish in all aspects. Which is also why it’s ranked way higher on the list.
In Usogui, we can see that not just the main character is smart. Almost every character in this series can be considered a genius.
Be it the villains, the referees, and even some side characters, all of them have good heads on their shoulders.
So the schemes and psychological fights in this series are top notch.
2. Death Note
Renowned for its mind-boggling schemes, Death Note is already a given with this kind of premise.
The exchanges between Light and L are spectacular, to say the least. Their psychological warfare is nothing but genius from beginning to end.
What’s more is that the balance is constantly tipping from one side to another. Just when you think one party is about to win, a plot twist will completely overturn your prediction.
Even after L died, Near’s and Mello’s smarts are nothing to scoff at. In fact, they actually did give Light a run for his money.
1. Dr. Stone
When a mysterious phenomenon petrified the entire world, a lone boy continues to count every second until his petrification becomes undone.
That lone boy is the main character of this series.
Unlike most survival manga, Dr. Stone doesn’t just focus on survival.
The main character’s primary aim is to rebuild civilization through science. And he has the capacity and intellect to make it happen.
He uses his mind and modern knowledge to bring the inventions of today back to life. That includes weapons, technology, and even food.
If you’ve never checked out this manga then definitely give it a go. You might be surprised how much you like it.