In the dynamic world of Naruto Shippuden, one character stands out as a brilliant strategist and a fan favorite Shikamaru Nara. This article delves deep into the life, abilities, and impact of Shikamaru Nara in the anime Naruto Shippuden.
All about Shikamaru Nara
- Birthdate: September 22
- Sex: Male
- Age: Part I: 12–13/Part II: 15–17/Blank Period: 19
- Height: Part I: 150.8 cm–152.1 cm/Part II: 170 cm/Blank Period: 176 cm
- Weight: Part I: 42 kg–42.9 kg/Part II: 53.4 kg
- Blood type: AB
- Affiliation: Konohagakure/Allied Shinobi Forces
- Team: Team 10/Sasuke Recovery Team/Konoha 11/Twenty Platoons/Fourth Division/Hanabi Rescue Team
- Clan: Nara Clan
Shikamaru Nara’s Background
Shikamaru is the only child of Yoshino and Shikaku Nara. When he was young, he once played “ninja” with other children his age. Choji Akimichi wanted to play with them, but the other children refused to allow him to do so, claiming he was too stupid and bad to participate.
When Shikamaru couldn’t convince the others to let Choji join, he left the game and went to his favourite spot to watch clouds. Chōji happened to be sitting in the same spot when he got there, so Shikamaru introduced himself, and invited Chōji to watch the clouds with him. Chōji asked Shikamaru if he wanted some snacks.
From that point onward they were best friends; upon entering Konoha’s Ninja Academy, they’d usually sit together in class and hang out afterwards. Shikamaru had very little interest in the class itself, preferring to spend his time sleeping rather than listen to Iruka Umino’s lessons. Shikamaru showed the same lack of enthusiasm for the tests he was given and couldn’t be bothered to actually answer the questions, leading to his poor grades.
Shikamaru Nara’s Personality
Shikamaru is naturally a lazy person and his inclination is to do as little work as possible. As an Academy student and even during his early career as a genin, Shikamaru is able to get away with this, spending his days sleeping, watching the clouds, or playing games of shogi and Go.
Even when told by many that he could be a great Hokage, he stated that he didn’t want to deal with such responsibilities. His goal is to live unremarkably, free of anything of noticeably good or bad, and then to die just as unremarkably as he lived.
When he is faced with the potential for conflict or commitment, he responds first by saying, “how troublesome,” and then by trying to find some way out of it, either by pretending to be indisposed or even outright saying that he doesn’t want to do whatever it is.
Although Shikamaru describes himself as “the number one coward”, he has a strong moral compass and dedication to his friends. It is these qualities that earned Choji Akimichi’s friendship, as Shikamaru was one of the first people to look past his weight and find value in who he naturally was.
It is also these qualities that force Shikamaru to move away from his lazy pursuits, as he finds himself volunteering to do work or to sacrifice himself if it will in some way benefit his allies.
Such selflessness, once displayed during the Konoha Crush, exacerbates his “troublesome” situations: he is given the responsibility of leading his friends into battle, for which reason he does everything that he can to keep them safe, for which reason he is given even more responsibility over even more of his friends, and so on.
He still clings to his lazy origins as much as he can even if he can’t spend his entire day being idle, he at least avoids having long-term goals or confessing any particular pleasure in the duties he’s assigned.
Shikamaru undergoes a rapid maturity after the death of his teacher, Asuma Sarutobi, whose loss forces Shikamaru to recognise that the world is not safe that he cannot be kept protected from it forever.
After avenging Asuma, Shikamaru takes it upon himself to do all that he can to make things better for future Konoha generations, especially Asuma’s then-unborn daughter, Mirai such is the Will of Fire.
He may still balk at the prospect of the work he must do, but he no longer runs from it, even going so far as to argue in favour of difficult choices if it will guarantee his friends’ and village’s survival.
In Shikamaru Hiden, he describes his new goal in life as, rather than living unremarkably himself and watching the clouds all the time, to instead make a world where his children or grandchildren can live that way if they choose to.
One of the more “troublesome” things that runs throughout Shikamaru’s life is the subject of women thanks to his experiences with the women he knows: his mother, Yoshino, his teammate, Ino Yamanaka, and his frequent companion, Temari.
He describes each of them as aggressive, demanding, and sometimes even scary. Shikamaru tries to treat women delicately, being non-confrontational or at least polite to them and never asking anything of them that he believes he can do himself.
During Part I, he generally believes he can do anything himself, and as such is mortified if and when a woman needs to assist him in any way; his frustrations are similar when he repeatedly finds himself facing female opponents.
Because his father, Shikaku, has similar views and experiences with women, Shikamaru asks him for help in understanding them. Shikaku explains that men destroy themselves without a woman’s influence and that women, despite how they may act, are kind to the men they love.
As with most things, Shikamaru resists entanglements with women as much as he can; his Infinite Tsukuyomi dream world sees him successfully avoiding marriage entirely.
However, upon realising in Shikamaru Hiden that Temari is one of the most important things in the world to him, he ultimately marries her and even has a son with her, Shikadai. Ironically, his relationship with Temari became very similar to his parents, where he once mocked Shikaku for being “whipped”, which he himself became.
Overtime, having come to recognise Naruto’s great contributions to the village despite his own hardships, Shikamaru came to sympathise for him, deciding to be there to support him much like the Second Hokage did for his older brother.
His newfound goal became to aid Naruto in his goal of becoming Hokage and act as his personal adviser. Ultimately, as an adult, Shikamaru succeeds in this goal, often handling many duties to lighten the workload for Naruto as Hokage.
At the same time, he still holds much of his original carefree nature from youth. He is not very strict with his son, viewing his acting out and/or punishments at school as a learning curve for him, trusting that Shikadai will find his way.
He is a man of conviction and drive, always pushing himself to protect his village. His mental fortitude is proven very strong, able to put some resistance against Ada’s allure. In adulthood (in the manga), he also picked up Asuma’s interest in smoking.
Per his role as Naruto’s adviser, Shikamaru possesses a more methodical and somewhat draconian viewpoint and mindset in regards to the safety of Konohagakure.
Occasionally clashing with Naruto’s more humble and carefree outlook, Shikamaru often attempts to handle matters by considering anything or anyone mysterious or unknown as potential threats, such as suggesting Kawaki be placed under heavy supervision at all times when the latter first arrived in Konoha, to the point where Naruto commented it felt like Shikamaru advocated for confinement.
Likewise, when a potential war between Iwagakure with Kirigakure against the Land of Flowers with Kumogakure almost came to be, Shikamaru immediately threatened to kill both Kurotsuchi and Chojuro when they accused Konoha of secrecy and plotting, much to Naruto’s great displeasure and anger.
Shikamaru even went as far as to order Mirai to allow Tentō Madoka to be kidnapped by the Mujina Bandits in order to place his father Ikkyū, the daimyō of the Land of Fire, under Konoha’s debt once they managed rescue him. Nevertheless he still continues to support Naruto’s decision regardless of his own option.
After being affected by Ada’s Omnipotence and having his memories of Boruto and Kawaki switched, like most of the rest of the world, Shikamaru grew to hold a grudge and anger at Boruto for his false crime of killing Naruto.
Though he was initially suspicious of his altered memories due to their discrepancies, later, as a consequence of Omnipotence suppressing any lingering sense of contradiction in his memories, Sarada and Sumire both noticed that Shikamaru’s personality had changed slightly, having become irreducible and more hard headed, especially when it came to giving Boruto the benefit of the doubt or lifting his execution order.
As Hokage, Shikamaru was shown to prioritise even more the will of Konoha’s citizens and their safety, since during Code’s Claw Grime’s invasion of the village, he gave priority to evacuating the civilians and protecting them from the creatures than trying to capture Boruto when the same appeared in place.
Shikamaru Nara’s Appearance
Shikamaru Nara’s appearance in “Naruto Shippuden” is distinct and recognizable. He has several distinctive features:
- Clothing: Shikamaru typically wears the standard attire of a Hidden Leaf Village shinobi. This includes a dark green flak jacket, black pants, and a black forehead protector with the Leaf Village symbol. His attire is often complemented by a pair of black sandals.
- Hairstyle: Shikamaru has long, dark hair tied in a spiky ponytail with a hairband. His hair is a notable feature and sets him apart from many other characters in the series.
- Vest and Pouches: Over his flak jacket, Shikamaru often wears a brown utility vest with multiple pouches where he carries ninja tools and other supplies.
- Forehead Protector: He wears his Leaf Village forehead protector on his forehead to signify his allegiance to the Hidden Leaf Village.
- Chunin Vest: As a Chunin, Shikamaru also wears a blue vest with a high collar, signifying his rank.
- Earrings: Shikamaru has two hoop earrings in his left earlobe, which is a distinctive accessory and part of his character design.
- Expression: Shikamaru’s expression is often characterized by a somewhat bored or uninterested look, which reflects his laid-back personality. He is rarely seen without this relaxed demeanor, even in intense situations.
Overall, Shikamaru Nara’s appearance combines his traditional shinobi attire with his unique hairstyle and earrings, making him easily recognizable to fans of the “Naruto” series.
Shikamaru Nara’s Abilities
Due to his poor grades in the Academy, Shikamaru was thought to be anything but a remarkable ninja, but his potential was demonstrated when he was the only member of his graduating class to become a chūnin during Part I.
Despite being a newly made chunin, he could hold his own against jonin-level opponents like Tayuya of the Sound Four. In Part II, he could defeat Hidan of Akatsuki after leading the latter to a trap.
His skills led to him being offered a position as one of the Twelve Guardian Ninja in the anime, being made deputy commander of the Fourth Division and chief-strategist of the entire Allied Shinobi Forces, as well as the right hand man of the Seventh Hokage years later.
For years since childhood, he has been told he possessed qualities befitting the Hokage by Asuma Sarutobi, Temari, and Boruto Uzumaki, and eventually did become the Eighth Hokage, being recognised as one of Konoha’s greatest ninja.
Shikamaru’s nature transformations include Yin Release, which he commonly uses to perform his hiden techniques, as well as Fire and Earth Release. In the anime, he has shown to be able to use fuinjutsu, as seen when he tried to seal Kakuzu’s lightning technique into a scroll, and when he unsealed water from a scroll to use as a medium to electrocute Kakuzu.
He is also able to use the Flying Swallow, and can create clones of himself, either by flowing chakra into his shadow and shape them, or by using the Shadow Clone Technique.[
Nara Clan Techniques
As a member of the Nara clan, Shikamaru is able to manipulate his own shadow. His signature move is the Shadow Imitation Technique, which in the anime he learned before even entering the Academy.
By connecting his shadow to a target’s, Shikamaru can use the Shadow Imitation Technique to restrain their movements and force them to mimic his own. When used against opponents, they may be able to resist his control, requiring that Shikamaru exert additional effort to keep them bound when used for whatever reason on allies or others who have been incapacitated, no resistance occurs and the process is accordingly much easier.
Throughout Parts I and II, Shikamaru must perform the appropriate hand seals in order to use his shadow, but in later years, he is able to manipulate it without them. By adulthood, his speed with the technique allowed him to capture the Five Kage and their bodyguards before they could react, with only the Hokage having the capabilities to free himself.
As such, he had the opportunity to kill them if he chose to. However, he later realised that his skills had became quite rusty due to long term of office duty, when he failed to crush a tree trunk.
After he becomes a chunin, Shikamaru is taught the Shadow Neck Binding Technique, which allows him to use his shadow to strangle those who have been bound with the Shadow Imitation.
Like the Shadow Imitation itself, the Shadow Neck Binding can only be used on flat surfaces, for which reason opponents can resist it if they’re strong enough. In Part II, Shikamaru is able to use his shadow independently off surfaces, using his shadows to pierce targets and pick up giant things.
He could even channel his chakra into his late mentor’s chakra blades to pierce a target’s shadow and bind them from a distance. By adulthood, Shikamaru’s prowess with his clan techniques enabled him to perform them without hand seals.
After Shikamaru was assigned to Team 10, Asuma noticed that Shikamaru was much sharper than his Academy scores indicated. By disguising a number of intelligence tests as games and puzzles the only way Asuma could get Shikamaru to be interested Asuma discovered that Shikamaru has an IQ of over 200 his poor grades were because he was too lazy to take any of the written exams.
It is chiefly because of his intelligence that Shikamaru receives as many responsibilities as he does and why the Fifth Hokage routinely pushes Shikamaru to use his intellect for his allies’ and village’s benefit.
Indeed, the Hokage’s faith in him is well-founded, as Shikamaru remains acutely aware of his own and others’ limitations, allowing him to avoid surprise and unnecessary risk. By the time of Boruto: Naruto the Movie, he is regarded as the smartest person in Konoha.
Whether he is about to go into combat, issuing orders to those who are in combat, or is personally involved in combat himself, Shikamaru’s general approach is the same: he remains aware of all actions that allies and opponents make, even things that seem insignificant at the time or that he doesn’t yet understand he keeps track of where everything is located in relation to everything else, even features that lack obvious practical use he studies the behaviour of all combatants, gradually learning how they react in any given situation.
By then focusing on this vast amount of information which he usually does by closing his eyes and cupping his fingers Shikamaru can quickly think ten moves ahead of his opponent(s) and devise over a hundred strategies, from which he instantly picks the most effective.
Such strategies are often highly elaborate and use multiple layers of misdirection, where he takes small victories just to eliminate extraneous factors, pretends defeat in order to re-position opponents, and engineers conditions that will lead opponents to defeating themselves.
Tobi regrets that Shikamaru’s ability to see through deception and correctly put together seemingly unrelated pieces of information is “wasted” in service to the Allied Shinobi Forces. Later in adulthood, Shikamaru proved to be an adept teacher, having personally trained Mirai Sarutobi into a powerful shinobi and teaching her all the techniques of her late father, Asuma.
In Naruto Shippuden, Shikamaru Nara transcends the stereotype of a lazy ninja to become a strategic genius. His journey, battles, and growth as a character have left an indelible mark on the anime and its fans.