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Monday, August 18, 2008

Shikamaru Nara


Shikamaru Nara (奈良シカマル, Nara Shikamaru) is a ninja from Konohagakure. He is a member of Team 10 along with Choji Akimichi and Ino Yamanaka.

Background

As a genin, Shikamaru Nara was the sort of unenthusiastic kid who likes watching clouds. He prefers not to get involved in "troublesome" situations as during the attack on Konoha by the Sand and Sound villages where he pretends to be unconscious. He is fully aware of this side of his personality and even dubs himself "the number one at running away" or "the number one coward". However, when duty calls, Shikamaru has a strong moral compass and sense of commitment to his comrades. Even though by his own testimony he lacks bravery, he will sacrifice himself and face almost certain death for the sake of his friends or village's people without a second thought, such as when he stayed behind to confront a team of Sound ninja, giving Naruto enough time to catch up with Sasuke.

Shikamaru has a longstanding friendship with Choji Akimichi, in whom he has complete trust. Before they were promoted to Chunin rank, Shikamaru, Choji and Ino Yamanaka were on the same Genin team under Asuma. Their fathers were on the same team as well. Their teamwork is unparalleled.

Shikamaru loves to play thinking games that older men are usually into, such as Shogi and Go. He is a brilliant strategist, and though his sensei, Asuma Sarutobi, often plays against Shikamaru, Asuma has never actually managed to beat him. Asuma got suspicious upon realizing that Shikamaru was so good at board games despite his abysmal grades, which were almost as low as Naruto's. As a result, Asuma administered an IQ test disguised as a game to Shikamaru, which revealed that Shikamaru was a genius with an IQ of over 200. Shikamaru had felt that even moving his pencil in class was a bother and always slept through tests, resulting in his low grades.

Shikamaru has a habit of putting his fingers together to create a square and closing his eyes so he can concentrate and come up with a strategy. Once he does, which often takes only a few minutes, he is is able to think ten moves ahead of his opponent with over a hundred strategies ready to be used, even being able to plan out "the next 200 moves in advance".

Since he has been promoted to Chunin, his responsibility for the lives of his friends has weighed very heavily on him on occasion.

[edit] Personality

Shikamaru's most distinctive character trait is that he finds all women bossy and "troublesome." Given his mother's tyrannical personality, this isn't too surprising; however, his father shares the exact same attitude despite marrying her in the first place. Despite this attitude he has expressed a notably mature interest in marriage and raising a family: "Marry someone who is not too ugly and not too pretty. Have two children, first a girl, then a boy. Retire after my daughter is married and my son becomes a successful ninja, and spend the rest of my life playing Shogi or Go. Then die before my wife.". Shikamaru dislikes fighting women, but ironically most of his opponents have been female.

His favorite dish is mackerel and kelp; his least is boiled eggs. His favorite phrase is "Live each day quietly."

[edit] Abilities

Shikamaru is a very skilled ninja with an intellect in IQ of over 200. Asuma noted that this is beyond genius and probably the smartest ninja in the Konohagure. Shikamaru displays his talents only later in the second part of the Chunin exams. His primary supporting move is the Shadow Possession Technique. After the time skip that leads into part 2, Shikamaru also learns the Shadow Sewing Technique.

[edit] Part I

[edit] Chunin Exam arc

During the second phase of the Chunin Exam, Shikamaru, along with Choji and Ino, come to the aid of Team 7 during Sakura Haruno's battle with the attacking Team Dosu. Choji attempts to run away, claiming that he is reluctant to die. Shikamaru tells him that he too thinks the situation "troublesome", yet says that after Ino has revealed herself, there is no way that they men can back out of it. Shikamaru takes his place in the Ino-Shika-Cho battle formation, Choji having been fired up by Abumi Zaku's comment that he was fat. Dosu Kinuta attempts to come to Zaku's aid, as Choji's Human Bullet Tank technique threatens to crush him, but is unable to due to the fact that he has been trapped by Shikamaru's Shadow Imitation Technique. Shikamaru proceeds to make Dosu perform some humorous motions. Ino tells Shikamaru to protect her body as she uses her Mind Body Switch Technique on Kin Tsuchi. Ino readies one of Kin's kunai as she threatens the rest of Team Dosu that she will kill Kin if they don't retreat and surrender their scroll. Shikamaru is the first to notice that Dosu and Zaku are preparing to attack Kin themselves. Knowing that Kin's death would actually result in Ino's, he attempts to warn his teammates, but is too late. Although Ino survives, she is indeed injured by the attack, and Shikamaru grows concerned. Soon after, Sasuke Uchiha awakens, his newly received cursed seal activated. As Sasuke prepares to attack Team Dosu, Shikamaru tells Ino and Choji to join him in abandoning their roles in the battle as Sasuke's onslaught ensues. After Dosu retreats, leaving one of his scrolls behind for Team 7, Shikamaru leaves with his teammates, eventually reaching the tower at the center of the Forest of Death.

Initially introduced as nothing more than a lazy person who is always complaining, it is during his organized matches in the Chunin Exam that Shikamaru earns acclaim as a keen strategist. In his preliminary battle, he defeats Kin Tsuchi by sneaking his shadow under the thin strings she is using to control her bells; she does not notice that a string that thin and that far from the floor should not be making a shadow. Shikamaru then takes a shuriken from his pouch, with Kin, caught in his Shadow Imitation Technique, doing the same thing. Because of Kin's increased proximity to the wall of the arena, she knocks herself unconscious as Shikamaru ducks under her projectile.

Shikamaru's shining point during the arc is his battle with Temari, where it initially seems as if he is just pointlessly attempting strategy after strategy, and that it is only a matter of time until one of her powerful wind attacks catches him. His strategies range from simply buying time for the sun to set, furthering the range of his shadow, to sending out a makeshift parachute, made from his own jacket and a kunai knife, to make a new shadow for the same purpose. He is in fact manipulating her into a position in front of the exit to a tunnel which was dug out by Naruto during an earlier match, where he can guarantee that she is caught by his shadow from behind. However, after Temari is actually caught in his shadow imitation, he then simply forfeits the match, remarking that despite having thought of about 200 other possible strategies, he'd run out of chakra due to the extensive use of his shadow techniques. Moreover, he says he does not like to hurt or hit women. Plus, to his testimony, continuing would've been troublesome anyway, so he decided to give up. Despite having forfeited, Shikamaru's brilliant strategy impressed everyone, including the Hokage. As a result of his decisive tactical skills, he is the only Genin to become a Chunin after this Chunin Exam.

[edit] Invasion of Konoha arc

Later, when Konohagakure is attacked by Sunagakure and Otogakure, Shikamaru is one of only three Genin who successfully dispels the sleeping genjutsu cast on the Chunin Exam third phase stadium. However, he pretends to be caught in the illusion so that he can lie there and not do anything, only to be 'awakened' by Sakura attempting to dispel the genjutsu for him. Shikamaru, Naruto, and Sakura head off to find Sasuke, who has followed Gaara's trail determined to end their battle. As they pursue Sasuke, they discover that eight Sound ninja are following them, and Shikamaru chooses to stay behind so he can stall them while the others continue to pursue Sasuke. Using a clever strategy, he is able to trap all eight with his shadow. However, a ninth Sound ninja hides in the trees, protecting the captured eight against Shikamaru's attacks. Despite correctly predicting the presence of the ninth ninja, he cannot fight off the Sound ninja after being drained from his earlier match against Temari. Fortunately, his sensei, Asuma, comes in to help him and defeats all nine Sound ninja singlehandedly. Shikamaru then gazes into the clouds and figures that he should be more pursuasive and start changing his view about life.

[edit] Sasuke Retrieval arc

Shikamaru leads the Sasuke retrieval squad during the Sasuke Retrieval arc. Shikamaru's first job as a Chunin is to lead the team, consisting of Naruto Uzumaki, Neji Hyuga, Choji Akimichi, Kiba Inuzuka and Akamaru on a mission to retrieve Sasuke when the latter flees Konoha. Shikamaru forms an intricate plan in which the team travels in a line. Kiba and Akamaru are placed in front, for they know the geography well, would easily detect any traps laid before them, and would be safe even when isolated from the rest of the group, due to their working together. Shikamaru places himself second, for he would be able to converse with Kiba easily, and send hand signs to the rest of the group. Naruto is put in the center of the group, as his "explosive" nature would make him perfect at the "center of help." Choji is placed fourth, for his strength makes him perfect for use as a "home base" by the rest of the group. Neji is placed last, as his Byakugan would allow him to perform the most difficult job of scanning the area, detecting any attacks from the rear. The plan, however, falls apart because of the interference of the "Sound Four," a specialized team of ninja who are specifically sent by Orochimaru to ensure that Sasuke arrives at Otogakure safely. Although Shikamaru attempts to sneak up on the Sound Four, the team's presence is detected, and the Sound Four launch an attack. Shikamaru tries to trap all of the four with his Shadow Imitation, but fails. The team is eventually trapped in a prison of earth by Jirobo, a member of the Sound Four. Only Choji's strength allows the team to escape from Jirobo's cage before all of their chakra is sapped away by one of Jirobo's techniques.

In the end, the team ends up splitting up one by one and taking on fights individually. Shikamaru's opponent is Tayuya, a ninja who specializes in long-range sound attacks using her flute. She uses her flute to control three demon-like creatures, called Doki, and to create genjutsu that binds the opponent. Shikamaru once again demonstrates amazing strategy in his attacks. Forced into hiding by the Doki, whose control has been made easier by Tayuya's cursed seal, he attempts to discover a pattern between the melody of the flute's song and the movements of the Doki. Just when he thinks he's figured something out, the melody of the song changes, confusing Shikamaru, who is once again forced to hide. Shikamaru decides that there must be some other pattern involving the flute besides the song itself. He quickly thinks up a strategy in which he can potentially defeat Tayuya in just nine moves. First, Shikamaru sets off an explosive tag attached to a kunai. His second move takes advantage of the cover provided by the explosion, as it requires setting up a specialized lantern without being noticed. Before Shikamaru activates the lantern, he gives away his position by tossing another kunai, and the Doki advance to attack him. He then proceeds to toss five more kunai, forcing the demons to defend themselves and Tayuya. Finally, Shikamaru activates the lantern, which floods the area with bright light, allowing his shadow to grow and possess the Doki. Before the demons advance, though, Shikamaru asks Tayuya to at least ready a kunai.

Tayuya replies by saying, "This flute is my only weapon. I told you, anyone who hears this flute's song is dead!" Having memorized Tayuya's finger movements across the flute during the previous charade, he easily attacks Tayuya with her own monsters. Tayuya, however, simply dispels the beasts. Shikamaru then reveals his Shadow Neck Bind Technique, in which he gives physical form to his shadow to constrict his opponent. Tayuya once again counters the attack by advancing her cursed seal to Level 2. Tayuya goes on to trap Shikamaru in a musical genjutsu. Shikamaru tosses a kunai at Tayuya, but misses, seemingly because of the disorienting technique. Shikamaru realizes that he is unable to move, and it looks as if he is finally through. However, just as Tayuya attempts to kill him with his own kunai, he uses his own shadow to break his finger, using the pain to escape the illusion, counter her attack, and bind her in his shadow, this time at point-blank range, where he can keep a stronger grip. He reveals that he had intentionally missed with his kunai, providing Tayuya with a close-range weapon, knowing that this would have made it easier for his Shadow Neck Bind Technique to succeed, and armed with the knowledge that Tayuya possessed no other weapon that could kill him from long range because of her earlier remark. However, her brute strength still outmatches his, and just as he runs out of energy, he is again saved, this time by Temari. Temari easily dispatches Tayuya, after which she remarks, "It is done." Shikamaru replies by saying, "What an aggressive woman... She's even scarier than my mom."

Although Shikamaru tried his best as team leader, upon his return he is very hard on himself for the results; not only did the mission fail, but most of his team's members are put in mortal peril, it being a miracle that they all came back alive. If it hadn't been for the Sand siblings arriving in time to save them from their clearly superior opponents, they probably would have perished. Furthermore, he (as Tayuya pointed out) had sacrificed himself and his teammates, five men, for just one. As the Sand siblings depart, he sees them off, exchanging words with Temari.

Shikamaru's initial reaction to the failed mission is to quit being a ninja altogether. His father scolds him for being such a coward, then explains to him that if he quits being a Chunin there will still be missions and somebody else will lead his friends; then he will only experience worse pain when somebody else leads his friends to their deaths while he would have been able to prevent it by remaining in charge of them. Shedding tears of relief when a report arrives that his friends are all right and taking his father's advice to heart, Shikamaru resolves to do better next time for their sake. In the anime, Shikamaru is also appointed an academy instructor.

[edit] Naruto the Movie 2

Shikamaru played a major role in the second movie as Sasuke's replacement. Shikamaru was the first to discover that people's souls were used to create the knights. Near the end of the movie, he fights a woman named Kamina who can transform into a large bat, continuing Shikamaru's humorous predicament of being forced to fight aggressive women. He also saved many people from Haido's castle and appeared in the bonus ending (credits).

[edit] Anime filler arcs

Shikamaru is seen in the Mizuki Strikes Back arc backing up Naruto alongside Ino and Choji against the Legendary Stupid Brothers. Through Ino-Shika-Cho's teamwork, they are able to temporarily subdue the two powerful criminals, but ultimately need the help of Tsunade when the brothers prove too strong.

Shikamaru makes a few brief appearances in later episodes before his next major arc. He oversees Konoha's Genin in the survival-training mission for young academy students in one episode. In another, he makes a brief appearance with his team. They had accidentally set off a distress signal after a large group of monkeys attacked them, intent on stealing Choji's snacks.

In the Konoha 11 arc, Shikamaru is assigned to lead the other primary Genin teams in the investigation of a man named Gennou. Gennou had stolen blueprints that could be used to plan a potentially devastating attack during Konoha's period of reconstruction. Not unexpectedly, Shikamaru proves to be a shrewd detective, quickly catching onto seemingly minor clues and predicting the enemy's plans. He also proves more comfortable in his role as leader, though of course not without complaining to Tsunade first about having to do anything at all. In the end, he leads his team to victory and beats Gennou at his own game, leading to the old man's death.

He appears again when Gaara is challenged by the Shiitenshounin, a group of ninja wielding strange and powerful weapons. When they kidnap one of Gaara's students, Shikamaru leads the Konoha 11 (minus Tenten) to provide assistance and repay their debt from the Sasuke Retrieval arc. Along with Ino, Shikamaru rescues Temari from another wind user.

[edit] Part II

Shikamaru in Part II.
Shikamaru in Part II.

Shikamaru, 2½ years later, makes his Naruto: Shippuden debut in Chapter 247, walking alongside Temari. Along with growing noticeably taller, he has gone under a costume change, sporting a different undershirt and pants, and changing his earings from rings to studs, though the placement of his headband is the same. He has learned a new jutsu: the Shadow Sewing Technique, which uses shadow tendrils to restrain or impale multiple targets. He also takes on the responsibility as a Chunin Exam proctor in addition to his role as a teacher at the academy.

[edit] Hidan and Kakuzu Arc

Shikamaru is revealed to be a member of the Niju Shotai, where he is teamed up with Asuma, Izumo Kamizuki, and Kotetsu Hagane in an effort to track down and eliminate any and all members of Akatsuki. Eventually, the team finds one such member: Hidan, and as Shikamaru restrains Hidan with his Shadow Imitation Technique, the rest of the team is able to coordinate a finishing attack on Hidan. When it is revealed that this effort has done little to stop Hidan, Hidan's partner, Kakuzu, appears, forcing Shikamaru to release Hidan.

As Asuma battles Hidan, Hidan begins a ritual that causes all damage done to him to be done to Asuma as well. Because of Hidan's apparent immortality, Hidan is able to use this to advantage, giving himself injuries to easily harm Asuma while not being affected by the debilitating blows himself. To help Asuma, Shikamaru captures Hidan with his shadow once again and adopts his meditative analysis of all of Hidan's actions and words up to that point. He quickly realizes that Hidan needs the blood seal that he had drawn on the ground earlier to maintain his jutsu, so Shikamaru pulls him out of it. With damage done to Hidan no longer harming Asuma, Shikamaru ties Hidan down with his Shadow Sewing Technique, allowing Asuma to decapitate the Akatsuki member.

However, even this is not sufficient enough to kill Hidan. After Kakuzu reattaches his partner's head, he joins the fight and pins down Izumo and Kotetsu while Hidan manages to bind Asuma to his curse jutsu again by stepping back into the blood seal. Shikamaru rushes to the aid of his sensei just as Hidan impales himself with his pike, severely injuring Asuma. After the arrival of a backup squad consisting of Ino, Choji, Aoba, and Raido, as well as the retreat of the Akatsuki duo, the Konoha ninja attempt to take Asuma to safety where he can be healed. Asuma, however, knows that he won't survive, and decides to give parting words to his young teammates. To Shikamaru, Asuma says that he has great potential, perhaps enough to one day become Hokage. After Asuma enjoys one last cigarette, he dies, and Shikamaru finishes smoking the rest of the cigarette pack in his sensei's memory.

At Asuma's funeral, Shikamaru is noticeably absent, instead watching the clouds in the sky and the clouds created by the cigarette he is smoking. After some reminiscing, he reads up on how to channel his chakra into Asuma's trench knives. Since chakra knives accept the property of the user, he is able to channel his shadow chakra into the blades. After packing up his gear, Shikamaru leaves Konoha with Ino and Choji to avenge Asuma's death. Before they can leave, however, Tsunade confronts the trio saying that they can't go without a more experienced ninja present. Kakashi Hatake appears from the shadows, willing to lead Team 10 in Asuma's stead. Once Tsunade allows them to go, Shikamaru works Kakashi into his plan for defeating the Akatsuki duo, and gives Kakashi something to use if he finds he gets the chance. As they head out to confront the Akatsuki pair, Kakashi remarks at how great a plan Shikamaru was able to come up with in such a short period of time.

Upon finding Hidan and Kakuzu, Shikamaru uses Asuma's trench knives, swelling with his shadow chakra, to restrain the Akatsuki members by pinning their shadows. With the two unable to fight back, Shikamaru prepares to trap the two with his Shadow Imitation Technique to allow him more of an advantage, though Kakuzu is able to escape before Shikamaru can ensnare him. With Hidan under his control, Shikamaru uses Hidan to attack Kakuzu, though the latter is able to dodge and block all of Hidan's attacks. When Kakuzu reveals his ultimate defense, something that hardens his skin in order to protect him from all physical attacks, Kakashi appears and delivers a Lightning Blade to Kakuzu's heart, apparently killing him.

Kakuzu, having the hearts of four other ninja within four masks kept on his back, survives the attack, only losing the use of the one of his five hearts. One of the masks crumbles away, sending its heart into Kakuzu for use. With the other three masks, Kakuzu is able to perform extremely potent elemental attacks, freeing Hidan from Shikamaru's bind and doing heavy damage to Kakashi. As Team 10 regroups from this unexpected turn of events, Shikamaru volunteers to distract Hidan while the others focus their attention on Kakuzu. After Kakashi gives Shikamaru a small capsule, Shikamaru sends multiple waves of his shadow at Hidan in an attempt to trap the immortal. Hidan, having fallen for the technique so many times, is determined not to fall for it again, and focuses all of his effort into avoiding Shikamaru's shadow, effectively saving himself from its binding effects. Shikamaru uses Hidan's concentration to his advantage by punching him in the face, distracting Hidan long enough to become trapped by the Shadow Imitation Technique.

With Hidan back under his control, Shikamaru leads him away from Kakuzu. Once far enough, he covers the area in explosive tags to corner the immortal. Unfortunately, the Shadow Imitation Technique's time limit has elapsed, freeing Hidan from Shikamaru's bind. Hidan uses the opportunity to cut Shikamaru's cheek and consume the blood. With the enssuing ritual complete, Hidan quickly stabs himself in the heart, causing an apparently dead Shikamaru to keel over. Shikamaru is, however, alive and well; the capsule Kakashi had given him was filled with Kakuzu's blood, and the blood Hidan consumed for his ritual was from the capsule; effectively, Hidan stabbed Kakuzu in the heart. With Hidan oblivious, Shikamaru tries to decapitate him with a short sword. The cut is too shallow to sever the immortal's head, prompting Shikamaru to capture him in a Shadow Imitation instead - albeit a much weaker one at this point with his chakra running low.

As Hidan tries to attack Shikamaru, Shikamaru uses his Shadow Gathering Technique to cover Hidan with the explosive tags in the area. With Hidan tied in place, Shikamaru activates a mark he had prepared before the battle, causing the ground beneath Hidan to collapse into a pit. After Shikamaru states that Hidan dug his own grave when he killed Asuma, Shikamaru goes on to explain that the surrounding forest is the property of the Nara clan; only they are allowed to enter or leave the forest, thus ensuring that Hidan's remains will never be found. After lighting a cigarette, Asuma's image appears beside Shikamaru, congratulating him on finally defeating Hidan. He then passes his "will of fire" to Shikamaru. As the ghost fades, Shikamaru flicks the cigarette at Hidan, setting off all of the exploding tags at once.

The explosion blows Hidan apart, leaving only his head intact. From the bottom of the hole, Hidan threatens Shikamaru with punishment from his Lord Jashin, but Shikamaru calmly states that he only believes in the "will of fire" and that Hidan’s god is nothing. He then throws a kunai tied to explosive tags at the side of the hole. The explosion causes the side to cave in, effectively entombing Hidan, and ending their battle.

[edit] Post Hunt for Uchiha

After coming to the Hokage office to discuss something of his own, Shikamaru was given the code Jiraiya left on Pa's back to decipher. Even though he informs Tsunade that the cryptographic squad likely went home, she insists to gather them and that they will work directly for the Hokage under his lead.

At the office of the cryptographic squad, Shikamaru meets a girl named Shiho who appears to be strongly attracted to him, although he is not aware of this. He is told that they cannot figure out the code without a key and that someone who was close to Jiraiya might be able to help. Visits to Tsunade and Kakashi provide no new leads. On the advice of Kakashi, who is more concerned about Naruto's well being, Shikamaru decides to see Naruto about the code. Realizing that Naruto's mind is still on Jiraiya, Shikamaru decides to help his friend. He first brings him to visit Kurenai who is pregnant with Asuma's child. Shikamaru then proceeds to have a talk with Naruto; explaining that they will have students of their own one day and there comes a time when one needs to grow up, hearkening back to his own experience with Asuma's death. The talk seems to help Naruto. With Naruto now over Jiraiya's death, he turns his attention to helping decipher his master's code.

[edit] Quotes

  • "What a drag."
  • "Shadow possestion jutsu!"
  • "And that's what I call using your head!"
  • "Now who's hearing bells?"
  • "What an aggressive woman... She's even scarier than my mom." (about Temari)
  • "How troublesome."
  • "Such a pain..."
  • "That is why women are..."

[edit] Creation and conception

The trio of "ino-shika-cho" is a hand that can be played in the card game Hanafuda, "ino" means "boar," "shika" is "deer" (Shikamaru's family raises deer, and his last name, Nara, is the name of a park in Japan that is famous for its group of free-roaming deer) and "cho" is "butterfly."

Masashi Kishimoto commented during an interview that he likes Shikamaru because he is "dry", so he does not show off his ability.

[edit] Other media

  • Shikamaru Nara is a Playable characters in the Naruto "Clash of Ninja" video games. He appears in 5 out of the 7 games.
  • He also appears in the second Naruto movie. Shikamaru fights Kamina, who can transform into a large bat. With the help of Kankuro, he is able to defeat her.
  • Shikamaru dislikes fighting women, but ironically most of his opponents have been female.
Facts about Shikamaru NaraRDF feed
Age 12 -13
  • Part II: 15-16 +
Birthdate September 22nd +
Blood type AB +
Gender Male +
Height 162.1 cm (1.621 m, 5.318 ft, 63.819 in) +
Weight 43.9 kg (96.783 lb) +

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