Numerous anime and manga publications have commented on Shikamaru's character. Many reviewers commented on his laziness and intelligence, Shikamaru has also been highly popular with the Naruto reader base, placing high in several popularity polls.
Creation and conception Edit
Masashi Kishimoto has noted that he likes Shikamaru due to his easygoing nature despite being a genius, and contrasted him against Sasuke Uchiha's intelligent but abrasive personality.
Shikamaru first major appearance in the series is during the Chunin Exams, bi-yearly exams for ninja who wish to advance in rank. He is part of Team 10 alongside Choji Akimichi and Ino Yamanaka. He is a highly unenthusiastic person, and he attempts to go through life with minimum effort. Contrary to his lazy tendencies, Shikamaru is extremely intelligent; his teacher, Asuma Sarutobi, determined that Shikamaru's IQ was over 200. Shikamaru approaches the exams with a sense of apathy; when he battles the Sunagakure ninja Temari, he defeats her but forfeits his match to her, due to his chakra being low. Despite this loss, he is the only ninja among his peers to be promoted to the rank of Chunin, as the overseers of the exams were impressed by the insight and intelligence he demonstrated against Temari. As a Chunin, Shikamaru is appointed the leader of a team to prevent Sasuke Uchiha from defecting to the village of Otogakure.
In Part II of the series, Shikamaru is assigned the task of locating two members of the criminal organization Akatsuki]]. While his team manages to find their targets, Akatsuki member Hidan kills Asuma Sarutobi during the course of the battle despite Shikamaru's best efforts. After Asuma's funeral, Shikamaru sets out with the surviving members of Team 10 and Kakashi Hatake to avenge their teacher's death As his team deals with Hidan's partner, Kakuzu, Shikamaru avenges Asuma by defeating Hidan. Following the fight, he vows to protect Kurenai Yuhi, who is pregnant with Asuma's child. He is later assigned to the Fourth Division alongside Temari and Chōji. He is named a proxy general under Gaara.
Appearances in other media Edit
Besides the Naruto anime and manga, Shikamaru is also featured in Naruto the Movie 2: Legend of the Stone of Gelel, the second featured film in the series. In this film, he aids Naruto Uzumaki and Sakura Haruno in fighting against Haido, a utopian idealist seeking to rule the world with a power called Gelel. In the fourth Naruto film, Shikamaru appears in a brief sequence, fighting against a large group of stone soldiers. He is also present in the third original video animation, in which he participates in a tournament. Shikamaru is a playable character in nearly all Naruto video games, including the Clash of Ninja series and the Ultimate Ninja series In some games, he utilizes variations of his Shadow Imitation Technique not seen in the anime or manga. Naruto Shippūden: Gekitō Ninja Taisen! EX 2 marks the first appearance of Shikamaru in his Part II appearance in a video game.
Shikamaru has ranked highly in the Weekly Shōnen Jump popularity polls for the series, continuously placing in the top ten and reaching fourth place in one poll. The last such poll was in 2011, in which Shikamaru was in ninth place, behind Sasori and ahead of Hinata. Merchandise based on Shikamaru has also been released, including action figures, key chains, and patches in both his Part I and Part II appearance.
Several publications for manga, anime, video games, and other related media have commented on Shikamaru's character. IGN stated that Shikamaru was one of their favorite characters in the series, and referred to him as "the poster child for any card-carrying member of Generation X" due to his general lack of enthusiasm and his unwillingness to utilize his potential. In a review of episode 110, IGN praised how Shikamaru managed to transcend his lazy nature in order to take on the mantle of a leader when assigned to lead a team in order to retrieve Sasuke Uchiha and agreed that the decision to make him Chunin was fair. Anime News Network also commented on this development, calling Shikamaru's emergence as "an unlikely hero" one of the highlights of the arc. In a subsequent review of episode 135, in which the mission to retrieve Sasuke has failed and the members of Shikamaru's team were critically injured, IGN lauded the "great moment" in the episode in which Shikamaru began to cry after learning his friends will recover, and declared that he will be a better leader for the sake of his friends. Mania.com celebrated his "sheer intellect", calling him "one of the most fascinating characters in the series" and "one of the few truly brilliant fighters in shōnen anime".