Shikamaru: Tactical Genius or Overrated Combat Retard?
“…to secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands, but the opportunity of defeating the enemy comes from the enemy himself.” -Sun Tzu, 6th century B.C.
“…for Patrick Swazye pimping is easy.” –Cpl Eva… er coolbeans1, 21st century A.D
Here on iareawesomeness, there has been an off and on debate as to whether or not Shikamaru is really the smartest thing since sliced bread or just an overrated blowhard that feels himself the next coming of Swazye. So I (coolbeans1) am here to combine a rudimentary view on real world USMC tactics with the anime style of writing. As you do. Our man (ok your man, because I don’t like him) has been in several battles, but I’ll only be going into one in particular: Shikamaru squad vs. the immortals.
First, there are only two methods of attacking an enemy: direct and indirect. (That means you can throw paint in his eyes or go old school and jack him in the jaw.) However, in combination they give rise to endless maneuvers. The force recon view is summed up by their guiding principle:
“Attack with speed and extreme violence and you usually win.”
Extreme speed and violence isn’t really Shikamaru’s style. He uses less of a tactical approach, instead opting for a strategic shoji-like approach. (Tactical=what happens in a battle, strategic=a campaign or war; big surprise there, huh?)
Shiki starts off by reviewing the plan with his troops before the battle starts. This is fighting 101 stuff and he does a great job. He clearly assigns Kakashi, Chouji and Ino jobs and initial contact procedures. Whenever a fire team goes “outside the wire,” the fundamental procedures are to review the plan and check everyone’s equipment.
Shikamaru’s grade in initial planning is a resounding A+.
*grumbles in disappointment*
Next he uses Ino’s mind transfer technique and a bird to scout for the enemy.
After finding them, he notes where they are and selects the battlefield he wants.
Again, in his information and planning phase, Shiki gets an A+.
*mutters stupid smart people, damn average raisers*
(Yeah, right…) Can he keep it up for long? Is Shikamaru really that good? Is he the knight that Ass-uma thought he was?
His initial contact goes well. He uses exploding tags to create a desired response from the enemy, then uses it against them by shadow binding them with his blades. Then, Shikamaru attacks Kakuzu using a shadow-possessed Hidan-puppet. Another good move.
(Man, its bothersome to check my ego and compliment this guy. I’d rather look at Gai….umm clouds, I meant clouds and you can’t prove otherwise!!!) *comment followed by rapid shifty eyes*
His team is hiding its numbers and force. Chouji’s attack fails, Kakashi has revealed himself from the “guardian angel” position, and they’ve only destroyed one heart. ONE. It was a great initial strategy, and they couldn’t have known that the enemy was a multi-hearted freak. However, now the entire team is exposed (f@cked!).
The speed and violence approach has failed, so…what now? Kakuzu, the tank of the Akatsuki, is still on track and delivering blows. Hidan, the ground pounder, is free of Kage Mane and ready to roll out on the opposition.
Shikamaru’s grade for initial contact B maybe B+.
*Ha! I knew this straight A’s business wouldn’t last.*
Kakashi comes under fire from both enemy units and dodges enemy attacks with great skill and poise. Ino stands by unused and un-useful. Choji waits awestruck and without orders. Shikamaru is still not communicating with his team throughout the battle. Come on, Shikamaru, do you need someone to hold your hand? Maybe a written invitation from the Hokage saying GET OFF YOUR A$$, KID!!!!
The situation has turned, the unit is on the defensive and their leader is impotent. Maybe Shiki had too many shots of whiskey last night, I dunno. I wonder how Temari takes this (or does she?!). His resources (team members) are disoriented, out of orders and not being directed. The squad does reform into a proper defensive position (that’s something, I guess).
The squad leader is centered in the back to give effective orders; Kakashi is the front of the diamond shape, called a wedge formation. They finally regroup and pass pertinent information. Maybe he can save this phase of battle yet. (Holy Captain Planet batman, the enemy punches back!)
Our intrepid squad leader correctly states that the immortals need to be split up. DER. Normally a leader SHOULD TASK THIS OUT. However, in the anime world a little give and take is needed for the story writing aspects. Meaning, it’s not really a bad decision for him to be the odd man out and go all lone wolf on Hidan’s cocky a$$. (Yeah! Somebody needed to stomp that guy a new mudhole…) The recap of recollecting and adapting phase goes as suck, I mean such.
Shikamaru had no control over his squad, no one communicated with each other for way too long (they have headsets that can be used, such as in the save Garra arc, I mean, WTF?!). Shikamaru was paralyzed with indecision for what, in a battle, amounts to an eternity. His forces were scattered and the main body troops (Kakashi fills this role, too…what a guy…) were isolated and had to go above and beyond the others to keep themselves in the fight.
In the real world, I would grade a very low D range.
But as we all know this is the mysterious world of manga
(and we all want Kakashi to look really cool)
…so I’ll give his leadership a C-.
(yippy!! bring that hate mail on)
Going into a post adjustment phase, Shikamaru does use a lot of indirect fire methods to get the desired result. In a rudimentary way, he uses the “talking guns” method.
One fires, then during the pause, the other fires. The enemy is never at rest. Rounds are always incoming and the enemy is usually either battered or forced into an unfavorable position of some sort.
What this means in the manga world is that Shikamaru is using a combination of attacks (the kage mane and his shuriken shadow bind) to force the enemy to retreat and react until capture is achieved. Good move and quite strategic (…Hmm maybe he should read make out tactics… that would help more than he has so far…)
He leads Hidan to another battlefield of his choosing and proceeds to use delaying, misdirection, false information and unconventional warfare techniques.
The rest of his fight is one on one and doesn’t show his leadership abilities, which are the main focus of this longwinded article (I mean come on, tactical breakdown of a manga…Coolbeans you silly b***h). Although, he does an outstanding job in unconventional warfare.
A+ for sight selection and imposing his will on the enemy
to force the combat on his terms
(ack, I gave him another compliment, nooo…what is the world coming to)
The final verdict, Shikamaru has strategic brilliance. He can formulate an articulate plan, ensure that the squad is prepared, and adjust once the situation becomes organic. BUT, he’s slow to act under fire. He doesn’t keep proper control of his assets and he doesn’t utilize his forces to their fullest in this particular battle (Ino plays no major part, not even as a distracting force to divide the fire).
Shikamaru’s final grade in the real world? D+.
In the anime world? B+
In the coolbeans combo scale? C-
*because I hate it when a leader can’t keep control of his men and/or is stricken with indecision.*
*(plus, Shiki sucks)*
Five most dangerous things to hear in the army:
1. A Private saying, “I learned this in Basic…”
2. A Sergeant saying, “Trust me, sir…”
3. A Second Lieutenant saying, “Based upon my experience…”
4. A Captain saying, “I was just thinking…”
5. A Warrant Officer chuckling, “Watch this $#!+…“