Apparently, it’s all in how they write or introduce the “intelligent” characters in their manga.
Manga, like all entertainment genres, tends to feature shed-loads of child prodigies and author-surrogate-like characters who naturally excel in just about all intellectual fields. In manga that’s set in high schools or universities, there’s inevitably the genius who knows everything about everything. According to one Japanese Twitter user, @nevadan2, there’s a way to tell exactly how intelligent the comic writer is to look at how they portray these and other “smart” characters.
言っちゃなんだけど、 頭のよくない作者が書く頭のいいキャラ＝IQ３００！学校の試験では常に全問正解！自他共に認める天才！ICPOが協力要請する天才！という設定の凡人 頭のいい作者が書く頭のいいキャラ＝言動に知性がにじみ出ているので特に派手な設定要らない ってのは宿命やな、、—
ネヴァダ (@nevadan2) September 03, 2017
@nevadan2 thinks that the way the manga artist or writer shows that the character is supposed to be considered clever is the key. Less intelligent manga writers will thus include painfully obvious reminders such as getting perfect tests scores or spouting huge amounts of trivia to the other “normally or less intelligent” characters. Others will find ways to casually drop their IQ scores into conversation (well, you would if you had an IQ of 500 million, wouldn’t you?).
According to @nevadan2:
“Dumb writer’s smart character: IQ of 300; always get full marks in tests; has their help requested by Interpol.”
Whereas, with a genuinely intelligent writer, their characters will display their intellect more obliquely, such as in the way they speak or the vocabulary that they utilise, which @nevadan2 explains with:
“Clever writer’s clever character: they just exude intelligence through their words and behaviour, there’s no need for such obvious devices.”
Japanese social media users were quick to respond, as some took the remarks as attacks on their favourite manga characters or authors.
“It’s also about how smart the readers are, they have to make it really obvious for some readers, right?”
“The author can’t write someone cleverer than themselves or give them more knowledge than they have in their own heads”.
“Nope, if the author just spends a bit of time Googling stuff they can give their character any knowledge they like!”
“Wasn’t the credibility of IQ tests refuted about 10 years ago?”
“Stop talking about Kiyo Takamine [14 year-old genius from the manga Zatch Bell!]! Zaker!”
Of course, now that it’s out in the open, we can all appear frightfully clever by making our characters sublimely loquacious, sprinkling their lexicon with choice word-morsels. Thanks, dictionary. Or if you can solve this one question, since apparently it proves you have an IQ of 150.