Mikasa Ackerman will always be known as one of the strongest women in anime, contrary to the all too common depictions of female characters who lack all agency and pale in comparison to their male counterparts. Despite lacking Titan abilities of her own, many fans would still regard Mikasa as the strongest member of Attack On Titan's protagonist trio. Her Titan-killing abilities are unrivaled next to Levi's, and she's definitely killed her fair share of them. But amidst all of her talent, at her core lies a slightly naive, impulsive teenager. To remind you that this living legend has two sides to her, we've compiled a list of the times she was nothing short of a genius, and other times when she just came up short. This article does contain some MANGA SPOILERS, so if you're anime-only, this was your warning to click away.
10 Genius: Suspecting Annie From The Very Beginning
Mikasa and Annie always had some tension between them from their first encounter. When Mikasa found Annie's ring with the hidden blade, she immediately wondered why Annie would need such an accessory. When Mikasa, Eren, and Armin cornered her in the Stohess District, it was Mikasa's swift recollection of this ring that allowed her to move Armin and Eren away from Annie right before she used it to transform. Sure, we all knew Annie was hiding something by her demeanor alone, but Mikasa's killer instincts and observational skills have saved the lives of she and her comrades more than once.
9 Not Genius: Letting Her Emotions Get The Best Of Her During Eren's Trial
After finding out that Eren could transform into a Titan at will, the Military Police and the Order of the Walls wanting nothing more than to have him killed and dissected. It was Levi's quick thinking that saved his life, and Eren fully understood that the beating Levi gave him was the only reason he made it out of that trial alive. Everyone else in the Survey Corps seemed to understand this, except Mikasa, who nearly rushed in to attack Levi. She might be an observational pro, but put Eren in some danger and all that genius just flies out the window.
8 Genius: Slicing Annie's Fingers When She Tried To Climb The Wall
When Annie attempted to harden her Titan fingers to climb her way to a desperate escape, no other soldier present was able to stop her. It was Mikasa who managed to slice her fingers right below the unhardened flesh, leaving Annie with no other choice but to fall.
Though this may not seem like a big deal, fans must remember that the wrong move would've given Annie the opportunity to take her down like she'd already done t0 many other elite soldiers, and if Mikasa's aim had been off by just an inch, her blades might have shattered against Annie's hardened skin. Only a soldier as skilled as Mikasa could execute cuts so precise to leave a foe as skilled as Annie completely speechless.
7 Not Genius: Trying To Use Thunder Spears On Bertholdt
Despite not knowing the Colossal Titan's identity for years, most of his abilities were common knowledge after his first two appearances: particularly, his ability to generate massive amounts of steam that made it impossible to get close to him. This one isn't as much Mikasa's fault as it is Jean's for coming up with this plan in the first place, but we can't believe Mikasa just blatantly agreed to it. We would've thought that out of anyone, she should've known better. After the Colossal Titan deflected her Thunder Spears, the ensuing explosion caused some shrapnel to hit her arm, the price to pay for blindly following a plan that every fan knew was doomed to fail.
6 Genius: Sensing The Explosion In Zackly's Office And Avoiding It
In terms of high-ranking officers, the General of the Three Military Branches of Paradis, Darius Zackly, was pretty high up there. Unfortunately, he'll never be able to tell us just what got him to the top. A chair bomb set by the Yeagerists went off in his office, maiming his corpse. If it wasn't for Mikasa's refined senses and her ability to grab Armin and dive for cover, the two would've been caught in the blast as well. Only a prodigy like Mikasa can adapt to danger with only a moment's notice the way she did here.
5 Not Genius: Lowering Her Guard Around Eren When He Wasn't Fully In Control Of His Titan Form
Mikasa witnessed Eren's rampage after his first Titan transformation during the Battle of Trost, so she was well aware of that he may lose control after transforming.
After he was tasked with sealing the Wall, many even theorized that he might just go berserk instead of following the plan, so it didn't make sense for Mikasa to lower her guard so much that Eren nearly crushed her with a punch.
4 Genius: Outmaneuvering The Jaw Titan
It was during the Raid on Liberio that the Jaw Titan demonstrated its speed and flexibility, making it one of the more dangerous adversaries during this battle. When Porco Galliard tried to flee after his attempt to eat Eren failed, Mikasa fired a Thunder Spear in his path that managed to send him to the ground, and towards the end of the battle, she was able to anticipate that Porco would be distracted by the Paradis airship, slicing its heels while it was distracted, rendering it immobile. This just goes to show how many steps ahead Mikasa is of her enemies.
3 Not Genius: Trying To Kill The Female Titan Against Levi's Orders
After the Female Titan kidnapped Eren, Mikasa was sure that he was still alive. As she and Levi approached her, Levi made it clear that their goal was to retrieve Eren only and not to defeat the Female Titan. But what did Mikasa do? When she saw an opportunity, she went in for the kill, and was nearly crushed had Levi not pushed her out of the way, breaking his own ankle in the process. Despite her legendary prowess, this showed fans that Mikasa was still just an immature teenager with many more years of fighting until she develops that Ackerman insight that'll keep her from making foolish mistakes ever again.
2 Genius: Mastering The Vertical Maneuvering Equipment
While we've seen many characters struggle to use the ODM gear, Mikasa can't be included in that list. During training, even her instructor deemed her to be a genius! She makes using the ODM gear look easy, and there have been many times where she's executed impossible maneuvers flawlessly.
Her first Titan kill was an Abnormal that not even elite Survey Corps members were able to take out, and let's not undervalue the physical prowess and mental awareness required to avoid Reiner's grab in midair, land on his tongue, and launch a Thunder Spear directly into his mouth at the right angle to send him flying out of his own Titan's nape.
1 Not Genius: Using Up All Of Her Gas After Eren "Died"
After Mikasa thought that Eren had actually died, she used up all of her gas as she attempted to drown out her pain through action. She's lucky Eren (in Titan form of course) happened to be right around the corner or else she'd have been made into a Titan snack. While at the time she had no idea that Eren was still alive, such reckless use of her ODM gear was the worst thing she could do in that situation. What if she had fallen and broken her neck? The fact that Eren would soon save her would've made deprived this moment of any deep significance. Plus, Paradis is toast without at least two Ackermans under their belt.