As the year comes to a close, I thought it would be fun to put together a few blog posts in the form of “top 10” lists. I have at least three of these in mind, but for now I’ll start with a list of my favorite anime shows that are based on light novels series.
It took a little while for me to warm up to Toradora, but once the story started to move more from high school antics to character-driven drama, I became quite invested in the main cast and their relationships. The series does a great job at gradually revealing why characters’ personalities are the way they are, and having them develop at a steady pace over the course of the story. This allows the main romance plot to progress in a manner that feels more natural than the average romcom, in my opinion.
Growing up I liked reading a variety of fantasy adventure books, and the anime for Chaika–while perhaps not a truly innovative entry to the genre–worked with its tropes quite nicely to weave together an entertaining story. The characters were fun and memorable, there was a clever magic system and quest to drive the central plot, and I found a lot to like in both the show’s character-driven comedy and in its fast-paced and well-animated action sequences.
I knew very little about the Fate franchise before watching this anime, but that did not keep me from enjoying this adaptation of Fate/Stay Night‘s light novel prequel series. There is a large cast of characters for this story, but I found the majority of them quite intriguing, and I liked the way all their subplots developed over the course of the series. The animation and music are high quality, and the darker themes the story tackles are interesting to reflect on.
7) Log Horizon
I did not expect to care for Log Horizon, as I have never played the sort of MMO computer game the series takes place in. Despite this, the series turned out to be a great deal of fun, thanks to its many memorable characters and its focus on setting-driven conflicts that give way to extensive and imaginative world-building. There’s a strong sense the author understands well how the fantasy world of such a game would operate, and I appreciated the ways the characters learned how to adapt and create a society in such a setting.
I recently watched this anime again (this time with a friend), and I feel that my appreciation for the series has only grown since I first gave the series a shot. In many ways the story looks like it would be a pretty basic high school romcom, but the callous ways the cynical protagonist Hachiman deals with everyday situations makes for a very unique and entertaining experience. I particularly liked how the characters were able to help classmates learn to deal with their troubles, rather than managing to solve all their issues outright.
5) Ghost Hunt
There came a time when I became greatly interested in horror stories, and it was around then that I became acquainted with the anime Ghost Hunt. It’s a fairly unassuming series with average production values and a straightforward storyline (simply a series of ghost-related mysteries), but I found myself thoroughly enjoying the anime from start to finish. There’s a good variety to the main characters as well as to the types of ghosts they have to deal with. Really nothing to complain about, save for the lack of a fully conclusive ending.
I feel that Durarara is one of the more unique anime series I’ve seen, but it’s somewhat tricky to pin down what precisely drew me into the story’s colorful and cool world. There’s a large cast of unusual characters in this one, and they all have their subplots and mysteries that cross over with one another with lots of energy and pizzazz. At times it felt like a bit too much, but I’m still greatly looking forward to the continuation this upcoming year, and can only guess what further plot twists await.
There’s a lot of things I really liked about Gosick, from the lovely turn-of-the-century European setting to the wide variety of whimsical mysteries that make up its various story arcs. But what I loved most is most certainly the two main characters and the way their relationship gradually developed from one escapade to the next. Kujo and Victorique are both very adorable characters, and I felt the author did an excellent job having the two complement each other with both their strengths and their weaknesses. I consider the series an overlooked gem.
There are few–if any–anime that I consider to be more imaginative than Humanity Has Declined. Somehow the series ended up being both one of the most hilarious shows I’ve seen as well as one of the most thought-provoking. And somehow it managed to craft such a tone that enabled a variety of avant-garde messages and observations to get through amidst the antics of fairies, robot bread, sentient headless plucked chickens, and anthropomorphic satellites from space… all in the most colorful post-apocalyptic setting I’ve ever seen. I strongly recommend this series to those looking for something different from the norm.
Easily one of my favorite anime in general, and one of the main examples I always turn to when introducing people to the wide variety of stories that are told in the Japanese animated medium. Kino’s Journey was one of the first anime I watched that I could consider intellectually-stimulating, and was the show that made me aware of the world of light novels. I’ve rewatched the series several times, and every episode always holds up in my eyes. The setting-driven stories are clever and leave a strong impression–and Kino remains one of my favorite fictional protagonists in general. Definitely give the show a try if you haven’t yet seen it.
There are surely a number of good anime based on light novels that I haven’t seen yet, so I wouldn’t consider this list conclusive by any means. Perhaps I will do the list again a year or two from now then? At any rate, feel free to share your own favorites here, and I’ll consider them suggestions for future viewing.