Every year since 2005, a light novel guide book titled Kono Light Novel ga Sugoi! (This Light Novel is Amazing!) is published in Japan, featuring lists such as top 10 most popular light novels and top 10 favorite light novel characters. To create their final listings, the poll works with multiple categories of voters: the homepage survey (general public), collaborators (critics, writers, bookstore workers, bloggers, etc), and a monitor group (teens who have read over fifty of the year’s light novels). This typically leads to a final list that includes not only the most popular works, but also some relatively overlooked titles that are well-received by those in the light novel industry. Light novel series that have won in the past include Zaregoto, Spice and Wolf, Book Girl, A Certain Magical Index, and Sword Art Online.
To spice things up for this year’s post, I decided to buy a copy of the magazine and take some pictures. First up, here’s what it looks like:
Though it won first place for the last three years, My Youth Romantic Comedy is Wrong as Expected doesn’t qualify this year because there weren’t any new volumes released. Maybe next year, if Watari writes the next installment.
With that out of the way, here is our new set of top ten light novels:
Top 10 Light Novels (A6)
- Ryuuou no Oshigoto! [#26]
- Re:Zero [#29]
- A Certain Magical Index [#7]
- Sword Art Online [#2]
- Goblin Slayer! [new]
- Melody Lyric Idol Magic [new]
- Gamers! [#15]
- Yowa-Chara Tomozaki-kun [new]
- Konosuba – God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World! [new]
- Kono Koi to, Sono Mirai [#16]
The number in brackets notes the light novel’s ranking from last year. Four new titles made the list, and four others made a big jump up the ranks. Congratulations to Ryuuou no Oshigoto, a title I can’t seem to find much of anything about in English. It means “Work of the Dragon,” I believe. From what I can tell, it is about shogi. The protagonist is a young champion at the classic board game, and for SOME reason an elementary schoolgirl now lives with him in order to learn shogi. Perhaps don’t hold your breath for a Yen Press license of this one.
Titles releasing in English include Re:Zero, A Certain Magical Index, Sword Art Online, Goblin Slayer (beginning in December), and Konosuba (beginning in February).
Interestingly, this year also has a second list for top 10 light novels. The first ranking was for the classic small-sized volumes of light novels, while this second ranking is for the larger “regular novel”-sized releases.
Top 10 Light Novels (B6)
- Kumo desu ga, Nani ka?
- Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation
- Honzuki no Gekokujou
- Ninja Slayer
- Kyuuketsuki ni Natta Kimi wa Eien no Ai o Hajimeru ~Long Long Engage
- Tensei Shitara Slime Datta Ken
- Boukyaku Tantei
- Kono Sekai ga Game da to Boku dake ga Shitteiru
The winner this year is Overlord, which placed 25th in the light novel rankings last year. All the other titles are new, but perhaps didn’t make the cut in past years due to disagreement regarding what counts as a light novel.
I’ll go ahead and note #7, which is a title by my favorite author/artist duo, Mizuki Nomura and Miho Takeoka (world-famous for Book Girl). If you’re reading this Yen Press… you know what to do. ;)
Up next are the top-voted favorite characters, ten for the boys and ten for the girls.
Top 10 Male Characters
- Touma Kamijou (A Certain Magical Index) [#3]
- Kazuto Kirigaya (Kirito) (Sword Art Online) [#2]
- Accelerator (A Certain Magical Index) [#4]
- Subaru Natsuki (Re:Zero) (tied with Hachiman) [new]
- Hachiman Hikigaya (My Youth Romantic Comedy Is Wrong as I Expected) (tied with Subaru) [#1]
- Kenji Fujikido (Ninja Slayer) [new]
- Tatsuya Shiba (The Irregular at Magic High School) [#5]
- Kazuma Satou (Konosuba – God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World!) [#15]
- Sora (No Game, No Life) [#6]
- Kyousuke Shiroyama (Mitou Shoukan:// Blood Sign) [new]
Top 10 Female Characters
- Mikoto Misaka (A Certain Magical Index) [#1]
- Rem (Re:Zero) [new]
- Megumin (Konosuba – God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World!) [new]
- Asuna Yuuki (Sword Art Online) (tied with Yukino) [#4]
- Yukino Yukinoshita (My Youth Romantic Comedy Is Wrong as I Expected) (tied with Asuna) [#1]
- Megumi Katou (Saenai Heroine no Sodate-kata) [#6]
- The White Queen (Mitou Shoukan:// Blood Sign) [new]
- Emilia (Re:Zero) [new]
- Index (A Certain Magical Index) [#10]
- Othinus (A Certain Magical Index) [#9]
Things look gloomy for the Oregairu cast, as Hachiman and Yukino both get knocked down to 4th/5th place. They’ll need a strong volume 12 next year in order to reclaim their thrones.
Meanwhile, as has been the case for years now, the characters of A Certain Magical Index have manged to delight readers in Japan. Another series by Kamachi, Blood Sign, also earned some high marks. What is it about Kamachi’s characters that make them so memorable?
Also worth noting, the stars of Re:Zero are all newcomers to the chart, partly thanks to the well-received anime adaptation I’m sure. Same for Konosuba, to a lesser extent.
Next up, the top 10 artists.
Top 10 Artists
- Kiyotaka Haimura (A Certain Magical Index) [#2]
- abec (Sword Art Online) [#3]
- Kantoku (Imouto sae Ireba Ii) [#4]
- Kurone Mishima (Konosuba) [new]
- Warainaku (Ninja Slayer) [new]
- Ponkan 8 (My Youth Romantic Comedy is Wrong as I Expected) [#1]
- Kurehito Misaki (Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata) [#5]
- Shirabi (Ryuuou no Oshigoto!) [new]
- Shinichirou Ootsuka (Re:Zero) [new]
- Saki Ukai (Black Bullet) [#10]
Not too many changes from last year, other than a few new additions for some of this year’s light novel winners. It seems artists get noticed only when the light novels become popular… Or maybe it’s the other way around?
Now let’s take a look at the new light novel series that debuted in 2016. Which ones make the top ten?
Top 10 New Works
- Goblin Slayer!
- Melody Lyric Idol Magic
- Yowa-Chara Tomozaki-kun
- Chika sugiru karera no, 17-sai no toui kankei
- Ore o sukina no wa omae dake ka yo
- The Faraway Paladin
- Strike Fall
- Assassin’s Pride
- Zarusoba (kawaii)
- Shousetsu no Kamisama
Note that Goblin Slayer will release in English next month, and we are currently getting translation work done for The Faraway Paladin.
Now I’ll go ahead and include a list of the rest of the top 50 light novels. How many of them do you recognize?
Top Light Novels (#11-50)
11. Grimgal of Fantasy and Ash
12. Imouto Sae Ireba ii
14. Seishun Buta
15. Chika sugiru karera no, 17-sai no toui kankei
16. A Certain Pilot
17. Ore o sukina no wa omae dake ka yo
18. Is it Okay to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?
19. Paladin of the End
20. Elpis at the Bottom
21. Strike Fall
22. Alderamin on the Sky
23. Mitou Shoukan
24. Assassin’s Pride
25. No Game No Life
26. Eirun’s Last Code
27. Youkoso Zitsuryoku Shijou Shugi no Kyoushitsu e
28. Accel World
29. Sword Art Online Progressive
30. Heavy Object
31. Zarusoba (kawaii)
32. Rokudenashi Majutsu Koushi to Akashic Records
33. Shousetsu no Kamisama
34. Kino’s Journey
35. Tada, Sore dake de Yokattan desu
36. Imouto Love
37. The Irregular at Magic High School
38. Ketsuyoku Ou Boumeitan
39. The Familiar of Zero
40. Ero manga Sensei
41. Sono juu moji o, boku wa wasurenai
42. Eiyuu Toshi no Bakadomo
44. Isekai Rakugo
45. Tokyo Shiniki: Closed Eden
46. Muhou no Bengonin
47. Toaru Majutsu no Virtual-On
48. Kusuriya no Hitorigoto
49. Arifureta Shokugyou de Sekai Saikyou
50. Ouroboros Record
And to wrap up this post, here are some pages from the magazine to give a general idea of what’s inside. Some nice artwork, some interviews, details about all the light novels, and suggestions for reading in a variety of genres. These categories included things like adventure, battle! battle! battle!, destiny, hard mission, underground, monsters, fantasy life, workers, dear daily life, love story, move to tears, borders, and novelization. Make of those as you will!