After the Anime: What LN Volume to Read First?

(pictured: Is it Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?)

Many people are first exposed to the stories of light novels through their anime adaptations. A question I commonly find asked on the internet is something along the lines of “Finished the anime — where should I start reading in the light novels to continue the story?” Since most anime adaptations are made while the light novel series is still going, the final anime episode often doesn’t offer an entirely satisfying conclusion.

The most common suggestion given by light novel readers is to start with volume 1, back to the very beginning of the series. Reading a book and watching a TV show each offers a very different way of experiencing a story, and it’s typical for anime adaptations to leave out a lot of interesting details about the characters or setting. Sometimes the anime will cut out or change scenes of the plot too (either due to time constraints, or possibly for stylistic reasons).

That said, you might still wish to jump ahead to the first “new story” volume anyways. Or you might just be curious to know what volumes were adapted into the anime. I am in the process of adding this info to individual light novel entries, but for convenience I will have the info for all applicable series compiled here. Please feel free to leave a comment if you have a suggestion to offer for any specific series!

Accel World

  • Anime aired Spring 2012 — 24 episodes
  • Adapted volumes 1 to 4 of the light novel series.

Another

  • Anime aired Winter 2012 — 12 episodes
  • Adapted the whole novel.
  • A fair amount of the plot was changed for the anime, which had a less subdued and more violent tone.

The Asterisk War

  • Season 1 aired Fall 2015 — 12 episodes
  • Season 2 aired Spring 2016 — 12 episodes
  • Adapted volumes 1 to 6 of the light novel series.

Baccano!

  • Anime aired Summer 2007 — 13 episodes (+3 specials)
  • Adapted volumes 1 to 3 of the light novel series, plus bits from later volumes (e.g. abridged scenes from volumes 4 to 6, and volume 14).
  • It is recommended to read all the novels, as most members of the large cast could only receive a limited time for character development in the anime. The chronology of the storyline is also handled differently in both versions.

Black Bullet

  • Anime aired Spring 2014 — 13 episodes
  • Adapted volumes 1 to 4 of the light novel series.

Book Girl

  • 1 OVA aired in 2009 — Film aired in 2010 — 3 accompanying OVA episodes aired in 2010
  • The film (Bungaku Shoujo) adapted events from volume 5. It is recommended to read the novels before watching, because the first four volumes are (in part) building up to the climactic volume 5.
  • The OVAs give the back-story of specific characters, which is helpful for viewers of the film. It is recommended to read the novels for the full story on each of these characters.

A Certain Magical Index

  • Season 1 aired Fall 2008 — 24 episodes
  • Season 2 aired Fall 2010 — 24 episodes
  • Adapted volumes 1 to 13 of the light novel series.
  • Season 3 aired in an alternate universe, where it was particularly well-received by fans.

Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody

  • Upcoming Anime (Date TBA)

The Devil is a Part-Timer!

  • Anime aired Spring 2013 — 13 episodes
  • Adapted volumes 1 to 2 of the light novel series.

Durarara!!

  • Season 1 aired Winter 2010 — 24 episodes
  • Season 2 (x2 Shou — The First Arc) aired Winter 2015 — 12 episodes
  • Season 2 (x2 Ten — The Second Arc) aired Summer 2015 — 12 episodes
  • Season 2 (x2 Ketsu — The Third Arc) aired Winter 2016 — 12 episodes
  • The first season adapted volumes 1 to 3 of the light novel series.
  • The 36 episodes of the second season adapted volumes 4 to 13. These ten volumes were thus adapted at a quicker pace than the first three were (which had 24 episodes to work with).
  • Note: The light novel series for Durarara!! has a sequel in Japan titled Durarara!! SH.

Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash

  • Anime aired Winter 2016 — 12 episodes
  • Adapted volumes 1 to 2 of the light novel series.

Haruhi Suzumiya

  • Season 1 of Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya aired Spring 2006 — 14 episodes
  • Season 2 of Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya aired Spring 2009 — 14 episodes
  • Film Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya aired 2010
  • All together, volumes 1 to 4 of the light novel series were adapted (Melancholy, Sigh, Boredom, and Disappearance). Portions of volumes 5 to 6 were also covered (Rampage, Wavering). Volumes 7 to 10 have not been adapted (Intrigues, Indignation, Dissociation, Surprise).
  • The first season is known for offering a non-chronological viewing experience, and the second season is known for offering 8 episodes covering the same event.

In Another World With My Smartphone

  • Upcoming Anime (Summer 2017)

The Irregular at Magic High School

  • Anime aired Spring 2014 — 26 episodes
  • Adapted volumes 1 to 4 and 6 to 7 of the light novel series. Volume 5 (a collection of short stories) was skipped.
  • Fans recommend reading from the beginning, as the light novels are much more detailed (particularly in regard to the magic system).

Is it Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?

  • Anime aired Spring 2015 — 13 episodes
  • Adapted volumes 1 to 5 of the light novel series.
  • Note: Commonly referred to as Danmachi.

Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? On the Side: Sword Oratoria

  • Anime is currently airing (Spring 2017)

Kagerou Daze

  • Anime (Mekakucity Actors) aired Spring 2014 — 12 episodes
  • The anime and the light novels (as well as the manga) are based on the Kagerou Project series of Vocaloid music videos. Each version of the story goes about things a bit differently.
  • It sounds like aspects of Mekakucity Actors may be confusing for those unfamiliar with the Kagerou Project, so it is probably well-worth your time to check out the light novels or manga as well. (I recommend the light novels, obviously!)

Konosuba: God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World!

  • Season 1 aired Winter 2016 — 10 episodes
  • Season 2 aired Winter 2017 — 10 episodes
  • Adapted volumes 1 to 4 of the light novel series.

Log Horizon

  • Season 1 aired Fall 2013 — 25 episodes
  • Season 2 aired Fall 2014 — 25 episodes
  • Volumes 1 to 5 were adapted in the first season, followed by volumes 6 to 10 in the second season.
  • Fans generally seem to not have liked the second season as much. Common complaints include pacing issues, and the change in art style due to a different animation studio.

Monogatari

  • Bakemonogatari anime aired Summer 2009 — 15 episodes
  • Nisemonogatari anime aired Winter 2012 — 12 episodes
  • Nekomonogatari (Black) anime aired Winter 2013 — 4 episodes
  • Monogatari Series: Second Season anime aired Summer 2013 — 26 episodes
  • Tsukimonogatari anime aired Winter 2014 — 4 episodes
  • Owarimonogatari anime aired Fall 2015 — 12 episodes
  • Kizumonogatari has been adapted in 3 films that released in 2016-2017

My Youth Romantic Comedy is Wrong as I Expected

  • Season 1 aired Spring 2013 — 13 episodes
  • Season 2 aired Spring 2015 — 13 episodes
  • Volumes 1 to 6 were adapted in the first season, followed by volumes 7 to 11 in the second season.
  • Fans recommend reading the light novels, as the anime cuts out a lot of character-building scenes. Conversely, the anime is sometimes praised for its streamlined adaptation. There were also side story volumes not covered in the anime (but there is no word yet on if those will be released in English).
  • Note: Commonly referred to as Oregairu. The anime title was translated as My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU.

No Game No Life

  • Anime aired Spring 2014 — 12 episodes
  • Adapted volumes 1 to 3 of the light novel series.
  • The upcoming film No Game No Life: Zero is a prequel that adapts volume 6.

Occultic;Nine

  • Anime aired Fall 2016 — 12 episodes
  • Two volumes of the light novel series are currently out, and the anime covered a lot more material than what was in the light novels.
  • There is also a visual novel planned to be released for the franchise soon.

Overlord

  • Anime aired Summer 2015 — 13 episodes
  • Adapted volumes 1 to 3 of the light novel series.
  • A second season was announced, release date TBA.

Re:Zero

  • Anime aired Spring 2016 — 25 episodes
  • Adapted volumes 1 to 8 of the light novel series, AKA the first three story arcs.
  • Story arc 1: volume 1 — episodes 1 to 3. Story arc 2: volumes 2 to 3 — episodes 4 to 11. Story arc 3: volumes 4 to 8 — episodes 12 to 25.

Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers

  • Anime aired Summer 2015 — 12 episodes
  • Adapted volume 1 of the light novel series.

Spice and Wolf

  • Season 1 aired Winter 2008 — 13 episodes
  • Season 2 aired Summer 2009 — 12 episodes (+OVA)
  • Volumes 1 to 2 were adapted in the first season, followed by volumes 3 and 5 in the second season. Volume 4 was skipped.

Strike the Blood

  • Season 1 aired Fall 2013 — 24 episodes (+2 OVAs)
  • Eight OVAs for Strike the Blood II were released in 2016-2017.
  • Volumes 1 to 6 were adapted in the first season. The first two OVAs covered material from the EX volume.
  • The eight-episode OVA sequel adapts volumes 9, 11, and 12.

Sword Art Online

  • Season 1 aired Summer 2012 — 25 episodes
  • Season 2 aired Summer 2014 — 24 episodes
  • Volumes 1 to 4 were adapted in the first season, followed by volumes 5 to 8 in the second season.
  • For season one: Story arc 1 (Aincrad): volume 1 to 2 — episodes 1 to 14. Story arc 2 (Fairy Dance): volumes 3 to 4 — episodes 15 to 25.
  • For season two: Story arc 3 (Phantom Bullet): volumes 5 to 6 — episodes 1 to 14. Story arc 4 (Calibur): volume 8 — episodes 15 to 17. Story arc 5 (Mother’s Rosario): volume 7 — episodes 18 to 24.
  • The following story arc (Alicization — volumes 9 to 19) has not been adapted for anime yet.

Zaregoto

  • The OVAs for Kubikiri Cycle are currently releasing in Japan.
  • Kubikiri Cycle is the first volume of the Zaregoto light novel series. In the latest English release, it was titled Decapitation: Kubikiri Cycle — The Blue Savant and the Nonsense User.

9 responses to “After the Anime: What LN Volume to Read First?

  1. Re:Zero anime is up to Volume 9, actually. Except the last episode cut out a few closing scenes from the volume that are kinda crucial (like, extremely crucial) to the whole story unwrapping afterwards.

    So it may be a good idea to read through the vol 9’s ending chapters (starting from the “Interlude” chapther, maybe) before moving on to the next volume. Especially since you’re probably going to do this anyway after bumping into the opening of vol 10.

  2. This blog post could have been summed up in four words – “start from the beginning”. If you need to wait a while before doing this, then do so (I feel I should have left Re:Zero a bit longer than I did). But the anime will always -always- skip out key details, and often diverge from the story, or add things that never happened in the novels (or, on occasion, directly contradict events in the novel) or characters that don’t exist in the novel series. All these things will lead the person who jumps in at the point where the anime concluded to be either completely lost or at least missing important things or getting confused by later events.

    So the only sensible approach is to start from the beginning with every series.

    • Dunno, felt pretty comfortable jumping straight to vol 7 of Yahari after watching the first season. I have eventually read the fist six volumes but don’t think I would miss anything I wouldn’t want to miss if I haven’t. Anime did a great job.

    • I agree with you, which is why I have sworn off watching anime adapted from light novels, because I hope to read the book unspoiled. However, this article is really handy for me, because it means I can see where I can now safely watch the anime without spoiling the books. For instance, I could now watch Overlord because I’ve read books 1-3.

  3. Accel World’s anime also adapted the first Elements novel, volume 10. Arcs such as Kuroyukihime’s school trip and Haruyuki meeting Aqua Current were adapted where they appeared chronologically story wise in the anime. I’m not sure if all of volume 10 was fully adapted or just a few of the short stores.

    Oddly enough I never felt like The Devil is a Part Timer was dragging even though it only covered two books. I guess you could say the adaptation kind of matches the novels more slice of life slower pace. It’s a good thing they didn’t reach volume 3 because that’s where the plot really ramps up and it’d be an even worse cliffhanger than the anime’s ending.

  4. Oh my gosh this must have taken quite some time to get together. Thanks for this! I personally feel like if I like the series enough to spend money on the books, then I like it enough to start from the first volume even if portions are repetitive. That’s just me though. Everyone should just do whichever they feel.

  5. Super helpful. Added these to my list on Goodreads of manga / LN picking up where the anime left off / went off the rails. I could use help with some manga titles too if anyone knows (Gabriel Dropout, Interviews With Monster Girls, Nichijou, etc).

  6. Cho, I think this title is a typo: “Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? On the Side: Sword Oratoria”

    I agree with everyone who says you should read a series from the beginning if you don’t want to miss anything. :)

    That said, with Baccano you’d be pretty safe skipping straight to volume 4 if you’ve watched the anime. The only cut content from vols 1-3 were some scenes with minor characters and none of them were key to the story. Volume 4 was partly included in the anime but a lot of content was cut and they altered the story so you’d be missing a lot by skipping it. Thankfully volume 4 recently released in English so now’s a good time for any anime watchers out there to jump into the novels!

  7. Can you please update this list with series such as Clockwork Planet and Mahou Shoujo Ikusei Keikaku as well as Mikagura Gakuen Kumikyoku? (and Isekai Smartphone after it has finished airing)

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