Light Novels 101: Definitive Guide

By -

First things first, light novels are not novels which are “light.” I’ve come across a variety of people who don’t know about light novels, and the very common stereotype they have is that light novels are “novels which are short, or which have a ‘light’ theme or where the general story is ‘light’.” No. That’s not the case.

Allow me to take this opportunity to educate some of you about what a light novel really is:

The term comes from a Japanese literature form called Japanese novellas, otherwise known as light novels or more popularly, LN. Light novels are chiefly a commercial strategy to reach out to the young-adult population. It’s generally a longer form of the short story whose storyline progresses with dialog building.

Another important feature of light novels is illustrations. Light novels in most cases have a number of illustrations both in black and white and color. It’s strictly for light reading with mild concepts and limited gore and sexual references, in contrast to manga.

Light novels do not elucidate anything in a comprehensive way, and usually have more of a sketchy form of literature widely employed for leisure reading rather than literary studies.

We have all read story books at some point in our life, even if it bored the hell out of us. And then, all of us have read comics as well. Wait. Why comics? Amongst the fanbase, almost all of us have read manga. In case you haven’t, congratulations – you’re are probably a noob, no offense. What a light novel does is, it combines the idea of a manga and a story book.

A light novel is like a story book, with illustrations at certain places, like manga. If you happen to print it and publish a book, it would be a story book with illustrations.

Audience & Genres

As mentioned earlier, light novels’ target audiences include “young adults.” Saying that, it is confirmed light novels have “censored” ideas and/or themes. Children should remain wary of these, unless they want to be spoiled (which you clearly are).

Light novels have varying genres, which can be considered similar to anime and manga genres. Starting from ecchi to supernatural to romance: you name it! Some of the popular light novels in their respective genres will be mentioned below, along with the links to find them. (so you can be lazier and just ‘click-and-go’)


Adaptation from light novels

What most of you don’t know is, many anime are actually adapted from light novels, and not manga. Did you ever come across an anime whose manga you tried to search up later and failed to find it? Well that’s because it’s not taken from a manga to begin with, but a light novel instead. Need an example? Here’s one which most of you will recall: High School DxD.


Some light novels which have their anime adaptations are listed below:

  • To aru Majutsu no Index – by Kazuma Kamachi
    • (Eng: A Certain Magical Index)
    • Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy
  • High School DxD – by Ichiei Ishibumi
    • (Eng: High School DxD)
    • Genre: Action, Romance, Ecchi, Comedy, Demons
  • Sword Art Online – by Reki Kawahara
    • (Eng: Sword Art Online)
    • Genre: Action, Adventure, Game, Romance
  • Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei – by Satou Tsumotu
    • (Eng: The Irregular at Magic High School)
    • Genre: Action, Romance, Magic, Supernatural, Shounen
  • Durarara!! – by Ryōgo Narita
    • (Eng: Durarara!!)
    • Genre: Action, Shounen, Supernatural
  • Kokoro Connect – by Sadanatsu Anda
    • (Eng: Kokoro Connect)
    • Romance, School, Comedy
  • Toradora – by Yuyuko Takemiya
    • (Eng: Toradora)
    • Romance, Comedy, Ecchi, School
  • Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! – by Torako
    • (Eng: Love, Chuunibyou and other delusions!)
    • Genre: Romance, Drama, Comedy
  • Fate/Zero – by Gen Urobuchi
    • (Eng: Fate/Zero)
    • Genre: Action, Supernatural
  • Kyokai no Kanata – by Nagumo Torii
    • (Eng: Beyond the Boundary!)
    • Genre: Action, Mystery, Supernatural

Some other light novels which are equally good but failed to get an anime adaptation (yet) are listed below as well:


  1. Utsuko no Haro to Zero no Maria – by Eiji Mikage
  2. Mushoku Tensei: Isekai Ittara Honki Dasu – by Rifujin na Magonote
  3. 6 – by Atsuko Asano
  4. Tensei shitara Slime Datta Ken – by Fuse
  5. Koten-bu Series – by Honobu Yonezawa

Anime and light novels

2016 has been the year of the light novels, because many of the anime this season have been adapted from light novels. Starting from Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuko wo! to Musaigen no Phantom World – both of these 2016 anime which made it to seasonal toppers in Kissanime* were light novel adaptations. Currently, Re:Zero and Orange, both of which are airing, are also light novel adaptations.

Now then, why read light novels when you can just watch the anime when it airs? The question answers itself. “When it airs” is the keyword. What if it never airs? Mushoku Tensei is one of the best light novels ever, yet it doesn’t have an anime so far.

And once you watch an anime where the season ends with a huge cliffhanger, your thirst to know the rest will force you into the light novel. And, there is one huge bright side. If you have a friend who’s into anime and doesn’t read the light novel, you can blackmail him with spoilers from the light novel to steal money and food from him (yes, it’s evil, but who cares?).

Finally, as promised, I shall now provide you with a link to the one-stop light novel collection website, so all of you may continue your research over there. I leave you all with the website baka-tsuki.



Enjoy and have fun reading and spreading the spoilers.


IllumiN00B is a gamer, programmer, and sits in front of his laptop all day long. He also helps with Nihonden's coding needs. Engaged with Pokemon Vortex and a voluntary help to all those who need it -- our noob is quite pro at what he does actually. And -- he has a beautiful blog! Read more from him at The Noob Diary.