Analyzing the Best-Seller Lists – Light Novels

I used to do posts where I looked at the most recent manga bestseller list in Japan and imagined which was most and least likely to be licensed. With Yen leaping into the light novel pool, and some others dipping a toe into it, I wanted to see what would happen if I looked at the light novel 2015 bestseller list and saw what was licensed, what was likely, and what wasn’t that likely.

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1) Is It Wrong To try To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon? Licensed by Yen On, 5th volume out in April.

2) The Irregular at Magic High School. Licensed by Yen On, first volume out in April.

3) My Youth Romantic Comedy Is Wrong As I Expected. Licensed by Yen On, first volume out in June.

4) Overlord. Licensed by Yen On, first volume out in May.

5) Naruto Secret Chronicles. Licensed by Viz, 3rd volume out in May.

6) Sword Art Online. Licensed by Yen On, 7th volume out in April.

7) Kagerou Daze. Licensed by Yen On, 4th volume out in May.

8) Confession Rehearsal. One volume, part of the Vocaloid franchise. Kadokawa Shoten. It’s possible this could be picked up, but one volume? Not unless Kagerou Daze really takes off.

9) A Certain Magical Index: New Testament. Theoretically will be licensed by Yen On after all 22 volumes and 2 short story compilations of the first Index have come out. A ha. A ha ha ha.

10) Sword Art Online: Progressive. Licensed by Yen On, 4th volume out in October. Has “caught up” with Japan.

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11) Forgetful Detective. 5 volumes to date, Kodansha. This is by Nisioisin, and is a straight-up detective series. I find it incredibly unlikely it will be licensed, much as I’d like it to be. We’re already lucky to have Bakemonogatari.

12) Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon?: Sword Oratorio. Licensed by Yen On, first volume out in October.

13) Haikyuu!! Shousetsu-ban!. 6 volumes to date. Based on the Shonen Jump manga, I’d expect if it gets super super popular Viz might grab it. But I mean, like, Naruto popular.

14) No Game No Life. Licensed by Yen On, 5th volume out in July.

15) Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online. 4 volumes to date, Kadokawa. A spinoff written by someone else under Kawahara’s supervision. It seems the most obvious license here, but we are somewhat glutted with SAO recently, it’s not by the main author, and it doesn’t star Kirito (or even have him in it at all), so I’m not sure if Yen will grab this.

You see the problem here. There’s barely anything to analyze: Yen Press has been here and gone. If nothing else, it tells you what drives the market. Titles with anime out and manga tie-ins as well, long-runners, fantasy series with harem elements. There’s some Vocaloid outliers, and the Nisio title seems to be based mostly on his popularity as an author in and of itself, though it does have a live-action series.

To sum up, if you’re asking when someone will license that popular light novel series? They’ve done it. Go to your local bookseller and pick it up today.

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