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.


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.


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.

License Request Day – More Bestsellers in Japan

Last time I did this, back in July, I lucked out – 20 of the 32 bestsellers were already licensed, so I didn’t have as much to talk about. No such luck here, as only 8 of the Top 30 I looked at this week are licensed in North America in some way, shape or form. Plus it’s the week where all the shoujo came out and hit the charts. Needless to say, there are a LOT of potential Shojo Beat series here. Shall we take a look?

Firt, let’s set aside what’s licensed. Kimi ni Todoke, One Piece, Fairy Tail, Skip Beat!, Watamote, and Haganai all come out here physically. Space Brothers is up on Crunchyroll’s site, and Kadokawa’s new Comic Walker is putting out Kagerou Days, so I am counting those as licensed, if only digitally.


JoJo Lion (Shueisha, Ultra Jump) is the latest in the JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure epic tale, and its popularity has been resurgent lately, what with the new anime. That said, JoJo’s manga did not sell well here, and this is technically Vol. 110 if you think of it as one big series. It’s possible Viz might take a flyer on this, but I’d be surprised.

Yokai Watch is a franchise based off of a 3DS game that seems to be a cross between Natsume’s Book of Friends, Doraemon, and Yu-Gi-Oh. This particular volume is the shonen manga version from Corocoro, there’s also a shoujo manga that just started in Ciao. Oh, and there’s an anime as well. If Viz does license this, it might be via Perfect Square.

Kobayashi ga Kawai Sugite Tsurai!! is a shoujo manga running in ShoComi, which just got an OVA series. It is not based on a light novel, despite the title translating as Kobayashi Has It Tough Being So Cute!!. It features a twin brother and sister who go to single-sex schools. One day, they decide to dress as each other and switch. The plot spins out from there. Sounds a bit odd for a Shojo Beat title, but you never know.

Moyashimon has just wrapped up in Japan, and Volume 13 is the final one. It was once licensed by Del Rey, but never got past Vol. 2. You could try asking Kodansha for a license rescue, but make sure you’re surrounded by witnesses so you don’t get demoned away.

ReRe Hello, a Betsuma manga from Shueisha, has what sounds like a very cliched premise. Hardworking earnest girl who’s lost her family, aloof boy who falls for her, etc. That said, it’s not like titles are licensed for originality here anyways. This has gotten some very positive buzz, and it’s only about 3 volumes to date, so it’s definitely a possibility.


Hachimitsu no Hatsukoi translates as ‘First Love is Like Honey’, basically. It’s a childhood friend romance, and another ShoComi title. The artist used to be Tanemura’s assistant. This has gotten to Vol. 7, so it’s doing pretty well in Japan.

Hirunaka no Ryuusei is a Margaret title that is a teacher/student romance, so moving on.

Neko to Watashi no Kinyoubi has a very good chance of being licensed, mostly as it’s a title by Arina Tanemura, running in Margaret. Its male lead is quite young, and it also has a cousin romance, which would normally I suspect prevent it from coming out over here, but given its creator and her huge popularity I expect we’ll see it before long. Girl has a crush on guy but is too shy to say anything, her young cousin loves her. More on Tanemura later this post.

Ace of Diamond is a baseball manga that is now at 40 volumes, so moving on.

Ayakashi Hisen is another ChoComi title, this one with a touch of the supernatural to it, something Shojo Beat always likes. The premise seems quite similar to Kamisama Kiss and Demon Love Spell, so I would not be too surprised to see it, even though at 12+ volumes to date it’s hitting the top end for shoujo manga length.

I’m skipping the Kagerou Days anthology, which will only get licensed if the Kagerou Days manga is a big success here. Which means it would have to get into print somehow, I suspect.


31 Ai Dream is another title that would have no chance to come out over here except it’s by Arina Tanemura, who is doing multiple series in Japan at the moment. It runs in Melody, home to Gatcha Gacha and Ooku, so you know it’s going to be odd. The premise is dark: a former class president and idol of the school never confessed to her love. Now, at a reunion where she’s 31 years old, she sees he’s with another girl and decides to kill herself. Instead, she gets a medicine that sends her back to when she was 15. Readers of fanfics will recognize this premise as a standard ‘Peggy Sue’, but I’d be very interested to see where Tanemura goes with it. Want to see Shojo Beat get this, even if it’s an odd fit there.

Kaze Hikaru is actually licensed by Viz, something I keep forgetting. This is Vol. 35, which should see release here in 2027. But it is still coming out, I note, and I’m sure if more folks bought it it would come out more often.

Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou just had an anime start, so there’s potential there. The Kawai Complex Guide to Manors and Hostel Behavior is a seinen ‘apartment life’ manga from Young King Ours, and I’m honestly unsure which company it would fit best with. Shonen Gahosha does business with everyone, so…

Clover Trefle is the sequel to a very popular josei manga called Clover (no, not that one) (no, not that one either), which is 24 volumes and would need Viz to put those out first before its sequel comes out.

Sora no Otoshimono is relatively popular, and has an anime, but it’s 20 volumes, so I’d have to assume if it was going to be licensed it would be. It’d be the perfect Tokyopop title were they still around.

17-sai, Kiss to Dilemma is classic ShoComi smut. It has a lot of creeptasticness to it, apparently, so I’d suspect Shojo Beat would look at other titles first, as the smut they’re doing now is more of a josei bent than high schooler smut.

Shinrei Tantei Yakumo. See my entry for Sora no Otoshimono, then cut and paste it here, only ’11 volumes’.


Silver Spoon is an incredibly heartwarming, funny and awesome manga that sadly continues to be about farming. Still, I am hoping Viz’s defenses are weakening against this series.

Mujaki no Rakuen is a Young Animal title, and I think far too lolita complex/pedophilic overtones for the North American market. It’s also a Peggy Sue, like 31 Ai Dream. A loser NEET is mocked at a reunion by his female classmates. Then he goes back in time to where they were all 5th graders, but with his adult memories/experiences. A lot of naked 5th grade girl art follows. Of all the titles I discuss here, this is the one I expect is least likely. And thank God for that.

Angel Heart’s ‘2nd Season’ is up to Vol. 8, but the 33 volumes of its first season were never licensed, and anyway, why would you license something with a dead Kaori? Finish the series with living Kaoris, City Hunter!

Lastly, Kuroko’s Basketball has all the drawbacks of sports manga in North America. That said, now that Slam Dunk is finished, it’s possible. It certainly has a large female fanbase over here.

And there you have it. Of all these titles, which do you want to see the most? Which do you think is the most likely to be announced? Which makes you weep bitter tears you’ll never see it?

License Request Day – Another Look At Bestsellers

I was reminded after Kodansha’s recent licenses at San Diego Comic Con (I’ll have a post on them later) that they had both been on my last major License Request pile. So, since I’ve used those requests up for the most part, let’s take a look back at the bestseller charts. June 2013, to be precise.

I’m looking at the Top 50, which has 32 distinct titles on it (some titles have multiple volumes). 20 of these 32 are licensed, which shows you how “Company X never licenses the really popular stuff!” isn’t true. So, already off the list are: One Piece, Naruto, Hunter x Hunter, Kimi ni Todoke, Attack on Titan, Blue Exorcist, Yotsuba&!, Bleach, Detective Conan, Black Butler, Real, Magi, Natsume’s Book of Friends, Fairy Tail, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Toriko, Vagabond. Inu x Boku SS, Say “I Love You”, and Drifters. Even if one of those is only as of yesterday. :)

That leaves 12 titles. Let’s look at them, and find good reasons they should be licensed, and good reasons they may never be licensed.


1) Saint Young Men, Kodansha.
Why? It’s a smart, witty, funny and heartwarming story about Jesus and Buddha in modern-day Japan, dealing with subways, hot springs, and spending far too much money. It’s a cult favorite on the internet.
Why not? This is the only title I can think of – EVER – where the Japanese company has taken it upon themselves to say they’re not licensing it to North America. They believe the market isn’t ready for it. I’m inclined to agree with them. All it takes is one angry parent going onto the 700 Club… Also, it’s filled with obscure references and would need a Zetsubou-sensei amount of notes at the end. Kodansha are trying to cut back on endnotes, and Vertical avoids them when possible.

2) Silver Spoon, Shogakukan.
Why? It’s the latest manga by the author of Fullmetal Alchemist, which was a huge seller over here. It’s filled with humor and heart, and lots of likeable characters. It’s a bestselling Shonen Sunday title, and we need more of those. There’s an anime currently running.
Why not? It’s a farming manga. And I mean that most sincerely – this isn’t a romance manga or action manga that takes place on a farm, it is a manga about farming that takes place at an agricultural college. You know the last Ag College manga that they tried over here? Remember Moyashimon’s fate? Yeah.

3) Kuroko’s Basketball, Shueisha.
Why? It’s the biggest sports title Weekly Shonen Jump currently has. It also has a HUGE fandom, admittedly heavily female and “BL” oriented. It’s a lot of fun.
Why not? It’s over 20 volumes and showing no signs of ending soon. Viz is still trying to finish Slam Dunk, also a Jump manga about basketball with a large female fandom. Its fandom is controversial in Japan due to psychos who threaten to bomb every single doujinshi event featuring it.

4) Assassination Classroom, Shueisha.
Why? It’s the latest big breakout hit from Weekly Shonen Jump. It has all the things you want from a Jump comic – comedy, action, and lots of heartwarming, as the students of the “failure” classroom all learn valuable lessons thanks to their so-called “evil” teacher. The teacher is a smiley face on legs, which sells itself.
Why not? Did you look at the title? Stories about a teacher whose students try to kill him in various ways, and with various weaponry, are a bit of a tough sell here.


5) Sakamoto Desu Ga?, Enterbrain.
Why? This is, no doubt about it, the funniest title on this list. It’s brand new, so there’s no issue with it having tons of volumes risk-wise. Did I mention how funny it is?
Why not? It’s also really incredibly weird. In fact, it may remind people of Cromartie High School, which did not sell well here if you recall. There’s only one volume out in Japan, so people may want to wait a bit to see if it can keep up its one joke. It is a very funny joke – Sakamoto does everything awesomely – but still one joke.

6) Ao Haru Ride, Shueisha.
Why? It’s the latest from the author of Strobe Edge, and is basically a fantastic Shojo Beat candidate. High school romance, people trying to learn from past mistakes, heartwarming, tearjerking, etc.
Why not? Strobe Edge is still running, and I imagine its success or failure will give a hint as to whether this title will do well. That’s really about it.

7) March Comes In Like A Lion, Hakusensha.
Why? From the author of Honey & Clover. It’s charming and well-written.
Why not? Many reasons. Shogi features heavily in the plot. Honey & Clover didn’t sell all that great here. Hakusensha really only has one market left – Viz – and they tend to focus on their shoujo titles there. This seinen title isn’t quite the same.

8) Terra Formars, Shueisha.
Why? That’s not a misspelling – this is a manga about taking back Mars, which due to a terraforming project gone wrong is now inhabited by humanoid cockroaches. It sounds a bit like Starship Troopers, to be honest. It’s won awards, and is only 5 volumes long so far.
Why not? It’d have to be a Signature title, and those are always hit-or-miss sales-wise. Viz also tends to avoid Young Jump series.


9) Uchuu Kyoudai, Kodansha.
Why? It’s an epic space story with an anime that has won many awards.
Why not? It’s far too long for a seinen title (20+ volumes), and its fanbase, while vocal, is pretty damn small. It runs in Weekly Morning, which generally doesn’t have much of a license presence here.

10) Chihayafura, Kodansha.
Why? It’s incredibly well-written and heartwarming, has an anime adaptation, and its fanbase is VERY vocal.
Why not? It’s about that Japanese poetry game where you pick out the right card. It’s josei, running in the magazine Be-Love. It’s over 20 volumes and still going.

11) Gintama, Shueisha.
Why? A digital-only release could be a great way to revive this title, which combines humor and serious business like no other Jump title out there – even One Piece isn’t quite as mood whiplashey as Gintama can get. Some of its best stuff hasn’t come out over here yet.
Why not? Contrary to popular belief, Viz almost never drops series unfinished. They did so with this one. That implies bad sales. It’s also got a huge volume count, and shows no signs of ending. There really are an awful lot of poop jokes.

12) Mix, Shogakukan.
Why? It’s a Mitsuru Adachi baseball manga, taking place in the same universe as his acclaimed Touch. Nuff said.
Why not? Cross Game didn’t sell that great. There are other Adachi titles I’d want to see before this.

And there you have it. Some of these are quite likely to get looked at in future (Ao Haru Ride, Terra Formars), while some are pipe dreams. Which of these bestsellers do you most want to see over here?