Are you a fan of anime and manga, but love to sink your teeth into a good book from time to time? Have you been wanting to find out the origins of many top anime and see where it all began? Well, if the answer to either of those questions is yes, then maybe light novels are something that you might want to check out. The fact is, though, some of these light novels can run for many, many volumes and can seem quite intimidating to the uninitiated. So then, this week on the otaku rabbit hole, we’ll be introducing three light novels/ franchises that are truly fantastic and worth checking out, whether it’s your first dip into light novels or if you’re a light novel veteran. This list is not presented in any particular order, so buckle up and get ready for a list of amazing and magical light novels.
Decapitation Kubikiri Cycle by NISIOISIN
Decapitation follows the narrator on an island filled with geniuses – a group of individuals who are the best at their trade, following an invitation from the island’s mistress. These geniuses are unique in their eccentricities and make for some fascinating characters. However, this idyllic island paradise soon becomes a hellscape after one of the geniuses is found dead. Immediately, everyone is a suspect and the narrator and his dear friend set out to find the murderer before they can kill again. Decapitation is the first in the Zaregoto series of novels, however it can be read as a standalone story. If you enjoy this story and need to know more, then don’t despair because its sequel novel, Strangulation, continues the tale beyond the island but with its own share of mystery and intrigue. These light novels are a must read for fans of murder mysteries and tense thrillers everywhere.
This series is also part of the extensive catalogue of books written by light novel veteran NISIOISIN, author of the well-known and highly regarded Monogatari series, so if these novels whet your appetite for mystery, then his other books are also available to keep you reading long into the future.
I’ve Been Killing Slimes for 300 years and Maxed Out My Level by Kisetsu Morita
The longest titled novel on our list and part of the trend of incredibly long titles to recently hit isekai (another world) light novels, I’ve Been Killing Slimes is a light novel series that follows our main character, Azusa the witch. After being reincarnated into a world of magic following her untimely death, she is made immortal and decides that to make up for her first life, where she was overworked to death, she’s going to live a stress-free life. To make enough money to get by, she kills slimes daily and sells their item drops to the local shop. This is repeated day-in, day-out for 300 years until she’s found to have maxed out her level. From here, her peaceful life in the hills is turned upside down, with constant interruptions and quests from a cast of lovable and colourful characters. As time goes on, Azusa’s family begins to grow, and the story becomes less about her avoiding hard work and instead becomes a tale about living together and looking out for the people you care for. This series is filled to the brim with heart and is an easy, relaxing read. If you’re in the market for a feel-good series of light novels that will never fail to make you smile, then I can’t recommend this series enough. The first two volumes are currently available and the third is soon to be released both digitally and physically, so now is as good a time as any to dive into the life of Azusa the witch and her merry band of misfits.
Magical Girl Raising Project by Asari Endou
Magical Girl Raising Project is a franchise filled with magic, murder and heartache as groups of magical girls undergo the trial of becoming a fully-fledged magical girl. In the first novel, we follow the lives of 16 magical girls as they are entered into a hellish competition where, at its core, they must do good deeds to earn magical candy. At the end of each week, the magical girl with the lowest total candy is stripped of her magical girl powers, and this continues week to week until the total number of magical girls is halved. As this light novel progresses, events take a dark and twisted turn and we learn that this competition is not like it seems. A novel series that is a personal favourite of mine, it’s one that lives and dies by its shocking reveals. A dark and brutal depiction of magical girls, this series is certainly not one for the faint-of-heart, but is a fantastic franchise for fans of the dark-magical girl genre or of darker tales in general. The first novel is a standalone story, however there are currently five volumes available both digitally and physically, if you want to read on. I must say, though, that if you stop after the first volume, then you are doing yourself a disservice. The cast of magical girls and their relationships are fantastically complex and, should you reach the fourth volume, you will be treated to even greater insight into the world and characters – thus further rounding out characters that were not lucky enough to receive ample character development in their first appearance. Of all the series mentioned, I believe this one to be grossly underappreciated and is most definitely deserving of a lot of love.
With that then, we have finished this trip down the otaku rabbit hole. If this has helped you find a light novel to check out, then I’m so glad. If you decide to read any of the light novels mentioned here that you end up enjoying, please let me know. With that, thanks once again for joining me on this trip down the otaku rabbit hole and until next time, keep it weeby!
Disclaimer: All images were gathered directly from the light novels. I do not own any of the images used in this review.