Top 5 Anime Series Based on Light Novels

Updated on November 19, 2018

Sword Art Online

Sword Art Online: Alicization Vol.1
Sword Art Online: Alicization Vol.1
  • Author: Reki Kawahara
  • Genre(s): Adventure fiction, Science Fiction
  • Volumes: 20
  • Airing: 2012 -

Sword Art Online is one example of how far gaming can push our technological limits. SAO is a VRMMORPG (virtual reality massively multiplayer online role-playing game) in which the basic concept is to create an avatar, make friends, and form parties to defeat creatures inside the fictional gaming world of Aincrad. Due to state-of-the-art technology, the NerveGear is able to stimulate all five of the player's senses by sending its own signals to the user's brain. Therefore, allowing the player to feel like they are actually inside of the game.

The protagonist of the series is Kirito, an experienced VR player who was one of 1,000 beta testers chosen to test Sword Art Online. However, it's creator informed all players that they need to conquer all 100 floors of the game to be set free. If they lost all of their health points or were forcibly removed from the game, they died. After hearing this, Kirito made it his mission to beat the game and set everyone free with the help of his girlfriend Asuna and several other people he had met on the way.

As the series continues, Kirito and his friends visit other different themed VRMMO's such as ALfheim Online (ALO) and Gun Gale online (GGO). While the series is game focused, its latest season (Sword Art Online: Alicization) touches on ethical issues regarding Artificial Intelligence. Due to its variety and ever-changing theme of science fiction, this series is an easy recommendation.


Overlord Vol.1
Overlord Vol.1
  • Author: Kugane Maruyama
  • Volumes: 13
  • Genre(s): Dark Fantasy
  • Aired: 2015 - 2018

Overlord is a unique series because it comes from the perspective of a villain. In the year 2126, a DMMORPG (Dive Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) called Yggdrasil is released. The game itself is a rarity because of how much the players can interact with the world. During its 12-year run, there was one guild that stood on top and there name was Ainz Ooal Gown.

But, came the day when Yggdrasil was to finally shutdown and DMMO player Momonga decides to stay logged in. Instead of being logged out, he is transported to a new reality where the game itself and the NPCs (Non-Player Characters) inside it have seemingly come to life. Now trapped in his avatar, Ainz Ooal Gown (formerly known as Momonga) travels the new world in hopes of solving the mystery of Yggdrasil and finding his lost comrades.

If you're a fan of Dungeons and Dragons or played a lot of table-top games, then Overlord is the novel for you. The series blends comedy and fantasy exceptionally well and puts a funny spin on the "overpowered and villainous protagonist."

The Devil Is a Part-Timer!

The Devil Is A Part Timer Vol.1
The Devil Is A Part Timer Vol.1
  • Author: Satoshi Wagahara
  • Volumes: 19
  • Genre(s): Action, comedy, fantasy
  • Aired: 2013

The Devil Is A Part-Timer! is one of those anime series with a premise so unique, you know it's one of a kind. Satan's plan to conquer the fantasy world of Ente Isla has been foiled, therefore him and his subordinate (Alciel) are forced to escape through an unknown gateway. The new place they've arrived in is modern Tokyo, in which they are not capable of practicing magic. To survive, Satan takes on a part-time job at a fast-food restaurant called MgRonald, while Alciel house sits.

While this anime does have fantasy and action elements, The Devil Is A Part-Timer! is a slice-of-life series where little to anything is taking seriously. Where your curiosity will peak is in seeing this once serious character be turned into a "regular Joe" like everyone else and of course the hilarity that ensues.

Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash

Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash Vol.1
Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash Vol.1
  • Author: Ao Jūmonji
  • Volumes: 13
  • Genre(s): Fantasy
  • Aired: 2016

Suddenly, a group of strangers wake up in a fantasy world with no inclination of how they've arrived there. This is the premise for Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash an anime inspired by fantasy games and medieval narratives. Through out, the adventurers face many dangers and suffer tragic losses to their party. What makes this anime worth watching is the relationship between its characters. Characters die and are replaced, which is a solemn reminder of the dangerous world the characters live in. The anime also has a way of making you feel sympathetic towards creatures that are killed. Furthermore, the anime is worth watching for its characters and the close bond they all share.

Re:Zero − Starting Life in Another World

Re:Zero − Starting Life in Another World Vol.1
Re:Zero − Starting Life in Another World Vol.1

Author: Tappei Nagatsuki

Volumes: 17

Genre(s): Isekai, dark fantasy, adventure

Aired: 2016

Subaru Natsuki, is trapped in another world and to make matters worse he can't help but suffer mysterious deaths over and over again. These deaths vary in nature and it's up to Subaru to learn from each death and solve the mystery behind them. The draw of the series is its high-stake, butterfly effect-like moments and the emotional impact dying multiple times has on the protagonist. Even more heartbreaking is when he tries to save others and fails.

What are some anime series based on light novels you've watched? Share them in the comments below.


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