Best Sci-Fi Light Novels With No Anime Adaptations
With more words than manga & more pictures than a regular novel, light novels have become quite popular over the past few years. In fact, a lot of the top anime have been adaptations of light novels than manga. Goblin Slayer, Rising of the Shield Hero, Sword Art Online, & Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai all started off as light novels.
But not every light novel gets that lucky. Some are left as paper between covers, waiting for one studio or another to adapt them to the screen. Like these popular but anime-less sci-fi light novels.
8/8 Reborn As A Space Mercenary
Or, to give it its full name, Reborn as a Space Mercenary: I Woke Up Piloting the Strongest Starship. Isekai stories sure do love their mouthful titles. Ryuto & Tetsuhiro Nabeshima’s story did get a manga adaptation for those who prefer more art, but it’s yet to be animated as of this writing. The story is simple enough, as video game enthusiast Satō Takahiro gets to live out his dreams in his favorite video game.
Only instead of saving the world like in The Last Starfighter movie, he’s the space mercenary ‘Hiro’, & he has a lot of space pirates eager to finish him off. Luckily, he has a crew of pretty babes & the best starship in the galaxy. So, if anyone’s after some fun wish fulfillment by proxy, this is the light novel for them.
7/8 Magicraft Meister
Aki Gitsune & Miyuki Ruria’s tale is a mix of fantasy & sci-fi that might suit Sword Art Online fans. The light novel follows Jin Nidoh, an orphan with a skill for engineering. He’s summoned to another world via a warp gate to inherit the role of Magicraft Meister from his predecessor Adriana. He gains a laboratory & a host of magic spells in the process, like transformation, electricity, & piercing armor.
With these powers, he creates all sorts of new tech, including repairing Adriana’s old mechanical assistant Reiko & creating a series of golems. But not everything is as it seems, as Reiko can also use the warp gate, & she does so in search of her ‘father’. It’s said there can only be one Magicraft Meister, but is there another one out there?
6/8 The Ending Chronicle
Minoru Kawakami & Satoyasu’s story is actually the second part (AHEAD) in Kawakami’s six-stage universe. Chronologically, it comes after Rapid-Fire King (FORTH), then precedes On A Godless Planet (EDGE), Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere (GENESIS), Clash in the Hexxennacht (OBSTACLE), & his multipart CITY series as its finale. It followed protagonist Mikoto Sayama as a mediator in helping the inhabitants of an alternate world called Low-Gear survive an oncoming crisis.
His work is Carve out for him, as his gr&father destroyed the other alternate Gear worlds in the Concept War decades prior. Can he rebuild the bridge with the people his gr&father ruined? And does IAI, the organization that gave him this task, really have the Gears’ best interests in mind? Its follow-up, Horizon, got an anime adaptation, but The Ending Chronicle only received a Drama CD & some music albums.
5/8 Qualia the Purple
Marī Yukari sticks out compared to other kids. She has Sparkling purple eyes & sees other people as robots. Her curious behavior hasn’t made her popular & has cost her a few friendships. But it gives her additional insight into how others act. For example, her best friend Hatō is dependable because, to Yukari, she’s a “super modifiable all-purpose robot”. Things only get more complicated when Hatō discovers more people with these special sight abilities.
They’re called ‘Qualia’, & they’re being recruited by a secret organization. When Yukari gets called up, it’s up to Hatō to investigate just how she & the others are being used & why. Hisamitsu Ueo & Shiro Tsunashima’s story got a manga adaptation in 2012-2013 in Dengeki Daioh, but no anime. It’s not even due to have a Western release until November 2022 via Seven Seas Entertainment.
4/8 Only Sense Online
Zachō Aloha & Yukisan must’ve Advance across Sword Art Online, as their work Only Sense Online also uses VR MMORPGs. The titular game (OSO for short) uses a new system called ‘Sense’ so players can customize their own personal characters with the best setups. Shame no one told Shun that, as he ended up choosing the Bow, the game’s worst weapon, & one of its duller classes as a crafter. On top of that, it mistook his &rogynous form for a woman & misspelled his name as Yun.
If he listened to Sei & Myu, his more experienced sisters, he would’ve gotten a better class. But then he wouldn’t have found a unique way to get ahead in the game. With his mastery of crafting & production, he creates OSO’s ultimate supporting character class. It’s been running since 2014 & has a manga version in Dragon Age Magazine with art by Un Hanikura. Neither has an official English release though, & fan translations are thin on the ground.
3/8 The Isolator
Luckily, Reki Kawahara & Shimeji’s light novel The Isolator is easier to find in English. Originally serialized in Dengeki Bunko, Yen Press released both the original light novel & Naoki Koshimizu’s manga version for North America. But what’s it about? Just an alien invasion & horrific trauma. Minoru Utsugi’s life was destroyed when, at 8 years old, a home invader killed his parents & elder sister. He only survived because he hid in a cabinet.
He’s still living through the memories at 16, when an alien orb appears, joins him, & grants him a superpower based on his wishes. He’d rather isolate himself from the world, so his power seals him in an impenetrable shell. However, he wasn’t the only person to receive an orb. Despite his wishes, he’ll have to use his powers to help others, & possibly even save the world.
2/8 I’m the Evil Lord of an Intergalactic Empire
In life, Liam was an honest & hardworking man, but all that did was give him his fill of debt & betrayal. But in death, he gets reborn into a royal family in charge of a galaxy-spanning empire. They rule with an iron fist, grinding their subjects into the dirt. Recalling his past life, Liam decides being good is for mugs, & he’ll grind the heel in deeper.
The problem is that no matter how tyrannical he tries to be, he inadvertently produces peace, prosperity, & popularity. Yomu Mishima & Nadare Takamine’s light novel is more like a sci-fi twist on T’is Time for Torture, Princess, where it takes an intimidating premise & makes a unique comedy out of it. The manga version by Kai Nadashima is available through Seven Seas Entertainment, but there’s no news on an anime adaptation yet.
1/8 All You Need is Kill
This one probably needs no introduction, as it managed to catch on without a single animated frame. The story combines Groundhog Day with Starship Troopers, as soldier Keiji Kiriya is caught in a time loop that always ends with his death, be it by his alien enemies or other means. But he gets better at fighting with each step & may Fracture the cycle one ‘day’.
It was the breakout story for novelist Hiroshi Sakurazaka & illustrator Yoshitoshi Abe, winning the Best Japanese Long Work award at the 36th Seiun Awards in 2005. Originally published in Super Dash Bunko, it got a manga adaptation in Weekly Young Jump by Ryōsuke Takeuchi & Takeshi Obata. Then it got turned into a Hollywood movie with Tom Cruise called Edge of Tomorrow (aka Live. Die. Repeat). At this stage, it doesn’t need an anime, but it would be nice to see either way.
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