For a while now, it has seemed as though almost every light novel series that sells decently will, sooner or later, receive an anime adaptation. Particularly if it doesn’t receive a live action adaptation.
So if we want to try to second guess what series are likely to get anime in the near future, one approach is to look at how much the series is selling.
Firstly, I apologise that this is a bit of a wall of text. As I went down I gradually stripped out things that weren’t relevant, and each list indicates a step along the way. If you want a list of literally all the series with no anime adaptation, then you want the third list. If you’re interested in the top series that don’t have an anime but might actually get one, you want the last list. Feel free to skip straight to these if you wish.
To start with, we need some sort of restriction as to what does or does not count as a light novel. To make things simple, I have decided to count it as anything that I include in my spreadsheets for the lndb thread. I know that some of these aren’t, strictly speaking, light novels but oh well. Obviously, things that predate sales data are not included.
Here are the top 10 volumes on that list:
*1. 2,323,668 moshi koukou yakyuu no joshi manager ga drucker no “management” wo yondara
*2. 1,309,763 biblia koshodou no jiken techou 1
*3. *,914,898 biblia koshodou no jiken techou 2
*4. *,893,731 toshokan sensou 1
*5. *,792,816 biblia koshodou no jiken techou 3
*6. *,654,786 kagerou days 1
*7. *,633,832 biblia koshodou no jiken techou 4
*8. *,631,455 sword art online 1
*9. *,584,091 toshokan sensou 2
10. *,564,875 kagerou days 2
Obviously some of these have anime adaptations, so getting rid of these (including any series with anime spinoffs as opposed to direct adaptations, and also including light novels that are side stories, sequels or direct spin-offs as part of the same series) the top 10 becomes:
*1. 1,309,763 biblia koshodou no jiken techou 1
*2. *,914,898 biblia koshodou no jiken techou 2
*3. *,792,816 biblia koshodou no jiken techou 3
*4. *,633,832 biblia koshodou no jiken techou 4
*5. *,546,627 biblia koshodou no jiken techou 5
*6. *,484,448 biblia koshodou no jiken techou 6
*7. *,316,385 bannou kanteishi q no jikenbo 1
*8. *,207,802 bannou kanteishi q no jikenbo 2
*9. *,202,675 sora tobu kouhoushitsu
10. *,173,129 tenchi meisatsu
Having the top 6 all belong to the same series and only 4 different things in the top 10 is, obviously, ridiculous, so we reduce it down to just the bestselling volume from each series to get the following:
*1. 1,309,763 biblia koshodou no jiken techou
*2. *,316,385 bannou kanteishi q no jikenbo
*3. *,202,675 sora tobu kouhoushitsu
*4. *,173,129 tenchi meisatsu
*5. *,154,727 oishii coffee no ire kata
*6. *,147,310 kokuhaku yokou-renshuu
*7. *,131,034 omoide no toki shuri shimasu
*8. *,*87,319 furachi na fascination
*9. *,*85,501 step father step
10. *,*82,084 all you need is kill
A nice list there, with only a couple of things (ranks 6, 8 and 10) that are actually published under light novel labels. But there we go – that’s one of the effects of using a list that takes a very liberal approach to what counts as a light novel as the basis.
Many of these things, though, have live action adaptations. While it is certainly not unheard of, most things that have live action adaptations do not go on to get anime adaptations as well. As one of the main points of this list is to look at what is likely to get an anime, we can remove these series as noise. Furthermore, some of them are only as high as they are because of these live action adaptations pushing them up or back into the rankings.
Doing this list is rather harder for me, though (I can’t just look it up on MAL), and there is a chance that I will miss something. Please let me know if I do.
*1. *,154,727 oishii coffee no ire kata
*2. *,147,310 kokuhaku yokou-renshuu
*3. *,131,034 omoide no toki shuri shimasu
*4. *,*87,319 furachi na fascination
*5. *,*81,170 youkai apartment no yuuga na nichijou
*6. *,*75,840 okitegami kyouko no bibouroku
*7. *,*69,682 zerozaki hitoshiki no ningen kankei (zaregoto series)
*8. *,*69,218 shoujo fujuubun
*9. *,*64,561 senbonzakura
10. *,*63,004 crash blaze
We’re coming down to rather more realistic levels now. But there’s still more stuff to get rid of. Oishii Coffee no Ire Kata has a radio drama, which probably counts in the same way as a TV drama. Furthermore, several of these series are now long finished. While finished series can get an anime (and, perhaps more frustratingly, can be brought back without warning), they are generally a much lower priority for the publishers, who may no longer even hold the rights to the series, and so again an anime is a lot less likely. Again, this isn’t always easy to work out, so if you know of series that are finished but still listed here please let me know.
*1. *,147,310 kokuhaku yokou-renshuu
*2. *,131,034 omoide no toki shuri shimasu
*3. *,*75,840 okitegami kyouko no bibouroku
*4. *,*64,561 senbonzakura
*5. *,*59,714 tenshitachi no kadai katsudou
*6. *,*47,438 dungeon ni deai wo motomeru no wa machigatteiru no darou ka*
*7. *,*46,517 zettai naru isolator
*8. *,*44,313 eromanga-sensei
*9. *,*42,066 fate/strange fake
10. *,*40,186 shuuen no shiori
DanMachi has an anime airing in Spring, of course.
Some of the others are published under labels that don’t make a habit of making anime adaptations. While it is possible that they would break this trend and the novels listed above are the ones they would most likely choose if they were to do this, there’s little chance of it actually happening.
Getting rid of stuff that has an anime planned and things that have a low-to-zero chance of getting anime for whatever reason leaves us with this list:
*1. *,*75,840 okitegami kyouko no bibouroku
*2. *,*46,517 zettai naru isolator
*3. *,*44,313 eromanga-sensei
*4. *,*42,066 fate/strange fake
*5. *,*40,186 shuuen no shiori
*6. *,*33,203 mitoushoukan://blood sign
*7. *,*31,020 dowl masters
*8. *,*30,818 toaru majutsu no heavy na zashiki warashi ga kantan na satsujinki no konkatsu jijou
*9. *,*24,912 gakusen toshi asterisk
10. *,*23,058 magdala de nemure
So there’s the list.
The top 3 are all from well known authors with series that have already had anime adaptations – Okitegami Kyouko is by Nisio Isin (Monogatari series), Zettai Naru Isolator is by Kawahara Reki (Sword Art Online/Accel World) and Eromanga-sensei is by Fushimi Tsukasa (OreImo). Along similar lines are Mitoushoukan://Blood Sign by Kamachi Kazuma (Toaru Majutsu no Index/Heavy Object) and DOWL Masters by Satou Tsutomu (Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei). All of these are fairly new and most have insufficient volumes out for an anime adaptation. Most if not all will likely get one sooner or later. Magdala de Nemure is by the same author as Ookami to Koushinryou.
Then you have a couple of things that are spin-off adaptations from other sources – Fate/Strange Fake from the Fate/Stay Night visual novel, and Shuuen no Shiori from a vocaloid song.
The series at #8 is a crossover series, so this may be a bit less likely to get an anime.
And then Gakusen Toshi Asterisk at number 9, the sole series on this top 10 list that is neither a spin-off nor written by an author who has had a different series get an anime adaptation. With Overlord and Gate: Jietai Kanochi Nite, Kaku Tatakaeru both having anime adaptations announced, there are no other series which have had over 17k sales in 2014 or 2015 that would break this status if the list was extended further (the first that would is Zero Kara Hajimeru Mahou no Sho volume 1, with sales of 16887 (EDIT: this is on the weekly data – it had 21449 sales as of the end of month January 2015).
Some stuff that was excluded and why:
Ijinkan Garou – published by Cobalt Bunko, who have not done an anime adaptation since the 4th season of Maria-sama ga Miteru in 2009.
Various KanColle series – KanColle itself has had an anime adaptation. While this is not the same story as the various light novels that the game has spun off it still counts.
Mikagura Gakuen Kumikyoku – has already had an anime adaptation announced.
Heavy Object – has already had an anime adaptation announced.
Gin no Ryukishidan – published by Kadokawa Beans bunko which hasn’t had an anime adaptation of one of its series since Saiunkoku Monogatari in 2008. This is also the same label as Kokuhaku Yokou-Renshuu. It might also be finished.
Isekai Cheat Magician, Knights & Magic – both published by Hero Bunko, which has no past record of anime adaptations.
Tokage no Ou – I think this is finished.
Sakurako-san no Ashimoto ni wa Shitai ga Umatteiru – has already had an anime adaptation announced.
Kamisama no Goyou Hito – published by Media Works Bunko, which has no past record of anime adaptations.
Haunted Campus – published by Kadokawa Horror Bunko, which has no past record of anime adaptations.
Hachi-nan tte, Sore wa Nai Deshou! – published by MF Books, which has no past record of anime adaptations.