10 Japanese Novels That Need An Anime Adaptation

Anime draws inspiration for its narratives from many diverse, multifaceted sources. While the manga industry remains the most frequent and saturated market for anime adaptations, some creators look for insights elsewhere and broaden their horizons by adapting unconventional media formats into anime.

RELATED: Top 10 Anime Series Not Based On A Manga

The rise of light novels, video games, visual novels, and even real-life stories adaptations showcases that anime is an inventive and limitless medium that doesn’t have to exclusively rely on manga for inspiration. Adaptations of conventional literary works are less common in the industry. Nevertheless, shows like Tatami Galaxy and Welcome to the NHK  prove that literature can be excellent source material for anime. The world of Japanese literature is full of unique, brilliant works that would translate wonderfully into the anime medium and expose more people to the exhilarating prowess of the country’s literary scene.

10 The Woman in the Dunes’ Uncanny Plotline Would Make It A Perfect Psychological Anime

the woman in the dunes book cover

The Woman in the Dunes is the most well-known and critically regarded novel by famed Japanese writer Kobo Abe. The narrative revolves around an amateur entomologist from Tokyo embarking on a journey to a remote Japanese village. There, the man gets trapped by the locals and forced to share a shack buried in a sandpit with a local woman, whose life resembles a constant cycle of unburying her home from advancing dunes.

The novel possesses an eerie and surreal quality, landing wonderfully into the visual style of anime. Without the creative boundaries of cinema, an anime adaptation of the book can be endlessly effective.

9 In The Miso Soup Could Potentially Revolutionize The Anime Horror Scene

miso soup book cover

Japanese horror animation places itself in a unique separation from the genre’s examplers in other mediums. While the brood-curdling Japanese horror films and novels continuously cause audiences from around the globe to get scared over their own shadows, the anime industry fails to do the genre justice.

If adapted correctly, Ryu Murakami’s In The Miso Soup can break the genre’s streak of misfortunes. The novel follows a Japanese nightlife guide for foreigners, Kenji, and his three-night tour with a disturbing tourist Frank, who must be hiding some sinister secrets beneath his harmless exterior.

8 Musashi Would Become An Excellent Addition To The Anime’s Historical Subgenre

Musashi book cover

Anime is an excellent way to learn about the unique periods in Japanese history and get familiarized with the country’s cultural customs. Musashi, the 1939 novel by the well-regarded Japanese historian Eiji Yoshikawa, would undoubtedly enrich the historical anime subcategory.

Unlike many other exemplars of the genre, Musashi keeps its narrative very close to real life. Nevertheless, it doesn’t stop the book from being incredibly engaging. It examines the rich and multifaceted life of the most legendary Japanese swordsman of the 17th century, Miyamoto Musashi, diving into every aspect of his extraordinary existence.

7 Dragon Sword and Wind Child Is The Hidden Gem Of Japanese Fantasy

Dragon Sword and Wind Child book cover

While the fantasy genre has been one of the most prolific anime categories for decades, Japan’s most well-known fantasy novel is yet to receive an anime adaptation. Dragon Sword and Wind Child by Noriko Ogiwara is a brilliant award-winning fantasy novel for young adults.

It follows the exhilarating adventures of a young maiden named Saya. She learns herself to be a reincarnation of the rumored Water Maiden and gets pulled out of her ordinary rural life into the exciting world of demons and monsters. The novel is only the first part of the author’s iconic fantasy trilogy, which leaves the adaptation room for multiple sequels.

6 Kokoro Explores Society’s Greater Changes Through The Eyes Of A Single Onlooker

Kokoro book cover

Animation is a medium that can appeal to adults as well as children. As a result, anime is full of heavier, mature storylines that explore the psychological turmoils of characters and dive deep into the human psyche. Kokoro by Soseki Natsume is a dark and depressing novel that focuses on themes of isolation, loneliness, and human perception of the passage of time.

Similar to Osamu Dazai’s No Longer Human, it explores the sorrows of its unlikable yet authentic protagonist. The novel chronicles the transition between the Meiji era and modern Japan through the friendship the hero forms with an older gentleman, Sensei.

5 The Memory Police Could Appeal To Any Fan Of Dystopian Stories

The Memory Police book cover

Following the traditions of Japanese dystopian fiction, Yoko Ogawa creates an enchanting yet terrifying universe in her masterful novel, The Memory Police. The story is set on a nameless island where things and people disappear at random, seemingly without any reason.

RELATED: 10 Strongest Dystopian Anime Heroes, Ranked

Once something disappears without a trace, it is soon forgotten by everyone, except for the Memory Police. On the odd chance that someone fails to forget the disappearance of an object, they get taken away, getting forgotten all the same. The mesmerizing universe created by Yoko Ogawa would be perfect for a tense, suspenseful anime dystopia.

4 The Box Man Can Enrich The Experimental Anime Scene Tremendously

The Box Man book cover

Kobo Abe’s satirical masterpiece The Box Man is one of the most unconventional novels created by the famed author. The book transports the readers into the bizarre mind of a Japanese man who abandons the conventions of contemporary lifestyle and creates his own little universe inside a cardboard box he wears on his back.

The man refuses to return to the world he deems mad, choosing to observe it from the sidelines. The Box Man is a brilliant experimental commentary on the state of modern society, which will be perfect for an unconventional director like Masaaki Yuasa to adapt.

3 A Kafka On The Shore Anime Could Introduce More People To Japan’s Best-Selling Author, Haruki Murakami

Kafka On The Shore

Every fan of Japanese literature has heard of Haruki Murakami, one of the most well-regarded and internationally celebrated contemporary Japanese authors. His unorthodox writing style combines magical realism with postmodern traditions, resulting in fiction that feels simultaneously surreal and grounded.

While most of Murakami’s work can be transformed into vibrant, unconventional anime, his best-selling novel Kafka on the Shore might be the most suitable for the medium. The wonderfully bizarre yet touching book interchanges between the stories of Kafka, a 15-year-old runaway from an abusive household, and Nakata, an illiterate older man with the ability to talk to cats.

2 Snow Country’s Adaptation Would Be A Love Story Unlike Any Other Anime Romance

Snow Country book cover

The romance genre of anime usually focuses on contemporary settings, with the couple in question being teenagers who struggle to make their feelings known to one another. However, history is full of touching love stories that blossom between far less conventional people.

RELATED: 10 Romance Series That Actually Feature Realistic Relationships

In the case of Yasunari Kawabata’s Snow Country, a detested love affair blooms between a provincial onsen geisha and a wealthy, married ballet critic. The novel introduces the audience to a touching, melancholic relationship destined to crumble, set during a major historical shift from traditionalism to modernization.

1 Lonely Castle In The Mirror Creates A Unconventional Fantasy World Seemingly Perfect For Anime

Lonely Castle In The Mirror book cover

Lonely Castle in the Mirror by Mizuki Tsujimura is one of the most uniquely investing fantasy books to come out of Japan in recent years. It combines different genre tropes and stepping over the boundaries of young adult fiction with outstanding skill and literary prowess. The novel’s teenage protagonist becomes the target of bullying, which forces her to avoid school.

One day, she finds a portal in her mirror that leads to an eerie castle. Inside, she has to collaborate with six other teens and find the key to escape within six months. Unlike many other fantasy novels, the book is more focused on exploring its characters’ relationships and personal turmoils, making it infinitely more memorable and pertinent.

NEXT: From Sci-Fi To Western: The Best Anime In Every Major Genre

worst anime plot twists

Top 10 Worst Anime Plot Twists Of All Time

About The Author






Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *