Do you follow the fashion of Japanese ongoing light novels on a constant basis? A great number of light novel titles are newly released as both physical and digital books every day. Global geeks have watched the moves of the modern Japanese pop culture as well as anime and manga recently.
Many light novels are being serialized in Japan, and some successful light novels are translated into English and other various languages and published worldwide. Then, which light novel is the hottest at the moment? What should you read to keep up with the latest trend? Sorting through thousands of candidates, I’d like to introduce best ongoing light novels to read now.
This lineup is perfect for both beginners and advanced Otaku people all over the world!
<<Check the best light novels of all time including the legendary and trendy titles here, too!>>
1. Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World-
Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World- (Re:ゼロから始める異世界生活) is one of the most popular and famous ongoing light novel series, categorized as Isekai (in which a protagonist is sent to a parallel universe). Its serialization was started by Tappei Nagatsuki on the user-generated publishing website Shosetsuka ni Naro in 2012, and physical books have been published since 2014.
It was made into the hot-wired anime adaptations including the first season in 2016 and the second one in 2020 and 2021. A socially withdrawn high schooler Subaru Natsuki is transported to another world all of a sudden and meets a mysterious heroine Emilia. He struggles desperately to help her and other friends, dying and repeating the past too many times with his return-by-death ability.
Published from 2014
Genre: Isekai/Dark fantasy
Light novels has been seen to be situated at the cutting edge of Japanese pop culture recently since many of them have b[…]
2. Sword Art Online
As one of the longest ongoing light novel series, Sword Art Online (ソードアート・オンライン) has been serialized by an author Reki Kawahara and an illustrator abec since 2009. It consists of multiple genres such as Isekai, dark-fantasy, action and romance, which is known as the best work by the author. In addition to the long-running main series, another title Sword Art Online progressive, which focuses on the details of the first Aincrad Arc, has been published since 2012.
It was first adapted into an anime series in 2012, which was followed by the second season Sword Art Online II (2014), Sword Art Online: Alicization (2018-2019) and Sword Art Online: Alicization – War of Underworld (2019-2020). There are also anime movie adaptations: Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale in 2017 and Sword Art Online Progressive: Aria of a Starless Night in 2021.
The light novel series presents players of a virtual reality MMORPG called Sword Art Online who trapped in its world. They find it’s impossible to log out and their lives in the game world are fatally connected to those in the real world. It centers on two powerful swordsman characters Kirito and Asuna.
Published from 2009
Sword Art Online (ソードアート・オンライン), one of the most popular anime among both domestic and international fans, has become a […]
3. Monogatari Series (物語シリーズ)
Monogatari Series (物語シリーズ), which is also known as the series first title Bakemonogatari (化物語), has been written by a renowned author Nisioisin since 2006. His masterpiece is composed of 29-volume five seasons, and a new season Family Season just began with the title Ikusamonogatari in 2023. The first three seasons were translated into English, and they were adapted into an anime series.
Monogatari Series tells the story of a protagonist Koyomi Araragi’s high school life and supernatural incidents related to himself and main heroines including his classmates, friends and sisters. There are humorous conversations, intense battles, serious dramas, romance and so on in the whole series.
Monogatari Series (物語シリーズ) is one of the most popular light novel series written by the famous Nisio Isin. The fantasy n[…]
Published from 2006
Genre: Slice of life/Fantasy/Comedy/Romance
4. 86 -Eighty Six-
Lots of light novel fans have liked the recent dark-fantasy series titled 86 -Eighty Six- (86-エイティシックス-) since its serialization began in 2017. The ongoing book has been written by Asato Asato and illustrated by Shirabii, adapted into an anime series by A-1 Pictures from 2021 and a manga series from 2018.
86 -Eighty Six- is set in a futuristic world, where the Empire of Giad, the superpower that develops automatic-operation robots called Legions, declares warfare against neighboring nations. The story puts emphasis on people of the lowest class in the Republic of San Magnolia called 86. To defend their country against aggression, they are assigned to the most fierce fighting frontier since they are disregarded as non-human existence.
Published from 2017
The recent sci-fi anime 86 -Eighty Six- has distinguished as an astonishing newcomer since it started airing in April, 2[…]
5. Classroom of the Elite
Classroom of the Elite (ようこそ実力至上主義の教室へ), which is also called You-Zitsu among Japanese, has been serialized since 2015 as one of the hottest ongoing light novel. Written by Shogo Kinugasa and illustrated by Shunsaku Tomose, the school-themed series completed its first part with 14th volume and the Year 2 Arc started in 2020. Its first anime adaptation was broadcasted with 12 episodes in 2017 and manga adaptations have been published since 2016.
Classroom of the Elite is set in Tokyo Metropolitan Advanced Nurturing High School, where there are four classes from the top A to the lowest D in each year and selected students compete fiercely in the aspect of intelligent and physical performances to reach the class A. It follows a mysterious newcomer Kiyotaka Ayanokoji, an unmotivated student in the class D.
Published from 2015
Genre: Psychological thriller/Slice of life
The second season of the Classroom of the Elite anime series just ended, and you may wonder which volume to read in the […]
6. Haruhi Suzumiya Series
Haruhi Suzumiya Series (涼宮ハルヒシリーズ), which starts with the first part titled The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (涼宮ハルヒの憂鬱), is one of the most famous and popular light novels that have not been completed. Written by Nagaru Tanigawa and illustrated by Noizi Ito, the finest light novel series has been published since 2003. The fans were delighted with the latest 12th volume that was released in November, 2020 after nine years of the previous volume in 2011. There are two seasons of its anime adaptation airing in 2006 and 2009, and each season contains 14 episodes.
Haruhi Suzumiya Series is told by a narrator and protagonist Kyon, who is an ordinary high schooler. It revolves around a bright, energetic and selfish girl Haruhi Suzumiya, who forms a high school club called the SOS Brigade composed of Kyon, an alien girl Yuki Nagato, a female time traveler Mikuru Asahina, an esper boy Itsuki Koizumi and herself as its leader. It’s found out that Haruhi is someone supernatural and unconsciously wants to escape from the drudgery of daily life.
Published from 2015
Genre: Slice of life/Science fiction/Comedy
Haruhi Suzumiya Series is well known in various respects: As a representative Sekai-kei (a kind of genre in anime and li[…]
7. Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai
As the finest modern ongoing series, Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai (青春ブタ野郎はバニーガール先輩の夢を見ない), which is also known as Aobuta Series, should be followed if you are a light novel lover. The slice-of-life light novel, mixed with psychological fiction, has been written by Hajime Kamoshida with illustrations by Keiji Mizoguchi since 2014. Its first anime adaptation with 13 episodes in 2018 and its sequel anime movie in 2019 were welcomed by fans of the original novel and a wider range of anime freaks.
Set in a seaside town in Kanagawa Prefecture, Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai casts a spotlight on a second-grade high school boy Sakuta Azusagawa. One day, he finds a third-grade senpai student Mai Sakurajima wearing a bunny girl costume at a library, who doesn’t seems to be noticed by anyone else. It depicts a variety of mental problems hold by him, his little sister Kaede, his kohai student Tomoe Koga and other heroines as well as Mai.
Published from 2014
Genre: Slice of life/Fantasy/Drama
More quality light novels have been published in Japan and distributed all over the world recently. Rascal Does Not Drea[…]
8. That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime
One of the most popular ongoing light novel originated media mix projects is That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime (転生したらスライムだった件). It follows the quintessential isekai and Naro-kei genres, garnering support from a wide age range. Serialized on Shosetsuka ni Naro by Fuse in 2013, it transitioned to a physical light novel format with illustrations by Mitz Vah starting in 2014, reaching its 20th volume in 2022. The manga adaptation began in 2015, and the first season of the anime aired in 2018, marking the series as a successful media mix franchise.
In That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime, a unique fantasy tale unfolds when a mundane salaryman, Satoru, is reborn in an enchanting alternate world as a slime named Rimuru. This new world is brimming with magical creatures and diverse races. Rimuru, endowed with special abilities and wisdom, embarks on an extraordinary journey. He transforms a humble goblin village into a thriving, diverse nation, facing threats from powerful enemies and forging a legacy in a world where magic and wonder abound.
Published from 2014
Who chooses Rimuru Tempest as the most favorite anime character these days? That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime, the[…]
9. The Angel Next Door Spoils Me Rotten
Featured in my Best Ongoing Light Novels is the trending rom-com, The Angel Next Door Spoils Me Rotten (お隣の天使様にいつの間にか駄目人間にされていた件). Authored by Saekisan with illustrations by Hanekoto, this light novel started as a web novel on Shosetsuka ni Naro in 2018 before being published as a series. Its sweet high school romance narrative soared to new heights with its 2023 anime adaptation by Project No.9. This ongoing series continues to captivate readers with its delightful blend of love and laughter, firmly establishing itself as a beloved romantic comedy in the world of light novels.
The protagonist, Amane Fujimiya, stumbles upon Mahiru Shiina one day in a park, drenched in the rain without an umbrella. Shiina, a student from the same school as Amane and known for her beauty, is often referred to as the “Angel”. They discover that they live next door to each other. Amane, who started living alone upon entering high school, struggles with cooking and cleaning, while Mahiru excels at both tasks. This serves as the catalyst for their relationship to gradually become closer.
Published from 2019
Genre: Romantic comedy/Slice of life
Another popular light novel title has been newly adapted into an anime: The Angel Next Door Spoils Me Rotten. Amane, […]
10. Alya Sometimes Hides Her Feelings in Russian
Among the most popular ongoing light novels is the slice-of-life rom-com, Alya Sometimes Hides Her Feelings in Russian (時々ボソッとロシア語でデレる隣のアーリャさん). Initially released as a short story on the novel posting site Shosetsuka ni Naro in 2020, it was subsequently published as a book series from 2021. Written by SunSunSun with illustrations by Momoco, this charming novel, focused on a lovable heroine, has gained such popularity that manga and anime adaptations have been announced. Get ready to dive into Alya’s captivating story as she navigates her feelings and daily life.
The protagonist, Masachika Kuze, is a first-year high school student known for his laziness and habit of sleeping at school. Seated next to him is the high-achieving female student Alisa Mikhailovna Kujou, known as Alya, who is the object of admiration for many students. Alya, a half-Russian, half-Japanese high school girl, often speaks to Masachika in a mix of Russian and Japanese. Despite her usual stern demeanor towards him, she occasionally shows her affectionate side in sweet Russian phrases. Unbeknownst to her, Masachika understands Russian perfectly, adding an extra layer of intrigue to their budding relationship.
Published from 2021
Genre: Romantic comedy/Slice of life
11. The Apothecary Diaries
A currently hot-wired light novel titled The Apothecary Diaries (薬屋のひとりごと) has been serialized on the user-generated publishing website Shosetsuka ni Naro since 2011, written by Natsu Hyuga. And then, its physical novel series has been published with an illustrator Megumi Matsuda since 2012. The historical drama has been read by much more readers since its high-quality manga adaptation’s publication began in 2017. This is one of the light novels that are expected to be adapted into an anime series now.
Set in a fictional country in the East ruled by an emperor, The Apothecary Diaries concentrates on a young court lady named Maomao, who is kidnapped and sold to serve for the court. With her profound knowledge about medicines, the quiet and minor unravels a mystery behind the weakness of a prince, which manages to draw an attention of a eunuch at the inner palace named Jinshi. She is being involved in a huge subversion conspiracy unintentionally.
Published from 2011
12. Genesis Testament: A Certain Magical Index
Genesis Testament: A Certain Magical Index (創約 とある魔術の禁書目録) is the latest part of the long-running light novel series in progress, A Certain Magical Index (とある魔術の禁書目録), a.k.a. Toaru Majutsu no Index. It started in 2020 after the second part New Testament: A Certain Magical Index (新約 とある魔術の禁書目録) came to the end in 2019, written by Kazuma Kamachi and illustrated by Kiyotaka Haimura. Its anime adaptation has been created by a Japanese anime studio J.C.STAFF since 2008.
The A Certain Magical Index series presents a conflict between the Magic Side of magicians and the Science Side of espers. Set in Academy City in the west of Tokyo, it centers on an ordinary first-year high school boy Toma Kamijo. The story unfolds when he meets a little nun named Index, who is trailed by magicians.
The ongoing part Genesis Testament hasn’t been translated into English yet, so just complete the first 22 volumes for now.
Published from 2020 (The series itself from 2004)
Genre: Science fiction/Action
13. Bofuri: I Don’t Want to Get Hurt, so I’ll Max Out My Defense.
Bofuri: I Don’t Want to Get Hurt, so I’ll Max Out My Defense. (痛いのは嫌なので防御力に極振りしたいと思います。), which is sometimes just abbreviated to Bofuri, is one of the most popular ongoing virtual game-themed light novels. Its serialization was started by the writer Yuumikan on the online publishing platform Shosetsuka ni Naro in 2016 and the physical light novel series has been published by Kadokawa since 2017.
The first season of the anime adaptation hit the air in 2020, followed by the second season in 2022. Set in the world in a virtual reality MMO called NewWorld Online, Bofuri follows a girl player Maple, who strengthens her defense to its fullest extent.
Published from 2017
More and more successful light novel series have been made into manga and anime adaptations recently, which is one of th[…]
A lot of geeks have enjoyed every latest volume of Overlord (オーバーロード), one of the most famous ongoing Isekai light novel series. It was first serialized on an online novel site Arcadia from 2010 and the first volume of the light novel series was released in 2012. It has been written by Kugane Maruyama and illustrated by so-bin since then.
It has been adapted into successful manga and anime series since 2015. Overlord emphasizes an undead skeleton protagonist Ainz Ooal Gown, the strongest character in the New World.
Published from 2012
Isekai anime, in which a protagonist is suddenly transported to a different world in another dimension, have been much m[…]
15. Chitose Is in the Ramune Bottle
Chitose Is in the Ramune Bottle (千歳くんはラムネ瓶のなか), which is abbreviated to Chiramune, is one of the growing light novels at the moment. Written by Hiromu and illustrated by raemz, the romantic comedy has won some domestic awards for the best modern light novel since its publication started in 2019. It has been adapted into a manga series since 2020.
Chitose-kun wa Ramune Bin no Naka is set in Fukui Prefecture, the home city of the author, and some real-life locations there appear in the series. A second grader Saku Chitose, the most popular students in the high school, enjoys his school life with his cool friends. One day, he is asked to take care of a stay-at-home classmate Kenta Yamazaki by his teacher.
Chitose Is in the Ramune Bottle vol.1 in English will be released in February, 2022!
Published from 2019
Genre: Romantic comedy/Slice of life/Coming of age
16. The Detective Is Already Dead
The Detective Is Already Dead (探偵はもう、死んでいる。), written by Nigoju and illustrated by Umibozu, is one of the most recommended light novels to read now. The fantasy novel started in 2019 and was made into the anime series within just two years for its popularity. Its manga adaptation has been also published since 2020.
The fantasy story centers on a 18-year-old high school boy named Kimihiko Kimizuka, who solved a hijack incident with a mysterious silver-hailed detective girl Siesta four years ago. In the present day, his life is being changed as a heroine Nagisa Natsunagi shows up in front of him.
Published from 2019
17. Spy Classroom
In the recent trend of spy-themed series, Spy Classroom (スパイ教室) is a stand-out attracting significant attention. It’s a light novel that won the grand prize at the 32nd Fantasia Awards and has been published by Kadokawa’s Fantasia Bunko since 2020. Authored by Takemachi with illustrations by Tomari, this action-comedy revolves around espionage. The series started its manga adaptation in 2020 and was animated in 2023, further extending its reach. Dive into the thrilling yet humorous world of Spy Classroom, where covert operations and comedic encounters go hand-in-hand.
In a world where nations wage Shadow Wars through spies, the highly skilled yet problematic spy Klaus, known for his 100% mission success rate, establishes an agency called Lamplight to take on Impossible Missions with death rates exceeding 90%. However, the chosen members are seven inexperienced girls including the 17-year-old leader Lily. Poisoning, traps, and seduction are the only means left for these girls to complete their missions – their primary strategy being to outwit Klaus. It’s the greatest game of deception, orchestrated by the world’s most formidable spy.
Published from 2020
18. My Happy Marriage
My Happy Marriage (わたしの幸せな結婚) is a light novel series written by Akumi Agitogi and illustrated by Tsukiho Tsukioka, published since 2019. The romance, fantasy light novel has become much more famous and popular since it was first adapted into a successful anime series by Kinema Citrus in 2023, globally distributed via Netflix.
The story follows Miyo Saimori, a young woman who has faced a life of mistreatment from her own family. She is eventually thrust into a political marriage with Kiyoka, a member of the prestigious House of Kudou. Though Miyo initially dreads this arrangement, she soon discovers that Kiyoka is unexpectedly kind and caring. As they navigate their relationship, Miyo and Kiyoka grow closer, developing a deep bond of trust and affection. However, their union is also filled with secrets, political intrigue, and personal growth as the two of them work through their shared and individual challenges. The narrative beautifully illustrates the evolution of their relationship, highlighting the themes of love, understanding, and transformation amidst societal expectations and familial challenges.
Published from 2019
Wasn't My Happy Marriage possibly the most beautiful anime of 2023? It was also a production with almost no pre-broadcas[…]
19. Sabikui Bisco
Sabikui Bisco (錆喰いビスコ), which is also known as Rust-Eater Bisco, is a fantasy adventure light novel series authored by Shinji Cobkubo with illustrations by K Akagishi and mocha. Since its debut in 2018, the novel has been celebrated for its unique post-apocalyptic setting, compelling characters, and intricate storyline. The series has garnered a significant fanbase, leading to manga adaptations and an anime series.
In a post-apocalyptic Japan overrun by fungi, the land is consumed by rust. Bisco Akaboshi, known as the Mushroom Guardian, embarks on a journey to obtain the legendary Sabikui, believed to devour any rust. Along the way, Bisco confronts adversaries, unravels mysteries, and forges bonds, driven by the dream of restoring his rusty world and curing his beloved sister of the deadly rusting disease.
Published from 2018
Sabikui Bisco (錆喰いビスコ), which is also known as Rust-Eater Bisco, is one of the most expected new anime series released i[…]
20. The Eminence in Shadow
The Eminence in Shadow (陰の実力者になりたくて!) is an increasingly popular light novel series, especially among younger audiences. This series falls into the genre of isekai dark fantasy and has been serialized on the Shosetsuka ni Naro website since 2018. It is written by Daisuke Aizawa and illustrated by Tozai. In 2022, the series was adapted into an anime, which significantly boosted its popularity. Following the success of the first season, a second season aired in 2023, and a movie adaptation has also been announced.
While The Eminence in Shadow fits into the typical mold of Naro-kei light novels, it deviates slightly from the usual narrative of an overpowered protagonist in an alternate world. The story centers around Minoru Kageno, a high school student who dies in a truck accident during his last summer of high school. He has always aspired not to be a hero or a villain but to be a figure who operates in the shadows (as hinted by “Kage” in his name, which means “shadow” in Japanese). Reincarnated in an alternate world as Cid Kagenou, he finds himself leading a group of girls against a dark cult. His fantasies of leading an underground organization named Shadow Garden to combat dark forces gradually become reality, showcasing a different take on the isekai genre’s typical cheat-level protagonist narrative.
Published from 2018
Genre: Isekai/Dark fantasy
A new isekai series has once again made its debut. The Eminence in Shadow, which is a typical Naro-kei type and harem an[…]
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