The Top 41 Best Selling Anime Light Novels Of All Time (1990-2023)

What are the best-selling light novels of all time? And why are they the best-selling?

I can’t answer the second question, but the first one is easier.

Some of the best-selling light novels (turned anime) are a bit controversial, disrespected, dismissed, or over-exaggerated in terms of so-called bad quality.

Either way, money talks, and they’re responsible for making the anime industry a lot of money, and the light novel industry by definition.

Not to mention inspiring a lot of new and current light novels many years later since 2000.

Let’s talk about it.


The top-selling light novels by sales (2023):


1. A Certain Magical Index (31M+ including spin-offs)


2. Sword Art Online (30M+)

sword art online novel series


3. That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime (30M+)


4. The Irregular at Magic High School (22M+)


5. Haruhi Suzumiya (20M+)

9781975322830 Novel The Melancholy Of Haruhi Suzumiya Novel Primary


6. Slayers (20M+)

9781718375109 Novel Slayers Collectors Edition Omnibus Volume 1 Hardcover Primary


7. Kagerou Project (15M+)


8. Sorcerous Stabber Orphen (14M+)


9. Danmachi (13M+)


10. The Twelve Kingdoms (12M+)


11. The Apothecary Diaries (12M+)


12. Overlord (12M+)


13. Re:Zero (11M+)


14. Full Metal Panic (11M+)


15. The Rising of the Shield Hero (11M+)


16. Mushoku Tensei (10M+)


17. My Youth Romantic Comedy Is Wrong, As I Expected (10M+)


18. Record of Lodoss War (10M+)


19. Konosuba (10M+)


20. Aria the Scarlet Ammo (9M+)


21. Shakugan No Shana (8.6M+)


22. Kino’s Journey (8.3M+)


23. Baka and Test (7.3M+)


24. Goblin Slayer (7M+)


25. Haganai: I Don’t Have Many Friends (7M+)


26. The Familiar of Zero (6.8M+)


27. The Saga of Tanya the Evil (6.5M+)


28. The Story of Saiunkoku (6.5M+)


29. Kyo Kara Maoh! (6.5M+)


30. GATE JSDF (6M+)


31. Date A Live (6M+)


32. Student Council’s Discretion (6M+)


33. No Game No Life (5.8M+)


34. Durarara!! (5.6M+)


35. Shōnen Onmyōji (5.5M+)


36. My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute (5.2M+)


37. Classroom Of The Elite (5.1M+)


38. My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! (5M+)


39. Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest (5M+)


40. Spice And Wolf (5M+)


41. Toradora! (5M+)


Breaking down the results:

  • For all the shit people talk about Sword Art Online, it’s the 2nd best-selling light novel of all time to this day.
    • The results are continuously measured.
  • The #1 best-selling light novel is A Certain Magical Index, which doesn’t surprise anyone who’s a fan of this often underrated franchise (the anime more so).
  • Old school-ish anime like Shakugan No Shana is still a top contender after so many years.
  • Mushoku Tensei has climbed up the ranks somewhat, but they’re in the 2nd half of the results instead of the top half (not bad).
  • Full Metal Panic is also no surprise despite the disrespect the series gets as far as recognition.
  • Slayers, a personal favourite is still dominating since the 1990s (one of the oldest novels on the list).
  • Kinos Journey is another surprise since the anime is so obscure.

Also, No Game No Life being on the lower end of the sales might make fanboys salty with SAO being so high, further proving the point of SAO kickstarting the Isekai trend.


Source: Wikipedia Light Novel Sales Breakdown

And that’s all there is to it.

I’ll break down another post like this soon, so keep an eye out for that.


Recommended Next:

From Page to Screen: Top 20 Anime Shows Based on Light Novels

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