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

best selling light novels of all time anime slayers 1
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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 (ranking order):


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

A Certain Magical Index cover protagonists


2. Sword Art Online (30M+)

sword art online novel series


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

tensei slime novel


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

the irregular at magic high school novel


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+)

kagerou project novel


8. Sorcerous Stabber Orphen (14M+)

Sorcerous Stabber Orphen


9. Danmachi (13M+)

danmachi novel


10. The Twelve Kingdoms (12M+)

two kingdoms novel


11. The Apothecary Diaries (12M+)

The Apothecary Diaries 1


12. Overlord (12M+)

overlord novel


13. Re:Zero (11M+)

rezero novel


14. Full Metal Panic (11M+)

fmp light novel


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

shield hero novel


16. Mushoku Tensei (10M+)

mushoku tensei light novel


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

My Youth Romantic Comedy Is Wrong as I Expected, Vol. 1 - light novel
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18. Record of Lodoss War (10M+)

record of lodoss war novel


19. Konosuba (10M+)

konosuba light novel


20. Aria the Scarlet Ammo (9M+)

scarlet ammo novel


21. Shakugan No Shana (8.6M+)

shakugan no shana novel


22. Kino’s Journey (8.3M+)

kinos journey novel


23. Baka and Test (7.3M+)

baka and test novel


24. Goblin Slayer (7M+)

goblin slayer light novel onna


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

haganai novel


26. The Familiar of Zero (6.8M+)

familiar of zero novel


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

tanya the evil novel


28. The Story of Saiunkoku (6.5M+)

the story of saiunkoku novel


29. Kyo Kara Maoh! (6.5M+)

Kyo Kara Maoh novel


30. GATE JSDF (6M+)



31. Date A Live (6M+)

date a live novel


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

the student councils descretion novel


33. No Game No Life (5.8M+)

no game no life shiro novel


34. Durarara!! (5.6M+)

Durarara novel


35. Shōnen Onmyōji (5.5M+)

Shonen Onmyoji novel


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

My Little Sister Cant Be This Cute novel


37. Classroom Of The Elite (5.1M+)

classroom of the elite novel


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

My Next Life as a Villainess All Routes Lead to Doom novel


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

Arifureta From Commonplace to Worlds Strongest novel


40. Spice And Wolf (5M+)

spice and wolf light novel series


41. Toradora! (5M+)

toradora novel taiga


Breaking down the results:

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  • 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.


top 5 best selling anime light novels all time

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.


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