10 Japanese Novels That Need An Anime Adaptation

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The anime draws inspiration for its narratives from many diverse and multifaceted sources. While the manga industry remains the most frequent and saturated market for anime adaptations, some creators are looking elsewhere for ideas and expanding their horizons by adapting unconventional media formats to anime.

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

ten The Strange Woman In The Dunes Plot Would Make This A Perfect Psychological Anime


book cover of the woman in the dunes

The woman in the dunes is the most famous and beloved novel by the famous Japanese writer Kobo Abe. The story revolves around an amateur entomologist from Tokyo who embarks on a journey to a remote Japanese village. There, the man is trapped by the locals and forced to share a cabin buried in a sandpit with a local woman, whose life feels like a constant cycle of digging up her home from the advancing dunes.

The novel has an eerie, surreal quality to it, landing beautifully in the anime’s visual style. Without the creative limits of cinema, an animated adaptation of the book can be infinitely effective.

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


miso soup book cover

Japanese horror animation stands in a unique separation from examples of the genre in other mediums. While brooding Japanese horror films and novels continually scare audiences around the world from their own shadows, the anime industry fails to do the genre justice.

If properly fitted, the Ryu Murakami In Miso Soup can break the series of misfortunes of the genre. The novel follows a guide to Japanese nightlife for foreigners, Kenji, and his three-night tour with disturbing tourist Frank, who must hide sinister secrets beneath his harmless exterior.


8 Musashi would become a great addition to the historical anime subgenre


Musashi book cover

Anime is a great way to learn about unique periods of Japanese history and learn about the country’s cultural customs. Musashithe 1939 novel by famous Japanese historian Eiji Yoshikawa, would undoubtedly enrich the historical anime subcategory.

Unlike many other examples of its kind, Musashi keeps its narrative very close to real life. Nevertheless, that doesn’t stop the book from being incredibly captivating. It examines the rich and multifaceted life of Japan’s most legendary swordsman of the 17th century, Miyamoto Musashi, delving into all aspects 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 best-known fantasy novel has 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 thrilling adventures of a young girl named Saya. She learns to be a reincarnation of the supposed Water Maiden and is drawn from her ordinary rural life into the thrilling world of demons and monsters. The novel is only the first part of the author’s iconic fantasy trilogy, which leaves room for adaptation for multiple sequels.


6 Kokoro explores major changes in society through the eyes of a single viewer


Kokoro book cover

Animation is a medium that can appeal to adults and children alike. As a result, the anime is full of heavier, more mature stories that explore the characters’ psychological turmoil and delve 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 more human, it explores the sorrows of its unlikable but genuine protagonist. The novel chronicles the transition from the Meiji era to modern Japan through the hero’s friendship with an older man, Sensei.


5 The Memory Police could please 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 takes place on an unnamed island where things and people disappear randomly, seemingly for no reason.

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Once something disappears without a trace, everyone quickly forgets about it, except for the memory police. If someone does not forget the disappearance of an object, it is carried away, forgotten all the same. The fascinating universe created by Yoko Ogawa would be perfect for a tense and suspenseful anime dystopia.


4 The Box Man can significantly enrich the experimental anime scene


book cover of The Box Man

Kobo Abe’s satirical masterpiece The man in the box is one of the most unconventional novels created by the famous author. The book transports 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 carries on his back.

The man refuses to return to the world he deems crazy, choosing to observe it from behind the scenes. The man in the box 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

All fans of Japanese literature have heard of Haruki Murakami, one of the most beloved and internationally acclaimed contemporary Japanese authors. His unorthodox writing style combines magical realism with postmodern traditions, resulting in fiction that feels both surreal and grounded.

While most of Murakami’s works can be turned into vibrant, unconventional anime, his bestselling novel Kafka on the shore might be the most suitable for support. The wonderfully bizarre but touching book swaps between the stories of Kafka, a 15-year-old runaway from an abusive home, and Nakata, an illiterate elderly man who can talk to cats.


2 The Snow Country Adaptation Would Be a Love Story Unlike Any Other Animated Romance


book cover of Land of the Snows

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

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In the case of Yasunari Kawabata snow country, a hated romance blossoms between a provincial onsen geisha and a wealthy married ballet critic. The novel introduces the audience to a touching and melancholic relationship destined to fall apart, which takes place during a major historical shift from traditionalism to modernization.


1 Lonely Castle In The Mirror Creates An 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 invested fantasy books in Japan in recent years. It combines different genre tropes and crosses the boundaries of young adult fiction with exceptional 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 a strange castle. Inside, she must collaborate with six other teenagers and find the key to escape within six months. Unlike many other fantasy novels, the book is more focused on exploring the relationships and personal turmoil of its characters, which makes it infinitely more memorable and relevant.

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