The Best Anime Based On Novels | TheReviewGeek Recommends

The expansive anime universe offers many different tales with compelling characters, engaging plots, and epic moments. While some anime come and go, many deliver outstanding and memorable experiences. While some series are based on light novels, manga, or visual novels, many animation studios choose to adapt works from full-fledged novels.

For our ongoing series of articles depicting the best anime, we’d like to highlight the best anime based on novels. From satisfying mysteries to heartbreaking dramas, there are many incredible novel-themed anime out there to get you excited.

Of course, if we’ve missed any of your favorites, feel free to comment below and we’ll add them when we can!

Kiki’s Delivery Service

Kiki’s Delivery Service is a Studio Ghibli gem. It may not have the most groundbreaking story, but it’s an anime that will fill you with immense joy and relaxation. In it, we follow a 13-year-old witch-in-training named Kiki. She moves to a distant town with her talking cat Jiji to become a professional witch.

Kiki spends time with a local named Osono. This convinces Kiki to open her own courier service to gain independence and learn responsibility. Like other Studio Ghibli works, Kiki’s Delivery Service delivers excellent hand-drawn animation that brings the world to life. The world Kiki and her friends inhabit is breathtakingly beautiful and the way she and her companions are animated will bring you immense happiness.

The anime’s soundtrack perfectly captures the film’s magical spirit, creating an enchanting atmosphere that enhances the audience’s emotional attachment to the tale. From the gentle melodies of Kiki’s theme to the orchestral tracks sprinkled throughout the film, you’ll be bedazzled by this enchanting work of art.

Perfect Blue

Satoshi Kon was known for working on anime with thrilling twists and excellent characters. This anime gives viewers a deep dive into the horrors of popularity and the entertainment industry. It follows Mima, a pop idol who abandons her singing career to pursue an acting one. Although life seems to be going smoothly for her, she runs into numerous issues that make her question her sanity.

Perfect Blue earned critical acclaim for its masterful storytelling, stunning visuals, and exploration of themes like identity, fame, and privacy. It has a riveting plot full of twists and turns. People will be invested in Mima’s descent into madness as the plot moves at a brisk pace, with new revelations adding more to the story’s depth.

The anime uses unreliable narration and dream-like sequences to make its narrative unnerving and captivating. The animation is superb as the crew utilizes clever camera angles and lighting techniques to make situations feel surreal and unsettling. For those who are craving a retro anime with depth, thrills, and timeless themes, check out Perfect Blue.

Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit

The Tatami Galaxy

The Tatami Galaxy is a thought-provoking story about a man who gets another shot at reliving his college days. It stands out for having a compelling premise, striking visuals, and a memorable cast. It explores themes like love, regret, and the pursuit of happiness in an abstract but relatable manner. Each episode shows Watashi attempting to correct the mistakes he made in his past.

Every iteration of his college years is different, leading to several outcomes. The Tatami Galaxy’s nonlinear structure makes everything feel complex, giving viewers something to look forward to with each chapter. The anime’s art style may not appeal to many people, but those who value shows with distinct art styles will enjoy what The Tatami Galaxy delivers.

It uses its distinct art style, bizarre visuals, and vibrant colors to craft a world that sets it apart from other anime like it. The animation also represents Watashi’s emotions and mental state throughout this tale. On top of making the audience think about the “what if” scenarios that could’ve occurred in their own lives, The Tatami Galaxy is a visual and mind-numbing spectacle that’s worth your time.

Welcome to the NHK

Another comedy anime with great depth is Welcome to the NHK. It’s a series that delves into the problems that arise with adulthood and is a great show many people can resonate with and learn from. It follows Satou, a man who spent his life isolated from the world. He’s a college dropout and hardcore conspiracy theorist, who finds it challenging to break away from it all. Life throws him a bone when he meets a few people who’ll offer him assistance.

Satou is a complex protagonist with numerous issues ranging from depression to anxiety. This anime confronts problems that often plague folks living in Japan like isolation, internet addiction, and societal pressure. On the other hand, Welcome to the NHK also offers some incredible humor to lighten the mood.

The humor never feels forced in or out of place. It all feels natural and will provide viewers with some entertaining segments between our characters. On that note, the supporting cast is as enjoyable as Satou. From Misaki to Yamazaki, you’ll adore their interactions with Satou and learn more about them as the series continues. While the anime’s animation isn’t flashy, it gets the job done in capturing the story’s essence. Give this anime a shot if you’re after a memorable and entertaining dark comedy to watch.


Hyouka is a unique story animated by the folks who worked on Clannad, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, and K-On’s anime adaptations. While it offers some joyous slice-of-life moments, it offers a layer of mystery and suspense. The story follows Oreki, as he begins to solve multiple mysteries with his friends.

Every episode is wonderfully animated with each mystery presented in a desirable fashion. The subtle character interactions and clever details that “fill the gaps” make the anime fun to watch, captivating its viewers’ hearts and minds. Oreki is a fabulous protagonist who always provides a satisfying take on the investigations he conducts.

The anime’s pacing can fluctuate at times. When it delves into serious subjects, it tends to slow things down to build tension. Viewers will adore this aspect as it helps put them in the mood. While the cases aren’t brutal, you’ll get a kick out of them. Hyouka is worth checking out if you’re interested in watching something refreshing from Kyoto Animation’s catalog.

Hibike! Euphonium

Hibike! Euphonium is captivating anime series with a beautiful soundtrack and a likable cast. It’s about a girl named Kumiko who winds up joining her high school band and meeting her former friend Kousaka. Despite their differences, they must put them aside if they hope to help their bandmates earn a spot at the national competition.

This anime delivers exceptional visuals, with spectacular attention to detail. From the ways our characters play their instruments to the ways they react to each other and their world, everything looks fluid and lively. The musical performances will pull people in the most. You’ll find yourself feeling joyful and sad during these segments.

The characters undergo great development over the course of the series. They’ll make great sacrifices and forge tight connections in hopes of achieving their shared dream. If you’re in search of an anime that brings light to the struggles and triumphs most musicians experience in life, Hibike! Euphonium is a must-watch.

Legend of the Galactic Heroes

Legend of the Galactic Heroes is a fantastic space opera with top-notch animation, phenomenal writing, and memorable characters. The story is thought-provoking and is full of political intrigue, philosophy, and military strategy. While it can feel slow at times due to its dialogue-heavy scenes, you’ll be amazed by what this anime achieved during the late 80s.

Our tale centers around Reinhard and Yang, two intelligent characters who manage a specific superpower. They both share a common goal, and that’s to win the war. While helping their faction achieve victory, Reinhard and Yang must confront and overcome their share of personal problems. The characters receive incredible growth and engage in epic space battles many viewers will find appealing.

The orchestrated pieces are a joy to listen to and will get viewers excited for Legend of the Galactic Heroes’ multiple action scenes. Legend of the Galatic Heroes spends time diving into the anxieties of war, giving viewers reasons to stay invested in its 110-episode run. For those looking for an anime that treats its audience with respect and demands their full attention, check this one out.


Paprika is a great anime based on the novel by Yasutaka Tsutsui. It’s directed by the late and great Satoshi Kon, and its vivid and immersive storytelling grips viewers from the opening scene. In it, the protagonists Atsuko and Kosaku develop technology capable of exploring one’s psyche and curing them of their respective mental problems.

One day, someone steals the tech, resulting in our pair enlisting the help of Officer Konokawa to search inside the dream and real world for the thief. This anime offers a narrative with a dreamlike atmosphere. It uses bizarre imagery and weird camera angles to make viewers confused about what’s real or not. This helps the anime feel complex and different from what you’d find nowadays.

The anime’s outstanding score by Susumu Hirasawa perfectly reflects Paprika’s tone and mood. It features a combination of electronic and orchestral music, emphasizing the anime’s surreal atmosphere. This a movie that will force you to think critically about reality and it’s a must-see for anyone who enjoys stories that leaves them questioning what they have watched.

From The New World

From The New World is a mind-numbing series that delivers a world where humans have obtained psychic abilities. It follows a group of children as they navigate their way through a world full of mystery, conspiracies, and difficult facts. This anime offers a tale that relies on its characters’ intricate backgrounds and its different timeframes to entertain audiences.

Its characters are well-rounded. They have fascinating plans, motives, and hidden backgrounds that come to light over the course of the story. They all play a significant role in the plot and engage in compelling conversations that viewers will find appealing. The story itself has many plot twists that’ll keep viewers guessing and adds more depth to the world it’s presenting. In addition to tackling deep topics regarding power, oppression, and morality, From The New World is an anime worth watching for its depth and uniqueness.

So, there we have it, our picks for the best anime based on novels through the years!

What do you think of our picks? Do you agree? Are there any notable omissions? Let us know in the comments below!

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