You’ve probably heard of these popular animes:


  • That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime
  • The Irregular at Magic High School
  • Rising of the Shield Hero
  • KonoSuba
  • Re:Zero


But what do they all have in common?


Keep reading!


Before I start, I’d like to make clear that every time I write an article, the research is mainly performed in Japanese. 



Also, it was proofread by my Japanese anime-enthusiast friend bellvvq


First, I’d like to go over some basic vocabulary:


  • Web Novels: are novels/stories uploaded or published on the web. Most of them are free to read and publish. Web Novels are mainly written by amateur writers. 


  • Light Novels: are also novels but with higher quality, since they are made into books and published. Most of the time, light novels are based on web novels. 


  • Manga: are comics or graphic novels created in Japan. Most of the time the author needs to be Japanese in order for it to be considered a manga. Sometimes manga is based on a light or web novel. 


  • Anime: Japanese animation. Anime is mainly based on manga or light novels. 


In recent years, most anime has been coming from web novels. The process looks something like this:


Web Novel -> Light Novel -> Manga -> Anime



The Irregular at Magic High School


What does Shousetsuka ni Narou mean?


Shousetsuka Ni Narou means “Let’s become a Novelist!.”  


  • Shousetsuka  (小説家) = Novelist
  • Ni (に)  = Particle that joins the words “Novelist” and “Let’s become”
  • Narou (なろう) = Let’s become 


What is Shousetsuka ni Narou?


Shousetsuka Ni Narou
Shousetsuka Ni Narou


Shousetsuka Ni Narou (Let’s Become a Novelist) is Japan’s largest website where anyone can post and read novels. You can publish & read novels free of charge. The website is 100% free.  


The full name of the website is Shousetsuka Ni Narou, but it is commonly known as Shosetsu or Syosetu.


If you’re wondering where to find a good web novel and practice your Japanese skills. Check out Shousetsuka ni Narou



The Evolution of The Anime/Manga Industry


You might be wondering why I’m telling you about this. Why is this important to know?


As a fan of otaku culture, I think it’s good to be aware of how the anime & manga industry has been evolving.


Around the middle of the decade in the 2010s, instead of creating new stories, the big company publishers started to publish top-ranked novels on “Shosetsu.”




It was a lot easier than making whole new novels by themselves, so they started publishing novels that were popular at the time.


After they finished publishing all the popular titles at the time, there were no major titles left on “Shosetsu”. As a result, they finally started to publish the titles that were once popular in the “dawn age” of “Shosetsuka”.


For example, Rising of the Shield Hero appears to be a very new title since it was animated in 2019, but it was first written in the dawning age of “Shosetsu.”


It is one of the site’s long-beloved titles, so it attracted many people when it was adapted.


The Rising of the Shield Hero light novel
The Rising of the Shield Hero


Another popular novel that is getting an anime is Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation. Mushoku aired on January 2021, had an OVA In March 2022, and will be receiving a season 2 in the future.


This was also written in 2012, in the dawning age of “Shosetsu”. Mushoku Tensei was also a longtime fan favorite.


Mushoku Tensei
Mushoku Tensei


Many people think that it’ll be a hit, as previous “dawn age” titles were super popular when they were animated.


If you like “Shosetsu” originated anime, you’ll also like Mushoku Tensei.


To sum up – the process of publishing these kinds of anime is:


An amateur writer publishes his/her story on a free novel platform (like Shosetsuka Ni Narou), and the story then becomes popular enough that it eventually becomes an anime. 


As a fan of otaku culture, I think it’s a very valuable thing to be aware of how anime gets its source material.


I’m writing a novel, should I publish it on Syosetsu (Shousetsuka Ni Narou)’s website? 


If your novel is translated into perfect Japanese, I think that it could be a good idea. Otherwise, Syosetsu is not an English-friendly website. All the novels are published in Japanese



What are some Japanese light novels which started off as web novels before being made into manga/anime?


  • That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime
  • The Irregular at Magic High School
  • Rising of the Shield Hero
  • KonoSuba
  • Re:Zero
  • Log Horizon
  • BOFURI: I Don’t Want to Get Hurt, so I’ll Max Out My Defense
  • Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest
  • And many more


All of these novels were published first in Syosetsu (Shousetsuka Ni Narou).


As for Overlord, it was first posted on Arcadia, the second-largest amateur novel website, and was later posted on “Shosetsu.”




Are isekai novels the only stories that come from Shousetsuka ni Narou?


Most of them, but not all. For example, The Irregular at Magic High School is not an isekai and it was originally published in Syosetsu.


Also, some of them are not even targeted at otaku. For instance, I Want to Eat Your Pancreas, which originates from “Syosetsu”, was made into a live-action film first and then into an animated movie.


I Want to Eat Your Pancreas



Are the web novels’ stories already complete?


Some novels that have become anime have already been finished.


For example, the original story of That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime is complete and you can read the whole story for free here


Others, like the original story of The Irregular at Magic High School, were wiped from Syosetsu (Shousetsuka Ni Narou). 


The Irregular at Magic High School


Does the story change between the web novel and light novel?


It depends on the novel. Most of the light novels are a bit different from the original source (web novel). 


For example, in That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime, Yuuki Kagurazaka has a different role in the web novel and anime.


Yuuki Kagurazaka


What is considered more canon, a web novel or a light novel?


There isn’t an official answer on which one is considered canon.


In my opinion, the light novel is considered canon, while the web novel was used as the inspiration. 


The light novel has been edited, polished, and improved by the original author. That’s why I have a slight preference for considering the light novel the canon of the story.


The Rising of the Shield Hero


What’s the difference between Narou and Isekai?


“Narou” is a net slang that was originally used around 2012-2014 when SAO came out. The word does not have an exact definition.


Some websites define Narou as any web novel published on Syosetsu.


Some other definitions claim that Narou means novels with the characteristics listed below.


  • The main character is transferred to “Isekai” for some kind of reason
  • The main character gains superpowers without any effort
  • All the heroines like the main character without reason
  • The title is so long that it often explains the whole story of the novel
  • RPG elements (Level, Skills, Status)


On the other hand, Isekai just means “another world”, Isekai is not an anime genre. Narou is closer to being an anime genre, while Isekai was just a word.

Now, it’s evolved into a genre all its own, and that is likely to the popularity of Syosetsu novels!


That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime



Thanks again to bellvvq for proofreading this research. If you’re a fan of Zombie Land Saga don’t forget to check out his Twitter. He has superb art spanning various anime.


What’s your favorite light novel? Let me know in the comments below!




© 2016 暁なつめ・三嶋くろね/KADOKAWA/このすば製作委員会