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Kono Light Novel ga Sugoi!: Sword Art Online is the Light Novel of the Decade

posted on by Kim Morrissy
Reki Kawahara's virtual reality-themed light novel series has ranked in the top 10 every year from 2011-2019

The 2020 edition of Takarajimasha's Kono Light Novel ga Sugoi! (This Light Novel Is Amazing!) guidebook reported its list of the top light novel series on Monday. In addition to revealing the top-voted bunkobon (smaller A6-sized books) and tankōbon (larger B6-sized books) for the year, the guidebook revealed the light novels which received the most cumulative votes across the entire decade. Reki Kawahara's Sword Art Online series topped the decade list, with 1,728.95 points.

The top ten light novels on the decade list are below:

  1. Sword Art Online by Reki Kawahara (1,728.95 points)
  2. A Certain Magical Index by Kazuma Kamachi (1,503.41 points)
  3. The Ryuo's Work Is Never Done! by Shiratori Shirow (1,452.75 points)
  4. Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? by Fujino Ōmori (818.67 points)
  5. Alderamin on the Sky by Bokuto Uno (718.67 points)
  6. No Game No Life by Yuu Kamiya (702.90 points)
  7. Ascendance of a Bookworm by Miya Kazuki (690.14 points)
  8. The Irregular at Magic High School by Tsutomu Satou (682.83 points)
  9. Bottom-tier Character Tomozaki by Yūki Yaku (674.01 points)
  10. Monogatari series by NisiOisin (660.69 points)

My Youth Romantic Comedy Is Wrong, As I Expected by Wataru Watari was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2015, at which point votes for it are no longer counted. It had 1,105.20 points at the time.

Sword Art Online topped the Kono Light Novel ga Sugoi! yearly rankings in the 2012 and 2013 editions. It has been in the top 10 every year from 2011-2019. In the 2020 issue, it ranked at number 12.

Reki Kawahara commented on his win: "When I heard that Sword Art Online received the most points among all light novels in the 2010s, I was very happy and honored. I believe that the 2010s is the era where light novels leap from the internet to the page. SAO was unquestionably an online novel, but it was serialized on my personal website, and I myself debuted through winning a newcomer's prize (albeit for a different work). Thinking about it, SAO is representative of the transition period... doubly so now that it's been selected for this ranking. I wonder what new trend will come upon the light novel world in the 2020s. I'm looking forward to seeing what works I'll encounter after the curtain rises."

The specific formula used for calculating points varies each year, but the rankings take into account both the online poll results conducted in September every year as well as votes from "collaborators" (critics, influencers, and other people related to the light novel industry).

The overall number of points that the qualifying books receive has trended upwards over the past decade. For the 2012 issue, Sword Art Online was ranked no. 1 with 183.61 points. In the 2017 and 2018 issues, The Ryuo's Work Is Never Done! received 399.33 and 392.95 points respectively, and in the 2019 issue Sabikui Bisco received 335.76 points.

The top-ranking light novels for 2020 were Nanatsu no Maken ga Shihai Suru ("Seven Swords Dominate", lit. "Seven Magic Swords Rule") by Bokuto Uno, which won in the bunkobon category, and Unnamed Memory by Kuji Furumiya, which won in the tankōbon category. Kiyotaka Ayanokoji and Kei Karuizawa, both from the Classroom of the Elite light novel series, topped the list of male and female characters, respectively. Shirabi (The Ryuo's Work Is Never Done!, 86), Fly (Bottom-tier Character Tomozaki, IRODUKU: The World in Colors), and Shunsaku Tomose (Classroom of the Elite) topped the list of illustrators.

The first volume of the Sword Art Online light novel series debuted in Japan on April 10, 2009. Besides the anime series, Kawahara's novels have inspired a manga adaptation, the Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online spin-off light novel series, anime, and manga, and multiple video games.

Source: Kono Light Novel ga Sugoi! 2020

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