As discussed in a separate article, light novels have become a significant source of anime adaptations. Some of those adaptations are popular enough among Indonesian fans that Sword Art Online has even been said to have become a gateway series to many anime fans who were teens or young adults when it aired. But on the other hand, up to 2021 only a few of the source materials have been licensed to be published in the Indonesian language. Even Sword Art Online is only getting an Indonesian edition from a major publisher in 2021, nine years after the anime debuted. Furthermore, some smaller publishers like Shining Rose Media and Katalis Pustaka have ceased operating after attempting to bring some light novels around the mid-2010s.
Considering those situations, KAORI sought to investigate how much interest anime fans in Indonesia have to read light novels. We conducted a brief survey on the subject conducted from 17 February 2020 to 27 February 2020 with a total of 150 participants. In addition to what titles they like to read, we also asked the respondents their means of reading and purchasing light novels.
Part I: Novel Series Read by Respondents
We began by inquiring into the respondents’ interest in light novel series that have anime adaptations. We asked if the respondents have read the novels that had ongoing anime adaptations within the previous two years before the period of the survey (2018 and 2019). However, we did not ask whether they read the novels after they had seen the anime adaptations or if they had already read them before the anime adaptations. Here are the results from the most read novel series to the least (Japanese titles are used to avoid confusion regarding some differing official translated titles in different regions):
- Sword Art Online: 44.7% (67 respondents)
- Tensei Shitara Slime Datta ken: 39.3% (59 respondents)
- Tate no Yuusha no Nariagari: 37.3% (56 respondents)
- Arifureta Sokugyou de Sekai Saikyou: 36% (54 respondents)
- Overlord: 35.5% (53 respondents)
- Date A Live: 28.7% (43 respondents)
- Goblin Slayer: 26.7% (40 respondents)
- To Aru Majutsu no Index: 23.3% (35 respondents)
- Dungeon ni Deaeru wo Motometeiru no wa Machigatteiru Darou ka (Danmachi): 22% (33 respondents)
- Violet Evergarden: 19.3% (29 respondents)
- Death March kara Hajimeru Isekai Kyousoukoku: 18% (27 respondents)
- Seishun Buta Yarou wa Bunny Girl Senpai wo Minai: 15.3% (23 respondents)
- Uchi no Musume no Tame naraba, Ore wa Moshikasitara Maou mo Taoseru Kamoshirenai: 14.7% (22 respondents)
- Kenja no Mago: 13.3% (20 respondents)
- Watashi, Nouryoku Heikinchi de tte Itta yo ne!: 13.3% (20 respondents)
- Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online: 12% (18 respondents)
- Kawaii kereba Hentai demo Suki ni Natte Kuremasuka: 11.3% (17 respondents)
- Isekai Maou to Shoukan Shoujo no Dorei Majutsu: 10.7% (16 respondents)
- Kono Yuusha ga Ore TUEEE kuse ni Shincou sugiru: 10.7% (16 respondents)
- Honzuki no Gekokujo: 8.7% (13 respondents)
- Ore wo Suki na no wa Omae dake ka yo: 8.7% (13 respondents)
- Ryuuou no Oshigoto: 8% (12 respondents)
- Ore ga Suki na no wa Imouto dakedo Imouto Janai: 7.3% (11 respondents)
- Isekai Cheat Magician: 6.7% (10 respondents)
- Gancrest Senki: 6% (9 respondents)
- Choujin Koukousei-tachi wa Isekai demo Yoyuu de Ikinuku you desu!: 6% (9 respondents)
- Assassin’s Pride: 6% (9 respondents)
- Maou-sama Retry!: 6% (9 respondents)
- Lord El Melloi II Sei no Jikenbo: 5.3% (8 respondents)
- Tsuujou Kougeki ga Zentai Kougeki de Ni-kai Kougeki no Okaasan wo Suki desuka: 4.7% (7 respondents)
- Kakuriyo no Yadomeshi: 3.3% (5 respondents)
- Boogiepop wa Warawanai: 2.7% (4 respondents)
- Fullmetal Panic!: 2.7% (4 respondents)
- Hyakuren no Haou to Seiyaku no Valkyria: 2.7% (4 respondents)
- Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens: 2% (3 respondents)
- Cop Craft: 1.3% (2 respondents)
- Girly Air Force: 1.3% (2 respondents)
- Märchen Mädchen: 1.3% (2 respondents)
- Saredo Tsumibito wa Ryuu to Odoru: 1.3% (2 respondents)
- Tsurune: 1.3% (2 respondents)
- Ulysses: Jeannne d’Arc to Renkin no Kishi: 1.3% (2 respondents)
- Sichisei no Subaru: 0.7% (1 respondent)
Given its popularity, it’s not surprising to see Sword Art Online being at the top of the list. However, whether these readers will still buy the Indonesian edition to be released by m&c! remains to be seen. Another interesting title popular among the respondents is Tensei Shitara Slime Datta ken. Its manga version has been published in Indonesia by Elex Media Komputindo with the title Regarding Reincarnated as Slime, while the anime also available to be seen in Indonesia through several legal streaming channels courtesy of Muse Asia. But, with these different media of the series already being available for access in Indonesia, would fans of the series remain interested in getting the novels if it were to be published by an Indonesian publisher?
Next, we question the respondents what other light novels they have read outside of the above list. From the specific titles mentioned in the answers, these were the titles that appear the most often:
- No Game No Life (10 respondents)
- Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! (8 respondents)
- Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru.(8 respondents)
- Otomege Sekai wa Mob ni Kibishii Sekai desu (8 respondents)
- Mushoku Tensei (5 respondents)
- Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei (4 respondents)
- Infinite Dendrogram (4 respondents)
Notably, No Game No Life has been published in Indonesia by Shining Rose Media. Meanwhile, Oregairu has its manga version published in Indonesia after the time of this survey. But one of the more surprising titles most mentioned by the respondents was Otomege Sekai wa Mob ni Kibishii Sekai desu, as it appeared to be popular enough even though there hasn’t been any news of it getting anime adaptation soon (Infinite Dendrogram and Mushoku Tensei already got theirs in 2020 and 2021, respectively). And although it’s not a light novel series, six respondents answered with Hyouka, the novels of which has been published in Indonesia by Penerbit Haru.
For more details about the answers, there were 17 respondents who claimed to read at least three or more titles, and seven respondents simply answered they read many titles. Here are some examples of responses that contain three or more titles.
- Hyouka, Konosuba, Taimadou Gakuen 35 Shiken Shoutai, Saekano, No Game No Life
- Rokujouma no Shinryakusha, Utsuro Hako to Zero no Maria, Isekai wa Smartphone to Tomo ni, Imouto sae Ireba Ii, Infinite Dendrogram, Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei, 86, Gekkou, etc.
- Konosuba, Suzumiya Haruhi, Log Horizon, Buta Koushaku, Fate/Zero, Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance
- Mushoku Tensei, Makoto Shinkai’s works, No Game No Life, Tsuki ga Michibiku, Kumo desu ga Nani ka?, Genjitsu Shugi Yuusha, Isekai Mahou wa Okureteru!, Isekai Smartphone
- The New Gate, Konosuba, Rakuin no Monshou, Sevens, Inbi Na Doukutsu No Sono Oku De.
- Haruhi, Oregairu, Konosuba, NGNL, Zero no Tsukaima, Ryuugajou Nanana, Absolute Duo, etc.
- Oregairu, Jaku-Chara Tomozaki-kun, Otomege Mob, Seirei Gensouki, etc.
- Sayonara Piano Sonata, Utsuro no Hako to Zero no Maria, Kimi no Suizo wo Tabetai, Hyouka, Oregairu, novels by Fafoo…
- Nidome no Yuusha, Yondome wa Iyana Shi Zokusei Majutsushi, Ankoku Kishi Monogatari, Berserk of Gluttony.
- Mushoku Tensei: Isekai Ittara Honki Dasu, Infinite Dendrogram, Hataraku Maou-sama..
- Omae Gotoki ga Maou ni Kateru to Omou na, Yuujin Character wa Taihen desu ka?, Otomege Sekai wa Mob ni Kibishii Sekai desu, Fukushu wo Chikatta Shironeko wa Ryuuou no Hiza no Ue de Damin wo Musaboru, Monster no Goshujin–sama, Berserk of Gluttony
In addition, some respondents mentioned they read the works of a specific writer such as Kazuma Kamachi (To aru Majutsu no Index, Heavy Object, Zashiki Warashi of Intellectual Village), or the novelizations of the works of Makoto Shinkai (some of which has been published in Indonesia by Katalis Pustaka or Penerbit Haru), or focusing on Fate series’ novels. Several respondents also include Chinese or Korean web novels like Solo Leveling in their answers.