Although it seems that almost every light novel is an isekai or a villain story, that is not the case. There is a huge selection of them across all genres. Still, trends are trends, and portal fantasy and evil otome ladies have been more likely to be animated lately.
There are some good anime adaptations of horror light novels out there, like Boogiepop Phantom and Higurashi when they cry. But others have not been animated yet. Perhaps with enough readers and attention these suggestions will escape the page and end up on the screen as well.
8/8 Ordinary days with a cannibal
Neko Kamisata and Ayumu Kasuga’s light novel may be the closest people get to a light novel adaptation Little Shop of Horrors. Only instead of a deadly plant with a taste for rock n’ roll, lowly high schooler Tōya Kamisaki has to feed ‘fiancé’ Kuroe Ōgami one person a month.
Ōgami is actually a wolf monster in the form of a young girl. Tōya ended up making a pact with the creature in an attempt to save his life from a gang beating. If he doesn’t pick a person for her to eat, she will pick her own, and that could include his friends, family, or herself. Although he can only find fresh “food” for her for so long.
7/8 Sugar Dark: The Buried Darkness & The Girl
Enji Arai and mebae’s creepy light novel won the Grand Prize at the 2009 Sneaker Awards, making it the first light novel to do so since The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya in 2003. Kadokawa Shoten president Shinichiro Inoue predicted that it would “definitely” get an anime adaptation. But after a decade since its original release, fans are still waiting.
It was about a young boy named Muoru who, in penance for a crime he did not commit, is forced to work in a cemetery. He works there for so long that he is known as “Grave Keeper”. He is kept company by a pretty girl named Meria as he digs his hole, one of which may lead to an undead monster known only as “The Dark”.
6/8 Kai, Sasu
Kihara Hirokatsu’s light novel is actually a collection of 9 stories, or ‘Stabs’ (sasu), followed by a full manga chapter. The manga part, ‘Summer Time Graduation Trip’, has been translated and can be found online. But the rest of the novel has been much harder to find. That’s probably because the illustrations were by famous horror manga author Junji Ito, whose own work is much more popular.
The title story, ‘Last Stab: Lips’, was about a young girl named N-ko who noticed something strange about her wardrobe. The doors are replaced with a shoji paper screen, then a 3D image of lips begins to appear on the paper. So after that…well, the curious will have to track down the story for themselves to find out. The result is not pretty anyway.
5/8 Last and first idol
Who says stories can’t cross genres? Gengen Kusano’s award-winning light novel mixes hard sci-fi with yuri themes, fantasy and body horror. It exists in English along with two of Kusano’s other stories: Evolution girls (about an app that turns people into anthropomorphized animals) and Dark Seiyuu (about anime voice actors being the next step in human evolution).
Last and first idol combines sci-fi author Olaf Stapledon’s novel Last and first men with anime pop idols. Singer Maori Nīzono is driven to despair when her classmate and fellow singer, Mika Furutsuki, is killed. She preserves her remains in the hope that she may one day be revived. That day will come, but only after humanity and civilization have long since fallen. The revived Mika seeks to become the ultimate pop idol for what is left of life in the universe.
4/8 Princess of Torture: Fremd Torturchen
Keishi Ayasato and Saki Ukai’s story is a more down-to-earth horror story. It just involves occult threats, abuse and an isekai setting. It is available in English via Yen Press, along with the manga adaptation by Hina Yamato. Although the darker elements may mean studios will be slower to adapt it than Reborn as a vending machine.
Kaito is a 17-year-old boy who is strangled to death by his abusive father. He ends up in another world where he meets the princess of torture, Elisabeth le Fanu. She gives him a choice: help her serve the Church by killing demons or die slowly and painfully. Choosing the former, he works with her and her automaton Hina to put an end to the demons and their contractors, unaware that Elisabeth will ultimately be the last one at the stake when her job is done.
3/8 Goth: A horror novel
Otsuichi’s work is more of a full-on multi-story novel than a standard light novel, although it received a manga adaptation by Kendi Oiwa in 2004. It even received a live-action film in 2008 based on the title story of the narrator . and his friend Morino discovers a notebook left behind by a serial killer. They have to find out who their next target is before they are polished off, and they may be closer than they think.
The other stories, with charming titles such as ‘The Wristcut Incident’ and ‘Grave’, have remained on paper. However, they have been officially translated into English in both novel and manga form through Tokyopop. They are good choices for readers looking for a bloody horror with a twist of mystery in it.
2/8 Pain, pain, go away
Sugaru Miaki’s work is known for following melancholic outcasts who find some meaning in their short lives. Three days of happiness had a formerly gifted child who gave up his later years in favor of three exciting months. While Blue sky and cloudy sky had a woman named Azure give up control of her body to Claude due to depression, only for Claude to try to improve her life so she can fear having something to lose.
Pain, pain, go away continues this style, as a young man accidentally kills someone. Fortunately for him, the victim has the power to “postpone” her death by 10 days. Unfortunately for him, she’s not too happy about it either. With no more consequences to worry about, she plans to use these days to get revenge on everyone who has done her wrong, and she forces her ‘killer’ to help. However, there may be more forces at work than weird superpowers.
1/8 Dungeon Defense
Finally, this light novel is actually Korean in origin, written by Yoo-Heonhwa. Although it’s also a little more typical, as it’s an isekai tale that involves entering a video game world. It just has a mystical flavor as it involves demons, death and world-ending stakes at every turn. In his normal life, the named protagonist was a master of Dungeon attackthe world’s hardest strategy RPG.
After killing demon after demon as the hero, he ends up being sucked into the game’s world as Dantalian, one of its weakest villains. Set 10 years before the game’s setting, Dantalian must use his wits and sharp tongue to convince the hero to spare him and the 71 other demon lords to keep order in the world. That’s not to mention talking around his newfound demonic comrades and their accomplices. No pressure then.
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