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4 Most Popular Anime Series Based on Visual Novels

4 Most Popular Anime Series Based On Visual Novels

For those who like it, anime has become an irreplaceable part within their lives. It is no exaggeration to say that fans wait diligently each week to see their favorite characters in action packed into 30 minutes of pure entertainment. Though there are many popular original anime, some of the most popular ones come from adaptations of other media, such as manga, light novel or video games, including visual novels.

Here is my list of the most popular anime series based on visual novels.

1. Fate/Stay Night : Unlimited Blade Works

Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works - screenshot

If you like anime, you probably have watched this one already (but in case you haven’t, you definitely should!). What some of you probably don’t know is that Ufotable adapted this anime from a 2004 Visual Novel by Type-Moon titled Fate/Stay Night. Set in Fuyuki City, the anime takes place ten years after its prequel Fate/Zero(which is also an adaptation from a light novel published after the original VN). The story revolves around a young magus Shiro Emiya and his participation in the Holy Grail War, a tournament where seven magi have to fight each other alongside their summoned heroic spirits called Servants to win the Holy Grail, an omnipotent magical device that can fulfill any wishes.

The original VN has 3 alternate routes according to the player’s choices: Fate/Stay Night, Unlimited Blade Works and Heaven’s Feel. As the title implies, this anime used the Unlimited Blade Works storyline from the original VN. An anime adaptation of the Fate/Stay Night route was done way back in 2006, whereas Heaven’s Feel will be made into a movie in 2017. With great story, dazzling visuals and epic battle sequences, Ufotable makes Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works undoubtedly one of the best anime series based on visual novels.

2. Clannad

Clannad - screenshot

Clannad is a 2007 anime series by Kyoto Animation. The story is based on a visual novel by Key with the same name. It tells the journey of Tomoya Okazaki, a third year delinquent who finds very little meanings in his life. This changes, however, after he meets Nagisa Furukawa. Learning about her circumstances, Tomoya decides to befriend Nagisa and help her achieve her dream to revive the drama club. The original visual novel has 5 alternate routes, in which each member of the drama club becomes the main heroine to the story. The anime itself focuses on Nagisa storyline, which many considers as the true ending.

In addition to the anime, a sequel titled Clannad : After Story was aired in 2008. The story was an adaptation from the second part of the VN, which is a continuation of the Nagisa route. Both Clannad and Clannad : After Story are still considered as one of the best drama anime of all time. So if you are going to watch this anime, it is strongly advised to do so after preparing a box of tissues as Clannad is known to bring tears to its viewers.

3. Steins;Gate

Steins;Gate - screenshot

Beginning in a somewhat run-down old building in Akihabara, the journey of the members of the Future Gadget Laboratory begins. Led by the self-proclaimed mad scientist Rintaro Okabe, the laboratory members accidentally finds a way to time travel.  Alongside his childhood friend Mayuri Shiina, a very skilled hacker Itaru Hashida and the most recent genius member Kurisu Makise, Okabe embarks on a disastrous journey through time. Later in his journey, Okabe will meet with new members of the Future Gadget Laboratory in his attempt to change the future.

While the original 5pb and Nitroplus visual novel offers alternate endings for most of the lab members, the White Fox anime production uses the story of the True End route of the game. Both the anime and the game receive major positive feedback from its viewers, making Steins;Gate one of anime series based on visual novels you definitely have to watch.

4. Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni

schoolgirl hanging around the class

Keichi Maebara looks very much forward to his new life. He just moved to a rural village called Hinamizawa. There, Keichi meets and becomes friends with his new classmates Rena, Mion, Rika and Satoko. If right now you think this is your usual high school drama anime, think again! Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni is an anime adaptation of one of the top mystery visual novel games. That’s right, Keichi’s quiet and peaceful days in Hinamizawa are about to be over. As the village’s annual festival grows nearer, Keichi will soon find out about disturbing facts surrounding the village.

Using the same story as the original VN by 07th expansion, the anime series separates into several arcs. Even though the story is different in each arc, the characters in play are the same. Consequently, the mysteries surrounding the village reveals more and more after each arc. While some fans deem the anime series to be somewhat inferior to the original VN, many still considers this anime as one of the best anime series based on visual novels and it’s definitely worth your time.

That concludes my list of 4 Most Popular Anime Series Based on Visual Novels. Needless to say, there are many anime adaptation of visual novels worth watching other than these four. But personally, it’s hard for me to find one that is as popular as them. The world of visual novels is a vast one, and definitely no less entertaining than others. If we were to look seriously, I’m sure there are many VN titles that are worthy to be have an anime or even a movie adaptation.

So what do you think of my list? Can you find your favorite VN/anime ? Did I miss anything? Please let me know in the comments below.

Read other posts about visual novels here.


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Written by
Just an ordinary game and VN-loving guy who aspires to be a writer. Loves fantasy and suspense, like Fate/Stay Night, Zero Escape and Ace Attorney Series.

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