I was trying to put together a post on Fate/Stay Night and went on a rambling sideline about what makes for a good visual novel adaptation. You should stick to a single path rather than try to incorporate all routes in a single narrative. If you start from X-rated material and you want to take it out for better distribution options (or because you have something personal against me) you should make sure there’s enough storyline left over and that characters’ relationships remain rational. You have to make sure your point of view character has an actual personality and isn’t just a vessel for the player, so on.. 

This got me thinking that there is a wealth of great stories currently available in Visual Novel form that I would love to see adapted into anime. These games aren’t necessarily my favorites but these have narratives that I think would lend themselves well to the anime medium (in some cases possibly better than the VN one…). For the surely dozens of anime studio reps that visit my blog every day – take notes! 

Saya no Uta Song of Saya
I have been looking for a dress like that for years


Saya no Uta

Fuminori Sakisaka, a young and popular medical student, is on track for a life of success and happiness when everything changes. After a car accident that proves fatal to his parents, leaves him with serious injuries, he must undergo emergency brain surgery. The procedure results in an exaggerated form of agnosia that alters his perceptions causing the world to seem covered in blood and gore, people to look and sound like hideous monsters, and food to taste disgusting. With no apparent cure in sight, Fuminori contemplates suicide but as he is tittering on the verge of despair he meets Saya, a beautiful girl among the flesh-covered walls. The mysterious Saya is looking for her father it seems and Fuminori will do anything to help her, desperate not to lose his one beacon of light and beauty in an abhorrent world.

You should know that Saya no Uta is a Lovecraftian horror with all that implies. It is very gory, often disturbing and deals heavily with the metal (obviously I meant mental but metal is cool too so typo stays!) implications of brutal trauma. The X-rated elements could be taken out but they work well within the clearly adult narrative and I would simply move them off camera for a lighter rating. Personally I think certain character designs could use an upgrade and the backgrounds and environment should be deeply detailed to properly sell the ambiance needed. 

 saya no uta
Studying to become a surgeon


Why do I think this will make a great anime, for one thing it was written by Gen Urobuchi. Between Madoka and Psycho Pass, the guy picked up a few things on how to write a story. Plus, with his prestige, I bet any studio would gladly let him adapt his own work. The game is not that long overall and the story needs fleshing out, this might be condensed within a short 6 to 10-episode season although I can easily see how a few episodes worth of material could be added to fill a full season.

I occasionally get a real itch for horror animes and think the genre is underserved. This would be a nice addition and the premise would be perfect for some truly memorable visuals and a suitably insane storyline. 

No Thank You!!!
Yes please


No, Thank You

A cheerful young man loses his memories after heroically saving a stranger from getting hit by a car. After failing to find out who he is, the man he saved decides to thank him by giving him a job at a bar he owns and renting him a small apartment until they can figure out what to do next. After picking the name Haru, the young man starts to adjust to this new life and his new co-workers but it seems things are not quite as they appear. Could his new friends be involved in something…unsavory?

Of all my picks, this is the one least likely to ever get adapted and one of my favorite games. It bears mentioning that this is a very hardcore Yaoi title, and has some truly disturbing and realistic violence. The game also has no good endings, at best they are bitter sweet leaning heavily on the bitter side. So why would I pick this?

No Thank You!!! visual novel
Finding a PG image of this game was the hardest part of this post

The characters are wonderful. All of them are so well crafted and fully developed, with complete backstories and logical motivations. Haru, the player character, is possibly the best MC I have ever embodied. I am nothing like him but I want to be. The game is very cleverly constructed. There is a twist which is adapted to surprise no matter which route you chose to play first and subsequent routes get tweaked depending on their order of playthrough. The common route also has little bits and lines added every time you start over to gradually reveal the full picture. It was truly impressive. You could easily take any single route and simply make sure all the tiny bits of information are added in to get a rich and tense story with a great reveal.

The hardcore elements would be easy to remove and as much as I did enjoy them, do not bring anything to the larger story. They sometimes felt tacked on and unnecessary. One of the romantic stories was very touching though. The look of the game is great. All the character models and backgrounds could easily be kept unchanged. But the quality of the CGs is a bit inconsistent. This will have to be addressed in any adaptation. The game is long enough to have material for a full season even if all the romantic elements are taken out. However, No, Thank you is an unusual story and it may be difficult to find an audience for it. 

Lamento Beyond the Void
That one kitty has great hair


Lamento -Beyond the Void-

The Ribika (cat people) have fallen on dark times. Their world is rejecting them! A mysterious phenomenon, known only as the void, is slowly making certain places and even animals harmful to the mere touch. Food and resources are rapidly dwindling. On top of that, a strange and deadly disease that has killed off a large percentage of the female population. It is the end of times for the Ribika.

In the miserable world, Konoe strives to survive in his small village when he starts being plagued by horrible nightmares and strange marks on his body. Thinking that he might have gotten cursed, Konoe decides to head to Ransen (the big city) in search for a cure.

Ahhh, a surreal Nitro Chiral Boy Love game, is there anything better? This may be the best-known game on the list and frankly I’m surprised that it hasn’t already been made into an anime. The rich fantasy setting full of magic and demons is both superbly suited for mesmerizing visuals and an easily marketable storyline. I kept thinking what a great show it would make as I was playing through this. If it wasn’t for the fact that I enjoyed all the individual routes for their own reasons, I might say this would be better as an anime. 

Lamento Beyond the Void Visual Novel bardo
I love Bardo


The characters are a little tropey but appealing. This isn’t supposed to be a particularly serious or deep narrative. It was a fun romp and I would love to see it play out on my TV. The romantic storylines would be very easy to remove or tone down without affecting the overall narrative but they were actually quite sweet so I wouldn’t mind if some hint was left.

The game is pretty much unending (at least twice as long as DMMD if not longer) so you would have material for a full 26 episodes maybe more, even without BL. I think the only reason this game isn’t more popular is that it’s such a long playthrough.

And of course, the visuals are the best. Just keep the cat boys as is, pretty please.

Kamidori Alchemy Meister

Is it just me or do Alchemists all have a certain look?

Kamidori Alchemy Meister

The jewel city of Yuidora is thriving. As one of the seven major cities, it attracts alchemists from all over the world hoping to make it big. Among them, a young orphan named Wilfred is working to get his license and revive his parents’ workshop as one of the greatest in the land. As he strives for greatness he will have to prove himself to the Alchemist guild, gather the resources he needs and convince powerful allies to lend him a hand

Kamidori is a weird little hybrid turn based SRPG, crafting sim and hentai visual novel mash up. It’s pretty fun. The basic storyline is very much a light fantasy Shounen (think Magi for instance) with an enormous pretty girl harem thrown in. The x-rated part is completely unnecessary and just there for fanserve but the girls are surprisingly likeable (if underdeveloped). Nothing special but everything was enjoyable and the visuals are quite pretty.

Kamidori Alchemy Meister Visual Novel
I can’t quite figure out what I like about these ladies

The routes are an aside to the main storyline which is unaffected by your choice of partner, so they could be cut out altogether. This is also the type of story that can easily go on forever. Each step in Wilfred’s quest to become the best (i.e. level up) could be made into a few episodes loosely adding up to the main arc. To be honest this would probably end up something like Fairy Tail. 

Katahane visual novel
that looks a little dangerous



Wakaba is an aspiring playwright and nothing gets your name out there better than a bit of controversy. After writing a play about the infamous traitor Ein who killed a ruler of the White Kingdom, Christina, but reinventing him as her loyal supporter, framed by an unknown evildoer, she thinks she might just have struck gold.

In the meantime, her friend Cero needs to make a trip to the capitol to get Coco maintenanced. Coco is a highly advanced doll (a magical android of sorts) and like every other doll, she occasionally needs to get “tuned”. Seeing an opportunity, Wakaba decides to join him in the hopes of finding some actors for her play. Along the way, they meet a beautiful doll with one wing named Belle and an aspiring actress named Angelina.

Katahane is a tender yuri story about regret and redemption. The narrative itself is split into what could be a somewhat slice of life adventure following Wakaba’s attempts to get her play together and a historical thriller recounting the events leading to the fall of the White Empire and the assassination of their ruler. I would say that the story dragged a bit in parts and could use some editing and adjusting to get the pace right but the core of it was interesting.

Katahane visual novel
I forgot that there are a million supporting characters

The “dolls” being, more or less, immortal, serve as a perfect vehicle to tell a story across multiple timelines being able to directly contrast present events and historical ones. The setting is a mix of sunny rural and what I have decided to call “pastel” steampunk. There’s a little bit of magic thrown in the mix.

The visuals are pretty but I think they may need a bit of extra detailing to make the jump to anime format. I would definitely keep the romance in this one as it’s an integral part of the narrative but you could tone it down to a PG setting.

My favorite part of this one though is that the very much Yuri story completely avoids all the more problematic pitfalls of the genre. The story never feels exploitative, no insulting tropes are used and the relationship is presented as very natural and healthy. It’s a little naïve but for those of us who enjoy happilies ever after (that is probably not the proper plural of that expression) it is a rare example of a respectful, happy Yuri couple. 

Gahkthun of the Golden Lightning
So they have uniforms in University too?

Gahkthun of the Golden Lightning

 The year is 1908. The 20th century is still young. An unfamiliar 20th century – in an unfamiliar world. This is a world that experienced a 19th century very different from our own. A world filled with innumerable steam-powered Engines. The unnaturally rapid development of this steam civilization has left the world’s skies shrouded in grey… and its seas dyed in shades of black. In this world, The Marseille Offshore Academia is known to all as the place to go if you wish to become an engineer. However, the Academia is also a city with a secret. A dark secret known only to the elite and protected by the powerful Academia Governing Council.

In the spring of 1908… A single young man appears within its walls. After declaring his intent to wage war against the Governing Council, he introduces himself in this way: “Nikola Tesla. 72 years old. I’m a transfer student.”

Gahkthun should be an anime. It would actually be better as an anime. The story is completely linear, there are no routes at all and the choice mechanics simply unlock superfluous extra scenes. The game is even constructed so that you can skip gameplay all together and simply read it as a digital novel. And the story is great. The trippy steampunk setting may seem a bit out of fashion but I think we had a long enough break from it to enjoy once more and the deeply environmentalist moral appeals to me. On top of that, the central couple are really very charming together.

Gahkthun of the Golden Lightning Visual Novel
Soooooo sweet

The fanservice can get a touch too exploitative and a bit out of place but that’s easily remediated since it’s purely in character design rather than narrative. The ladies aren’t given too much clothes at times but they always have brains. The story, told through a set of mysteries, is perfectly suited for an episodic structure and the art styles is already great.

The only drawback to an adaptation is that, even though I read the translation, the actual writing, as in the grammatical structure and cadence of the sentences, is extremely interesting. There is a prominent use of repetition and peculiar sentence structure which gives the narrative a certain rhythm. I really enjoyed that (some people hated it) and I can’t see how it would make it into an anime. Otherwise though this would be a fairly easy adaptation and a very fun story.

And because I would be remiss not to include a couple of otomes, even though I think these are generally ill suited for conversion here are the two top reverse harem contenders.

8 bit lovers
I think this is the second game – I want to play it so bad

8 bit lovers

I’ve already made my love for this game known. There isn’t that much in way of raw material but it would be a great funny short program in my opinion. And I would love to see that type of story with a female lead for a change.

Nameless – The one thing you must recall
This game has some truly epic mullets


Do you guys know Cheritz? They made the uber popular Mystic Messenger iOS game. (That game forced me to make homemade honey butter chips – and now I constantly crave them) Anyways, before Mystic Messenger and after the “bang your pets simulator” Dandelion, they made a traditional format otome visual novel called Nameless – The one thing you must recall.

The story follows Eri, a freshman at Crobi Academy, who finds herself suddenly living alone after her grandfather’s death. Left by herself, Eri begins to obsess over her ball jointed dolls; a hobby she’s unable to tell anyone about, even her friends. She talks to them and takes care of them as if they were her family and one day, they kind of are.

Nameless otome
actual supporting character!

Otomes have some harebrained stories barely coherent stories that often end up being shallow nonsense. If you just read the synopsis you would think Nameless is one of those. Admittedly, it does get a bit cheesy. But it’s also a bag of pure nightmare fuel. A lot of the underlying themes are very dark and heavy and I was unprepared for how harrowing those bad endings were. When you strip away the bubbly surface, which the game itself does on several occasions, you are left with an unsettling story dealing with some decidedly adult fears.

As with most otomes, this one is already PG and unlike a lot of the previous games has an established route order and a single true path that gives you the entire story, making adaptation fairly simple. The art is gorgeous but I’m not sure how easy it would be to animate.

So there you have it. My top picks so far. I just finished HighSchool Romance, which was cute but not really anime material and I started OzMafia. I haven’t seen the anime but so far (maybe 40 minutes in) the game is completely hilarious. I had wine coming out of my nose on several occasions. Do you guys want to hear about it? Do you want to hear about any visual novels for that matter? Do you have any to recommend?

27 thoughts

  1. This is great. My biggest grip with BL anime adaptation from vn is that they remove the romance. I don’t watch Togainu no Chi or DMMD, but according to people, they cut off the romance.

  2. I’m always down for seeing more visual novels being made into anime!

    Great list! I’ve only heard of Saya no Uta and Katahane (and 8 Bit Lover after your review of the first game), but these all definitely sound like they could be made into anime!

    (I was a stalker and browsed the comments section – I’m glad you also like Horimiya)

    “Do you guys want to hear about it?”
    Yes, I want to hear about how HighSchool Romance made you laugh that hard.

    “Do you want to hear about any visual novels for that matter?”
    Yes, please.

    “Do you have any to recommend?”
    I only have yuri visual novels to recommend. Kindred Spirits on the Roof is one of the best the genre has to offer. After reading about your thoughts on Drifters and and Nameless, I think you would enjoy The Shadows of Pygmalion, too.

    1. Thank you!!! I actually mentioned Kindered Spirits in one of the comments and I agree it’s a lovely story just maybe a touch short on material for a full season?

      Well it looks like I’m writting more VN posts – yay!

      It’s OzMafia that’s filling my world with joy right now. I love it for very similar reasons as my most precious Uta no Prince-sama….

      You know that moment when you realize your no longer enjoying something “ironically”…

      I have not played the Shadows of Pygmalion but that is an awesome title. I will definetly look into it.

      1. You’re very welcome!

        Ohhh oops. Mmm it’s in an awkward spot in regards to length. It really was a lovely story, though.

        YESSSSS that’s the stuff I wanna hear.

        UGH sorry for mixing OzMafia with High School Romance. A potential rival has appeared, huh…?!

        Oh no, it’s finally happened…..

        It’s a pretty dope title and game. I still catch myself thinking about it!

  3. I buy all my games in shops, and there are very few VNs in shops. All I played so far is Steins;Gate, and that clearly already has an anime adaptation.

    I’ve heard of Saya no Uto during the anticipation phase of Madoka, and I’ve always been curious, so I’d appreciate an anime adaptation. Anime horror isn’t that rare; good anime horror is. My favourites are probably Kagewani (cut-out technique of Southpark with more realistic art; should be hard to take seriously, but ends up surprisingly effective), and Wasurenagumo, a half-hour one-shot, which turns kawaii into kowai. Other than that, it’s usually single episodes in larger works (like episode 19 of Shin Sekai Yori).

    I really like the art of Katahane. And while I’m not too fond of the character designs of Nameless, I adore the colour design and I like how the characters mash with the background.

    As for VNs that should get an anime adaptation? Hmm, I think I’d like to see Hatoful Boyfriend.

      1. I think a good director for Hatoful Boyfriend would be Yohishara Tatsuya (Monster Musume, Muromi-san, Yoru no Yatterman).

          1. Good choice! I had to look her up, and it turns out she’s responsible for the criminally underrated OVA Hori-san to Miyamura-kun.

            1. OMG someone else had heard of that show. I was already in love with the manga mind you so it means something that I liked the adaptation

            2. Oh hey, I didn’t know you liked Hori-san. That OVA did its job and got me to read the manga, which I’ve been enjoying a lot.

              Somehow I was under the impression that Hatoful already had an anime. It doesn’t, but I guess it’s probably because I’ve heard it get talked about so often. Of course, be careful what you wish for with adaptations. I was looking forward to Rewrite’s anime adaptation last year and…yeah.

            3. Don’t feel bad about not knowing. I’m pretty sure you’re the first person I’ve told. I have not seen the rewrite anime. I’m guessing it’s a skip.

            4. One of the problem I have with talking about Hori-san is that I keep forgetting the names. In about two months I’ll have forgotten the names again. The show, though, is memorable. (My name memory is bad.)

            5. I feel your pain and share your senility.

              I literally take notes while I’m actively watching a show and still end up with things like: Glasses guy and pinky have a really interesting rivalry…

      1. No, not at all. I like VN’s but just don’t know very many good ones/have access to the good ones. I’m planning on playing through Planetarian though since I enjoyed the ONA so much 🙂

  4. I am not much of a visual novel guy, but from your description of some of these visuals it would be interesting to see some made. i mean my extent of visual novels is like Danganronpa or Phoenix Wright…so not that much. Katahane especially sounds like it could be just what I need right now, an nice trope free yuri couple and story that could be tweaked to be better in anime form. Sounds like the right concoction for an adaptation to do well! And I agree about the horror genre, greatly underappreciated and too much fluff to count sadly. Having something like a Lovecraftian horror done by the Urobutcher could be a fun little romp.

    1. I think so too! You know what other genre is underrepresented, and I can’t believe I forgot this one, the beastiallity harem genre. Hatoful Boyfriend anime!

  5. Personally I’m always interested in VN discussions, and good VN adaptations like Kanon 2006 are often some of my favorite anime. Poor VN adaptations, on the other hand, are often some of my quickest drops.

    Of the VNs I’ve played that haven’t already been adapted, I’d cast a vote for Littlewitch Romanesque. It would definitely need a director and scriptwriter with some skill at handling adaptations. It’s a very wide-branching story that covers a three-year timespan with almost two dozen different endings, so it would need some careful planning to sculpt it into a narrative suitable for TV, but the setting’s fantasy world is a good one and the core cast including the MC have more than enough substance and backstory to build an interesting adaptation around them. The H-stuff, meanwhile, is entirely extraneous and removing it wouldn’t hurt the story at all (it actually was removed in the official North American release of the game anyway, which is how I played it the first time before I patched it to restore the missing content, and as it turned out I actually liked the all-ages version better).

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