Fantasy Series Recs

I grew up reading fantasy, and I realized recently that 1) I’m getting to the point where I can actually read Japanese! (it might be slow-going still, but I can understand more, so it feels more like actual reading) and 2) I have yet to read a single fantasy since I started reading in Japanese nearly a year ago, and I need to rectify that.

I have a definite preference for ones that are in like the typical “Medieval Europe”-esque settings, but I’m fine with Modern With Magic settings as well. I love Dragon Quest and Legend of Zelda, and I remember liking the Slayers and Scrapped Princess animes when I was younger (haven’t gotten around to rewatching or reading them). Some English series I like are The Inheritance Cycle (Chris Paolini), The Legend of Drizzt (R.A. Salvatore), Heralds of Valdemar (Mercedes Lackey), and Septimus Heap (Angie Sage). Also, Simon Snow (Rainbow Rowell).

I’m looking for both manga and novels/light novels (whether with or without illustrations). Original works, rather than translations from English. Completed or ongoing. I care more about the content/the actual story than if it’s aimed toward guys or gals. I’m fine with ones aimed toward younger audiences (upper elementary/middle school, or about 5th-8th grade), but no younger than that. Teen and up preferred. Bonus points if there are dragons. Already on my wishlist are 暁のヨナ and とんでもスキルで異世界放浪メシ.

Some things I don’t like:

  • Harems. I don’t have much patience for love triangles, either, though I won’t necessarily say no to them outright.
  • Pervy stuff. Romance is fine (bonus points if it’s queer, I’d like some more queer fantasies), but no male protags being lecherous toward female characters and stuff like that, please. I know there are some series oriented toward guys that are like that.
  • (On the subject of romance, I seem to stumble across a lot of teen/adult or barely-out-of-their-teens/an-adult-adult pairings, from Negima [although that’s… child/teen] and Rurouni Kenshin to all the teacher/student series out there, and just… no. I admit that I like age differences, but not when the younger party is that young. If there is romance, an age-appropriate love interest, please. That includes no 20-year-olds with late-20s-plus-year-olds. 25-27 is on thin ice, but more than that is an automatic no from me. Ideally with larger age differences, I’d rather the younger party were at least mid-20s.)
  • Dark themes, whump, psychological, etc. I’m fine with and even like angst, but I can’t deal with whump. Also, anything particularly graphic. If the blood and violence would net it an M/M+ rating, then that’s likely too graphic for me. Below that’s generally fine.
  • Political intrigue. Some politics are fine, and even expected, but if it’s mainly a political story, I get bored.
  • Spiders, especially in manga. (Well, I suppose it’s fine if there are a small number that only show up like once or twice, it’s not like you don’t fight giant spiders in Neverwinter Nights, but I’d. really rather there not. Thank you.)

If there are ones like slice-of-life in a fantasy setting, those would be good too. I’m all for the excitement of external-plot-driven series, but I also love slower, character-driven plots. I also enjoy ayakashi series (夏目友人帳 is one of my comfort series, and I love 不機嫌なモノノケ庵), so even though that’s not really the kind of fantasy that I’m looking for, I’ll accept recommendations for those, too.

For anyone else who’s interested, as well as for my own organizational purposes, I’ll be gathering all suggested series here and including links to the first volume on Bookmeter (as well as to the book club here if I found one), organized by whether I’m interested in them or not.

For those who like reading digitally, the site 小説家になろう has various novels available to read on it for free, including fantasy (divided into High Fantasy and Low Fantasy) as well as other genres.

Recommendations:

Ones I found that I like/think I’ll like:

Fantasy

  • 暁のヨナ [manga] - [book club]
  • とんでもスキルで異世界放浪メシ [novels] [manga] (spinoff とんでもスキルで異世界放浪メシ スイの大冒険 [manga])
  • 竜のかわいい七つの子 [manga]
  • 王国の子 [manga]

Youkai

Going on the wishlist:

Fantasy

Under consideration:

Fantasy

Rejected:

Fantasy

  • 魔法少女育成計画 [novels] (I think that’s the first one)
  • 蜘蛛ですが、何か? [novels] [manga]
  • 悪食令嬢と狂血公爵 [novels] [manga] (though I may come back to it in the future)

Youkai

Pending:

Fantasy

  • 魔女の旅々
  • 不滅のあなたへ
  • ドラゴン、家を買う
  • RDG レッドデータガール
  • 西の善き魔女
  • 空色勾玉
  • エチュード春一番
  • 狼と香辛料 - [book club]
  • 二十国記

Youkai

  • 妖怪の子預かります
  • 妖怪アパートの幽雅な日常

Thanks in advance!

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From stuff that comes to mind (I can probably get better recommendations later):

Manga: ダンジョン飯 and とんがり帽子のアトリエ (I guess they come to mind because I binged them recently)

Light novel: 本好きの下剋上 fits all your criteria, I think. There must be more that I can recommend; I’ll have a look at the list of stuff I read when I have the time.
Edit: I guess “when I have the time” was now. There is more! 悪食令嬢と狂血公爵 is really fun. Sadly only two volumes published so far :frowning:

Novels: I guess anything by 上橋 菜穂子 fits the bill. 獣の奏者 is probably my favorite but doesn’t have much in terms of magic. 狐笛のかなた has a more explicit magic presence.

Then かくりよの宿飯. It has romance between characters with an age difference (and they are both adults) too!

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Sounds like you’d really like 本好きの下剋上. It’s a really long light novel series, which is still publishing but nearing completion. As mentioned, it fits your criteria really well. It’s broken up into arcs, making it more approachable even with how long the series is (the first arc is only 3 books, second is 4, though the arcs do get longer later).

I’d also recommend the series 獣の奏者. I think this is targeted at middle school age, but it definitely doesn’t hold back in with its complex setting and political aspects. The biggest appeal here is the main character and her growth and relationship with the other characters. Although there are five books in the series, it’s really books 1-2 as a group, books 3-4 as a group, and book 5 as some 外伝 thing, and I don’t know how related it is to the overall story. I’ve only read the first two books, which was great, and I plan to read books 3 and 4 at some point.

To a lesser extent I’d recommend かがみの孤城. I say “lesser” only because it’s a modern setting and the fantasy elements are much lighter. But it’s a really great book and I’d give it a general recommendation.

That’s probably all I can recommend as far as novels / light novels. The only other series I’ve read and enjoyed with some kind of fantasy elements is 魔法少女育成計画, but that definitely breaks your “no dark themes” rule.


For manga, I would also recommend とんがり帽子のアトリエ if you’re good with little-to-no story development. The world, characters, and art are all great though, so I think it’s worth checking out.

Another one I’d recommend is シャドーハウス. This is definitely fantasy, though kind of hard to compare to anything else. One thing I’d say about this series is that it very intentionally starts slow to introduce you to the characters and world, but it gets into a fairly complex story around volume 4. And to be fair, I still found the earlier parts enjoyable, just for a different reason. (Side note: This series has a full color digital version which is really well done if you’re fine with digital.)

And I think that’s it for manga as well. I also enjoy fantasy a lot, but with manga I tend to read more slice of life / comedy / 4-koma series than anything else, so there’s only so much I can recommend.

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Just how much of it is political? Is it more of a political intrigue, or are the political aspects more on the side?

Gah it’s hard to describe without spoilers. There’s definitely political intrigue, but court scenes do not take that much space, page-wise. (At least that was my impression).

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Let’s just say that the political aspects are critical to the story being told (particularly in the second book), but I agree with @Naphthalene that the political scenes take don’t take up much space page-wise. It’s really hard to explain.

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I‘d like to second @Naphthalene‘s recommendation of 狐笛のかなた. It’s a medieval setting with some magical elements, it’s a pretty easy read and it’s just a single book. Also, we have a book club for it where you can use the old threads and even ask further questions. The author is the same as for 獣の奏者 (which is a series as others described) and 鹿の王 (another fantasy series by the same author). Those two series are more complicated contents-wise so I can recommend you start with 狐笛のかなた to get used to the author and everything.

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So would it be fine to read for someone who tends to be bored by politics but can handle some?

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As a counterpoint, 狐笛のかなた has a younger target audience than the others and is (in my opinion) fairly simplistic in its storytelling, so it may not fit OP’s desires.

I mean, it’s probably no more politics than you’d expect to find in any setting that involves royalty or nobility, so probably? Completing nixing all series with politics would rule out a ton of series that would otherwise fit your criteria. If you weren’t okay with any politics for example, it would also rule out 狐笛のかなた and 本好きの下剋上, and possibly even シャドーハウス. But if you’re okay with a little politics, where the political aspects are important, but not the point of the story, then I think all those could be fine.

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Yeah, I’m fine with some politics, and I’d expect it from some fantasies, but if it goes real heavy into it, then that’s when I tend to get bored. I’ll check it out, then!

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Manga: ダンジョン飯 and とんがり帽子のアトリエ (I guess they come to mind because I binged them recently)

holy crap i literally love both those manga! you have good taste lol.

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If you know other similar books/manga, both me and OP would appreciate the recommendations :slight_smile:

One of my favorites is Majo no Tabitabi (Wandering Witch) It’s by Jougi Shiraishi, and has some dark chapters but is mostly pretty lighthearted.

This one sounds interesting, and that there’s a book club on here is a definite plus! When I was looking for them on Amazon to add to my list, for some reason I couldn’t find book 7 of part 5, but it’ll take me a while to get there anyway, so hopefully it’ll be fine. Amazon ain’t the only place to get books, anyway.

This one I’m not sure about, and of course the preview isn’t long enough to really give me an idea, but I’ll keep it in mind.

This one seems cute, and the art is beautiful. Plus it’s got a cooking spin-off manga, and an anime adaptation announced. This one’s definitely going on the list!

I’ll start checking out the rest either later tonight or tomorrow. Thank you everyone for your suggestions so far!

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I’d recommend against looking too far ahead, as the arc titles alone contain significant spoilers for previous arcs.

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Oh, I barely looked at the titles. I just went, “Okay, next is part x, book y. Part x, book y? Okay, adding to list.” lol the advantage to not being able to just immediately process Japanese when I see it yet, I guess

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The cover is a massive spoiler (probably hard to process now, but one can probably guess what is going on as early as part 2). Sooooo, 神に感謝を, as they say.

The first volume was free to read for a little while recently. I guess you have enough on your plate right now anyway to just wait until an extended preview or something is available again :slight_smile:

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For fantasy manga, I highly recommend 不滅のあなたへ.
The main character is sort of male (shape shifter), but the female characters are also great. It is very, very sad, (especially the first half of the series) but in a beautiful way.

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蜘蛛ですが、何か? is great, cannot recommend it enough. They are 16 books in this series, so it will take a long time to finish :wink:

I also thought about it briefly, but it includes some harem/pervy stuff. For me, it was enough to reach “annoying” but not to the point I would just drop the series. Considering OP sounded strongly against such elements, I feel like they may have issues with that too.

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