Why Fan Publishing Site Shousetsuka ni Narou is Anime’s Newest Hotbed

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Why Shousetsuka ni Narou is Anime’s Newest Hotbed

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Anime has gone through various evolutions over the decades, and one of the more recent changes is the rise of light novel adaptations. However, look closer and the majority of these come from one site, and were created by amateurs and fans! So, how did a site called Shousetsuka ni Narou become such a hotbed for new anime?

What is Shousetsuka ni Narou?

What is Shousetsuka ni Narou Anime Slime
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That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime – Originally self-published by Fuse
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Shousetsuka ni Narou (literally meaning Let's Become a Novelist) is a self-publishing web novel website and the biggest website of its kind in Japan.

On Shousetsuka ni Narou, anybody can create an account and upload their story, and all stories on the platform are free to read. A western equivalent of Shousetsuka ni Narou would be something like Wattpad, although the latter has some paid-for content.

Shousetsuka ni Narou is hugely popular in Japan. At the time of writing, the site has just under 1 million stories uploaded and over 2 million registered users.

According to website tracker Similarweb, Shousetsuka ni Narou is the 3rd most popular art & entertainment website in Japan, after YouTube and art-sharing platform Pixiv. Shousetsuka ni Narou is also visited more than both Instagram and Facebook in Japan.

How Many Anime Come from Shousetsuka ni Narou Stories?

How Many Shousetsuka ni Narou Anime Shield Hero
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The Rising of the Shield Hero – Originally self-published by Aneko Yusagi

There are so many anime adapted from stories on Shousetsuka ni Narou that it’s difficult to keep track. Thankfully, there are some lists available, such as the one on Narou’s Wikipedia.

The vast majority of isekai anime that have been released in recent years have their origins as amateur stories on Shousetsuka ni Narou. Here are just some examples from 2022:

  • Overlord
  • My Isekai Life
  • Parallel World Pharmacy
  • Black Summoner
  • The Rising of the Shield Hero
  • Skeleton Knight in Another World
  • The Greatest Demon Lord Is Reborn as a Typical Nobody
  • Trapped in a Dating Sim: The World of Otome Games is Tough for Mobs
  • Ascendance of a Bookworm

Basically, if there is an isekai anime, there’s a high chance it originally came from Shousetsuka ni Narou.

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Why are All Shousetsuka ni Narou Stories Isekai?

Why are All Shousetsuka ni Narou Anime Isekai Re:Zero
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Re:Zero − Starting Life in Another World – Originally self-published by Tappei Nagatsuki

You might have noticed that almost every anime adaptation originating from Shousetsuka ni Narou is an isekai. These stories are at the heart of Shousetsuka ni Narou and its history.

Before some of Shousetsuka ni Narou’s stories started to get huge success, the website was most renowned for fanfiction, something that remains to this day.

Originally, Shousetsuka ni Narou was filled with stories about popular characters being transported into different anime worlds, or readers being transported into the world of a popular series.

As a result, isekai stories of people being transported to other worlds were at the heart of Shousetsuka ni Narou before the term became the juggernaut it is today.

Shousetsuka ni Narou remains filled with ideas riffed and remixed from other stories. The authors of Mushoku Tensei and Re:Zero, both isekai stories competing on the website at the same time, borrowed ideas they read in each other’s stories.

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What is Narou Anime?

So many anime have been adapted from Shousetsuka ni Narou that there is even a genre specifically for the phenomenon: Narou anime.

Narou anime doesn’t have a set definition, as it’s largely an internet term used to deride certain tropes. Still, it can be considered a branch of isekai anime, with a few more specifics.

Narou anime almost always refers to an anime adapted from a Shousetsuka ni Narou story. More importantly, though, it is usually used to refer to specific characteristics often seen in those stories:

  1. An ordinary person transported to a fantasy world (e.g. isekai)
  2. An overpowered main character, or one that gets stronger unnaturally fast
  3. An indulgent fantasy element, such as a harem or the character becoming a ruler.

Note that the term is largely slang and has different meanings to different people. Also, it’s worth mentioning that not all Shousetsuka ni Narou stories are isekai, but the site has become renowned for what people see as cookie-cutter fantasies.

How Do Web Novels on Shousetsuka ni Narou Become Anime?

How Do Web Novels on Shousetsuka ni Narou Become Anime Mushoku Tensei
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Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation – Originally self-published by Rifujin na Magonote
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Of course, there are a few steps before these user-generated stories get shown on screens across the world. The majority of Shousetsuka ni Narou stories get formally published before their anime adaptation.

Almost all anime rely on a media ecosystem that allows the franchise to make additional revenue from multiple sources, not just selling the show. As a result, most anime are adapted from a published source material. Usually, that’s a manga or light novel.

Before any anime, successful web novels on Shousetsuka ni Narou will often get picked up by a mainstream publisher which turns the content into light novels.

Sometimes the light novel adaptation will be a copy of the Shousetsuka ni Narou story in paperback form. However, there can also be updates to the story for a more mainstream audience (such as with the Shield Hero light novels). The anime will then adapt the light novel.

As an example, one of Shousetsuka ni Narou’s most successful stories is That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime. That story was first published by Fuse on the website in 2013. Micro Magazine then purchased the story rights and turned the series into light novels from 2014. The anime adaptation first aired in 2018.

Why are So Many New Anime from Shousetsuka ni Narou?

Why are There So Many New Shousetsuka ni Narou Anime Bookworm
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Ascendance of a Bookworm – Originally self-published by Miya Kazuki
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There are two main reasons for the recent surge in anime from Shousetsuka ni Narou, and both relate to business decisions.

Firstly, more of Shousetsuka ni Narou’s stories are being published. After the huge success of franchises like That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime and others, more publishers are looking for the next money-making success from the platform.

A big point in favour of Shousetsuka ni Narou stories is that they’ve been field tested. The most popular stories on the site already have an audience before the light novel is even sent to print.

While stories like DanMachi that win publishing competitions can be a success, there’s always slightly more risk than adapting a well-received web novel.

The second reason why you see a lot more Shousetsuka ni Narou anime is because of the huge demand for isekai anime.

As mentioned in my other article on the popularity of isekai anime, these kinds of stories are doing particularly well from a business standpoint. Shousetsuka ni Narou, as explained above, is swimming with isekai stories, which is why they happen to be the ones popping up every season.

Whether we like it or not, thanks to our support, anime is increasingly big business. Many companies have found a style of story production that delivers more reliable results, and until that changes, you will continue to see Shousetsuka ni Narou stories being animated.

In many ways, however, Shousetsuka ni Narou represents the blissful, nostalgic past for anime fans, as well as a hopeful future.

The site, at its core, is full of people who love stories, and while the business of anime appears less inclined to take risks, the fact that so many have their origins in fanmade passion projects gives us hope that fans can still steer the future direction of anime, either as viewers or, for the lucky ones, as creators.