You may’ve heard a word or two about a LN ranking released each year, known as the KonoRano.
That said, its meaning and elaboration remain unclear for most of us. After all, it could be a popularity contest, or a ranking made by professionals.
This article, also available in French, should make things clearer.
Kono Light Novel ga Sugoi! (This light novel is amazing!), aka “KonoRano”, is an annual guidebook released by the publisher Takarajimasha, since 2004.
2015’s edition was published in November 2014, following the same pattern that for the previous editions.
Inside, a LN ranking can be found, but also others for illustrators, writers, characters, etc.
People are divided into 3 groups, each one having a particular composition and weight.
Each of them must choose and rank 5 LNs (series or one-shots).
The voting order may imply a qualitative choice, as the first choice receives more points than the fifth one.
Here is the ranking’s board header:
順位 // 作品名 // 総合 // HP // 協力者// モニター
The rank (順位), series’ name (作品名) and total score (総合) give a general outline. To understand each series’ position, you must look at the 3 following columns.
HP is related to the survey (Home Page Survey), posted on Takarajimasha’s website up to one month before the KonoRano is published. Surveyed people give 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1 points on their votes (average of 3 points/series).
They are the most numerous: more than 1300 in 2014, a thousand in 2015.
協力者 refers to the collaborators.
The sixty selected collaborators are more or less related to the LN universe: editors, writers, publishers’ employees, bookshop owners, college circles…
Although their selection can be questioned, their opinion is heavily weighted, as they give 10, 9, 8, 7 and 6 points (average of 8 points/series).
They often support recent series, unknown but worth a read, bringing some freshness and diversity in the ranking.
Lastly, モニター highlights the monitors.
An external society is following a group of one hundred teenagers, who read more than 51 LNs in the year.
They give 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1 points on their votes (average of 3 points/series), and they often choose series adapted into animes.
Ranking votes and putting emphasis on collaborators prove that the LN ranking is far from being a mere popularity contest.
That’s not the case for the other rankings (writers, illustrators, characters), as points are equally distributed by each surveyed person, be it from the survey, the collaborators or the monitors.
Example & Interpretations
Here are the first 10 LNs of 2015’s edition.
The first LN often gets a notable score in every group, so that it isn’t solely a popular success, or only a critical one.
That profile is quite rare in the ranking, as it’s difficult to get points from all of them without an anime (the monitors give the least points among the three groups).
Series that are highly supported by collaborators usually end among the first 20 LNs of the ranking. Hence why unknown series pop out of nowhere.
However, a critical success doesn’t lead to a popular one. Still, some of them may interest potential readers, thanks to this exposure.
For series that got few or no points from collaborators, several cases exist:
– Collaborators stay away from popular series, such as Index (zero point in 2014) or Kino no Tabi. That doesn’t stop them from being highly ranked (especially Index).
– The series isn’t considered as a LN. While Monogatari is ignored (41st in 2013, zero point from collaborators), Log Horizon is simply not eligible.
– They show no interest in the series. “Not for now” if we’re speaking about a LN that is barely known, “nope” if it’s sensually borderline and/or mediocre.
That said, this ranking isn’t fully objective and lead by critics, seeing that some popular series appear among the 60 LNs listed each year. That’s not a popularity contest either.
It’d be better to consider the KonoRano as a compromise between quality and exposure.
However, it’s not because a LN is badly or not ranked that it becomes uninteresting. As usual, it’s up to the reader to make his choices.