Predating both the Light Novels and the anime, Shiden Kanzaki's Black Bullet light novel is an ongoing series set in a post-apocalyptic world where humans have succumbed to a parasitic race called Gastrea. Forced to live in a painfully small territory, humanity's remnants are defined by paranoia and a prevalent fear of their oppressors. In a last-ditch effort to prolong the race's survival, a defensive organization known as Civil Security starts taking on perilous tasks. Despite their best intentions, humans are fighting a losing battle!
Rentarou and Enju are partners in crime. Both working for Civil Security, the duo is tasked with handling some of the most dangerous missions imaginable and, on more than one occasion, have risked their lives to protect Tokyo's dwindling populace. Thanks to their strange powers, Rentarou and Enju can handle most encounters without much hassle, but things change when they suddenly receive word that Tokyo's days are numbered. Assigned a top secret mission to prevent the destruction of Japan's capital, the capable fighters must carry the faith of the world on their shoulders!
Even if the story sounds rather predictable, Black Bullet incorporates enough nuances to elevate the content above its contemporaries. As the main villains of the story, the Gastrea are equally terrifying and mysterious, but the novel's real stars are the humans. Overwhelmed by fear, it is fascinating to see how people behave when caught in such a tense situation. Discrimination and corruption are commonly explored themes, as scientists and politicians try to manipulate the recent war to their advantage. Black Bullet is more interested in humanity's reaction to the conflict rather than the conflict itself.
If you enjoyed Black Bullet, here are six other light novels worth reading.
Similar Light Novels to Black Bullet
1. BlazBlue: Phase Shift
- Authors: Komao, Mako; Mori, Toshimichi; Katou, Yuuki
- Genres: Action, Mystery, Fantasy, Sci-Fi
- Volumes: 4
- Published: Apr 20, 2011 to Sep 20, 2012
Developed by Arc System Works, BlazBlue is a fighting video game series that spawned four mainline releases since 2008. Set in the aftermath of a vicious war between humanity and a creature simply known as the Black Beast, BlazBlue sits among the most story-driven fighters in the industry. The first game's plot launches after the events of the Dark War but generally avoids expanding too deeply on what transpired.
Arc System Works established that humanity was saved by six heroes capable of wielding magic and this led to the formation of The Library, a governmental body that uses a mix of magic and science to rule the world. Unsurprisingly, a second war breaks out between The Library and a rebel group, but it only resulted in the government imposing stiffer rules on the remaining populace.
Expanding on the events that led to the Dark War and the battle itself, BlazBlue: Phase Shift is a must-read for fans of the series. From Ragna the Bloodedge to Rachel Alucard, nearly every beloved fighter makes an appearance and Phase Shift does a fantastic job of enriching the franchise's lore. While the story takes place during the height of the war rather than the aftermath, BlazBlue and Black Bullet both focus on an ongoing battle between humans and a much more powerful force.
- Authors: Asano, Atsuko
- Genres: Action, Mystery, Sci-Fi
- Volumes: 9
- Published: Oct 10, 2003 to Jun 14, 2011
Even if the anime adaptation failed to impress you, we recommend checking out Atsuko Asano's light novel series. No. 6 is a fascinating tale of human greed and kindness. Similarly to Black Bullet, the premise takes place in the "futuristic" 2013, years after mankind barely survived a massive threat. Once the conflict subsided, the populace was divided into numbered city-states depending on their potential. Residing in city No.6, Shion embodies humanity's most desirable qualities, primarily that he is obedient and hard working. As long as he obeys the government's laws, Shion's future is assured and he will never know hunger or desperation.
Shion is one of the lucky few.
The naive boy's peace is shattered after a chance encounter with Nezumi, a young fugitive who escaped from prison and absolutely despises No. 6. Raised on the opposite side of the tracks, Shion and Nezumi could not be further apart if they tried, but they cannot help but enjoy each other's company. Beneath No. 6's shiny exterior, there is a dark underbelly hiding a chequered past that changed Nezumi's life for the worse. When a virus starts to spread across the city, Shion desperately tries to convince Nezumi to help the city!
Putting aside Nezumi and Shion's shounen-ai relationship, No. 6 is the perfect recommendation for fans of Black Bullet. Packed with mystery and complex characters, the premise moves at a perfect pace before reaching a powerful conclusion.
3. Shousetsu Higashi no Eden (Eden of the East)
- Authors: Kamiyama, Kenji
- Genres: Action, Mystery, Drama, Romance, Sci-Fi, Psychological
- Volumes: 1
- Published: Apr 6, 2009 to Sep 5, 2009
Prior to Production I.G's Eden of the East, there was Kenji Maiyama's one-volume novel. Out of all the recommendations on this list, Shousetsu Higashi no Eden places the most importance on invoking a sense of mystery in its story. On a seemingly random day in November, ten missiles strike Japan and are classified as a terrorist act. Known as Careless Monday, amazingly, this unprovoked attack leaves not a single victim and quickly leaves the public's consciousness. Already, this is a mouth-wateringly interesting concept that raises a slew of questions!
Fast forward a couple of months, Saki Morimi is saved by a quirky stranger during a stay in Washington DC. While grateful to her rescuer Akira Takizawa, she cannot help but wonder why this Japanese man suffering from amnesia is running around naked and holding a gun. To further increase Akira's mystique, he also has a phone packed with over 8 billion yen.
As a dangerous game of cat and mouse begins, Eden of the East only gets better as it moves along. Black Bullet's plot takes place in the aftermath of a large scale war, while Shousetsu Higashi no Eden flips things around by focusing on an impending threat capable of leading to the end of the world. While they might not possess supernatural powers, Akira and Saki’s relationship shares more than a few similarities with Rentarou and Enju.
Any Light Novels Like Black Bullet ?
4. Shinyaku Toaru Majutsu no Index
- Authors: Kamachi, Kazuma; Haimura, Kiyotaka
- Genres: Action, Comedy, Fantasy, Magic, Sci-Fi, Super Power, Supernatural
- Volumes: Ongoing
- Published: Mar 10, 2011 to Ongoing
As a sequel to Kazuma Kamachi's Toaru Majutsu no Index, Shinyaku Toaru Majutsu no Index takes everything that worked with the original and dials up the insanity. At its heart, A Certain Magic Index: New Testament remains about the conflict between magic and science. As the story's central hub, Academy City allows espers and normal humans to coexist, which brings forth a slew of problems. Possessing the power to nullify another esper's ability, Touma Kamijou cannot seem to keep out of trouble and he ends up involved in World War III.
New Testament takes place after the World War's conclusion. Lasting a mere two weeks, Kazuma Kamachi's sequel largely focuses on the conflict's impact and the cast's personal struggles with their own involvement. While Accelerator and Shiage Hamazura have returned to Academy City, Touma is nowhere to be found and his disappearance gets the plot going.
Kazuma is a master of character development. Even though Touma can be classified as the protagonist, the novel regularly shifts perspective to someone else. Every person is motivated by their own personal goals and the author presents them all with a moment to shine. Like Black Bullet, the action is only there to compliment the characters and their backstories.
- Authors: Eishima, Jun
- Genres: Action, Fantasy, Sci-Fi
- Volumes: 2
- Published: Aug 5, 2017 to Oct 24, 2017
Developed by PlatinumGames and directed by Yoko Taro, NieR: Automata garnered high-critical praise and sold enough to impress its publisher, Square Enix. Part of Taro's Drakengard series and a sequel to 2010's NieR, Automata wisely avoids sharing too many similarities with its predecessors, making it relatively easy for newcomers to enjoy.
Written by Jun Eishima, NieR:Automata is a two-volume light novel series that largely follows the game's plot. Anyone intimately familiar with Taro's action role-playing game is unlikely to be surprised by the story's content, but Eishima's novels provide valuable insight into NieR's universe and flesh out the title's secondary characters.
Set in the year 11945, the plot centers on a futile war between humans and machines. Humanity was forced to flee to the moon and, rather than risking their own skin, started sending combat androids to fight the machine invaders. The plot is told from the perspective of 2B and 9S, two androids sent to assist a small resistance force located on Earth.
NieR:Automata's setting is uncomfortably desolate. Brimming with philosophical overtones and conflicting ideologies, NieR regularly questions the pointlessness of war and whether humanity got what they deserve.
6. Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei (The Irregular at Magic High School)
- Authors: Satou, Tsutomu; Ishida, Kana
- Genres: Action, Magic, Romance, School, Sci-Fi, Supernatural
- Volumes: Ongoing
- Published: Jul 8, 2011 to Ongoing
Arthur C. Clarke once said that “magic's just science that we don't understand yet.” Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei took that quote and ran with it. Set in an alternative reality, magic is a technology that has existed for an undefined period of time. People who can perform magical feats are merely considered technicians possessing a specific skill. While magic users are among the most sought-after individuals in the world, the act remains an everyday thing.
The story focuses on Tatsuya and Miyuki Shiba, a pair of siblings set to attend a Magic High School who prioritize combat. Due to a mistake during a test, Tatsuya is labeled as an underachiever while Miyuki gains a reputation as a flawless magician with a bright future. Rentarou and Enju's relationship is closer to that of siblings than lovers, while Tatsuya and Miyuki are actually related and their interactions are simultaneously endearing and hilarious.
Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei's world building is easily among the best in the industry. Tsutomu Satou sets up a lot of rules that govern this society, but they blend together perfectly to create a relatable but magical whole.
Black Bullet presents a seemingly familiar premise before surprising audiences with plot twists and hidden agendas. The Gastrea might be the monsters, but the way people react to their own mortality is a lot more interesting than simply killing massive insects. The six recommended novels take place during or in the aftermath of a great war, as the young heroes try to survive.
Is there any other light novel that you would recommend for fans of Black Bullet? If yes, please leave us a comment below with your recommendations.