Anime News Network has some valuable new data for us concerning manga and light novel sales. From last November to this November, what series are the most popular in Japan? The answer is pretty predictable, but it's fun to rub in people's faces anyway:
#1 light novel = Sword Art Online
#1 manga = One Piece.
Now officially for the whole year, instead of just the first half of the year, Sword Art Online is the best book series around. No matter how many idiots criticize it, the franchise continues to completely dominate all its competition, outselling by a 2:1 margin the 2nd place winner.
#2, Kagerou Days, already has an anime adaption in the works. So does #3, the irregular at magic high school. The rest already have an anime adaption or are getting one, so basically all of Japan's most popular literature has been plumbed and there's nothing left to give on this front.
Similarly, every manga in the top rankings already has an anime adaption, except for #7 Assassination Classroom and #10 Terra Formers. #7 already has an anime OAV, but that's hardly an adaption, more like just an advertisement. If we get an anime announcement for these two series, anime will have fully exhausted all the best manga available as well.
We still only have the first half year of 2013 rankings for visual novels, but #1 and #3, Daitoshokan no Hitsujikai and Grisaia, have already been announced for an anime adaption. Prism Recollection is sitting at #2 and may need some looking into, but basically anime is doing a good job of covering its bases with this medium as well.
In other words, there's only around three 'hit' series that haven't been capitalized upon by an anime adaption. Of course, anime could always adapt a relatively obscure series and succeed brilliantly, but the odds are much lower than betting on a sure thing like the titles listed above.
Considering this data, may I now make a polite suggestion to the anime industry in Japan? Stop adapting new series and stick to the ones that have already succeeded. It's true that there's an anime adaption of virtually every popular work in Japan. That's great. But each and every one of these adaptions stops before the full source is exhausted. We can start with Ranma 1/2, a Sailor Moon remake that follows the manga, more Bleach anime, more Rurouni Kenshin, more Berserk, more Baka to Test, more Papa no Iukoto, more Berserk, more Guyver, more Flame of Recca, more Kenichi, etc.
Then we can adapt more Da Capo III, Kud Waffe, and Rewrite + Harvest Festa. Actually, you could go ahead and adapt a truer version of Da Capo II and Da Capo while you're at it -- there's plenty of unused content in all of those games. How about more Haruhi Suzumiya? More Full Metal Panic? More Index and more Railgun? More Umineko. Nanoha Vivid. More Monogatari. More Working! More Hayate and more The World God Only Knows. More Maria-sama. More Claymore. More Yuru Yuri. More Chihayafuru. More High School of the Dead. More Hataraku Maou. More H2?
The number of old great series without proper endings keeps piling up. You could even animate Clannad - Tomoyo After Story. Even the 2nd best anime of all time isn't done yet. There's a lot of new Angel Beats visual novels on the way -- that's great. Why not animate them while we're at it? And the new Tears to Tiara game and the new Utawarerumono game too? How about some more Tales of 'x' anime seasons? Graces and Xillia I know would be great, but it would be even more fun if it were concerning some of their more obscure titles like Hearts, Innocence, or Vesperia too. If you dip into the giant pool of talent that has already been dipped into before, it turns out there's enough fuel for good anime fires for years to come.
Anime doesn't have to start desperately adapting totally obscure series in the hopes of finding a hit. Nor does it have to come up with anime original content like Suisei no Gargantia. Right there in front of it is a treasure trove of known good shows. Rather than desperately flailing around with obviously boring ideas like that awful Gingitsune, anime could return to form by airing only the best of the best sequels from the past and being nothing but hits from start to finish. Prism Ilya Drei! Fate/Ataraxia, where? Make it happen, studios! The fans are waiting, yen in hand, begging to give you more money for the series they've already grown to love. There's no reason to create such an atrocity as this coming winter anime season is fixing to be, with 0 hits outside of Saki National-hen. The content is there. The fans are there. The profits are there. Just waiting to be scooped up like goldfish from a summer matsuri stall.
I fully expect Sword Art Online's 2nd season will be announced on New Year's Eve. There's also more Jojo's coming, more Love Live and more Strike Witches. The situation isn't completely hopeless. But we need more of this and less nonsense like Sekai Seifuku. Why on Earth would you try out totally new ideas when so many old ideas still haven't been finished yet? It's just like throwing food away after taking one bite from a gourmet chef's prized filet mignon. Anime needs to finish what it's started. There is nothing good left for it to adapt. If it doesn't go back to the source material that made it popular in the first place, it's simply going to run out of business. Backwards is the new forwards.