I’m a person who enjoys anime. Most anime series are easy and fun to watch. It has a lot of genres for all types of individuals. I enjoy all of them; if I feel like a high-action and funny anime shows, I watch a shonen anime (One Piece, Jujutsu Kaisen, just to name two). If I want to watch some comedies, Asobi Asobase and Konosuba are my favorites.
Suppose I want to watch something more serious; romantic, paranormal, sci-fi, or other genres that take themselves more seriously. In that case, there are so many recommendations I’d probably make in the future.
As some of you already know, most of the anime shows came from Japanese comics, better known as mangas, with a few exceptions. Some people like to collect merchandise, and that includes the sources from their favorite shows. One of my friends is a hardcore One Piece fan; he watches the show on Crunchyroll and collects the mangas.
I’m not much of a collector, but there are a few shows that I loved so much I got tempted to acquire the mangas. Boogiepop and Others, Re:Zero – Starting Life in Another World, and Konosuba: God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World! are just a few shows that I loved so much no I want to collect the original material. I was surprised, though, when I realized these shows didn’t come from a manga. These shows came from something called light novels. It was the first time I heard of such things as light novels.
As an avid reader, the term got me intrigued. At first, I thought a light novel would be pages full of dialogs with one illustration to complement it; you know, left page the image, right page the dialogues, something like that. I was wrong.
What is a light novel then?
A light novel is a style of Japanese light novels for young adults, although there are some series for adults. Most of these novels have an average length of about 50,000 words, which is the minimum word count for a traditional book to be considered a novel.
Many light novels, like their manga older brother, is serialized. There is more than one volume of each series. I like to think of light novels as books for anime/manga fans. This format is becoming very popular, with publishers like Yen On and J-Novel translating them into this language; I believe some English original light novels exist. Perhaps it’s a format that’ll become something more in the west. For now, it’s a niche that will get some strength; time will tell.
Another similarity with mangas is that some of them get compiled as omnibuses, two or more volumes in one book. The first light novels that I bought were the Boogiepop series, which unfortunately didn’t get translated past volume 6.
Today you can buy the English version of the Boogiepop light novels, whether you’d like to buy the six individual volumes or two omnibuses like I did (image above). Just saying!
How is the content like?
Light novel is an accurate term to describe these books. They are easy to read, follow, and finish. There are no heavy descriptions as you usually see in traditional novels. There is a general description of the world and the characters; the reason is that you’ll find a few illustrations in the books. These are basically manga-like drawings of the characters and a situation so that you won’t get lost.
All of this work very well to complete what a light novel is. On one side, you have some descriptions, first-person or third-person point of view, depending on the story; and on the other side, you know how the characters look because you have an illustration.
One thing does NOT replace the other
I am sure new folks looking at this format may wonder if these light novels would replace traditional books one day. Short answer: no.
If you’re new and feel curious about them, you might think that the light novels are like YA (young adult) books that are very popular in any bookstore. Sure, but you need to divide the soul of your favorite book into two: its narrative and illustrations. One is not going to work without the other, even if you add more images. Needs to be a balance between the two to make a light novel.
Also, it is important to mention that this format is clearly written for manga and anime fans. Of course, this does not mean that someone else should not read it; quite the contrary. I believe this is an excellent opportunity for two kinds of hobbyists to approach the other. The anime and manga fans look at literature, and the literature fans look at the anime and manga. For me, this is another good way to break stereotypes, open our minds to other media, and realize there are many exciting works created in different formats for all tastes.
Give light novels an opportunity. I’m sure you’re going to find something interesting.