Light Novel 101
Apart from the average manga/anime fanatics (read: otaku), if you know about “Light” Novels, congratulations! You have my applaud for having basic general knowledge, duh! First things first, light novels are NOT novels which are “light”. Allow me to explain here. I’ve come across a variety of people who don’t know about light novels, and the most common stereotype they have is; that light novels are “novels which have are short, or which have a ‘light’ theme or the general story is ‘light’”. Boy are you mistaken!
Allow me to take this opportunity to enlighten you nubs about what a “Light Novel” really is:
The term comes from a Japanese literature form, called ‘Japanese novellas’, otherwise known as light novels or more popularly, LN. Light novels are majorly a commercial strategy to reach out to the young-adult population. It’s generally a longer form of the short story whose story line progresses with dialogue building. Another important feature of light novels are illustrations. Light novels in most cases have a number of illustrations both in black and white, and colour. Light novels do not elucidate anything in a comprehensive way, and usually have more of a sketchy form of leisurely literature, often employed for leisure reading rather than literary studies.
Now, if we go by the very generic definitions, a story book is…well…pages of stories? A comic is more of a graphical thingie, where the images and pictographic portrayal give the readers a somewhat vivid scene with room for imagination.
Needless to say that a Manga is just a Japanese comic (once again in a very generic sense), but since were talking of Light Novels here, I’ll just throw in this fact for those who might not know. (Heh, normies.)
With a Light Novel, you get the best of both wolds. It’s a story book with pictographic portrayals at certain points. There’s no checkpoint for a picture as such, it completely depends on the author of the Light Novel.
As mentioned earlier, light novels’ target audiences include “young adults”. Saying that, it is confirmed light novels have “censored” (we all know what this means, hehehehe) ideas and themes. Children should remain wary of these, unless they want to be spoiled (which you clearly are. wink wink).
Light Novels have varying genres, which can be considered similar to anime and manga genres. Starting from ecchi to supernatural to romance: you name it! Some of the popular light novels in their respective genres will be mentioned below, along with the links to find them (so you can be lazier and just ‘click-and-go’).
What many of you might not know is, not all animes come from Mangas. Many (and this number os gradually increasing with the passage of time) animes are actually adapted from Light Novels. Ever come across an anime, and then later tried to search it’s manga up, and failed to find it? Well that’s because it’s not taken from a manga to begin with, but a light novel instead. Need an example? Here’s one which most of you will recall (for scientific purposes ofcourse): High School DxD.
Some light novels which have their anime adaptations are listed below:
⦁ Toaru Majutsu no Index – by Kazuma Kamachi
(Eng: A Certain Magical Index)
Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy
⦁ High School DxD – by Ichiei Ishibumi
(Eng: High School DxD)
Genre: Action, Romance, Ecchi, Comedy, Demons
⦁ Sword Art Online – by Reki Kawahara
(Eng: Sword Art Online)
Genre: Action, Adventure, Game, Romance
⦁ Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei – by Satou Tsumotu
(Eng: The Irregular at Magic High School)
Genre: Action, Romance, Magic, Supernatural, Shounen
⦁ Durarara!! – by Ryōgo Narita
Genre: Action, Shounen, Supernatural
⦁ Kokoro Connect – by Sadanatsu Anda
(Eng: Kokoro Connect)
Romance, School, Comedy
⦁ Toradora – by Yuyuko Takemiya
Romance, Comedy, Ecchi, School
⦁ Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! – by Torako
(Eng: Love, Chuunibyou and other delusions!)
Genre: Romance, Drama, Comedy
⦁ Fate/Zero – by Gen Urobuchi
Genre: Action, Supernatural
⦁ Kyokai no Kanata – by Nagumo Torii
(Eng: Beyond the boundary!)
Genre: Action, Mystery, Supernatural
⦁ Goburin Sureiyā – by Kumo Kagyu
(Eng: Goblin Slayer)
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
⦁ Hai to Gensou no Grimgar by Ao Jūmonji
(Eng: Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash)
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Drama
⦁ Tensei shitara Slime Datta Ken – by Fuse
(Eng: That time I got reincarnated as a Slime)
Genre: Fantasy, Isekai, Shounen
Some other light novels which are equally good but failed to get an anime adaptation (yet) are listed below as well:
⦁ Utsuko no Haro to Zero no Maria – by Eiji Mikage
⦁ Mushoku Tensei: Isekai Ittara Honki Dasu – by Rifujin na Magonote
⦁ No. 6 – by Atsuko Asano
⦁ Koten-bu Series – by Honobu Yonezawa
2016 was perhaps the higlight year for Light Novels. Not that light anime adaptations from Light Novels didn’t exist before, but the number began increasing steeply since 2016. Starting from “Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuko wo!”, to “Musaigen no Phantom World” – both of these 2016 animes which made it to seasonal toppers in kissanime were light novel adaptations. Re:Zero, which recently started producing its second season in 2020 after it’s first season in 2016, is also an adaptation from a Light Novel.
Now then, why read light novels when you can just see the anime when it airs? The question pretty much answers itself. “When it airs”. What if it never airs? Mushoku Tensei, arguably one of the best Light Novels ever (entirely my personal opinion), yet it doesn’t yet have one. And let’s admit it, nobody likes cliffhangers. Many such LN to anime adaptations don’t get a second season (and even if they do, its often years later). When a season leaves you at that super bad cliffhanger, Light Novels are the only way to save your existential dread. (That is exactly how I got into Light Novels in the first place. xD) And, there is one huge bright side. If you have a mate who’s into anime and doesn’t read the light novel, you can blackmail him with spoilers from the light novel to maybe extort money and food and what-not from them (yes its evil but who cares. Also, you didn’t get this idea from me, or from this website.).
Finally, as promised, I shall now provide you with link to the one-stop light novel collection website, so all of you may continue your “scientific researches” over there. I leave you all with the baka-tsuki website: https://www.baka-tsuki.org/project/index.php?title=Main_Page
Enjoy and have fun reading and spreading the spoilers. ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)