Light Novels (in America)

July 6, 2008 at 3:20 pm | Posted in Articles, Light Novels | 16 Comments

(Oddly enough only two of these novels are getting releases in America)

This is meant to lead up to that new category for light novels I mentioned before. I’m going to be getting to a bookstore soon, so that’s probably going to start up soon.

I’ve always been interested in light novels. Especially recently when it seems like every single anime is being adapted from light novels rather than manga. Wagaya no Oinari-sama, Kure-Nai, Allison to Lillia, and Toshokan Sensou are all based off light novels; and that’s just from the spring season (Apparently Kanokon is too, but I’m not even going to list that title with all those other good anime). And in the Summer Season there’s even more.

It seems like every other week I read some new announcement about an anime adaptation from more light novels. Off the top of my head, we have season three of Hakushaku to Yosei, and that one with the girls that transform into soda cans or whatever (I think it’s called AkiKan). I know there have been plenty of others. There was one announced really recently on ANN.

(So basically, this is just my introduction post for that new category I talked about before for Light Novels)

This all started with Haruhi. A while ago I tried reading the Haruhi novels online. The gender-bending project to rewrite the novels made me finally check the translations out. It just didn’t work though. I hate reading stuff online. It’s almost impossible for me to do unless there’s pictures breaking up the text or it’s all fitted into a smaller width. I have a widescreen monitor, so if the text isn’t constricted to a certain width, I have a lot of back and forth to do and it gives me a headache.

I finished the first novel online, but that was so much of a chore that I gave up after hearing there was a light at the end of the tunnel and Haruhi was licensed (but it’s going to take a year to come out).

I suppose I could have printed the stuff out and read it like that, but to be honest I want something to look forward to. Besides, my parents stole my printer because theirs isn’t working.

But the news had another effect, it got me thinking about light novels again. I’ve sort of acknowledged light novels, but just thought of them as “stuff anime gets based off of” since it’s rare to see them in stores.

I’ve been collecting the Karin (Chibi Vampire, ugh) novels, but I really didn’t see light novels in stores that often, so there was sort of a, “out of sight, out of mind” thing going on. And before Karin, all I’d ever seen were the Love Hina novels, which really…is just the main story written out (isn’t the main purpose of Love Hina the fanservice? Who really wants to read it?). So my interest in light novels is fairly recent.

Then I started stumbling on more and more anime that was based off of light novels. And after the Haruhi announcement, I made up my mind. I was a fan of light novels…despite not reading them. Sort of like those fanboys who don’t know Japanese but are still fans of visual novels and dating sims that aren’t translated. It basically means I became someone who sat around and complained about light novels not making it over to the states enough.

Of course, I’m still complaining, but now that I’ve found out that a good amount of light novels are being brought over, I had to change what I’m complaining about…slightly.

Because of TokyoPop’s stupidity, I get to complain about the two Light Novels I’m currently reading being in trouble (Karin’s been dropped altogether it seems and there’s no foreseeable plans for more FMP!).

And I’ve also chosen to complain that…not enough people are aware of Light Novels. And not enough of them are interested.

I actually had a conversation about this with my friend Ashley that explains this. She doesn’t really like anime (not enough to be an “anime fan” anyway), but she’s usually well-aware of the community and stuff.

“Crap. They don’t have it.”
“Have what?”
“Well, I was looking for the latest volume of the Karin novel…I was sure it came out recently.”
“Then why are we in the manga section?”
“Because it’s from Japan and based off of a manga.”
“I didn’t even know they had that sort of thing.”
*sigh* “No one really does. It sucks because I want to read them.”
“Well, it’s not that surprising. Most people who read manga don’t seem to be very…scholastic.”

Don’t be insulted. After that I laughed at her because she hasn’t even finished reading the first Harry Potter book. She reads less than anyone so she really isn’t allowed to judge someone else’s reading habits. But because she’s not really that interested in talking about anime, we dropped it after that.

Though, I understand where her statement is coming from. I meet plenty of fans who aren’t “scholastic” and don’t even want to read manga because it’s reading. It’s pathetic.

Really, I never thought Light Novels would make it over in the first place. I wonder how well they’re selling.

I mean…Start with the whole anime community. Take out the people who have never bought a single anime-related item in their life. Then take out the ones who don’t bother reading manga because it’s “too much work” (yes, they exist). And once again you have to cut that number down because I know plenty of manga fans who hate reading books.

So, while I’m not sure about what the actual percentage would be, common sense tells me that anime and manga make more money. It’s obvious that this is what people are going to pursue.

I’ve been pretty pessimistic about novels making it over, excluding a major hit like Haruhi. But I guess I was wrong.

Granted, the list of light novels being brought over isn’t really that long. But I’m at least mildly interested in
most of what’s being brought over. I guess it’s a small benefit of limited products, the good ones (popular ones) are more likely to make it over.

But for now I’m not going to be picky and am just going to pick up everything that seems even slightly interesting.

I’m, of course, starting with Full Metal Panic!. I currently have the first two volumes for that. I’m just hoping that I’ll be able to get the rest after volume 3…thinking of TokyoPop’s current troubles and the fact that there are no release dates listed after volume 3. Freakin’ jerks. They’re responsible for a lot of the novels I want to check out. And if I can’t get the rest of FMP!…ugh. I’d have to read it online (so annoying).

Here’s my current Wishlist:

Released:

  • Full Metal Panic!
  • Strawberry Panic
  • Shakugan no Shana
  • Scrapped Princess
  • Crest of the Stars
  • Ballad of a Shinigami
  • Good Witch of the West (Likely Dropped by TokyoPop)
  • Karin -Chibi Vampire- (Dropped by Tokyopop)

Released in the Future:

  • Haruhi Suzumiya (2009)
  • Zero no Tsukaima -Zero’s Familiar- (December 2008)

Unlicensed:

  • Maria-sama ga Miteru
  • Hakushaku to Yosei
  • Ginban Kaleidoscope
  • Wagaya no Oinari-sama
  • Toshokan Sensou

What really bothers me about this list is that the manga versions usually make it over to the states first. The Haruhi manga is going to be available in October of 2008 and we have to wait until 2009 for the novel? Ugh.

To be honest, I have no use for manga adaptations. They’re usually god awful. Whether they adapt an anime or a light novel, it just never seems to work. I guess it just goes with the idea that the original work is almost always best.

But now that novels are making it over to the states I’m a happy girl. Everyone else should celebrate with me as well…and read novels. And hope for some other novels to get licensed as well…and hope that everyone doesn’t go the Yen Press and Little, Brown route and take a year to get them out there. =_=;;

Of course, anyone is better than TokyoPop at this point. Amd with TokyoPop having some troubles, I’m wondering how bright of a future light novels will have in America. At least the titles that TokyoPop picks up for novels seem rather…doomed. TokyoPop’s having trouble and light novels don’t seem to make the sort of money they want.

But maybe if some people spent more time promoting them instead of their obviously-gonna-fail OEL manga, things would be a little different. All TokyoPop has for manga is Fruits Basket and Karin (which they stupidly renamed Chibi Vampire).

Recently they added Kaichou wa Maid-sama, but that almost made me break down in tears because I just know they’re going to release it slowly and they’ll go down before the final volume even gets released in Japan. You watch…it’s going to happen.

Everything else I’m probably getting from Viz and Del Rey these days. *sigh* If only Maid-sama was picked up by Viz like I thought it would be.

Well, let’s hope that Seven Seas and others do a better job with their light novels (though I expect TokyoPop to start being less lame since they’re holding my precious FMP!).

16 Comments

  1. So “light novels” are just a weeaboo name for “YA fiction” or “pulpy nerd books”?

  2. “Well, it’s not that surprising. Most people who read manga don’t seem to be very…scholastic.”

    O_O Well, first off, I’d like to say, I’m the idiot who NEVER learned what scholastic mean’t. Lately, I’ve been reading manga, and everytime someone enters my room while I’m reading, I’ll give them “GO AWAY I’M BUSY READING” death glare.

    -sigh-

  3. You may want to take Scrapped Princess off that least. It’s been scrapped for a while now. I just hope they keep doing FMP. That and Trinity Blood are the only novels worth reading from them now.

  4. Anonymous: Sure. That’s exactly it. We’re all weeaboos for calling Japanese comics, manga instead of just comics too. Anime is just animation. And light novels are just…novels with illustrations! Thank you!

    And, of course, all YA Fiction have illustrations of moe-ified versions of the female characters. Yup. That’s very common in YA and does NOT require any sort of classification among YA.

    I’m sorry Mr. Anonymous (Or is it Miss? I’m so silly, I can never tell). I should have known. You’re always right! Thank you!

    —–

    lol2728: Scholastic basically just refers to school and learning. My friend was politely saying that manga fans don’t seem too into learning. Which can tend to be true.

    —–

    Demian: Eh? Really? I thought I saw it in a store someplace in the past couple of months. Wishful thinking I guess. I was really interested in that one too.

    Perhaps with all these novels I want to read disappearing, the fact that some are making it over isn’t surprising at all, since they’re getting screwed up and failing anyway. They really better keep releasing FMP at least.

  5. Light novels! I’ve only read one series- the slayers (maybe 2 if you count the twelve kingdoms), but I always wanted to read more.

    No more good witch of the west. Too bad I wanted to read it, since it’s by the same author who wrote dragon sword and wind child.

    Yeah I can see Viz or Del ray translating some. Viz already has a pretty good fiction line at least as far as thier shojo beat line is concerned, and Del Ray is a publishing company to so it’s possible to see them introducing a fiction line.

    I just heard about maid-sama on ANN. Too bad. It would make more sense for it to be part of viz’s shojo beat line up since they already publish similar titles like special A or skip beat. Plus they got two of Natsuki Takaya titles. They should just stick to releasing so-so manga like me & my brothers.

  6. Ha! Any post with Marimite is instant win. Pure win (Yumi/Sachiko ftw!) As for Marimite being licensed here, I’m not really sure since I only followed the news about the OVA’s, but it does make sense why it hasn’t been licensed when you take into its content into account. But it’s not bad. Really! License it, damn it! ( >_< )

    The rest of them…I’m not really that interested. Apart from Marimite (Pure win!), the rest on the list aren’t interesting enough to hold my extremely short attention span. Unless they’re converted or adapted into/from a Visual Novel. Then I’ll give it a chance. A short 10 second chance, but a chance nonetheless.

    Then again, I can speed-read, so 10 seconds is actually quite a lot of time. Maybe 5 seconds might be better?

  7. Don’t forget Kino no Tabi. I have no idea why Tokyopop insisted on leaving the title untranslated rather than rendering it as “Kino’s Journeys” or “Kino’s Travels”, since it’s pretty simple to translate (no puns etc.).

  8. Ah, light novels…I want them but afraid that my top priority is manga and anime right now (god, it’s such a long list) so they’ll have to wait. Buu~…
    Heh, same here on a starting interest in light novels with Haruhi. Then again, maybe that’s why light novels are so popular now. I don’t think I’m going to search for the novel online. With manga raws, it’s different. A novel…well, it’s a book that has to be in my hand if I’m gonna read it. :/ Plus, I get too distracted by other stuff to sit still for reading a novel online.
    I agree on the reason why they’re not as popular as anime or manga is due to the lack of interest and the reading component in it. God, people are so lazy. *sigh* But hopefully there is a good handful of anime/manga fans who would pick up a light novel because they like the series enough to want to know more about the original work…not because it’s a must-have to complete their collection. But this is just my opinion (ack, I think I went off another tangent).
    *sigh* I hope I don’t make this sound discouraging or offending in any way, but a while ago, I bought the first Shana novel and it was…not horrible to read through but I was really disappointed with how they treated the novel. In Japanese, of course the text would have looked better, but in English, it was like the…I dunno, the sentences, I guess, were “dumbed” down or something. Then again, I only bought one novel and it was translated by Tokyo Pop (eww) so I don’t really know what to think of it at the moment…maybe that’s why I’m so reluctant to get novels.
    Hmm, but I still want to get titles like Haruhi, Gosick and other unlicenced series like Hakushaku to Yosei. I just hope Tokyo Pop doesn’t monopolize them. They’re not that bad sometimes but…yea. Other than that, it’s bad enough I have to endure waiting for manga and occasional wonky translations from any American manga publisher. Now it’s with light novels. Oi~…

  9. warriorhope: Ah! I want to read Slayers! But it’s one of those series that TokyoPop came out with and then dropped partway through. TokyoPop are officially my mortal enemies in the publishing industry now. It was CMX, but no more! Though CMX and I still aren’t on good terms. I won’t be forgetting KKJ anytime soon.

    I want to read it too. I’m at least going to check out the volumes that were released and watch the anime.

    If Del Rey started translating light novels, I’d be so happy. They do almost everything right. And Viz has gotten so much better so I’d love them doing something too. Though I can definitely see it happening with Del Rey. Viz would probably just translate novels that go along with manga or anime they already carry.

    I know! That’s what what I wanted! Viz with their Shojo Beat and the same editor who’s working on all the Arina Tanemura manga. Because seriously…awesome translating there. I have yet to discover an important mistake since Full Moon ended (that one had a few I think).

    —–

    kagaminokuhira: If it’s about the yuri, I think it’ll still get licensed. I’ve only watched Marimite in bits and pieces (I was about to dive in headfirst when the license was announced, so now I’m holding back), that’s all more vague, right? But Strawberry Panic was licensed. And that’s just girls getting together. There’s almost nothing else to the plot.

    I’m willing to bet Seven Seas would do anything too since they licensed Zero no Tsukaima. If you hadn’t heard, that novel is just…I can’t think of proper words to describe it. Just…wow.

    Ha. Well, I’m interested in almost anything. My attention span becomes much longer for novels. I give light novels a really big chance. I figure that if the person is just working on story instead of on story and art, they can come up with a better story than a manga-ka. Flawed thinking, but I still think it works…somewhat. At least the anime I watched based of light novels (not intended for fanservice light novels anyway) are mostly good.

    —–

    Anonymous: Kino no Tabi? I’ve heard of that before. Is it really good? Ack…but TokyoPop. I’m hesitant to even find out if it’s good because of them. And TokyoPop has no sense.

    —–

    xiao_jie88: Haruhi generates interest in everything…despite Yen Press proclaiming that the series is like “Hannah Montana meets Heroes” (I should smack whoever came up with that phrase or play wiffle ball with their head).

    Me too. I’ve been reading books all my life and they have to be in my hands. It’s engrained in me now. Besides, reading novels online sucks.

    Eh…you’d think they’d want to pick up the original work, but no. Even the most hardcore fans of Haruhi are apparently the only ones who bother even finding anything about the light novel. I’m surprised by the amount of people who don’t know why Haruhi has long hair in the promo pictures. Of course, I just ran into that info online (damn non-spoiler warnings), but still.

    Ah. I thought Shana was actually done by Viz. Either way, if bad translation is an issue, maybe I should just be taking it off my little “wishlist” and wait until I learn Japanese. It might just be worth the wait that way. I’m already enraged when they dumb down manga, I can’t imagine how pissed I’d get with someone dumbing down a book. It’s a book. Even for a light novel, I don’t appreciate being treated like an idiot.

    Hakushaku to Yosei~! *sigh* But I doubt I’ll ever get my hands on that one unless I learn to read Japanese. Shoujo is so neglected. Ah! But shoujo manga does really well. And if i think about it, most YA books that are turned into movies are books geared for girls. Lots of YA books at best-selling lists are geared towards girls too. Oh my…is it possible that shoujo light novels could actually be very popular? Hurry up someone in the industry and realize this!!!

    But yeah…seconded on TokyoPop. The only thing they’ve ever handled competently is Fruits Basket. Or at least maybe I’d be able to say that if the volumes came out more than every six months. Now the same is happening to Karin too. Why is TokyoPop so slow!? With series that have been finished forever!? Dammit. This is just why they’re failing. I officially label them the noobs of the “manga revolution”. Jerks.

  10. I’m also rather pissed that Tokyopop dropped the light novel of Chibi Vampire Karin. They first give it some “funny” name, publish low quality manga, is slow in releasing manga (Karin raw is already complete) and now they drop the light novels. I applaud TOKYOPOP’s determination in turning away manga collectors like me. GRRRRR!

  11. I dun much about light novels… I dun think they sell it in Comics connection… They only sell manga… Hmm… I might want to check it out sometime…

    If you have any good recomendation for light novels, please share. ^^ I would love to hear(read) about it. XD

  12. Haruhi = Hairy Montana + Heroes ??? WTF did they come up with that?!
    Oops, my bad. Shana is done by Viz. This is what happens when I think the publishers have failed me. I forget and don’t bother to check it. *sigh* Hmm, but I skimmed it over last night and the second time around, the novel didn’t seem that bad at all. Still, there’s something missing or just not right but I can’t really figure out what is. :/
    Seconded on the shoujo novels!!! xDDD
    Totally agree on Tokyo Pop. *nod nod*

  13. Yeah that does seem like a viz thing to do. They did publish Kamikaze girls though

    I know! I was only able to read the first six novels which is were they stopped publishing them.

    It looks like Tokyopop is releasing at least up to the third volume of the good witch of the west.

    Yeah Viz is pretty good. I notice an occustional mistake here and there (for example: In volume four they said Hikari also beat up Tadashi as well as Akira and Kei, even though that doesn’t make since at all), but for the most part they’re pretty good.

  14. Hynavian: Ugh, the reason for them naming Karin “Chibi Vampire” is stupid too. It’s because they were publishing Kamichama Karin at the same time. WTF!? And that’s it. And the quality pisses me off. I had a bad feeling about it, so I peeled te sticker off the cover in one store and the paper ripped right with it. Awful. And I don’t even want to address how much their release dates suck. But I will, because I hate them so much for it that I’m willing to frustrate myself more.

    Fruits Basket has been finished since like…2006 and they won’t finish that until 2010 or something. And they’re doing the same with Karin too. And dropping the light novels…which actually seemed to come out faster too!

    —–

    Starry: Well, if you can check them out, I would. Full Metal Panic is my personal favorite, but there’s a lot of military stuff. The best novel I could recommend would be Haruhi, but that won’t come out until next year. *emo* But I’ll review everything I read so you can determine that way (and I’m doing it without spoilers too).

    —–

    xiao_jie88: It makes you want to throw the person who came up with that phrase into a crowd of crazy Haruhiists, doesn’t it? It makes me go, “WTF!?” and want to kick the guy in the shins. I can only imagine what the boy with every single figure of the Haruhi girls would do…

    It might just be a case of Viz doing their classic, “ACTION SPEAK!” that they do in shounen manga. I’m willing to bet they’d do it in any light novel with action too. It’s hard to explain it, but if that’s what they’re doing, I’m sure you’ll get it.

    I’m going to start sending letters to Shojo Beat every week to include chapters from a light novel or something. Then I’ll pick my subscription up again (had to drop it so I could afford Nakayoshi).

    —–

    warriorhope: Kamikaze Girls was a regular book, but I hope they do more light novels. The fact that they can do a regular book proves they can just as easily pump out tons of light novels.

    Probably because they already translated it. But maybe I’ll pick the series up if I can at least get three volumes out of it. If it ends on an awful cliffhanger or something, I can watch the anime or something I guess.

    Oh they all make mistakes on the first printing, but Viz is mostly good.

  15. FuyuMaiden: Ah, Strawberry Panic. The only character I only liked was (and still is) Chikaru Minamoto. I’ve watched the anime series, but being a Marimite fan, it’s almost impossible not to point at and criticize all of the little and big things that look like they’re been ripped from Marimite. It does get better as it goes along, but the plot and the drama are WAYYYYY better in Marimite.
    I haven’t really followed Zero no Tsukaima (mostly because I’m playing G線上の魔王 and Canvas2 right now) but because I didn’t really find it too interesting. I might look up on it if I ever get the time to.
    Well, the thing is that Light Novels (or YA Fiction for the non-Japanese culture inclined people) have very little restrictions in many places from the art to the story compared to manga or even a VN. And because it’s written completely, the story tends to be better. Except in cases like Kure-nai where I heard that the novel failed, and the anime (as successful as it was) was based on it.
    Also, just a small thing for people who think that the translators have dumbed down the book. Most of these books are written for pre-teenage to teenage kids (or young adults for the non-Japanese culture inclined), where not all of them may know all of the kanji in the book, may not understand what exactly is going on, or even have a clue as to what it means, in and out of context.
    Seriously. Don’t be surprised when the translated Light Novel is TOO easy to read. Because that’s what they are, LIGHT Novels.

  16. Oh yeah. ^^; Yeah, they probably won’t pick it up if it doesn’t protain to the manga they’re reliesing.

    I just finshed the first volume of the good witch of the west. It was good, or at least I enjoyed. Mostly straight forward fantasy, but one scene gave me a major fangirl moment.


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