I’m very pleased to announce that my new feature, Friday Night Lights, a feature highlighting Japanese light novels, will debut this Friday, February 8, 2013!
What are light novels, you ask? According to wikipedia:
A light novel (ライトノベル raito noberu?) is a style of Japanese novel primarily targeting middle and high school students (young adult demographic).[verification needed] “Light novel” is a wasei-eigo, or a Japanese term formed from words in the English language. Such short, light novels are often called ranobe (ラノベ?) or LN in the West. They are typically not more than 40,000–50,000 words long (the shorter ones being equivalent to a novella in US publishing terms), rarely exceed 200 pages, often have dense publishing schedules, are usually published in bunkobon size, and are often illustrated. The text is often serialized in anthology magazines before collection in book form.
So, basically, YA for Japan, but the demographic can and does reach further beyond the typical high school/mature YA demographic – just like here in the States we have a LOT of adults enjoying YA novels, Japan has a similar mirroring sales demographic with a lot of adults enjoying LNs. Currently, just like a lot of YA novels are being made into movies and films here in the US, Japan has a TON of anime (really, it’s exploded in the last few years), tv shows dorama), and films based off of light novels. Some of which are my favorites!
So, in this feature, I’ll be bringing you some of my favorite light novels, and some recommended by friends, and talking about them. I’ll talk about whether they’ve been licensed and officially translated into English, and if not, where you can find fan translations online. But remember – if a light novel I feature that you manage to find translated online and really like gets licensed and available in your area? Please purchase said light novel and support the original authors and artists that contribute to them. Really, it’s only fair. I support fan translations heartily, mostly because so many good books are just not available in English yet, and because it’s a huge publishing risk right now to purchase what might be considered “niche” genre LNs to sell to the American public. Many publishers have said that they can gauge public interest by fan translations – as in, which are the most popular. This is how Little, Brown bought the “The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi (Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu)” series from Kadokawa Shoten and started publishing them in English. So if you like a novel, tell a publisher! They’ll be more likely to license and published based on vocal public interest.
Finally, I thought I’d end this introduction with pictures of my light novel shelves (yes, plural!). I actually rearranged my bookcase for this, but it needed a good cleaning. So here, they are! (Note, both are missing my translated versions of “Kamikaze Girls (Shimotsuma Monogatari)” and “Mardock Scramble” because those are on my favorites bookshelf by my bed.)
Light Novel Shelf #1:
There’s some manga there too (my collection of Nougami Neuro is on the left stacked on top), but the rest are all light novels! Some series include “Book Girl (Bungaku Shoujo)”, “Monogatari”, “Zaregoto”, “12 Kingdoms (12 kokki)”, “Gosick”, “Library Wars (Toshokan Sensou)”, “Another”, “Umineko: When They Cry (Umineko no Naku Koro ni)”, “Boogiepop”, “Ghost in the Shell”, “Moribito”, “Spice & Wolf”, “Yukikaze”, “Kara no Kyoukai”, “Trinity Blood”, “Kino’s Journey (Kino no Tabi)”, “Moetan”, and more! I’d say about 60% are translated on this shelf and the other 40% are raw.
This one consists purely of bunko-sized novels (though the “Happy Family” bunko manga is squeezed in there too). Series include “Team Batista”, “Suzumiya Haruhi”, “Welcome to the NHK (NHK ni Youkoso!)”, “Mary is Watching Over Us (Maria-sama ga Miteru)”, “Mardock Velocity”, “Gosick”, “GOTH”, “Strawberry Panic!”, “Pure Romanticist (Junjou Romantica)” and more. All of these are raw, none are translated.
So that’s it for now! The first post for Friday Night Lights will be up tomorrow, so please look forward to it!