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Japanese Light Novels


Cheese Ninja

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Lately I've been on a bit of a fantasy light novel(LN)/web novel(WN) reading spree.  The quality is often quite a bit lower, but there are a few standouts which are on par with the good English language fantasy, and the settings are often interesting as well.  The web novels don't even have editors, and some of the authors really need someone to rein them in when it comes to writing a cohesive story.  That said, there are a number of WN that got picked up by publishers and are doing well in print.

 

It doesn't help the translators are usually amateurs as well, often without the best grasp of the English language. 

 

baka-tsuki.org is generally the best place to find series that haven't been licensed in the United States.

 

Some of my personal favorites:

To Aru Majutsu/To Aru Majutsu New Testament There's been a few seasons of anime based of this series and its companion manga To Aru Railgun.

 

Anything by Ryohgo Narita, the anime Baccano! and Durarara! were derived from his LN of the same names, and Vamp! is a refreshing and enjoyable twist on the vampire genre.  As a side note, all his major series take place in the same world, albeit with almost no interaction between the characters.

 

Mushoku Tensei - A web novel that seems at first glance to be a typical otaku wish fulfillment series, but turned out to be a much deeper character study and better planned out than most of what I've seen from the fantasy adventure LN series.

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I read Index but not New Testament, after a while it was getting boring, and I just couldn't like Touma as a protagonist.

I tried Reading the manga of Durarara but i dropped it quickly, so I'm not particularly eager to check other stuff from the author.

I think I'll give that Mushoku Tensei a try though.

On the other hand, I recommend the works of Yu Wo which can be found at PrinceRevolution. In particular the series Half Prince is completed and absolutely hilarious.

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Question! What's the difference between a Light Novel and a...well, Novel that happens to be printed in Japan? Are light novels exclusively web-based?

If not... Well, I've read a few novels by Murakami, when I was going through a bit of a surreal-ist phase. His books strike me as the novel equivalent of a David Lynch movie.

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As far as I know the defining characteristic of Light Novels is to be written with a very simple language (i.e. using only the most simple kanji) in order to reach the younger audience. Because of the target demographic they tend to have plot similar to our Young Adult genre and they often get transposed to manga and/or anime.

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Older thread but couldn't help wanting to reply here :)

 

As far as I know the defining characteristic of Light Novels is to be written with a very simple language (i.e. using only the most simple kanji) in order to reach the younger audience. Because of the target demographic they tend to have plot similar to our Young Adult genre and they often get transposed to manga and/or anime.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Light_novel

 

I would describe them as typically being around 200 pages (and released in small paperback format only) specifically aimed at a YA audience.They often have a few pages of colour illustrations at the front with actual scenes from the novel and inside there will be some B&W illustrations of scenes too. The illustrations will include clear views of all the major characters - very often the anime version of a light novel will have pretty much the same character designs. From this point of view the illustrations are pretty much the opposite of what Brandon has done with the Stormlight Archive interior art.

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I've been trying to keep up on the Legend of the Legendary heroes (which is actually very dark despite the name) and Sword art online but as Cheese Ninja said updates are often less than consistent thanks to the translators being mostly amateurs but it's hard to complain when it's free. I also tried to read the novels for Baccano since I loved the hell out of the anime but I was a little let down to learn that the pulp fiction style of storytelling was anime only still it was a pretty good read. 

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I read Baka-Tsuki's translation of the Suzumiya Haruhi light novels back when Haruhi was gaining popularity outside of Japan. I'm glad I read them before the anime got re-aired in 2009 with new episodes mixed in with the old ones, because that meant I was part of the minority who were slightly less confused by the Endless Eight episodes.

 

Too bad Baka-Tsuki had to remove the translations when the copyright holders knocked on their doors. I obtained a copy of the "official" English translation for the first book and was thoroughly disappointed. I actually enjoyed the "amateur" translation more!

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