A light novel (ライトノベル, raito noberu) is a style of Japanese young adult novel primarily targeting high school and middle school students. The term "light novel" is a wasei-eigo , or a Japanese term formed from words in the English language. Light novels are often called ranobe (ラノベ) or, in English, LN.[ citation needed ] The average length of a light novel is about 50,000 words, close to the minimum expected for a Western novel, and they are usually published in bunkobon size (A6, 10.5 cm × 14.8 cm), often with dense publishing schedules.
Light novels are commonly illustrated in a manga art style, and are often adapted into manga and anime. While most light novels are published only as books, some have their chapters first serialized in anthology magazines before being collected, similar to how manga is published.
Light novels developed from pulp magazines. To please their audience, in the 1970s, most of the Japanese pulp magazines began to put illustrations at the beginning of each story and included articles about popular anime, movies and video games. The narrative evolved to please the new generations and became fully illustrated with the popular style. The popular serials are printed in novels.
Very often light novels are chosen for adaptation into anime, manga, and live-action films, and some of them are serialized in literary magazines such as Faust , Gekkan Dragon Magazine , The Sneaker and Dengeki hp , or media franchise magazines like Comptiq and Dengeki G's Magazine .
Light novels have a reputation as being "mass-produced and disposable," an extreme example being Kazuma Kamachi who wrote one novel a month for two years straight, and the author turnover rate is very high. billion (US$170 million at the exchange rate at the time) and that about 30 million copies were published annually. Kadokawa Corporation's publishing subsidiary, which owns major labels like Kadokawa Sneaker Bunko and Dengeki Bunko, has a 70% to 80% share of the market. In 2009, light novels made ¥30.1 billion in sales, or about 20% of all sales of bunkobon-format paperback books in Japan.As such, publishing companies are constantly searching for new talent with annual contests, many of which earn the winner a cash prize and publication of their novel. The Dengeki Novel Prize is the largest, with over 6,500 submissions (2013) annually. They are all clearly labeled as "light novels" and are published as low-priced paperbacks. For example, the price for The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya in Japan is ¥540 (including 5% tax), similar to the normal price for trade paperbacks—light novels and general literature—sold in Japan. In 2007 it was estimated (according to a website funded by the Japanese government) that the market for light novels was about ¥20
There are currently many licensed English translations of Japanese light novels available. These have generally been published in the physical dimensions of standard mass market paperbacks or similar to manga tankōbon , but starting in April 2007, Seven Seas Entertainment was the first English publisher to print light novels in their original Japanese Bunkobon format.Other United States English-language publishers that license light novels are Tokyopop, Viz Media, DMP, Dark Horse, Yen Press (Kadokawa's American joint-venture with Hachette Book Group), and Del Rey Manga. The founder of Viz Media, Seiji Horibuchi, speculates that the US market for light novels will experience a similar increase in popularity as it has in the Japanese subculture once it becomes recognized by the consumer audience.
Most light novels are published by Japanese writers, with very few exceptions. For example, Yū Kamiya, author of No Game No Life , is a Brazilian-Japanese writer who lives in Japan and publishes his novels through major Japanese publishing labels.
Popular literature has a long tradition in Japan. Even though cheap, pulp novels resembling light novels were present in Japan for years prior, the creation of Sonorama Bunko in 1975 is considered by some to be a symbolic beginning. Science fiction and horror writers like Hideyuki Kikuchi or Baku Yumemakura started their careers through such imprints. Kim Morrissy of Anime News Network reported that Keita Kamikita, the system operator of a science fiction and fantasy forum, is usually credited with coining the term "light novel" in 1990. After noticing that the science fiction and fantasy novels that had emerged in the 1980s were also attracting anime and manga fans because of their illustrations by famous manga artists, Kamikita avoided using terms like "young adult" because the novels did not appeal to one particular demographic.
The 1990s saw the smash-hit Slayers series which merged fantasy-RPG elements with comedy. Some years later MediaWorks founded a pop-lit imprint called Dengeki Bunko, which produces well-known light novel series to this day. The Boogiepop series was their first major hit which soon was animated and got many anime watchers interested in literature.
Dengeki Bunko writers continued to slowly gain attention until the small light novel world experienced a boom around 2006. After the huge success of the Haruhi Suzumiya series, the number of publishers and readers interested in light novels suddenly skyrocketed.
Light novels became an important part of the Japanese 2D culture in the late 2000s, with series such as A Certain Magical Index selling large amounts of copies with each volume release. The number of light novels series put out every year increases, usually illustrated by the most celebrated artists from pixiv and the most successful works are adapted into manga, anime, games and live action movies.
Since the mid-2000s, it has become increasing popular for publishers to contact authors of web fiction on their blog or website to publish their work in print form. The material is often heavily edited and may even feature an altered story, which might compel someone who had already read it online to buy the print release as well.The free novel publication website Shōsetsuka ni Narō is a popular source for such material. Popular works like Sword Art Online , That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime , Overlord , Re:Zero and Konosuba were originally popular web novels that got contacted by a publisher to distribute and publish those stories in print format.
In recent times, there has been a venture to publish more light novels in the United States. The leader of this publisher, Yen Press, is a joint venture between Hachette Book Group and Japanese publisher Kadokawa.Other publishers such as Seven Seas Entertainment, Viz Media (owned by Shogakukan and Shueisha), Vertical (owned by Kodansha USA), One Peace Books, J-Novel Club, Cross Infinite Worlds, Sol Press have all been making an effort to publish more light novels in English. Additionally, light novel authors and authors have been starting to make guest appearances overseas at anime conventions. At the 2019 Anime Expo, one of the biggest Anime conventions of the year, featured creators such as Kumo Kagyu, author of Goblin Slayer, and Fujino Omori, the author of Is It Wrong to Pick up Girls in a Dungeon? .
One popular genre in the light novel category is isekai (異世界) or "different world" stories. In these stories usually feature an ordinary person that is transported from a modern city life to a world of fantasy and adventure. Sword Art Online, a web novel initially published in 2002, contributed to the popularization of 'Isekai' as a genre. This web novel became extremely popular, forming various adaptations such as an anime, manga, and even various movies and spinoff series. Because of the success of Sword Art Online , other novels such as KonoSuba, Overlord and Re:Zero became increasingly more popular. The success of Sword Art Online and 'isekai' as a whole contributed to the creation of write-your-own fiction websites in Japan and increasing popularity of light novels in the west as well.
Monthly Dengeki Comic Gao!, also known as Dengeki Gao! as was a Japanese shōnen manga magazine that primarily contained manga and information about series featuring bishōjo characters. It was published from December 1992 to February 2008 by MediaWorks. The Gao in the magazine's title is a childish form of the sound Grr. Many manga serialized in Dengeki Comic Gao! were adapted from light novels published under MediaWorks' Dengeki Bunko label. The magazine was sold every month on the twenty-seventh.
Science fiction is an important genre of modern Japanese literature that has strongly influenced aspects of contemporary Japanese pop culture, including anime, manga, video games, tokusatsu, and cinema.
Dengeki Bunko Magazine (電撃文庫MAGAZINE) is a Japanese light novel magazine published by ASCII Media Works. The magazine succeeded the light novel magazine Dengeki hp, and originally was published as a special edition issue of Dengeki Daioh for the first two issues; the first issue was released on December 10, 2007. Dengeki Bunko Magazine became an independent magazine with the publication of its third volume on April 10, 2008. The magazine publishes information pertaining to ASCII Media Works' light novel publishing label Dengeki Bunko, along with short stories written by already established authors who have had previous light novels published under Dengeki Bunko. Other information pertains to adaptations from the light novels, such as video games, anime, or manga. The magazine ended on April 9, 2020.
ASCII Media Works, formerly ASCII Media Works, Inc., is a Japanese publisher and brand company of Kadokawa Future Publishing headquartered in Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan. It originally formed on April 1, 2008 as a result of a merger between ASCII Corporation and MediaWorks where MediaWorks legally absorbed ASCII. Despite this, the former president and CEO of ASCII, Kiyoshi Takano, became the first president and CEO of ASCII Media Works. It became an internal division of Kadokawa Corporation on October 1, 2013.
MediaWorks, Inc. was a Japanese publishing company in the Kadokawa Group known for their Dengeki brand magazines and book labels. These included such well-known magazines as Dengeki Daioh, and Dengeki G's Magazine, along with MediaWorks' main light novel publishing imprint Dengeki Bunko. The company was merged with ASCII on April 1, 2008, and became ASCII Media Works. They mainly catered to the Japanese male otaku crowd, covering such topics as anime, light novels, manga, plastic modelling, and visual novels. However, MediaWorks had published three magazines targeted towards females—Comic Sylph, Dengeki Girl's Style, and Character Parfait—but each one was a special edition version of another magazine. MediaWorks ran yearly contests for original novel and manga submissions, such as the light novel Dengeki Novel Prize contest.
Sword Art Online is a Japanese light novel series written by Reki Kawahara and illustrated by abec. The series takes place in the near future and focuses on protagonist Kazuto "Kirito" Kirigaya and Asuna Yuuki as they play through various virtual reality MMORPG worlds. Kawahara originally wrote the series as a web novel on his website from 2002 to 2008. The light novels began publication on ASCII Media Works' Dengeki Bunko imprint from April 10, 2009, with a spin-off series launching in October 2012. The series has spawned twelve manga adaptations published by ASCII Media Works and Kadokawa. The novels and the manga adaptations have been licensed for release in North America by Yen Press.
Accel World is a Japanese light novel series written by Reki Kawahara and illustrated by HiMA. The series began publication in ASCII Media Works' Dengeki Bunko imprint from February 2009 and is licensed in North America by Yen Press. Two manga series began serialization in Dengeki Bunko Magazine from May 2010, with another series beginning serialization in Dengeki Daioh in January 2013. An anime adaptation by Sunrise aired in Japan between April and September 2012. An English-language version began streaming on Viz Media's Neon Alley service from April 2013. Two video games were released for the PlayStation Portable and PlayStation 3 on September 13, 2012, and January 31, 2013, each containing an original video animation episode. An anime film titled Accel World: Infinite Burst featuring an original story by Kawahara premiered in Japan on July 23, 2016.
Strike the Blood is a Japanese light novel series by Gakuto Mikumo with illustrations by Manyako, with 22 main volumes serialized between May 2011 and August 2020. A manga adaptation began serialization in June 2012 in ASCII Media Works's Dengeki Daioh. A 24-episode anime television adaptation by Silver Link and Connect aired between 4 October 2013 and 28 March 2014 in Japan. An original video animation series titled Strike the Blood II was released in four volumes between November 2016 and May 2017. A third series titled Strike the Blood III was released from December 2018 to September 2019. A fourth series titled Strike the Blood IV was released from April 2020 to June 2021.
Fujimi Shobo (富士見書房), formerly Fujimi Shobo Co., Ltd., was a Japanese publisher that specialized in light novels, manga, role-playing games and collectible card games. Founded in 1972 and reorganized three times, it was at times an independent company and at times an imprint of Kadokawa Future Publishing. It ceased to be an independent company in 2013 and the brand was retired in 2015.
Shōsetsuka ni Narō is a Japanese user-generated novel publishing website created by Yusuke Umezaki. It was launched on April 2, 2004. Users can upload their novels free of charge and the novels are also free to read. As of May 2021, the site hosts over 800,000 novels, has over 2,000,000 registered users and it receives over 1 billion page views per month.
Restaurant to Another World is a Japanese light novel series written by Junpei Inuzuka, with illustrations by Katsumi Enami. Shufunotomo have released five volumes of the series since February 2015. An anime television series adaptation by Silver Link aired from July 3 to September 18, 2017. A second season by OLM has been announced.
Isekai is a Japanese genre of light novels, manga, anime and video games that revolve around a person who is transported to and has to survive in another world, such as a fantasy world, virtual world or parallel universe. This plot device allows the audience to learn about the new world at the same pace as the protagonist. Isekai works can also often fall under the fantasy, science fiction, portal fantasy or accidental travel genres.
Redo of Healer, also known in Japan as Kaiyari for short, is a Japanese fantasy light novel series written by Rui Tsukiyo and illustrated by Shiokonbu. It began serialization online in December 2016 on the user-generated novel publishing website Shōsetsuka ni Narō. It was later acquired by Kadokawa Shoten, who have published nine volumes since July 2017 under their Kadokawa Sneaker Bunko imprint.
Tsutomu Satō is a Japanese novelist known for his light novel series The Irregular at Magic High School.
In the Land of Leadale is a Japanese light novel series written by Ceez and illustrated by Tenmaso. It was serialized online between November 2010 and December 2012 on the user-generated novel publishing website Shōsetsuka ni Narō. It was later acquired by Enterbrain, who have published six volumes since January 2019 under their Famitsu Bunko imprint. The light novel is licensed in North America by Yen Press.
Rust–Eater Bisco is a Japanese light novel series written by Shinji Cobkubo and illustrated by K Akagashi, with world-building art by mocha. ASCII Media Works have released six volumes since March 2018 under their Dengeki Bunko label. A manga adaptation with art by Yūsuke Takahashi was serialized online between April 2019 and March 2021 via Square Enix's online manga magazine Manga UP!. It has been collected in two tankōbon volumes. An anime television series adaptation by OZ has been announced.
Kadokawa Light Novel Expo 2020 is the first annual Kadokawa Light Novel Expo held by Kadokawa and Kimirano, which originally set on October 10 to October 11, 2020 in Tokorozawa Sakura Town, but has been postponed to March 6 - April 11, 2021 simulatenously in the website as the main venue and Tokorozawa Sakura Town as the sub venue, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This event hosted many writers of light novel series from Kadokawa's Light Novel imprints, such as Dengeki Bunko, Fujimi Fantasia Bunko, Kadokawa Sneaker Bunko, MF Bunko J and Famitsu Bunko. It has more than 2.000 exclusive web autographed books by popular creators of more than 100 different titles of five different imprints, which sold at The Da Vinci Store. It also has the special set events, such as Sword Art Online, Date A Live, and Re:Zero − Starting Life in Another World.
Kazuma Miki is a Japanese light novel editor. He is CEO of Straight Edge Inc, editor-in-chief of LINE novel, and outside director of Egg Firm. He is from the Tokushima prefecture. He graduated from Sophia University as a physics major.
Natsume Akatsuki is a Japanese light novel author and manga writer from Echizen, Fukui Prefecture, Japan. He is best known for writing the KonoSuba series.