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Old 2015-01-20, 00:51   Link #1
itisjustme
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When and why did light novels become so popular?

Last time I watched a lot of anime (I think 2006~2008ish?) animesuki's manga&lns section was mostly about mangas. I think LNs adapted into anime were a lot rarer too? Or I only remember the quality stuff (FMP! Crest of the Stars, Seirei no Moribito, Stein's Gate, etc), so I was pretty eager to try any adapted LN.

Nowadays it seems every season there's a never ending stream of harem LNs adapted in anime. It seems to have become the primary anime material in fact. Looking at the manga&lns section there's not even 5 manga threads on the first page. In fact there seems to be more threads about unpublished stuff posted on a fanfiction-like website, if I understood correctly? than mangas. There's 4 subforums and none of them are about mangas.

I'm kinda wondering why that is, since images need no translation so mangas are a lot less dependant on translator's quality, and secondly they're a lot easier to read. How'd it come to that?
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Old 2015-01-20, 01:05   Link #2
larethian
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The advantage of manga can also be its own disadvantage. One big plus for me with regards to light novels, is that the insights, the thought process and POV of the characters become much clearer. The more abundant monologues (which will be absent in manga due to the wall of texts and also stuff that cannot be easily depicted in pictures alone) make the story more interesting, and sometimes more sensible and more 'complete'. Author also has greater control in the flow of the story. Mangakas are restricted by page quota and panels and need to trim/fill when needed.

As much as harem and love comedy stories are getting more attention and popularity, I'd say they form at most 60-65% of the base themes present among all the LN titles combined. There are lots of less mainstream stuff and great stories that get missed out and not adapted, because they don't have mind-boggling sales.
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Old 2015-01-20, 01:53   Link #3
risingstar3110
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Also LN does not depend on your skill as much as your ideas. So theoretically, you can go from nobody to be real famous if you have a good story. Rather than in manga where you have to practice and hone your skills for several years before you can produce something readable (by today standard), and a lot of time it was on how you execute your idea, rather than how good that idea was. And what good to adapt into the anime, most of the time is the idea rather than execution

And like larethian mentioned, i will say LN to manga, is like manga to anime. As in, just like how the adaptation of a manga into anime will lead to the cutting of a fair bit of content, and some issue will have to be addressed and may distract the viewer from the story (animation of the fights screen for example). If i want to adapt a LN to a manga, a lot of contents , insight will also be cut. And trivial things that wasn't needed to be addressed in the LN, will needed to in the manga (characters dress, facial reactions, etc). Basically, just think of LN as a very raw gem, manga is semi-processed gem, and anime is the final product. It's easy to cut your gem (or" select contents to animate") based on the very raw materials, rather than the more processed one.
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Old 2015-01-20, 02:05   Link #4
aohige
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Steins;Gate is a video game adaptation, not a light novel.

Also, the popularity of Light novel goes way back to era when the term "light novel" wasn't even around yet. In my days they were called "juvenile novels" or "young adult novels".
Kadokawa Sneaker bunko and Fujimi Fantasia had line of these, and it was popular as far back as the 80s.

Yousei Sakusen/ARIEL, Guin Saga, Vampire Hunter D, Fortune Quest, Lodoss Wars (not the TRPG replays), LoGH/Arslan Senki etc, etc. Yousei Sakusen (Fairy Operation) really set a standard for the sci-fi young novels, and much element in today's light novels can be traced back to this. Haruhi, for example, shares a LOT of similarities. The author of Yousei Sakusen is one of the few still in the industry, and popular as ever. (Miniskirt/Mōretsu Pirates, for example)
The fantasy boom in the 90s was triggered by Slayers, which spawned a whole set of fad.
In fact, Slayers is said to be the real "beginning" of Light Novel era, for better or worse, as it set a standard for all to follow.

Then in the late 90s, Leaf's massive hits with their visual novel video game line-up, including its biggest hit To Heart, took the industry by storm. Their visual novels combined the elements of Sound Novels popularized on consoles, as well as Light Novels.
The massive hit had so much consequences in the otaku field. NUMEROUS copycats sprung up in the video game field, and also heavily influenced Light novel field.

In fact, today's light novel format can be attributed more to the Leaf visual novels than they do to Slayers even. So many galge/eroge wannabe writers flocked to the Light Novel market, which shaped the post 2000 market we see today.

I've been a novel reader in Japan since the mid 80s, and experienced all these changes first-hand.
To answer your question OP, it had several spikes of popularity through out the eras. The current one you see has it origin in TH-spawned galge-influenced novels, but that's only one facet of it. Titles like Haruhi, Shana, and Toaru series is a different heritage, more in kin to the juvenile novels of the 80s-90s.
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Old 2015-01-20, 02:27   Link #5
IceHism
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Quote:
Originally Posted by itisjustme View Post

Looking at the manga&lns section there's not even 5 manga threads on the first page. In fact there seems to be more threads about unpublished stuff posted on a fanfiction-like website, if I understood correctly? than mangas. There's 4 subforums and none of them are about mangas.
This might seem odd but most of the subforums for the mangas are listed in the anime section. Bleach, Naruto, One Piece, Gintama, Shingeki no kyojin, fairy tail, hayate, claymore, etc.
Though there are also a ton of light novels that get subforums in the anime section as well like SAO, Accel world, Monogatari, durarara, etc.

I'd imagine the reason why manga gets less discussion here is because of the fact that it's so straightforward, short, and easy to understand. A LN doesn't only have characters doing things. It has ideas and abstract concepts that authors want to talk about. If it has world building, it is often full of details and is very vibrant compared to what could be shown in a manga. It deals with the complex mental thoughts of the characters that isn't as small as a small text bubble and you can probably find more things to talk about in an LN or VN than you can find in a picture book. Storytelling in a regular book, like an LN, is simply just more complex than in a manga. Not to mention that translating Novels is a huge nightmare since author style and vocabulary is way more important here.

On the other hand, manga is easy to scanlate, translate, read, and is not very time-consuming which will eventually mean that there will be more of it everywhere. It is very accessible and is probably the reason why it is the biggest entertainment medium in Japan.
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Old 2015-01-20, 08:50   Link #6
Jan-Poo
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aohige View Post
Steins;Gate is a video game adaptation, not a light novel.

Also, the popularity of Light novel goes way back to era when the term "light novel" wasn't even around yet. In my days they were called "juvenile novels" or "young adult novels".
Kadokawa Sneaker bunko and Fujimi Fantasia had line of these, and it was popular as far back as the 80s.

Yousei Sakusen/ARIEL, Guin Saga, Vampire Hunter D, Fortune Quest, Lodoss Wars (not the TRPG replays), LoGH/Arslan Senki etc, etc. Yousei Sakusen (Fairy Operation) really set a standard for the sci-fi young novels, and much element in today's light novels can be traced back to this. Haruhi, for example, shares a LOT of similarities. The author of Yousei Sakusen is one of the few still in the industry, and popular as ever. (Miniskirt/Mōretsu Pirates, for example)
The fantasy boom in the 90s was triggered by Slayers, which spawned a whole set of fad.
In fact, Slayers is said to be the real "beginning" of Light Novel era, for better or worse, as it set a standard for all to follow.
This is quite interesting, but did all those early titles you mentioned have the abundance of typically anime-ish chara design that distinguish Light Novels today?

I think the important point that make anime the natural adaption for LNs is the fact that when people read they can visualize in their minds anime scenes rather than real life imagery. For example as a kid I used to read books like Tom Sawyer and the adventure of Huckleberry Finn, but when reading those I always imagined the characters as real persons (even though I did watch the anime adaption of the latter).

The question is when did this exactly happen? When was the first time that a book was clearly meant to be seen as an anime on paper?

I know that there have been novelizations of anime, or more often spin-off. For example I remember I've read one about "Video Girl Ai" and another based on "Kimagure Orange Road". I wonder if it didn't start from that, anime that had been adapted into novels, and only later "light novels" that are somehow meant to be novelizations of anime that have yet to be.
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Old 2015-01-20, 09:22   Link #7
aohige
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jan-Poo View Post
This is quite interesting, but did all those early titles you mentioned have the abundance of typically anime-ish chara design that distinguish Light Novels today?

I think the important point that make anime the natural adaption for LNs is the fact that when people read they can visualize in their minds anime scenes rather than real life imagery. For example as a kid I used to read books like Tom Sawyer and the adventure of Huckleberry Finn, but when reading those I always imagined the characters as real persons (even though I did watch the anime adaption of the latter).

The question is when did this exactly happen? When was the first time that a book was clearly meant to be seen as an anime on paper?
As I mentioned in the post, success of Slayers is the point in which young/light novels became very intertwined with anime designs.

Before that, novels looks more like novels.
In fact, let me post image of original Yousei Sakusen cover, and the re-print in the recent years. Yousei Sakusen is often credited as the "first" light novel that really reflected the trend of light novels for years to come.



Obviously, the left is the original 80s cover. Which I still have on my shelf, if I may add.
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Old 2015-01-20, 10:25   Link #8
Jan-Poo
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Originally Posted by aohige View Post


Obviously, the left is the original 80s cover. Which I still have on my shelf, if I may add.
Well yeah, the one on the left can be considered a regular illustration with just a bit of influence from manga and anime designs, the one on the right is 100% anime chara design. The absence of gradient colors, which is an animation specific necessity, is quite noticeable.
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Old 2015-01-20, 17:40   Link #9
justpassingby
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Originally Posted by aohige View Post



Obviously, the left is the original 80s cover. Which I still have on my shelf, if I may add.
Still waiting for anime adaptation ₍₍ (ง ˙ω˙)ว ⁾⁾.
Still mad the reprints don't have illustrations, just like the new ARIEL SS under the new Asahi Aero.
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Old 2015-01-22, 17:38   Link #10
itisjustme
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Originally Posted by aohige View Post
To answer your question OP, it had several spikes of popularity through out the eras. The current one you see has it origin in TH-spawned galge-influenced novels, but that's only one facet of it. Titles like Haruhi, Shana, and Toaru series is a different heritage, more in kin to the juvenile novels of the 80s-90s.
That was very informative thanks but when I glance around the threads it seems the majority of novels being discussed are about people transported to a fantasy/mmo world or something that's rpg like, which seems like a departure from eroges.

Also when I look at LN sales they don't seem very impressive by manga standards, so my question is, is there something that makes them especially attractive for the anime market? Are they disproportionately popular among otakus? Is there a great number of them compared compared to mangas/other forms of source materials? Do they tend to be longer and have more content to them, making them easier for adaptation? etc, that kinda stuff.
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Old 2015-01-23, 05:01   Link #11
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Originally Posted by itisjustme View Post
Do they tend to be longer and have more content to them, making them easier for adaptation? etc, that kinda stuff.
They aren't necessarily easier to adapt, but a major benefit is that lots of source material can be produced quickly with less risk/investment than manga. This sustains the large number of anime productions today.

It works well for both anime and publishing companies, and a positive feedback loop has contributed to their rise.

Quote:
it seems the majority of novels being discussed are about people transported to a fantasy/mmo world or something that's rpg like, which seems like a departure from eroges.
There are plenty of harem/romantic comedy novels. To some extent, light novels have been blamed for eating into the visual novel market because they're cheap and have similar artistic and storytelling appeal. The royalties are also attractive to authors (so both veteran and aspiring visual novel writers have flocked to the market).

Last edited by TJR; 2015-01-23 at 11:42.
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Old 2015-01-23, 23:13   Link #12
GreyZone
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A lot of the "LNs" in the manga/LN sub-forum are actually WNs, mostly about the "reincarnated" theme or the "world transfer" theme.
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Old Yesterday, 01:17   Link #13
ReinZwei
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Originally Posted by TJR View Post
There are plenty of harem/romantic comedy novels. To some extent, light novels have been blamed for eating into the visual novel market because they're cheap and have similar artistic and storytelling appeal. The royalties are also attractive to authors (so both veteran and aspiring visual novel writers have flocked to the market).
agree, considering the amount they are spending on developing the UI, cg, printing and other additional gameplay development ... it will surely hit hard if your product won't sell when it comes to VN market, aside from that competency is difficult in the VN market wherein those company who already established their names like Key, August, leaf and etc. surely do have a high advantage against company with new names.

On the other side, LN are only published by almost the same circles (Kadokawa group which includes several published imprints under it's name, alphapolis which focusing on the web novel industry, overlap which is rising little by little.. etc.) The main competition in the LN is whether your story will be published by them or not.


Advantages of VN for me is that most VN have different routes unlike LN which only focus on one direction... Now I wonder where and why did VN anime/adaptation became rare... LOL before there is a fad that most VN adaptation where abysmal like the 11 eyes adaptation but now, most trash-talking for those who called themselves critics are throwing their bash towards LN adaptation these days...

To be honest the main reason I read LN is because of Haruhi which I think is one of the reason a LN became so immensely popular these days, another one is Index.
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Old Yesterday, 02:39   Link #14
aohige
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Originally Posted by itisjustme View Post
That was very informative thanks but when I glance around the threads it seems the majority of novels being discussed are about people transported to a fantasy/mmo world or something that's rpg like, which seems like a departure from eroges.
Vast majority of those are web novels posted on the amateur novelist site, Syousetsuka ni Narou.
Not really anime related at all.

In fact, only two series originating in Narou have been animated so far, and it's Log Horizon and Mahouka.
And only one of those two are "transported to alternate world" trope.
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Old Yesterday, 02:43   Link #15
GreyZone
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In fact, only two series originating in Narou have been animated so far, and it's Log Horizon and Mahouka.
And only one of those two are "transported to alternate world" trope.
Wasn't Sword Art Online from Narou as well?
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Old Yesterday, 02:45   Link #16
aohige
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Wasn't Sword Art Online from Narou as well?
Nope.

SAO and Accel World were published on the author's own website.
In fact, his success no doubt was one of the main reasons why amateur web novels sites like Narou became so popular.
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Old Yesterday, 02:52   Link #17
GreyZone
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Nope.

SAO and Accel World were published on the author's own website.
In fact, his success no doubt was one of the main reasons why amateur web novels sites like Narou became so popular.
Ahh OK, it was not from Naoru, then, but still, it started as a WN anyway.

SAO got 4 cours of anime (AW got 2 cours)

Log Horizon got 4 cours too

Mahouka just recently also got a 2 cour release, so considering how most LNs usually only get 1 cour, with anything more being rather the exception than the rule, it should be appearent that the few WNs that did get to the anime stage at some point, are usually rather well received by the anime studios.
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Old Yesterday, 03:02   Link #18
aohige
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Nah not really. SAO and Mahouka were both MONSTERS as far as light novel sales goes before it was animated, and LH is an exception being on NHK Kyoiku.

I mean, if you want to bring up monster hits on LN side, there's Monogatari series and Toaru series.

If you want to make comparison between LN and WN, you'd have to use an example of Web Novel that went straight to anime without a huge success on publication side, and Log Horizon is pretty much the ONLY example right now.
Even the upcoming Gate JSDF became animated after its published novels reached a million seller.

As far as it is right now, the the general public SAO and Mahouka are "light novels" as that format is where it gained public reception the most - not in its original web form.

EDIT: I don't think I did a good job explaining myself, let me simplify it.
What I'm saying is, SAO and Mahouka likely got its treatment because they were "massively successful franchises" already at the point of adaptation, not because it was a "originally a web novel". Quite logical from marketing POV.
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Old Yesterday, 03:30   Link #19
xrick
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Outside Japan, does anyone know if there are people writing stories inspired by LNs and the likes?
Does anyone here do check or frequent FictionPress regularly?
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To all those interested, it's online the first volume of my Novel Series, Reality Breakers.
http://www.fictionpress.com/s/3012624/

To note that it's in portuguese so sorry for the inconvenience for those interested.
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Old Yesterday, 03:36   Link #20
scififan
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Originally Posted by aohige View Post
As I mentioned in the post, success of Slayers is the point in which young/light novels became very intertwined with anime designs.

Before that, novels looks more like novels.
In fact, let me post image of original Yousei Sakusen cover, and the re-print in the recent years. Yousei Sakusen is often credited as the "first" light novel that really reflected the trend of light novels for years to come.


Obviously, the left is the original 80s cover. Which I still have on my shelf, if I may add.
If you are going to use Sonorama's published book as the reference, you can use earlier example.
Both Crusher Joe(1977) and Vampire Hunter D(1983) have the anime look. Yousei Sakusen(1984) is only one of the early work, and it is not the defining trend.
The light novels, as we have known today, are targeting teenage readers. Their selling point is light weight and cheap price. These features are their selling points. So, they can roll out as much work as possible. The book's writing style also lower the threshold of entering the market.

Not all light novel turned anime are successful in sale. Some light novels have the positive feedback. If the publisher or the TV station support it, the anime adaption will continue.
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