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Old 2009-09-09, 22:59   Link #1
lubczyk
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What is a light novel?

I'm seen a lot of anime synopsis say that "such and such anime" was "an adaption of a light novel." I've always thought hat light novel meant short story like Lord of the Flies and and their Japanese equivalent. Over time, I've seen a lot of harem shows based off of light novels. Very shallow and frivolous without a lot of depth or literary structure. Are light novels Japan's equivalent of Goosebumps, Anamorphs, Dan Brown, Twilight and the like?
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Old 2009-09-09, 23:02   Link #2
Theowne
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I don't want to be snarky, but a quick google search will yield this very helpful page:

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

Which tells you all you need to know.

Quote:
A light novel (ライトノベル raito noberu?) is a novel primarily targeting teenagers and young adults........ They are typically not more than 40-50,000 words long (the shorter ones being equivalent to a novella in US publishing terms), usually published in bunkobon size, and are often illustrated.[2] The text is often serialized in anthology magazines prior to collection in book form.
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Old 2009-09-10, 00:26   Link #3
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I can't remember where, but I've also heard that the light novels tend to have a very minimalist descriptive style.

It's not just harem shows like Kanokon that get based on them either. Full Metal Panic is based on light novels. So is Kurenai, Toradora, Spice and Wolf, Haruhi, and Rocket Girls, and that's nowhere even close to a complete list. To say that the quality varies dramatically is an understatement.

Edit: in some cases, you can even see very direct signs of the light novel to anime adaptations. For example, if I remember correctly each Spice and Wolf episode roughly corresponds to a chapter from the novels, with each season adapting two light novels consisting of six (originally serialized) chapters.
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Old 2009-09-10, 01:29   Link #4
Matt122005
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It's not all frivolous stuff. Light Novels such as "Kino no Tabi" and "Ballad of a Shinigami" can be quite deep, and in some cases, literary.

There was a really good article written about this on a blog, you might be interested in checking it out: http://ranobecafe.wordpress.com/2009...a-light-novel/

Each Light Novel can be very different. Just like novels in the US, UK, or anywhere, each novel can vary GREATLY from the other.

Light Novels are deffinitely not lacking in variety. And a large ammount of anime and manga companies are now beginning to shift from manga to light novels for adaptation source material.
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Old 2009-09-10, 02:45   Link #5
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Well, by defauly novel means "not much action, too much atmosphere" so all novel adaptations are indeed without major battles that are better portraited in manga yet they have somewhat more colorful settings and characters as the focus of literature is to make insight into the characters in order to excuse their actions in the story.

Legend of Galactic Heroes is based on German novels and it's damn good in this. Plus, it ain't all silly stories and characters.

12 Kingdoms and Moribito are also based on novels and the plot goes slow as hell yet have wonderfull artwork and settings.

In other words, novel usually means slow plot to appreciate the characters and the setting in contrast to anime which have much faster plot and rather dry portrait of characters where the focus is fancy clothes and nude and explotions and slick mechas.

As for how good or serious or mature the stories are, I won't comment on that as it is just about personal tastes. I yawn in most novel adaptations myself yet i dislike series without actual context.

I guess it is pretty hard to make a story with both fast plot and intersting visualization of setting and character. I always thought of having the non-action parts being literature and the action parts being in manga form. Oh well...
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Old 2009-09-10, 03:07   Link #6
Slice of Life
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roriconfan View Post
Legend of Galactic Heroes is based on German novels
... written by Yoshiki Tanaka. Don't blame this on us.
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Old 2009-09-10, 04:00   Link #7
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I admit for a long time I thought manga and light novel would be the same :3

Basically a light novel is heavily based on text and comes with an occasional picture every 20-30 pages. Like the name says it aims to be easy to read and like Theowne already said they are around ~40-50.000 words.

If it helps you can try to imagine it like this:
Light Novel = novel
Manga = comic book
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Old 2009-09-10, 04:31   Link #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roriconfan View Post

In other words, novel usually means slow plot to appreciate the characters and the setting in contrast to anime which have much faster plot and rather dry portrait of characters where the focus is fancy clothes and nude and explotions and slick mechas.
Not really true, if the likes of Dune and Earthsea taught me anything, slow plot is not always needed to grab the reader with compelling characters and settings. The plot in these books moved quite fast compared to the big hits of today. It knew when to move the plot along with the development of the characters, while building the world.
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Old 2009-09-10, 04:44   Link #9
ac195
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eisdrache View Post
Light Novel = novel *primarily targeting teens and adults
Manga = comic book
*Fixed
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Old 2009-09-10, 04:47   Link #10
Irenicus
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roriconfan View Post
Well, by defauly novel means "not much action, too much atmosphere" so all novel adaptations are indeed without major battles that are better portraited in manga yet they have somewhat more colorful settings and characters as the focus of literature is to make insight into the characters in order to excuse their actions in the story.
In what world does the term "novel" mean something like that?
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Old 2009-09-10, 05:32   Link #11
Slice of Life
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Originally Posted by ac195 View Post
*Fixed
Now the definition encompasses any novel except children's books which is hardly an improvement.

In any case, light novels are a medium in itself and discussing the pros and cons of novels in general is not really on topic here. Hoping the thread will be split I do it regardless.

Discussing how slow or fast the average plot in a book moves would first require to clarify what you mean by "fast" or "slow" and even by "plot"(a lot of things can happen that aren't really relevant to the plot, see below). Otherwise people will misunderstand each other and argue in circles.

But in general a written text allows to represent information more densely coded than still or moving pictures. Insofar I would argue that you'll get more "plot per hour" when reading a book.

Now anime series come in weekly pieces of 13 or 26 episodes and the big robot must crash into the high school building at the end of episode one or the viewer might not bother to watch episode 2. With a book the author has more freedom to develop the plot at a rate he considers suitable. So with anime you'll be more likely thrown directly into the action. Not necessarily into the plot though as many anime that do not follow the "problem of the week" formula the whole way through (so that there is no overarching plot anyway) will still start out that way. So there will be lots of action but the actual plot might not be hinted at before you're half into the show when people are hooked and the latecomers are also on board.

Of course, some anime boldly ignore the restriction of the medium, develop the plot like in a continuous work would and still succeed.

Now atmosphere is something you can create much easier with an anime (or any form of moving pictures) with its visual and audio channels appealing much more directly to your emotions than a written text or even the still pictures of a manga.
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Old 2009-09-10, 06:09   Link #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slice of Life View Post
Now atmosphere is something you can create much easier with an anime (or any form of moving pictures) with its visual and audio channels appealing much more directly to your emotions than a written text or even the still pictures of a manga.
That's not true. There are many cases where the manga is transmiting feelings far easier than the anime exactly BECAUSE it is still pictures.
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Old 2009-09-10, 06:24   Link #13
Ash Falls Town
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Many Light Novels are released as serials though. If no one reads it while it's coming out then it won't even get given the chance to be released as a proper novel.

This means that people have to get interested in the story in chapter increments. If someone isn't interested in an anime without a big crash in the first episode, what makes you think that they'd be interested when there isn't a big crash in the first chapter?

Anyway there are actual pictureless fiction books released in japan as well. Light Novels are generally targeted at a younger age than those are. I think. Apparently Light Novels are more likely to have the stuff that tells you how stuff is pronounced above the kanji.
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Old 2009-09-10, 06:59   Link #14
Slice of Life
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Originally Posted by Ash Falls Town View Post
This means that people have to get interested in the story in chapter increments. If someone isn't interested in an anime without a big crash in the first episode, what makes you think that they'd be interested when there isn't a big crash in the first chapter?
Nothing. As I sad, I was talking about novels in general or the average novel if you wish. Because that was there the discussion was drifting. And one could well argue if light "novels" should be grouped with novels at all.

Quote:
Originally Posted by roriconfan View Post
That's not true. There are many cases where the manga is transmiting feelings far easier than the anime exactly BECAUSE it is still pictures.
Maybe you're especially susceptible to that media but in general I disagree. In my observation people will more likely cry over a story presented on TV than in a comic, for example. Ask any politician how to manipulate emotions.
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Old 2009-09-10, 08:12   Link #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roriconfan View Post
That's not true. There are many cases where the manga is transmiting feelings far easier than the anime exactly BECAUSE it is still pictures.
This is when you ask for a better adaptation.
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Old 2009-09-10, 08:30   Link #16
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Anime does it better because of the voice cast. A good cast can bring out emotions.
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Old 2009-09-10, 09:45   Link #17
Kamui4356
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I've always thought of light novels as being similiar to some classic scifi novels in terms of publishing. As was pointed out, they're often serial releases, much like H.G. Wells' Time Machine was. As for format, from my experience the primary features are they're shorter than a regular novel with illustrations, though often they have many volumes. Now there is a lot of variance in content and target demographic, so I'd be reluctant to include any of that in a definition of them.
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Old 2009-09-10, 09:45   Link #18
MitsubishiZero
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Originally Posted by yezhanquan View Post
Anime does it better because of the voice cast. A good cast can bring out emotions.
A good writer can bring out emotions without any pictures or voice cast. That's what light novels are about.
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Old 2009-09-10, 10:16   Link #19
Slice of Life
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MitsubishiZero View Post
A good writer can bring out emotions without any pictures or voice cast.
A good _____ can _____ better than a bad _____.

Fill out the gaps at your heart's content.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MitsubishiZero View Post
That's what light novels are about.
The light novel market is maybe not exactly the place where the good writers gather. >.>
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Old 2009-09-10, 13:34   Link #20
Matt122005
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Um, for some odd reason you all are continuing a very weird myth regarding Light Novels.

You keep mentioning that MOST light novels are serialized and that they COULD ALMOST NOT GET PUBLISHED AS A FULL NOVEL without having done so.

Where in the world did you hear that? O_o

There are only a small handful of light novel magazines in Japan, (Dengeki Bunko Magazine, Dragon Magazine, The Sneaker Magazine, etc). It is true that SOME light novels are serialized, but MOST "ARE NOT". I repeat, MOST ARE NOT. In fact, from buying the magazines I've seen that most of the serialized content are usually for the short stories volumes in the series, such as for "Haruhi, Full Metal Panic, SHAPPLE, etc.) Not the actual main story volumes.

The Light Novel industry works almost exactly like the normal fiction publishing industry. Many popular light novels got noticed through a writing competition like the "Dengeki Bunko Game Novel Contest" (did I say that right? lol)

Most light novels are released as a single book first, no serialization.

So yea, thought I'd end that weird myth.
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