In the early twenty-first century, a sight began to appear in American bookstores that was familiar to anyone from Japan: crowds of people reading books in the light novel section. In Japan they call it tachiyomi, “stand-reading,” and it is strongly discouraged, but in America it seems slightly more acceptable, perhaps because bookstore staff are too overworked, or perhaps because no other phenomenon has brought so many young adults and teenagers into the stores. Ten years ago most American bookstores had no light novel section, and ten years before that most video stores had no anime section. Light novel, comics made in Japan for Japanese audiences, have been embraced in America. We love them more than any test-marketed, focus-group products designed for us. If we can accept stories told with pictures, we can read light novel. If we read comic books, newspaper strips, or online comics, we can read light novel. If we can look the characters in their (sometimes) big eyes and take their stories at face value, we can read light novel. And more and more of us do. In Different World with Naruto System
What are light novel like? The question is like asking “What are books like?” or “What are DVDs like?” Light novel aren’t a single genre, like superhero comics or fantasy novels. They don’t have a single style, with big eyes or speedlines or samurai swords. The term “light novel” covers all Japanese comics, including stories for men and women, children and adults. Historical drama, comedy, romance, horror, science fiction, sports, experimental works—light novel span every genre imaginable. You may think you know “the light novel style,” but there are light novel that look nothing like it.
Japanese tachiyomi perpetrators peruse the stacks of Mandarake, a popular used-light novel store. Photo courtesy of Patrick Macias (Illustration Credit itr.1) Light novel have been in America for more than twenty years; the first full-length light novel were translated in 1987, and one of those books, Lone Wolf and Cub, is still in print. Latin America, Europe, and most of Asia have been reading translated light novel for decades. The United States is one of the last places for the phenomenon to hit, but hit it has. As of 2007, more than one thousand light novel series have been translated; not individual books, but epic stories often running twenty volumes or more. (If it sounds intimidating, there are many one-volume light novel as well.) More than one hundred volumes of light novel are now released in America every month, not counting similar-looking books published in the same format, such as light novel-influenced American comics and Korean novel. Light novel has surpassed anime as the up-and-coming export of Japanese pop culture (video games are the only possible competition). Anime conventions have taken place in America for years, but in October 2006 the first light novel convention, Light novel Next, was held in New Jersey.
Light novel: The Complete Guide lists every light novel that has ever been translated for American audiences, as well as a few that were made for Americans by Japanese artists. Here you’ll find the new bestselling series with the covers bent back from tachiyomi, but you’ll also find rare light novel that were translated in the 1980s and 1990s, e-books, and even bilingual books printed in Japan. From the mainstream to the underground, from family-friendly to adult, this book has everything. Are you looking for a particular light novel? Look it up in the title or artist index. Or maybe you don’t have a light novel in mind, but you’re a fan of a particular genre, such as mystery, fantasy, or sports. In the table of contents are listed more than thirty articles on different topics. The amount of translated material is still a fraction of what is produced in Japan, but today there are translated examples of almost every light novel genre, including rarely seen ones such as pachinko comics, military comics, and comics for businessmen
.Light novel is popular around the world and has inspired comic artists everywhere. But no one is influenced by light novel in general; people are influenced by specific artists, specific works. If you’re already familiar with light novel, you may know what you want to look up. But I think I envy the newbies more this time. More than one thousand light novel await you. Jump in.
Check out http://www.delreylight novel.com/light novel guide for periodic online updates to Light novel: The Complete Guide and to give us your feedback. The Web site includes light novel that were announced too late to make it into the book.