Anime series such as Dragon Ball and Sailor Moon are both adapted from manga, while recent popular anime adaptations are based on light novels, a unique literary genre in Japan. Light Novels are serialized and aimed at teenagers and young adults, often considered cheap and disposable, but they are still popular and accessible today thanks to translation and availability online. Fantasy light novels are especially popular, but other genres such as supernatural slice-of-life and space opera also exist, and some light novels have been the basis for films such as Edge of Tomorrow.
Throughout the history of the medium, this has been very common for cartoon series is adapted from manga. Iconic series like Dragon Ball, Sailor Moon, and One Piece all began as manga series that were later adapted into animated television series. Recently, the popularity of light novels has seen the number of anime adaptations based on the novels grow in popularity. Light novel are less common in the West than in Japan, so it can be a bit difficult to get access to them.
Like anime, light novels are a medium of their own. The basic common feature of all light novel series is that the individual books are quite short and serialized. Light Novels will often have new articles published several times a year. For context, The Lord of the Rings was published in three books, each around 400 pages in its first iteration, while the original Spice and Wolf novels are currently 24 books long, each around 200 pages.
Light Novel is a unique form of literature in Japan
Haruhi Suzumiya (2006-2009)
There really is no clear equivalent to light novels in Western popular culture or literature. The two closest comparisons are YA literary magazines and Pulp magazines, which peaked in the mid-20th century. Light novels are often written in a fairly informal style and are aimed at an audience of teenagers and young adults. Like Pulp magazine, light novels are intended to be both published and read quickly, to the point that they are often considered cheap and disposable. Despite this, light novels are still popular and retain a general readership. Writing contests are regularly held in Japan, and many light novel authors got their start by winning one of these contests.
Fantasy light novels are especially popular. Goblin Slayer, The Rising of the Shield Hero, and Konosuba were all light novels that were eventually adapted into anime. Other famous light novels also belong to many different genres. Haruhi Suzumiya is a supernatural, wacky slice-of-life series and Bodacious Space Pirates is a light-hearted space opera. Notably, although it has not been adapted into an anime, the science fiction action novel All You Need is Kill is the basis for Tom Cruise’s film Edge of Tomorrow.
Light Novels are now more accessible than ever
Rise of the Shield Hero (2019 – 2023)
More and more famous light novels are being translated and published in English. Interested fans have several options for purchasing light novels online. The two most prominent English light novel translators and publishers are Yen Press and Seven Seas Entertainment. The catalog of light novels published by Yen Press and Seven Seas Entertainment is available online at most book retailers in both print and digital, although neither company’s website is a storefront. their own specialization.
After acquiring Right Stuf in October 2023, Crunchyroll has become one of the best places to buy English novels online. The Crunchyroll store has an extensive catalog of light novels available from many publishers, including a catalog previously available from Right Stuf. What’s most notable is that the light novels available at the Crunchyroll Store tend to be cheaper than other online retailers.
Light novel very popular in Japan. The medium has inspired some of the most popular anime in recent years. The growing popularity and prominence of light novels means Increasing numbers are being translated and published for English readers.
Source: Yen Press, Seven Seas Entertainment, Crunchyroll Store