Almost five months ago, I wrote a post for my 12 Days of Anime series regarding my experience with light novels. In that post, I talked mostly about my conflicting feelings for the medium as well as touching a little bit on the power of familiarity in long running series like the ones I followed. At the time, I wasn’t expecting any of my posts, let alone that rant, to attract very much attention but soon after I posted it, I got a comment from a certain Frog-kun. I didn’t know it at the time, but his suggestions would eventually reignite my passion for light novels.
At first, light novels were a way for me to either re-experience or experience more of their anime counterparts – this was my justification for reading the fan translations for Chuunibyou, Hyouka, Monogatari, Toradora, and Index. Out of a fondness for the medium and a desire to read more, I extended my light novel repertoire to the likes of HakoMaria, Iris on Rainy Days, The Asterisk War, and many others.
After a couple months of on-and-off reading, I started to feel little less and less motivated to continue following the novels that I cared so much about. It was a combination of rough translations, bad writing, and uncertain release schedules that really put me off. And by the time December of last year rolled around, I was more or less unsubscribed to light novels.
Since that day in December, I have read a lot. I’ve bought and/or borrowed all the translated volumes of The Isolator and Sword Art Online: Progressive, the first volumes of Oregairu, Kieli, Danmachi: Sword Oratoria, and DeathMa, and the two translated SAO: Alicization volumes. This was certainly not something that I expected to do all those months ago, but I’ve really enjoyed the ride. Official translations, as you might expect, are way better than fan translations (most of the time) and hence are also better at conveying the ideas that the author intended. This made the good novels great and the less good novels, a little easier to digest.
Along with all that, I’ve discovered the joys of actually owning stuff. Light novels come with some neat art and some extras like manga previews and afterwords; and having this kind of stuff along with owning the actual novel is pretty cool. It also feels like I’m supporting the industry in a way that my Crunchyroll subscription doesn’t make me feel, so that a bonus.
With all that I’ve written, I haven’t exactly explained why I enjoy reading light novels so much. It’s a little hard to say, but (aside from being solidly within their demographic) a big part of it comes with its relation with anime, manga, and its culture. A lot of light novels draw from a common base of knowledge and experiences that their readers can all understand. This can come in the form of anime/manga references, a rampant abuse of gaming terminology, references to awkward teenager stuff, and a general geekiness that we’ve all come to love. This kind of thing can be self-reciprocating and recursive in their references and that makes the medium more fun to be a part of.
Along with all this, light novels give me a reason to read fiction again, but this time in a context that I’m well acclimatized to. Picking up a light novel is easier for me to do because I can be reasonably certain that it’ll be somewhere within my ballpark of enjoyment or understanding. And reading is something that I really prioritize nowadays since I’m writing so much, and for that reason alone, I’m pretty happy to read these novels, regardless of how junky they might end up being.
So thanks Frog-kun, for the suggestions and for getting me back into reading. And thank you, my dear reader, for reading. Hopefully you got something out of this post in the same way that I got something out of Frog-kun’s (other than a deep, long-lasting disappointment in me).
Seeya next time,