The time has finally come for us to talk about light novels, a medium so rich and alluring that has gone largely ignored by the mainstream crowd.
Light novels, in case you didn’t know, are just comics in written format; and by comics I mean Manga, Manhwa, Manhua and the like.
Remember when Naruto (the manga) ended? They immediately bombarded us with announcements of the light novels that would hit the market; books delving into the lives of characters like Kakashi, Sasuke, and even Gaara following the events of the Fourth Great Shinobi War.
But while those books technically qualify as light novels, conversations about the medium rarely draw such works into the mix, primarily because light novels adapted from popular manga and anime are written with the fans in mind.
They rarely break any new ground. The conversation surrounding light novels today has more to do with original works –primarily those from China – than adaptations of popular manga and anime; stories crafted to entertain readers craving a lighter, less burdensome, faster-paced, more action-packed reading experience.
Light novels take the concept of an ordinary novel and strip it of all but those most basic elements relevant to the progression of the story.
They are free of in-depth descriptions of settings, empty of complex explorations of character thoughts, attitudes, personalities and motivations, and largely devoid of the world building that infuses the average fantasy novel.
That does not make them any less complicated in the stories they tell, though. Most of the popular light novels tend to deliver variations of the same old trope. You always have a young protagonist, typically a young man that has been ostracized from society.
He must set out to avenge the wrongs afflicted against his person, his clan or his family by becoming the strongest being in his world, a journey that embroils him in adventures with new friends, pits him against foes of overwhelming strength and allows him to grow as a person.
The complexity of the average light novel manifests more in the relationships between the characters than the world that surrounds the protagonist.
Emphasis is placed on loyalty between friends and the bonds that tie the members of a given tribe or sect.
There is little in the way of ultimate villains that must be vanquished. Rather, the enemies that confront the hero are often a variation of what they have become on their journey and the strength they have gained thus far, and it is only by defeating the villain that the hero can grow.
It is worth noting that while the most popular Light Novels tend to be fantastical in nature, featuring plenty of action, adventure, and martial arts, light novels can take a wide variety of shapes and forms.
You can probably find decent light novels in most genres. But if your friends are raving about Light Novels – not adaptations but proper light novels – then they are more than likely talking about Martial God Asura, Desolate Era, Wu Dong Qian Kun and the like.
Regardless of your tastes, if you regularly read regular-sized novels, your first encounter with light novels might prove to be a little uncomfortable.
You will immediately notice how straightforward they tend to be with regards to writing style, the fact that they immediately leap into the action of any given scene, rather than wasting time on the padding the average novel uses.
But whether or not reading appeals to you, light novels will eventually draw you in because it does not take that long to adjust to their format.