Archive for December, 2009

Spice and Wolf: POLL

Now that the new Spice and Wolf novel published by Yen Press is out, we want to know what you plan to do.

Will you buy it or has the controversy over the changed cover made you decide to NOT buy it? Or are you perhaps undecided?

We want your opinion, so vote in our poll and let us know what you think!


December 17, 2009 at 6:33 pm 8 comments

Haikasoru Continues To Grow But Shakugan no Shana Remains Stagnant

While not being a light novel imprint, Viz’s new science fiction imprint, dubbed Haikasoru, is important for any fan of Japanese literature to pay attention to for more reasons than one. The imprint, which launched earlier this year, has published around six novels thus far, with two others on the way including “Book of Hero’s”, by the same author of “Brave Story”.

Over the past couple months, announcement’s regarding future titles has continued to grow, and by no means, has it decided to slow down.

We mentioned the acquisition of Otsuichi’s novel “Summer, Fireworks, and My Corpse”, which was one of two books announced to be coming in 2010. However, today, we have new news.

Two more novels have been announced.

So then, is Haikasoru seeing good sale growth? Are the novels succeeding in comparison to light novel sales?

I went to Barnes and to check out their sales ranking currently and was shockingly surprised at what I found.

To start off, “Zoo”, by Otsuichi comes in at #342,120

“The Lord of the Sands of Time” comes in at #207,607

“Usurper of the Sun” is #193,633

Coming in at #184,017 is “All You Need Is Kill”

Have you noticed anything yet? Perhaps the fact that all these novels are listed in the HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS range?!

Now…here’s the real point, and I truly hope many people think about this and that this sparks a further discussion, but do you know what “Shakugan no Shana” as of today is ranked? The first novel that is, that was published back in 2007.



Stare at that number for a bit. Something should dawn on you. No, it isn’t your imagination, go look back at the other numbers above. Yes, that’s right, your eyes aren’t fooling you, Shakugan no Shana is outselling all of Haikasoru’s newly released novels.

But lets go further shall we? What is the SECOND Shana novel ranked at? Obviously lower, right? Right?


That’s right, the SECOND Shakugan no Shana novel is outselling not only the first Shana novel but the entire original line-up of novels by Haiksoru.

But let us not forget, that Haikasoru’s most recent publishing was of two paperback “re-print” editions of “Brave Story” and “Battle Royale”. So how did their numbers fare?

Battle Royale comes in at a staggering #12,986

Brave Story follows behind with #66,336

So what does this information seem to imply? That two already established novels are selling pretty well, but that their original line-up is selling somewhat worse than many light novels, including their own.

But then, this begs the questions, what’s with all the licensing for more and more novels? As far as I remember, light novel publishers would start canceling novels as soon as those kinds of sale’s rankings would be seen, not getting more.

Either Viz knows something about the sales that we can’t see from the statistics at Barnes&Noble, or else they are fully committing themselves for a long haul in order to make their imprint a success eventually.

If so, I applaud them.

But just one quetion….

Why are you committing to a long haul for THESE novels? And yet…the Shakugan no Shana novels, which are selling currently BETTER than all of your original Haikasoru novels, are in a limbo with only two books out?

Perhaps Viz aren’t really fans of Shana? Perhaps their soul isn’t in it? Some might argue that, however, I don’t believe it’s true.

I had an e-mail conversation with someone at Viz a while back, and when I mentioned Shana, the person replied that some employee’s there enjoyed the books and would enjoy seeing more. Besides that, Viz has told us to keep on the look out for any announcements regarding the novels if they should make one. So they obviously haven’t abandoned the project.

So then why the delay? If they can afford low selling books like “Zoo” (#342,120), why can they not afford to publish Shana which has it’s second novel ranked at #106,492?

I frankly don’t understand it. It doesn’t quite make sense to me.

If Viz is in a position to continue a light novel series they started, why are they choosing not to do it?

I hope that this article has offered some questions for pondering, and that a healthy discussion can start not only in the comments section below, but on other websites and forums as well.

I want to make clear, in case I haven’t, that I am not making any accusations at Viz, nor am I attacking them in any way, I am merely confused as to how they are managing their Japanese novels. I would also welcome any employee of Viz who happens to read this article to leave an official reply of some kind regarding this. Perhaps Barnes and Noble’s stats have it completely wrong? Perhaps Haikasoru’s novels are in fact selling very well?

I should also mention the following notes regarding the Sales Rankings listed here from Barnes&Noble so as to give any reader a better understanding of just what the numbers that have been listed mean.

*Note: All numbers accompanying novels are not a representation of how many copies have been sold, but rather, the rank it holds with all others books being sold at Barnes & Noble.

*Additional Note: Barnes and Noble Sales Rankings are based on a 6 month rolling sales period. Which means that this data is only based on the past 6 months of sales and nothing before that. So please keep all that in mind when discussing this data.

Many fans want more of the Shakugan no Shana novels published. My question is then, why isn’t Viz giving them what they want?

December 17, 2009 at 4:37 pm 10 comments

Otsuichi Returns With A Bang!

Viz has announced that Otsuichi will be returning once again to this side of the Pacific. The author of Viz’s Haikaosru novel “Zoo”, will get his first published novel “Summer, Fireworks, and My Corpse” published this coming year. This novel, published while Otsuichi was still in high school, is the very book that made the young author a name in the publishing industry in Japan.

Obviously, the book is an average novel (that is, if you can call anything he writes average), not a light novel. However, because Otsuichi wrote the light novel “Calling You” and attempted to make “GOTH” a light novel, we are covering this novel.

However, there’s a bit of sadness for any fans of Otsuichi. The release date is September 21, 2010.

Besides the long wait, I am pleasantly pleased with Viz’s licensing decision and eagerly await the book’s eventual release.

Description of book’s contents: “Two short novels, including the title story and ‘Black Fairy Tale,’ plus a bonus short story. ‘Summer’ is a simple story of a nine-year-old girl who dies while on summer vacation. While her youthful killers try to hide the her body, she tells us the story—from the POV of her dead body—of the boys’ attempt to get away murder. ‘Black Fairy Tale’ is classic J-horror: a young girl loses an eye in an accident, but receives a transplant. Now she can see again, but what she sees out of her new left eye is the experiences and memories of its previous owner. Its previous deceased owner.”

Source: Simon and Schuster

December 16, 2009 at 10:52 am 1 comment

Light Novel Becomes New York Times Best Seller

So if there ever was any doubt regarding whether the New York Times considers a Light Novel a manga, it can be put to rest now. They do. Disregarding this ignorance regarding the difference between novels and comics, we can happily report that a light novel now (I’m not quite sure, could this be the first time this has happened?) has become a New York Times Best Selling book. Coming in at #10, Viz’s release, “Death Note: L, change the WorLd” has been a best seller for 5 weeks straight.

This is good news for the industry as a whole, and gives hope to fans of Shakugan no Shana of seeing Viz eventually release Volume 3. With the economy as it is, and Light Novels as small a niche as they are, seeing a New York Times Best Selling Light Novel is more than pleasing to the eyes.

The only remaining question is, will we see any more Light Novels make the list?

Discuss in the comments below this news, and whether or not you believe it right for the New York Times to include Light Novels in the Manga list of best sellers.

Source: The New York Times

December 13, 2009 at 9:46 pm 2 comments

A Brave Man Takes On Brave Story: A Light Novel Book Review With Heft!


Brave Story is not for the faint of heart. By that I mean if you have been prescribed heart medication by a doctor and have been advised against heavy lifting, this book may not be for you at a whopping 818 pages. The good news is it’s a children’s book with heft, and for kids who want to demonstrate Herculean feats of reading, this book is for them. I’ve heard several reviews on that have mixed reviews of this mammoth tome, you either love it or lump it, and I mean LITERALLY lump it, because this book is huge. It has been said that this book has a niche audience because of its sheer size, but fans of Final Fantasy games and other J-RPGs will appreciate a love letter to the epic quests of J-RPGs in book format.


December 6, 2009 at 2:42 am 1 comment

FLCL 2 Light Novel Review

Marquis de Carabas - Communist Irony
^Maybe I should put more effort into finding actual pictures in the novels, but I figure pictures of the characters from the corresponding chapters works.

FLCL 3’ll be coming up eventually. Hope you enjoy the review. Discuss if you want ^_^

Title: フルクリ / FLCL; “Marquis de Carabas” and “Full Swing”
Volume: 2 (of 3)
Author: Enokido Yoji
Original Concept and Plot: Tsurumaki Kazuya
Illustrator: Tsurumaki Kazuya
Group: Gainax
Licensed by: TokyoPop
Translated by: Gemma Collinge / Laura Wyrick (Adapter)

Review by: Kafkafuura

“Plunge deeper into the demented dreamscape of a high school nothing turned mutant warrior in this volume of FLCL” (From the back of the book) ← First, I’d like to point out that other than Mamimi, the entire child cast is in 6th grade, ie. elementary school.

“A Lolita complex is merely an adult admiring a child – a grown-up metamorphosis.” “I like Diet Coke. This is grown up.” – FLCL Director/Producer/Creator Tsurumaki Kazuya ; this is what makes the afterword worth reading.

“…it felt good. It was the same feeling he got when he’d ridden on the speeding Vespa – the time when his brain had been empty. Maybe this is how Haruko always feels.”

“Marquis de Carabas”

Up until this point, FLCL really centers around Naota (even if Fire Starter’s about Mamimi), but “Marquis de Carabas” starts off with Ninamori Eri: class president, special girl – or not. She’s in conflict over being special due to “other people” and not by herself. Added into the mix, her father becomes the subject of a scandal, bringing her more unwanted attention and tying her more to the adults in her life she wants to be independent from. She gets caught up with Naota (via vehicular accident, as usual) and an interesting relationship is formed. To end it all, Ninamori gets through her social, self-contained plight via giant robot warfare and moves on with the play “Marquis de Carabas”. Naota is left confused; Haruko has a glint in her eye.

“Full Swing”

“If you don’t swing, nothing with happen. Takkun, you think you’re special, don’t you? That’s why you don’t swing. If you swing, people will know you’re not special.”

This chapter is about Naota. Even though most of the other chapters follow Naota around, “Fooly Cooly” is an introduction, “Fire Starter” is about Mamimi, “Marquis de Carabas” is about Ninamori, and now “Full Swing” is about Naota. In “Full Swing” Naota’s feelings sort of come to an uncomfortable peak. His resentment for following in the shadow of his brother Tasuku, his relationship with Haruko strained, his relationship with Mamimi strained, his relationship with his father strained, all connected in one place about to explode. We’re also introduced to Commander Amarao and the military/government. Naota explodes, in more ways than one, and is forced to “take action” – swing – if you will.


A great number two of three. A second in any series usually suffers for being in the middle, with the introductions over and no incredible climax to carry it, but I think FLCL handles this fairly well. I liked “Marquis de Carabas” because it moved a little farther away from Naota and focuses more on another character: Ninamori Eri. It sort of strengthens the child v. adult dynamic by making it more generalized; Naota’s not the only one at odds with his irresponsible parents. Ninamori’s also a great “politician”. “Full Swing” takes up the slack as the end of a middle by throwing a bunch of new questions into the mix – the government, and someone who knows Haruhara Haruko – a man with incredible eyebrows. You can’t not love Amarao at first sight…

Of course like FLCL 1, FLCL 2 suffers from the same “short book, but normal price” syndrome, but again I don’t think the price is too high for the value of the book. The added internal dialogue that the light novel offers over is refreshing to those who have already seen the anime, and so it’s generally easier to follow; even though it still keeps its confusing charm well enough.

I recommend reading the afterword. May your heads stay empty my friends – good day.

December 6, 2009 at 2:39 am Leave a comment

Welcome To Ranobe Cafe!

This marks the english speaking world's first dedicated light novel blog, bringing you news and views from the english perspective on light novels. We are more than just a blog about light novels though, we also stand in awe of the many other literary works crossing over to the West from Japan. So expect to also see articles that dabble from time to time in Cell Phone Novels and Japanese Sci-Fi works, to mention a few.

So come all you light novel enthusiasts! Come one and all! We may be a niche, and may represent one of the smallest markets in these economically troubled times, but we are also one of the most dedicated! So let us come together and support the industry we love and hold so dearly!