Posts filed under ‘Articles’

Hideyuki Kikuchi Anthology: A Wind Named Amnesia and Invader Summer Review

A Wind Named Amnesia and Invader Summer book cover

Well this is interesting: instead of deciding to sell two Hideyuki Kikuichi novels separately, Dark Horse decided to put A Wind Named Amnesia and Invader Summer in one volume. This is decent value for money especially in Australian dollars (where I live books are expensive: expect to pay twenty dollars or more for a paperback). The first novel on my first inspection seems to be a post-apocalyptic tale which avoids the lack of finesse more Western apocalyptic literature and film has to the influence of the (again) Australian film Mad Max and its respective sequels. I’ve never read Vampire Hunter D (written by the same author as this anthology) but Kikuichi seems to have a real grasp on how narrative flows with full exposure to the atmosphere of a novel set in a dark yet graceful future.

A Wind Named Amnesia is about a youth named Wataru who wanders the landscape of America with an alien girl named Sophia. They must discover the cause of a mysterious amnesia which has caused humanity to descend into a primitive state. The roads are perilous, and the people they meet could be friend or foe alike. And yet there is still hope. Sophia never lets Wataru give up hope in humanity, as they struggle to survive in a world where humans have forgotten basic skills and even advanced technology. Once humans were capable of reaching the stars, now they are glued to the ground. Overall A Wind Named Amnesia is a quick but raw read which plays out like a sort of On the Road only instead of Jack Kerouac a Japanese science fiction writer is documenting the graceful decay of civilization, for all its rawness in the description of brutality, it’s never gratuitous or over the top. Kikuichi as a writer chooses to depict America as a sprawling wilderness where all order has been lost due to a lack of remembering what they once had, only some people remember more than others. I highly recommend this as light reading because while it’s fun to read it’s not as intellectually demanding as Brave Story. Well written, good effort, but not much depth. Philosophical statements are made, but they sound cheesy. And isn’t that what a Kikuichi novel should be? It was written in the 1980s, and believe me, after seeing Hot Rod, the 80s inspired film about a stuntman biker, I totally “get” what Kikuichi was going for with this one. It’s rock and roll, not Mozart.

The second novel in this anthology is Invader Summer, which is an entirely different mood to A Wind Named Amnesia but sticks with the premise of alien mystery. It’s about a kendo black belt teenager or something who’s in trouble with some gangsters who want to knock him off because they’re working for a competing school who want their kendo pupils to win the national championships. There’s also a strange girl who captivates all the male members of the school, causing a lot of problems for the girls.

Invader Summer can get dark but it’s in a lot lighter tone than the first novel presented here. As I don’t know much about the context of Invader Summer – but I can tell you it’s a hell of a lot easier to read than A Wind Named Amnesia which gets pretty brutal. Mainly because the gangsters are so inept that they’re hardly threatening at all, whereas A Wind Named Amnesia has a really dark apocalyptic atmosphere. My recommendation is to buy this book because you get two stand alone light novels which can be enjoyed as reading on the bus or just individually. You can’t lose with this deal, since Hideyuki Kikuichi delivers strong stories with reasonably deep musings on humanity.

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Text Copyright © Jacob Martin 2010 and The Ranobe Cafe. All Rights Reserved.

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April 30, 2010 at 12:22 am Leave a comment

Bungaku Shoujo English Cover Leaked?

Well, this blog is known for reporting not only the widely known news (or semi-known) but also for exploring news that other’s somehow seem to have missed. This would be one of those times.

Posted on MyAnimeList, a user by the name of “Desolato” posted what he claimed to be the English edition cover for the newly licensed Yen Press light novel “Bungaku Shoujo” due out this July under the English title “Book Girl and The Suicidal Mime”.

Whether the cover is official or not has not been confirmed, and no original source for where the image was found was given.

But if what we see now is in fact the official cover, I give them a huge round of applause. This would indeed be their best attempt at a mainstream English cover yet.

Thoughts? Opinions? Leave them below.

April 28, 2010 at 2:08 pm 3 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 Noble.com 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.

Hmm?

#123,291

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?

#106,492

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

Free Light Novels! Wait…Huh?

As we all know, light novels, like manga, aren’t exactly cheap. Some are the same price as manga, others cost more. If you’re an aficionado of any kind of translated media like anime, manga, and videogames, you know that the price can be higher than most of the domestic releases of similar media.

I don’t mind paying the eight to ten dollars for light novels every once in a while, especially if it’s for a light novel that I really love. It’s only after buying the third and fourth volume that you’ll begin to realize that this is going to be an expensive habit.

So what do you do about it? You cut your costs. You don’t have to stop buying light novels altogether, but there are ways that you can curve your spending and still enjoy all the light novels that you love.

Google Books

For me, Google Books has been a big help in locating the light novels that I like and a few I’ve never even knew were published. In my library right now are more light novels than I ever expected to find. They may only be limited previews, but there are enough pages available for reading to help me decide if it’s a title that I want to purchase in the future. So far, I’ve found Hiroshi Ohnogi’s Rahxephon, Hideyuki Kikuchi’s Dark Wars: The Tale of Meiji Dracula, issue one of FAUST, and NisiOisin’s Zaregoto and XXXholic: Anotherholic. Google Books is supposed to continually add books to their library, so I’m interested in seeing what other titles will appear in the future.

Previews

I’ve learned to never underestimate the power of a preview. Previews serve as a way to help us decide if we want to buy the light novel or not, and they can keep you entertained if you just want to read a light novel without paying anything. Many publishers will post light novel previews online for you to read. The best previews are the ones that you can download and read at any time without having to return to the publisher’s site. The pdf versions of previews are surprisingly long. I’ve read light novel previews of “Haruhi,” “The Ballad of a Shinigami,” “The Guin Saga,” and many others.

Fan Translations

Fan translations have always been a good way for anyone to read a light novel for free. A lot of the light novels that are translated are novels that may never make an official debut in America. Baka-Tsuki and Shoku Dan are just two places that I’ve been able to find some light novel translations. Be sure to give those a try. However, please keep in mind that fan translations often differ in quality. Do not mistake a poor translation for ‘bad writing’ on the author’s part. These translations serve primarily as a substitute for the lacking official translations. And we highly hope that if you enjoy a fan translation that you will attempt to order the Japanese copy or eventual official English translation to support the series. Fan translations are not an excuse to not pay money for the novel.

Bookstore

Just like any avid manga reader camped out in the manga section of the bookstore, you too can go to your favorite bookstore and read all of the light novels you want. The fast-paced writing style lends itself well to this kind of reading because you can usually finish a light novel in one sitting.

Raw

If you’re really hardcore about light novels, you can definitely find them online, scanned, and in their rawest form, untranslated Japanese. Even if you’re just semi-proficient with the language, you should still be able to enjoy some of your favorite titles in the raw. Run a search on your favorite titles and see if you can find what you’re looking for. Please keep in mind however that the above is technically by law illegal. You are reading scanned books. Please be sure to buy the novel off of the Japanese Amazon website or through a local Japanese book store or Market if you enjoy it. Use light novel Raws as a preview method only, and not as a way to get out of paying.

Have any more suggestions on how we can read light novels for free? Share them with us! Leave a comment below.

October 5, 2009 at 12:17 am 3 comments

Review: Train Man: The Novel

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Reviewed By: Jacob Martin

Train Man, as a novel, changed my life. I didn’t even use blogs or forums before I read this book. My parents, they generally think the internet is a minefield of pedophiles and nasty folk. In some ways they still do. But Train Man… it presents things a little differently.

What if you were so hopeless at talking to the opposite sex, that one day, when opportunity arises, you need help to even see that the opportunity is there? When you are so used to being lonely, you’ve never known anything else and the possibility you might have a chance at love scares you because you don’t want to screw it up?

This is the dilemma Train Man, or as he is known in his native country, Densha Otoko, faces. So bewildered by the sharp shock that catapults him into the path of a young woman who he saved on a train from a drunken old guy… he’s at his wits end. But where does he turn? The most unlikely of places. The internet, 2Channel to be precise. What resulted from that thread which records the history of this particularly strange event was edited down by an anonymous forum user from the raw logs, and turned into the novel which I purchased one day after having heard about it, from, of all places, the internet. I don’t know precisely how it happened, nor can I remember it very well. All I know is that the story in this book, changed my life.

I started interacting with people on the other side of the world I’d never met in person. I went to see the recent Star Trek movie with Australian bloggers I had never met in real life, even though my parents were horrified by the idea, their fears for my safety were most telling about the nature of their generation, and my own. Their generation was taught to fear strangers, whereas my generation seemed to embrace strange company.

Train Man is therefore having the potential as a literary work to be just as subversive as Welcome to the NHK by Tatsuhiko Takimoto, but in a different way. The trouble lies in getting people to read it, so their lives are changed too. It’s written in internet forum posts – a literary technique not seen since The E Before Christmas by Matt Beaumont. In that novel, it’s told in emails, but in the Train Man novel, an entirely new and strange technology is equally part of the story as Train Man‘s leaps into love: the internet forum.

Literature is perhaps not quite ready to accept internet literary techniques in Western literature, but Japanese literature has long been a form which embraces innovation years or even centuries before the West even begins to come to terms with it. The multiple viewpoint technique in Japanese literature is an example, but I hope we don’t have to wait half a century before the internet is accepted as a growing part of the human experience. The choice to publish Train Man: The Novel as an edited version of its raw forum post form is a startling decision, instead of “Based on a True Story” type prose fiction, it goes all the way and accepts what it’s got to work with.

The ASCII art presented in the novel is intact: and it truly replicates the experience of the 2Channel forums in hypertext. The book is best read in either novel format or in the Project Densha translation, but if you don’t like sitting at your computer for hours, the book version is the best way to go. The fact there is a public domain translation is fascinating, because it reveals the nature of the story itself: the story of Train Man wasn’t composed by some writer who lives in a country-side cottage, it was built out of the internet posts of the common people. Nobody really owns Train Man/Densha Otoko’s story: it belongs to the common people because they helped Train Man/Densha achieve the courage he needed at the moment where he felt so lonely and helpless that he turned to the solace of strangers.

Train Man’s story is not weird because it’s unrealistic, it’s just very unlikely. To give you an idea of this, imagine a world where Terry Pratchett’s maxim of “Million to one chances happen nine times out of ten” happened to a lonely otaku with not a clue how to talk to women, or how to interact with people outside of the internet. What develops is a fascinating parable of netiquette: people stop trolling Train/Densha because his courage which was there all along completely undermines any bitterness that the people who initially trolled him in the story had against him. It’s a powerful fable about 21st Century cynicism, one that isn’t just applicable to a Japanese context, but the world.

Cynicism is born from doubt, but sometimes doubt undermines any positive change we can act out in our lives. When everything is hopeless, sometimes you just need to believe in yourself, that maybe, that girl you met on the train that you kind of like will feel the same way as you do about her? Maybe she won’t, and she’ll reject you, and you’ll go back to fantasising about anime girls like every other jaded otaku. Or maybe, you’re better than this. Maybe you want to see what happens if you take a chance even though your hopes and dreams might be shot to oblivion. And that’s part of the narrative my generation, Generation Y, born and raised on the internet, is living out RIGHT NOW.

The translation of the Robinson published edition (which is the version available in the UK) is interesting because usually translations of novels Americanise things, whereas this Britishises it. I feel a British approach to the translation rather than an Americanised translation is a fascinating look at how language is preserved by the British (except in instances where things are lost in translation). Instead of “Mom”, the abbreviation of mother in this version is “Mum”, which is what people in Australia like me use (They did start Australia as we now understand it as a British penal colony after all). In that sense I was drawn right into this translation – I felt that I was hearing the voices of real people rather than an American anime dub voice. Maybe you feel differently about translation, but as an Australian I find that maybe, complete Americanisation of all Japanese translation is not the answer for a more accessible text.

The story itself is a powerful one, nerdy guy makes good sounds like a cheesy romance novel plot – but how many romance novels can you say both appeal to men and women at the same time? The gender divide is really balanced here, you can enjoy it no matter if you’re a boy or a girl. Love is universal that way. I am serious. Even if you never buy the novel, read the Project Densha translation just to try it out. I give you a money-back guarantee you will like it, because you will have paid nothing but your time which is well worth it.

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Jacob Martin is a blogger, writer and photographer with Asperger’s Syndrome who lives in Sydney. He also thinks like Train Man, he needs to get out more.

Added Note by Ranobe Cafe: While although it is believed by many that these posts from 2ch were in fact real. It should be noted that the novel when released was marketed as such, a NOVEL, a work of FICTION. The English edition makes no mention of it being based on actual real life internet posts or any true story. So while many believe in both Japan and America that these posts within the book were taken directly from the 2ch boards, it is also believed by many that this was a complete work of fiction. Please keep this in mind. Thank you.

October 5, 2009 at 12:00 am 2 comments

A Special Interview With Nick Mamatas

We at the Ranobe Cafe try to bring you something new regulerly, whether that’s news, articles, commentaries, or reviews. But now we can add once again, something new that we have not yet done. An interview.

I got the chance to ask Nick Mamatas, who lead the project over at Haikasoru for the release of Otsuichi’s new novel “ZOO”, some questions regarding its brand new release.

1. Otsuichi’s novel ‘Zoo’ was met with much success in Japan when released, even being adapted into a movie. Do you believe that Otsuichi’s work of fiction will be met with a similar response by English audiences?

It would be great, of course. However, in Japan the short story is still very popular; most major publishers have one or more fiction magazines, which they use to cultivate new talent and give readers something to look at on the expansive public transit system. In the US, the short story has been in decline for decades, since the rise of television at the very least. Stephen King recently claimed that Americans have almost “forgotten” how to read shorts.

Then there’s horror—in Japan horror is typical summer reading. It’s believed that getting the “chills” from reading can one cool down during the hot summer months. In the US, horror is more of a niche—there was a “boom” in the 1980s, but today most horror is disguised as fantasy, or thriller, or even as romance, just so that it can sell.

And ZOO, of course, is a collection of horror short stories, though many of them are science fiction, or fantasy, or the blackest of black comedies. So will ZOO sell over a million copies—it sold 740,000 in Japan? Will there be a film version? (An anthology film, no less!) Likely no. However, it remains an excellent book; the short story is likely the best vehicle for horror, if Poe, Lovecraft, and Bradbury have shown us anything. Horror at novel length generally ends up just being a domestic drama or a mystery novel with scary bits. For the people who do love short stories, and who do love dark fiction, whatever you want to call it, ZOO will be an important book.

2. What is your favorite thing about Zoo? What is your least favorite?

My favorite and least favorite are the same thing: short stories. I am one of those lovers of short fiction; I am so jealous of both Japanese readers and Japanese writers for their luck in living in a country where the form is both respected and popular. I think Otsuichi has a singular voice that brings out the extraordinary found in ordinary circumstances, and his work is very readable.

The frustration, of course, is that short stories are a hard sell. In a way, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy; if salespeople don’t think story collections will sell, they won’t hype them to bookstore buyers. If bookstore buyers don’t make large orders of the collections, the public has no opportunity to discover the fiction. If sales are low because of the lack of opportunities, publishers become very wary of publishing short fiction.

3. What do you admire, if anything, about Otsuichi’s writing style?

He’s a real “outsider.” That is, when I first read him I thought to myself, “Wow, it’s like this guy never read a book before he tried to write one!” That’s a compliment, by the way. Genre fiction is, almost by definition, the fiction of repeated experiences. It’s a joke of sorts, when a new author says something like, “But my vampires are different!” And Otsuichi really is different. He turns cliches on their heads because he is able to think outside the book due to the fact—to torture a metaphor—that he doesn’t appear to have ever been in the box. There’s a secret history of the horror short that appears to be his alone.

Also, he’s hilarious. But also as an outsider. Otsuichi means “strange one”, and he’s just like that. He’s the weird guy who just says very funny things, even when he appears to be entirely serious, even earnest.

4. What prompted the decision to choose Otsuichi’s novel over others for a release in English under the Haikasoru imprint?

We wanted to show off the range of Japanese speculative fiction. So our initial list included military SF (All You Need Is KILL), mainstream adventure SF with a strong romance element (The Lord of the Sands of Time), scientifically plausible hard SF (Usurper of the Sun) and, finally, we wanted a book that covered dark fiction, the fantastic, and the short story which is so prominent in Japan. ZOO, which also happens to be a great book, fit all those slots at once. Plus, given that September is a release month on our schedule, we thought something apropos for Halloween would be a good idea.

5. Otsuichi is quite active in the Light Novel community, having written “Calling You”, and having written many short stories in the light novel literary anthology FAUST. Do you feel that Zoo is more similar to a light novel’s writing style, or a traditional writing style?

Or does his writing style in this novel not even fit within either group?

The stories in ZOO are a bit rougher and tougher than his light novel fare, but certainly his use of first-person narratives and minimalist style shows off his light novel roots. That said, Raymond Carver was a minimalist too.

6. Does Haikasoru have any plans to possibly release any other works by Otsuichi? The original novel, which he wrote while in High School, “Summer, Fireworks, and My Corpse”, made a big splash in Japan. Could this novel be possibly heading for an English release?

There will be more Otsuichi. More than that, I cannot say right now.

7. What was your favorite part of handling the English adaptation of Zoo?

I was very happy when we received a blurb from Brian Keene, one of the best and hottest new horror writers. That he liked it told me that we were on the right track with ZOO.

8. What do you think makes Haikasoru so unique, and why should fans of Light Novels or for that matter, traditional American fiction, experiment with Japanese Science Fiction?

Japanese SF (and horror) has a close relationship with English-language material, but is given a spin all its own. From Japan’s defeat in the Second World War, to the continued interest in short fiction in that country, to the peculiarities of its publishing industry, Japanese SF is both familiar and alien. It’s sort of like seeing life form and then turning away for a million years, then looking back to see how life evolved in unexpected ways. SF readers are interested in both the “golden age” of their own early reading experiences, and in the new of imagined futures and unique fantasy worlds. Haikasoru offers both.

Haikasoru’s New Release, “Zoo” by author Otsuichi, is now available to buy wherever books are sold.

September 29, 2009 at 4:28 pm 6 comments

Yen Press Unveils English Spice and Wolf Novel

So after many many months since the initial announcement by Yen Press of their aquisition of the best selling Light Novel series “Spice and Wolf” written by author Isuna Hasekura, and much speculation regarding the possible new english cover, Yen Press yesterday finally put all the rumors to a rest, unveiling the new cover before hundreds of eager fans.

Intrigingly, unlike with the english addition of “The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya”, the Yen Press announcement starts off by appologizing to the fanbase reading. Apparently, they themsleves could forsee how fans might react to the new radically re-designed cover.

Now, here are the details. Unlike with Haruhi, the novel will not apparently have a hardback release, but will only contain a mass paperback release, using the cover as seen to the left.

However, to make ammends with fans, they will be offering a slip cover for the novel in the December issue of Yen+ magazine which fans can use to put over the book which will contain the original cover art. This follows in the footsteps of many magazines in Japan. The third manga of Spice and Wolf was offered an alternative slip cover in Japan through the manga magazine serializing it.

Yen+ will also be providing a preview of the novel in their magazine.

Even with this, fans erupted in a fury.

“Her boob looks…. somewhat… lopsided. Like someone took a blur/smudge tool and scribbled over the image in a straight line. (Trying to refrain from the ‘this looks shopped’ line here.)
Her boob really shouldn’t be flat on one side. It’s freaking me out! Poor Horo!”
wrote Bonita in their comments section.

“Vomit. Why couldn’t you do it like Haruhi? Include the original cover with a hardback release or something along those lines. I do not want this thing on my shelf.” said another user who went by “h”.

“Well, I just cancelled my preorder. I find this cover prurient and distasteful. I cannot imagine this generating new sales, and while I have no general problem with ‘Americanization’ in general, I frankly hope this specific attempt fails.” wrote Travis.

“After seeing this cover, I’ve canceled my order. Please consider other options to make the Ayakura cover more accessible and affordable and I’ll reconsider my decision as well. I won’t purchase this as it is, however.” typed another user who went only by “-“.

“I don’t think that the new cover represents the spirit of Spicy Wolf very well. When I think of Spicy Wolf, nude wolf girls are not what comes to mind first. What does come to mind are images of medieval economics. This cover seems like it should be next to a Fabio romance novel.” said Faris.

But even with a wall of fans crashing angrily against Yen Press, there were among them, an almost equal ammount of fans defending the companies marketing decisions.

“Ugly cover, but i will buy the LN because i like the story, and i will buy the Yen+ december number too. I hope the hardcore fans dont be angry with the change, i understand what YP want do, the same like Tokyopop, TP fails and i hope YP not.” wrote Eris.

“Although I’m disappointed that you’re not using the original, I’m glad that we still have access to it! Thank you very much, and looking forward to the December release!” wrote Shirachi.

“I can completely understand changing cover designs to bring into audiences. It’s unfortunate, but necessary; light novels just don’t make enough profits from the manga community alone. That said, it’s cool that you guys are offering a cover slip. I hope light novels will be successful for once.” said Arc.

“W00T for SPICE AND WOLF! I love Light Novels and I’m definitly picking this one up.” said Demio.

“I am so glad that you are also making the slip jacket for us hardcore fans of this wonderful series. It just goes to show that Yen Press really knows what their fans want and are willing to try and please us all. I can’t wait to get my hands on the novel and December’s issue of Yen+!” typed BillChiu

“I think the new cover is pretty gorgeous in itself. I hope it succeeds to bringing in a bigger audience!” said Kiri.

“I think the cover is beautiful and mysterious. It just goes to show how backwards-minded the American culture is about nudity with so many people calling this “tasteless”. It is a very tasteful cover, doesn’t show too much at all.” added  Katelyn.

It’s obvious that the ammount of opinion on this cover decision are large, and some valid points to consider have been mentioned by users in the comment section.

In response, “Hassler” of Yen Press replied in a comment, “Lots and lots of comments! Feedback is never a bad thing.
We appreciate the support from everyone offering it, and we understand the frustration of others. We’ve received a lot of interesting suggestions about other possible ways to get cover versions featuring the original art into fans’ hands going forward, and we’ll be exploring their feasibility.”

I’m glad they are reading the comments of users and listening sincerely to them. But now, I’d like to give my own thoughts regarding this, and ask for Yen Press to hear me out on what I have to say.

First off, since this is the most heated part of this announcement, let’s talk above covers. Do I personally like it? No. I personally feel the cover somewhatpresents Spice and Wolf in a wrong light. However, I’m guessing there’s nothing that can be done about it by now, since you probably have already begun printing copies with it.

I am VERY thankful to you for providing a slip cover with the colored cover. Really, I am so thankful.

In fact,  since from what I understand Spice and Wolf will be published in paperback, this marks the very FIRST ever paperback English light novel to recieve a slip cover, much like the ones in Japan come with on default. So congratulations, you’ve made history!

Secondly, the issue on many fans minds is the name change from “Horo to Holo”. As much as I disagree with this, I will respect the fact that the Japanese publisher (and hopefully with the authorization of the author) decided the L looked better than the R. I disagree, but I shall respect their decision.

Thirdly, what am I mad if anything about? I’ll tell you, and it’s the one thing not brought up in the comments by fans.

There is something that the covers ARE MISSING.

What? you ask.

There is a tagline that appears on EVERY Spice and Wolf novel in Japan, it’s even printed in English on the Japanese releases. It says “Merchant Meats Spicy Wolf”. It appears right alongside the title.

What makes me mad, is that the original colored cover being given in Yen+ is even lacking it. This tagline is IMPORTANT. The author has admitted that the tagline’s mispelling of “Meets” to “Meats” is eluding to something not yet shown in the story. I politely ask that Yen Press add this tagline to the slip cover edition ASAP. The original cover just isn’t complete in my eyes without that famous tagline.

Otherwise, with that tagline added, I can happily 100% support Yen Press’s goal of making Holo *cough*it’s better as Horo*cough* a household name.

I think any true fan of this story should buy this novel, and for those who say they have canceled or hope that Yen Press will fail, all I can do is shake my head sadly. It is fans like that who will hinder the light novel industry from suceeding in the future. They need the books to sell to more than just the fanbase. Perhaps in the future, if Spice and Wolf becomes a best selling novel in the US, we can have a proper cover release of the novel as a collectors edition.

So I eagerly look forward to Yen Press’s release of Spice and Wolf, and congratulate them on getting their hands on something so special.

Also though, a question was asked that I feel needs an answer. Will Yen+ give a special slip cover for every novel release of Spice and Wolf? Because that would be great. 😉

September 25, 2009 at 4:46 pm 27 comments

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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!

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