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Baka-Tsuki Shuts Down

It’s official, Baka-Tsuki shut down…….the “Haruhi Suzumiya” and “Spice and Wolf” light novel projects.

What? You thought for a moment I meant the entire site? Dear heaven’s no! lol

But in all seriousness, the projects are gone, at least that is, in English.

Why? If you really have to ask, you’re quite out of the loop.

Here’s the official announcement as taken from the front page of Baka-Tsuki:

On Jan 20, 2010 a cease and desist letter was sent by Hachette Book Group in regards to the copyright infringement of series 1. Suzumiya Haruhi and 2. Spice and Wolf. As per request, Baka-Tsuki has immediately deleted all infringing pages. Should you have any question or concern, please contact (e-mail removed).

Thank you for your cooperation.

Thelastguardian 23:28, 20 January 2010 (UTC)

I think anyone who understood the playing field that B-T was on, understands that this was inevitable. But in truth, the biggest surprise is that it took so long.

Or rather, its a surprise to some, but not to me.

It actually makes a lot of sense.

For one thing, anyone who DOES understand the playing field, realizes that Baka-Tsuki is a major player in the Light Novel Industry. Some could say its one of the remaining things keeping it a float in this sea of uncertainty. But of course, that’s an entire article for an entirely different time.

The fact is, Hachette didn’t ask for them to be taken down till now for several reasons.

1. Baka-Tsuki was part of the main reason there were fans for the books in the first place and it helped to give a lot of immediate sales for when the books came out officially (yes, this is all guessing, but I would say it’s an educated guess that anyone could come to. After all, without B-T many wouldn’t even know there WERE light novels for Haruhi or Spice and Wolf.)

2. It costs around $4,000 to issue a C&D order. So you have to feel pretty motivated about your product in order to spend that cash. And if you notice, they didn’t issue it until now, as they are preparing for the 3rd book of Haruhi and 2nd of Spice and Wolf. The reason is that its successful, its selling almost as well as many manga. So its actually a profitable item for them, something they want exclusivity to.

Should you be mad about this? I don’t know why.

Fact is, it was bound to happen. Hachette legally owns both series. And honestly, you should be buying them already if your a fan. The whole idea of the B-T translations were never to allow you to skimp on buying the books, but to be able to read them since they were unavailable.

So don’t get mad, just go out and buy them.

Either that, or if your lucky enough to have an Android phone, go and download a certain book app that will go unnamed and search for Haruhi and Spice and Wolf. Oh my…they’re all there. Shhh… Don’t tell anyone. (But seriously, were telling you to BUY them. Only use the floating PDFS and e-book versions as secondary ways to read them. )

If your a fan, support the series.

So what’s next? Could we be seeing other book series on B-T get cut?

Well, there’s really only two that are in trouble.

1. Shakugan no Shana (licensed by Viz, 2 books released, no announcements of further books)

2. Zero no Tsukaima (licensed by SevenSeas, no books released, is on indefinite hiatus)

There are currently rumors that Shana will be taken down from B-T within 24 hours. *hint**hint*

In other news though, some new projects are being added to B-T such as “Dantalian no Shoka”.

Many fans will be watching the situation closely, only time will tell how it will all turn out.

January 27, 2010 at 5:11 pm 9 comments

Back…Again

Hmm…it’s starting to sound like a bad joke, right?

But it’s still as true as ever, I’m busy. >.< lol

However, I do apologize for the lack of news and so forth. I shall try and update the blog regularly. I emphasis Try. I also thank anyone who checks back here every so often to see if I’ve posted something new. It is very encouraging to see so many people visiting the blog, even just by accident.

So without further a-du, I shall start reporting the news.

January 27, 2010 at 4:30 pm Leave a comment

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

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

Wait….You’re Still There?

Well, I guess you are.

I wanted to apologize for the extremely long absence of myself from the blog.

I want to state clearly that the blog is not dead. It merely has gone through another one of its probably by now famous absent periods.

I’ve been really busy, so I hope I can update the blog more now in the future.

Also, I would really appreciate it if the co-authors on this site would post more. If I could see you posting regularly and producing good posts, I will make it so your posts do not need approval before hand.

This blog is a tad bit too much for JUST ME to do. So I hope you all will continue to volunteer your time to help, or to just read. Reading is very important and very helpful. lol

Till next time,

Matt

November 10, 2009 at 4:30 pm 8 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.

* * * * *

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

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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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