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I am only familiar with this term when I know about the anime.

  • Is this term only use in Japan?

Sometimes I read the light novel on the internet but I never saw the book myself. How is light novel different from regular novel? Except for light novel is... light, are there any other differences?

And usually I see the cover in manga drawing:

  • Is light novel use exclusively for anime or manga adaptation?
  • Is there any light novel that do not use manga style drawing?

I tried to search "Light Novel Cover" the result is as expected:

enter image description here

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3 Answers 3

up vote 12 down vote accepted

I am not an expert on that topic but with a few research I am going to explain it as good as I am able to.

Where does the term come from and what does it mean?

The word "Light Novel" is actually not an English word. It is so to say an English word that is made in Japan (also called Wasei-eigo literally means created in Japan English).

"Light novel" is a wasei-eigo, or a Japanese term formed from words in the English language. 1

The term Light Novel is more or less everywhere used where you want to read such novels. In Japan I think you will use the word ライトノベル (raito noberu) what is the original word for such type of novels in Japan.

What is the diffrence between a Novel and a Light Novel?

Very short: Light Novels are like the regular ones but they are shorter and contain few illustrations (besides that it is easy to read). And I will take the artistic freedom now and also take this as a definition of a Light Novel.

The pictures are mostly at the beginning of capitals or when a new character is appearing.

Example

Picture from fanpop from the Light Novel Fairy Tail

On the picture you see an example how a Light Novel is build up. Left the text and right a image from the scene.

Why is a Light Novel styled like an Anime or Manga?

Well the reason behind that is because it is actually from Japan. The style from the Light Novel is based on the history of it.

Light novels are an evolution of pulp magazine. To please their audience, in the 1970s, most of the Japanese pulp magazines, which had already changed from the classic style to the popular anime style covers, began to put illustrations in the beginning of each story and included articles about popular movies, anime and video games. The content also became influenced by popular movies such as Star Wars. The narrative evolved to please the new generations and became fully illustrated with the popular style. The popular serials are printed in novels.

In recent years, light novels' stories have been popular choices for adaptation into manga, anime, and live-action films, though in the case of the former two, usually only the first two novels are adapted. 1

Especially the last paragraph says why it is styled like anime or manga.

The question "Is there any light novel that do not use manga style drawing?" I can not answer you. But I guess there will be some, maybe under an other term.

1) from wikipedia

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You beat me to it by 2 minutes :( –  Peter Raeves Aug 7 at 14:10
1  
@PeterRaeves am sry :o. I was writing and searching now a hour –  Gerret Aug 7 at 14:12
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No problem ^^. Glad to see more active users by the day ^^ –  Peter Raeves Aug 7 at 14:14
    
@PeterRaeves it is all good, more info more power –  Mindwin Aug 12 at 19:54
    
The definition of the light novel is ambiguous. It is close to the definition of Moe and soul. The general definition is follows. "あなたがライトノベルと思うものがライトノベルです。ただし、他人の賛同を得られるとは限りません" / "If you think so, that is a light novel. However, It is not a reason for the obtain the consent of the others.". If you have a Harry Potter, and you think that is a light novel, you have the non-manga style drawing light novel ;p –  oden Aug 12 at 23:28

When referring to a novel, you'd be talking about...

A fictitious prose narrative of book length, typically representing character and action with some degree of realism.

Therefore I always assumed a light novel to be a short story of sorts, something you could read on the bus or on the train. After looking it up, I was wrong. A light novel apparently is a Jenglish or wasei-eigo expression for a novella, which would be a short novel, but not as short as a short story according to it's wiki page.

So before I continue and answer your questions, I'll let wikipedia explain what a light novel would be.

A light novel (ライトノベル raito noberu?) is a style of Japanese novel primarily targeting middle and high school students (young adult demographic). "Light novel" is a wasei-eigo, or a Japanese term formed from words in the English language. Such short, light novels are often called ranobe (ラノベ?) or LN in the West. They are typically not more than 40,000–50,000 words long (the shorter ones being equivalent to a novella in US publishing terms), rarely exceed 200 pages, often have dense publishing schedules, are usually published in bunkobon size, and are often illustrated. The text is often serialized in anthology magazines before collection in book form.

Is this term only use in Japan?

Yes it is. If you would use the term in the west, you would be referring to Japanese novella.

How is a light novel different from a regular novel?

I guess novels would printed in the A5 format, but a light novel would be printed in the Bunkobon format, which would be the A6 format.

Is a light novel used exclusively for anime or manga adaptation?

Since the target group of light novels are primarily middle and high school students, it wouldn't surprise me if most of them are. They aren't exclusively used for anime or manga adaptations though. If you read further on the wiki page it is mentioned that popular movies as Star Wars have also influenced the content. But they do mention that

In recent years, light novels' stories have been popular choices for adaptation into manga, anime, and live-action films, though in the case of the former two, usually only the first two novels are adapted.


While searching about Light novels I encountered the wiki how page on Light novels. So if you ever wanted to write one yourself, check it out.

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Is this term only use in Japan?

It originated in Japan but not exclusive of Japan. There are light novel writers in Korea and China, since it can be used for anything written within certain criteria.

How is light novel different from regular novel?

If I had to describe it in few words: a easier to read novel.

If you check out some novels, like Another and see most Light Novels the difference is evident. Light novels have shorter paragraphs, less complicated characters (i.e. the appearance of Kanji characters in a sentence is rare), and generally shorter.

Is light novel use exclusively for anime or manga adaptation?

Actually, most light novels (LN from now on) don't make it to anime production, and some are adapted to manga to promote the novel itself rather than to make a illustrated carbon copy of the LN. This is, as with all business, mostly motivated by marketing reasons, rather than some secret rule. Granted, if your LN is popular, it will get advertised in more media (manga, anime, live action, etc.) than if it's not popular.

Is there any light novel that do not use manga style drawing?

Drawing depends on the artist, and most artist also do other things like doujins or the very manga. The drawing is merely a representation of what they know to do, rather than following a predefined style.

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