What's Cool About Light Novels Is They Remind Me What Stuff I Love

“Possibility, or what we refer to as Imagination, is 99% imitation. The real deal is only 1%”
-Kouhei Kadono, as translated by Andrew Cunningham, Boogiepop  Returns VS Imaginator Part 1

A little while back, 2-D Teleidoscope read Zaregoto book 1 and brought up the interesting fact that as he read it, he imagined the world and characters as an anime. Light novels feature illustrations in definitive anime/manga style and often feature characters and situations that seem to be torn right out of those mediums, so it’s only natural that we would visualize them that way – however, when I thought back on the images in my head from reading Zaregoto, I noticed something odd. The characters looked like anime, and the situations played out in an anime-like way, but the world itself looked nothing like anything I’ve seen in anime.

Actually, that’s not entirely true – I could say that the world somewhat resembled scenes depicted in artwork along the lines of what you’d expect from Yoshitoshi ABe, Range Murata, Tsutomu Nihei, or other artists like them with an anime style. What do these artists and my vision have in common? Extremely intricate details. When I read Zaregoto, I did not just put the characters on any old island, but an island that I could probably navigate with no trouble if I were to go there for myself, seeing as I’ve so throughly created it. The room in which the main characters stayed at the mansion has been lavishly imagined to such extent that I could tell you about it’s chandelier and it’s carpet and I could draw the computer that the lead female character uses, etc.

Tsutomu Nihei is boss. Cracking open Biomega soon.

Why did I imagine the world this way? To put it simply, those are the kind of worlds I enjoy. The artists I mentioned above are three of my alltime favorites. What’s more, I have an obsession with ‘settings’. I explore a lot – I will go around my town and find all these places that no one goes and just stare at them until I’ve burned the images into my mind, because I love to think about all the little details and intricacies of every place. So when I create a world in my head, it is going to be fine-tuned to my interests; because I want to see a minutely detailed world, then that’s what I’ll get, within only the restrictions of what I learn about the world from the author himself.

That’s really what I love about reading light novels, is that they give me an opportunity to create a world full of the things I love. You might think ‘but then why can’t you do it with regular novels?’ But that’s the thing- I do like anime characters and situations. If I read a normal novel, then it is tooled more towards making you imagine real people and real situations, while light novels are tooled to anime, and I do want to imagine that. However, I can still impose my preferences. Because the dialog is reminiscent of anime dialog, I can often hear my imagining of the Japanese voices in my head, and I can give the characters voice actors of my choosing. It’s almost as though I’m taking the novel and transforming it into what I would consider the best possible anime adaption. I’ve only read a little bit of The Lord of the Sands of Time, but I would really like for it to be animated by Produciton I.G., as my imagination of the world looks a lot like Seirei no Moribito, and I wouldn’t mind the lead woman to be played by Paku Romi or something. Get to work on this, I.G.!

Related Posts:

I posted about my first impressions of that crazy book a good while back, and I still need to re-read it to try and wrap my head around it.

Of course, Andrew Cunningham’s review of the series is also nice. dm00 also recommends it.

7 thoughts on “What's Cool About Light Novels Is They Remind Me What Stuff I Love

  1. Tomo Kunagisa as your post teaser. Yes yes yes. <3

    I really do like that idea of the difference between light and regular novels being that the light novels are meant to make you think of anime styled characters. That's very true.
    Also, light novels often have pretty (or even just nice) art. Yush!

  2. I will go around my town and find all these places that no one goes and just stare at them until I’ve burned the images into my mind, because I love to think about all the little details and intricacies of every place

    Fab. You should have a camera with you to capture these places/views.

  3. Liked your 2008 review. Mystery-That-Isn’t-Mystery is how I would sum up Zaregoto as well. It’s more like a long meditation on identity and purpose.

    Now that you’ve described your thinking process, I’m curious how you take books like The Da Vinci Code. I’ve never read it myself, but I remember people at the time saying it went by like a movie on the page.

    • It did go by like a movie on the page, and interesting fact – I’ve seen the movie, but when I think back, I mostly imagine what I saw when I read the book. In fact, I can only remember bits and pieces of the film and the only scenes that really stick out are ones that altogether didn’t coincide with the book. But yeah, I had a pretty good picture of the Louvre and other locations all created out and I can still pull most of it back up.

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