My Light Novel Title is Long as I Expected
Light novels had been getting more and more attention; aside from manga, visual novels and even games, light novels nowadays had been a popular choice for anime adaption. However, have you ever wondered why some anime titles adapted from these light novels are just so damn long?
In order to enlighten you, here are some of these light novel titles which already have their respective anime adaption (I’ll use both their English/Romaji names, and put up their official short alias too if available for easier reference):
– Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai / My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute (OreImo)
– Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru / My Youth Romantic Comedy is Wrong as I Expected (OreGairu)
– Ore no Kanojo to Osananajimi ga Shuraba Sugiru / My Girlfriend and Childhood Friend Fight Too Much (OreShura)
– Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai / I Don’t Have Many Friends (Haganai)
– Kore wa Zombie Desu ka? / Is This a Zombie?
And you haven’t even seen the end of it. If we were to include the rest of the light novels which aren’t adapted to anime; there are a lot more lengthier ones too, twice, or even thrice the length of the titles I mentioned here. You can check out this odd list ranking the light novels with the lengthiest title. You can also check out this post by Hinano too-a list of very lengthy light novel titles (which actually isn’t the point of the post, but it works).
Let’s re-examine the titles I already mentioned here. As you can see from the English version of said light novel titles-they are extremely descriptive and straightforward. Oreimo, quite obviously from the title, you can expect, for the lack of better word-“wincest”, though the exploration of otaku culture is pleasantly unexpected. OreGairu, from the title, you can expect a cynical deconstruction of typical romcoms, and watching the anime, that’s exactly what we get. Note that I did not use the “SNAFU” version, because quite frankly, I have no idea what in the world that actually meant, and thus, becomes irrelevant to the topic at hand. From Haganai’s English title, we can expect an anime about a group of social misfits trying to make friends, and that’s what we get (obviously from the above screenshot). From the vague title Kore wa Zombie Desu ka? or Is This a Zombie?, there’s no way we can expect a classic zombie anime and in fact, something more aside from only just zombies, and we certainly get what we expected. I haven’t watch OreShura from the list, but I can already make some assumption from the English translated title alone.
Furthermore, all of the light novels in the list (with the exception of Kore wa Zombie), have titles where it is described in first-person. The “Ore” is a particular popular pronoun-which includes OreImo, OreGairu and OreShura from the list, and I assume many more outside of this list will use it as well. Haganai uses a “Boku”, which also means “I” but just a more polite alternative of saying it in Japanese. These also give hints that these light novels will tell the story in a first-person perspective.
Why are these light novels so long anyway? I can make some guesses; ranging from “The writers are lazy and just put up some random title” and “They ran out of creative ideas” and so on. But in the end, I think it is more of a marketing thing. The titles of the light novels are so straightforward, they can pretty much function as a plot synopsis-you can easily discern, at least, fundamentally, just what type of story you will be expecting. By doing this, you will be able to target the genres of your story to particular demographics. Tachibana, the author of Dakara Boku wa, H ga Dekinai, has something interesting to say about the matter:-
“I hadn’t received any awards, so I didn’t have that sort of selling point to draw in readers. At the very least, I wanted a title that was both attention-grabbing and catchy, and at the same time would let the reader know what sort of story they were getting. There’s no guarantee that someone will take the time to read the plot description of a book, so if the title is long and has its own descriptive meaning, it serves that purpose.”
And it’s arguably quite a brilliant marketing strategy too. In the process of doing that, they are also very effectively advertising their own archetypes. I can’t remember much from my head at the moment, but if you browse a list of light novels, a number of them will likely have an “Osananajimi” in it’s name, or Imouto” (as you can see from Oreimo), “Onee-san”/”Onee-chan”, “Onii-san/Onii-chan and their respective variations, sometimes “Kanojo” even and so on and so forth. With this, one can expect what types of characters the series will feature. Additionally, most of the covers are illustrated in a way that they are blatantly advertising certain archetypes. Take the cover of Oreimo’s first volume for example (the image above), here we see Kirino folding her arms, her expression pouting and a bit grumpy (maybe a bit is an understatement, but whatever), which gives an obvious impression of a tsundere,
although ironically, she spent more than 95% of the anime more tsun than dere, but that’s a discussion for another time. The cute, pouting look, also signifies and reinforces the imouto character archetype.
I think this is one of the reason why light novels can seem pretty otaku-pandering. Sometimes, they really sell their archetypes like crazy, visually, but also textually. Light novel titles have very strong hooks I assume to attract particular demographics, and the colorful, vibrant and expressive illustrations give them a good final touch to the effect. Maybe in the end, we are just in a comedy routine with the authors, with us as the funny man and the authors delivering their straight man comebacks via light novel titles (or vice versa).
What do you think of light novels and their lengthy titles?
Note: Please note that this post does not include ALL light novels. I’m well aware there are just as much titles which aren’t as long, though the long titles did occupy a portion of general light novels.