What Japanese Readers Think of Light Novels: Kagerou Daze and Mimizuku to Yoru no Ou
If you follow my blog/Twitter, you might know that I’ve been encouraging light novel fans to join the summer reading program over at English Light Novels. In June, we read the first volumes of Kagerou Daze and Mimizuku to Yoru no Ou. If you’re familiar with either of those series, hop on over to the discussion thread and share your thoughts!
If you think you’re too late for this party, never fear. You can always participate in the July program. This month, we’re reading The Isolator by Reki Kawahara (yes, THAT Reki Kawahara) and Tasogare-iro no Uta Tsukai by Kei Sazane. (For more information on where to find these novels and the program schedule, click HERE.)
Getting back to Kagerou Daze and Mimizuku, I thought I’d do something a little different and give readers a taste of what Japanese readers think of the light novels we’ve been reading in English. I’ve translated the top two reviews on Amazon into English. This is by no means a comprehensive overview of fan opinion, but it should give you an idea of what some Japanese readers look for in light novels.
This novel tells a series of stories based on the popular Vocaloid songs by Jin. It’s well-regarded by fans since it covers the stories in the songs in more depth. Also, it’s not bad when you take into account that the writer is an amateur.
There must be some people who don’t know Jin’s Vocaloid songs. I can’t really recommend the novel to those people. By that, I mean that a large portion of this book is an “adaptation” of the songs. Namely:
1) The psychological insight from the original songs tends to get toned down. As a result, it’s difficult for someone unfamiliar with the songs to get emotionally invested in the characters, and there are baffling occasions where it’s unclear why certain characters acted the way they did.
2) The perspective shifts don’t appear relevant, and the story lacks continuity. (That said, for those who know the songs, the lack of continuity is part of the charm.)
Those are the problems in a nutshell. I feel that the novel is aimed at fans of the artist’s songs. As such, I recommend that those who don’t know the songs but are interested in the book should start off by listening to the artist’s songs on Nico Nico Douga. At that point, if you find yourself wanting to learn more about the world presented in the songs, you should go ahead and buy the novel.
To sum up, I recommend this product to fans, but you should first get up to speed if you don’t know the original songs.
(TRANSLATOR’S NOTE: You can find all the Kagerou Project music videos compiled here.)
I like the songs so I read the novel. But honestly, it was a big letdown. I knew that it was written by an amateur, but it was terrible. It was the kind of novel you occasionally see on the internet, written with the gimmicky language a student would use. Also, there were a bunch of scenes that made you wonder whether they were really needed. It was hard to read.
The characters were one-note caricatures, the story was nothing to write home about, and overall it was kind of boring. In my opinion, this would have been better off as a doujin.
If you’re thinking of reading this so-called “novel”, don’t – you’re better off not buying it. I think you might enjoy it if you like the characters but aren’t looking for any literary merit whatsoever.
This story has its ups and downs, but I, for one, really liked it. Although I am pretty sure that was because I went into it blind.
I was surprised when my dear uncle introduced a light novel to me, but since I knew that good light novels do exist, I started reading this novel like any regular book. I had no idea about its awards, whether I would cry, what other people thought of it, or anything like that. The result: I got absorbed in the tale and finished it in one sitting.
But still, I might have read it differently if I had preconceived notions. If I went into it thinking I could take advantage of that, I’d be able to do it every time. It only just so happened that I had no preconceived notions at the time. That said, I really value the emotions I experienced from reading the book under these circumstances, and I believe my appraisal of it it was genuine.
It’s difficult to put “works I like” on the same plane as “good” works, but I did enjoy this work, so I recommend it.
I think it’s a raw, unpolished gem of a story.
Once upon a time…
Set in a typical fantasy world straight out of the pages of a fairytale, this is a story about a girl and a king of monsters. The interactions between these clumsy and honest people are extremely tender and heartwarming.
At first, I was bothered by the girl Mimizuku’s overly idiosyncratic way of speaking, but when I learned about her past, it felt so right.
While I do think that this was a good novel, it was not very descriptive. It traced the barest outlines of its world, its characters and each of their pasts. It would’ve been nice if the setting was a little more fleshed out, or if there was something else to ground the story. That’s my impression from a casual perusal.
Mimizuku to Yoru no Ou won the Grand Prize in the 13th Dengeki Novel Contest. The author was twenty-one years old. (Source: Dengekitaisho.jp)
Any questions? Thoughts? If you want to see more posts translating Japanese reviews, please let me know! I may consider doing more of them.