A Certain Magical Index is based off one of the most popular light novel series in Japan ever. If you count the side story volumes and the New Testament sequel currently being published in Japan, the Index series has over 40 volumes in print—and this isn’t even counting the A Certain Scientific Railgun manga spinoff which has its own sprawling continuity. If you’re even vaguely familiar with anime and light novels, you’ve probably heard of the Index franchise.
In Japan, though, Kill Me Baby has become something of an internet meme. Its popularity has only increased over time. This is particularly interesting because at first, Japanese viewers watched the show and thought, “Baby, please kill me.” That is to say, it was not a popular show when it first aired. The first BD volume sold a grand total of 686 units in the first week.
And yet somehow Japanese viewers changed their mind. When the Bluray boxset was released a year later, it sold over 4000 units despite costing some 16,800 yen. It outsold Toaru Majutsu no Index II (3830) and Infinite Stratos (2577). How did this miraculous turnabout happen?
2014 was a great year for English light novels. I’d say LN publishing was revitalised last year, thanks to the release of big name titles (and not just SAO and Index). I suppose this is a side effect of the oversaturation of LN adaptations in the anime industry right now. There’s no better time to get into the LNs, and I fully expect 2015 to be a lucrative year as well.
Why You Should Buy Light Novels
First of all, they’re cheap. The translations are a whole lot better than the fan translations, and most importantly, I think the success of these titles will pave the way for more quality translations of Japanese novels. Ideally, I’d like to see more Japanese literature beyond light novels being published over here. There’s a growing potential market.
Silvachief over at The Geek Clinic asked me to answer some questions over at his blog. He also gave his own answers here. I like how these questions can be answered succinctly and with little effort. I consider them basic questions for any anime fan.
So what are the questions, you ask…?
LN translation is in a similar place fansubbing was in before Crunchyroll and other forms of legal streaming came along. There aren’t too many light novels officially translated into English, and many series are out of print and discontinued. As a fan translator, I do my part in making Japanese LNs available in English, but I know that what I’m doing is actually illegal. But in many ways, it really can’t be helped, at least for now.
The good news is that the situation is changing, little by little. With more LNs being adapted into anime than ever before, people are taking notice of LNs (for better and for worse). Yen Press has recently licensed the guaranteed cash cow known as Sword Art Online, with other popular LNs like Kagerou Daze on the way. And with the shift from print books to Ebooks, LNs have a better chance of finding exposure at a cheaper price. The digital revolution has opened up possibilities for every literary subgenre imaginable, so it’s not as if there is no market for LNs, even if they will remain niche for the foreseeable future.
Beyond translated LNs, there’s another type of English light novel, one that’s been eking out a humble living in the dark corners of the internet up until now: original English light novels, written by English-speaking anime fans. It’s this kind of LN I’ll be focusing on today.
Just a friendly reminder that UR WAIFU IS SHIT.
I-It’s not as if I like J.C. Staff or anything. Baka!