Yen Press’s new manga titles weren’t the only treat they had in store for Sakura Con 2014. The publisher also announced a brand new imprint – Yen On – dedicated to the publication of Japanese light novels. As the name directly implies, light novels are novels only… light, meaning not as dense or lengthy as most novels we’re accustomed to. They also have accompanying artwork inside.
A publisher for light novels is something I’ve seen plenty of interest for, but of course seeing interest from inside the anime/manga fandom isn’t necessarily indicative of an actual support base. Though many light novels are original properties – with the most popular receiving manga and anime adaptations after the fact – they’re still mostly seen as simply counterparts to their other more popular connected mediums in North America. Cute anime girls on covers also aren’t a big selling point for the average reader like they are in Japan, as evident by Yen Press’s decisions to sell the original volumes of Spice & Wolf with new photo-realistic cover art. I can’t say if those had any positive or negative affect on sales but it was certainly a thing that happened.
So how about Yen On then? If any publisher was going to do this, I don’t think anyone’s surprised it’s Yen Press. The manga publisher has already released several light novels including The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Sword Art Online, and the aforementioned Spice & Wolf. I’m curious to see if they’ll keep promotion focus on the existing anime & manga fan base, or if they’ll continue trying to push light novels to the wider young adult reading audience as well. Where will I see these books shelved in Chapters & Indigo stores in 2015?
Yen On is launching with three series to start:
Another – Yukito Ayatsuji
A Certain Magical Index – Kazuma Kamachi & Kiyotaka Haimura
Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? – Fujino Omori & Fujino Omori
Another is a title I know from Yen Press’s omnibus release of the manga last year, a creepy horror story that had me almost leaving the lights on when I went to sleep. It’s about a class of students haunted by a vengeful spirit, one who appears among them as an extra classmate and brings about gruesome deaths.
Yen Press previously released the Another novel back in 2013 but in digital format only. This October they’ll be launching their new imprint with a hardcover print edition of Another that includes both volumes combined into one.
A Certain Magical Index is also a title I’m familiar with, but by reputation only. This light novel series has spawned multiple manga series and an anime. The story is set in a world where people have supernatural abilities, but political and societal struggles erupt between different factions of these individuals depending on how they gained their powers, plus what they are. The main setting for the stories is a technologically advanced academy where students with these abilities reside.
Yen On’s first volume of A Certain Magical Index is scheduled to be released this winter.
Last but not the least bit short in name is Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?. I’ve seen the joke about long light novel names plenty of times, so Yen On launching with a title like this seems a perfect fit. As for the story itself, the series is set in a fantasy world where a floundering adventurer teams up with a failed goddess.
The author of IIWTTTPUGIAD is new to North American publication but the artist, Suzuhito Yasuda, is known for their manga series, Yozakura Quartet, which was published by Del Rey. The first volume of IIWTTTPUGIAD is due sometime this winter as well.