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Old 09-25-2017, 04:37 PM   #7571
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Pre-orders might be here as soon as Wednesday afternoon/night. The novel goes on sale in stores on September 30, and the Amazon crew are going to get it a day earlier. Spoilers might even be here as early as tomorrow.

Originally Posted by Talon87 View Post
"Late elementary / early junior high" sounds like it'd be about right, assuming the books are intended for a middle school audience. It's by Grade 6 that you finish learning the Kyōiku kanji, the first half of the Jōyō kanji that all Japanese adults are expected to be able to read.
"Japanese school children are expected to learn 1006 basic kanji characters, the kyōiku kanji, before finishing the sixth grade. The order in which these characters are learned is fixed. The kyōiku kanji list is a subset of a larger list, originally of 1945 kanji characters, in 2010 extended to 2136, known as the jōyō kanji – characters required for the level of fluency necessary to read newspapers and literature in Japanese. This larger list of characters is to be mastered by the end of the ninth grade. Schoolchildren learn the characters by repetition and radical." - Wikipedia, "Kanji Education"
If light novels really are targeted towards a lower level of literacy than "novels proper" are, then it would make sense to me that light novels target the middle school demographic. It's all but guaranteed that if you've managed to make it into middle school that you can at least read the most basic 1,000 characters. But at the same time, by the time you reach high school it's all but guaranteed that you can read the full Jōyō list. It's sort of a chicken-and-the-egg problem we have here -- "Are light novels intended for middle schoolers and thus they dumb down the language used? Or are light novels intended from the outset to be easy reads and thus they appeal to a middle school demographic?" -- but either way it makes sense to me why we would observe what we're observing.
Light novels are actually targeted at young adult male demographics, age 16-30+...with the amount of sex, crimes (like rape/murder) and sociopathy in the stories, there's no way that publishers would intend for these works to be read alongside kid's stuff. Consider Dengeki Bunko, which publishes monthly LN chapters in the same way Charles Dickens published Oliver Twist as a periodical in Bentley's Miscellany. You see Tora Dora! among the notables. Not intended for kids who just graduated from Doraemon, no?

Why light novels have such elementary writing? There's a number of theories, but most of them are troll theories, like how Japanese literacy is on the decline and otaku are too stupid and/or lazy to bother to learn more advanced kanji. At the same time, stuff is way too elementary to simply be "newspaper-tier", especially since kanji difficulty is rated based on its frequency of appearance in newspapers.

My idea is that the writing skill of most of these VN authors is quite low. They can read, but are not very adept at expressing themselves. That's why so many LNs now are borrowing the same format (isekai) with only marginally different twists - you have a host of folks who could probably write a high school essay, trying to write what is essentially a fanfiction about their OC universe.

It's hard, and I notice my own attempts at fanfiction are below the level of analytic dexterity I display in more practiced formats like essays. Or writing posts. When one struggles there is a pursuit of comfort, often found in familiarity, which I believe drives the level of difficulty down for LNs.

Incidentally, here is a frog man who broke it down a few years ago, before isekai really exploded on the scene and did many of the things he cautions the reader to avoid.

Originally Posted by Talon87 View Post
See, I don't get how this idea ever took hold. It's true that a light novel like Haruhi is shorter than your usual novel -- when translated into English, it only weighs in at around 200 pages -- but 200 pages is hardly what I'd consider to be "a novella". Rather, I'd consider it "a slim novel." Most novellas I feel are in that 100-to-175 page range. Most short stories range from 5 pages to at the most 60 pages. I'd never consider Haruhi a "short story." I'd never tell someone, "Light novel is just a term that means 'short story' in Japanese." But my research today has shown that there are a ton of people who either had or who still have that notion about light novels.
I guess the word "light" is what generated that connotation. Though Haruhi is closest to a novella in length rather than a short story.

I definitely do not agree with the modern idea that light novels have an otaku bent. I don't see that much at all in Haruhi, clearly branded as a light novel. Haruhi has a lot more in common with the novels of the '80s and '90s, both in length and in focus.
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