Food For Thoughts: What’s with the Hate on LN Adaptation?

Light novels are more or less equivalent of japanese YA fiction with its own aestethic and entertainment appeal (also its shorter and has illustrations). While the entire “genre” has been around since the 90’s and several of them has received adaptations in the past,  the light novel adaptation trend has only began to explode with Haruhi Suzumiya in 2006.

Recently however, in my time in the fandom (which is, admittedly, isn’t very long), there’s always a groan or specific hatred for every time there’s a light novel adaptation announcement on certain part of the fandom. To large degree, it was understandable, given the fact that many of them seems to be the same old story of either: a) Magical Highschool b) Indulgent Trashy Fantasy b) Ecchi Harem c) Ecchi Comedy d) Meta story of all four or two, with a tired trope narrative execution.

If you ask me though, Light Novel are just media like any other. There are bound to be good apples amongst the bad. Its a bad assumption if the type of story above is all that the fiction could provide (Sadly, it /is/ the most popular type though). If you wanted to look at it in the more positive light, I’d dare to say that, considering how weird and out there LN stories can be (and how loose the editor can be), LN is a land for a storytelling experimentation. Its just the state of the adaptation or kinda what’s happening around AAA industries of video game, where among many slobs of mediocrity and downright repulsive, few good gem just waiting to be found. Some of our acclaim anime has been from LN adaptation. Spice and Wolf, Baccano, Katanagatari, Durarara, Toradora and so on.

This does however brings up a question in mind, what’s with the stigma?

Despite the fact there’s already a good deal of evidence there’s several good LN adaptation, why there’s still some semblance groan form every time there’s one or two announce? What’s even more interesting however, is the fact that the stories that I just mentioned above, its like it was almost forgotten the fact that those stories /came/ from LN.

But, here’s my two cent of a thought about it: Bad LN adaptation (and their source) are always the same specific thing

By one specific thing, I meant they’re always the same trope that’s been executed over and over again, not for any specific storytelling purposes and wasn’t even gracefully executed. Whether it was story about a hapless boy who was blessed with the power that generally someone with only Y chromosome could have. Or a dense boy who gained the power to turn into female and got himself involved in all out war, and gained romantic attraction from other several girls (picture above). Its always the same type of power fantasy story only with different dressing and/or flavor which, as Bobduh puts it, “are designed in a specific style for a specific audience. Those design goals generally don’t align very well with the things that are traditionally considered artistically interesting or emotionally compelling in fiction.”

Good LN adaptation that I mentioned above didn’t get the same classification because they generally work like slightly unconventional, but otherwise, functional story (although, some of them are a lot more straighforward). So while they’re maybe coming from the same type of source material, they don’t generally worked as same.

Anyway, What do you guys think? What’s with the hate? Let me know in the comments!


  1. Interesting post!
    As you said, the fandom has a “slight” tendency of assuming that the LN adaptations are shitty, if we talk from an objective point of view, they’re not too far from the reality. i’m a huge fan of Light Novels, The first Light Novel that I read was the Hidan no Aria series, I remember back then the end of the anime, i was just beginning my immersion into the anime world. When the I finished the anime I didn’t knew what to do with my life anymore, LOL (Not kidding though), after investigating a little about a possible second season (which never became true) I found that it wasn’t an original anime, it was an adaptation from a, not-known by me at the time, Light novel.

    after investigating, i said: “so, basically, is just a book” I knew that obviously, the book was in Japanese, but i said: “Well, maybe it’s translated in english somewhere” incredibly, I found it in Spanish (My native language). I wasn’t a big fan of reading at that time, I thought: “Why would I read it if I can watch the show, or the movie” Oh, how fool I was. I wasn’t really thrilled by the idea of reading the series, but it was (and still is) my favorite anime show, so I said: “Ah, what the hell…”

    And the rest is history, when i reached the point where the anime ended I couldn’t help but compare it with the adaptation, I have to say it is a really good adaptation, the fidelity of the adaptation was, at least, an eighty-percent accurate, leaving aside the deeper descriptions in the book. It was awesome, i took a fascination for the LN world, the prose was light and easy to read, it made me feel it was just like watching the anime adaptation. i started to read several light novels after that.

    the Hidan no Aria series were released in 2008, I liked the plot because, it was something not too cliché in the Anime world, at least at that time. As I started reading newer light novels, i noticed what you say in your post, the cliché in the LN plots, (the typycal boy that isn’t very interesting, blessed with some kind of power or ability, the, somehow, absurd appeal he has in women, the harem and all that stuff) “Well, I guess this sells a lot in the industry” – I thought.

    After several LNs read and several shitty adaptations seen I reached a conclusion, the fanservice killed the adaptations. that is the problem of the LN adaptations nowadays. When I started reading High School DxD series, the anime adaptation wasn’t even announced, in my opinion it has an awesome plot, I thought the anime would be as awesome as the LN…. I was wrong. The LN has indeed some fan service in it, but the problem in High School DxD, and in most LN adaptations, is that they divert from the original plot and focus in the fan service.

    Tits flying everywehre, asses, ridiculous “accidental” breast groping. They replace the original plot with the fan service, the awesome plot that actually triggered the high sells and greenlit the anime adaptation passes from foreground to background, That happened with DxD, as someone who have read the LN and knows the awesome and, at a certain degree, complex plot that it has, you can’t enjoy it because of the fan service.

    The Anime Media in general quality has decreased a lot in the past few years, thanks to the fan service (Freezing, DxD, Samurai Girls, just to name a few), I know, I know, everyone loves fan service, but is it correct to replace the main plot for fan service? perhaps a little fan service isn’t harmful, actually, I do enjoy the fan service, but in measured doses and in the correct parts of the story.

    In my opinion, that’s why the part of the fandom that reads LN (including myself) isn’t thrilled anymore for an anime adaptation of their favourite LN. as for the fandom that doesn’t read LN or hasn’t noticed the drop of adaptations quality, I think is just prejudice, but, the experience talks by itself.

    Sorry for the long comment!


    • Namhur · September 22, 2015

      Its okay! Its rare I got comment anyway.

      While fanservice, I think, was something that’s hindering the storytelling in LN and contributing the general hate in LN, what wonders me specifically in this post was the fact that, despite the fact that LN are just medium like any other and there good LN adaptations out there, the one that /is/ good never was recognize as an LN and there still some groan every time there’s announcement of it.

      Anyway, thanks for the comment!


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