The ways in which stories are told have evolved and branched out into various platforms, including comics, manga, and novels.
Among these, the ‘Novel’ is the most commonly used medium for storytelling. In this article, we will explore a specific category of novels known as Light Novels.
Light Novels are a unique type of novel originating in Japan, aimed at adults or middle school students. Unlike manga, novels may not appeal to everyone, as they often contain extensive and long details. They also require a lots of time to read as compared to manga.
One key difference between Light Novels and Western Novels is the prominent use of illustrations within the book. Light Novels feature carefully drawn illustrations to enhance the presentation of the story’s events.
Since many popular anime are adapted from light novels, people often become interested in this medium. However, they may be deterred by the highly detailed and long explanations found in these works.
Here are the top 10 short light novels that are easy to follow and can serve as a great introduction to this fascinating medium!
10. Violet Evergarden
Violet Evergarden is a beautifully crafted short light novel by Kana Akatsuki, enriched with illustrations by Akiko Takase.
Set in a fictional Western European state at war, the novel follows the story of an “Auto Memory Doll” involved in the conflict.
Auto Memory Dolls were initially designed to write emotional letters for those who couldn’t convey their feelings themselves.
The protagonist, Violet Evergarden, is an “Auto Memory Doll” who has served in the war. The novel’s main focus is on Violet’s journey as she reintegrates into society, transitioning from a soldier to a civilian.
After the war, Violet’s quest is to understand the meaning of the words “I love you,” spoken to her by her guardian and Major, Gilbert. The novel eloquently and poignantly explores the love between a military major and an auto memory doll.
The light novel has been fully adapted into an anime series consisting of 13 episodes, along with two films. Spanning only two volumes, the light novel can be found in physical form at your local bookstore.
9. Calling You
Calling You is a captivating supernatural light novel penned by Otsuichi and adorned with illustrations by Miyako Hasumi. This novel is unique in that it’s an anthology, presenting readers with three distinct tales.
The opening story, aptly titled “Calling You,” tells the story of a young girl who crafts an imaginary phone. To her astonishment, one ordinary day, this phone begins to ring.
The subsequent tale, “Kizu/Kids,” paints the journey of two children. These kids, each possessing a unique supernatural ability, find solace in each other. Together, they harness their powers to mend the scars of their traumatic pasts.
The final chapter, “Singing Flower,” introduces us to a critically ill patient in a hospital. Amidst the sterile environment, the patient stumbles upon a flower of mysterious beauty.
Spanning just one volume and three chapters, Calling You is a concise yet profound read. For those who have a penchant for supernatural narratives and unexpected twists, this light novel promises to be a delightful treat.
Toradora! is a bittersweet romantic comedy light novel penned by Yuyuko Takemiya and illustrated by Zekkyo.
Set against the backdrop of high school romance, the story follows a student named Ryuuji Takasu, who is eager to make friends but struggles due to his intimidating appearance. Despite his charm, his stern gaze often gives others the impression that he’s a delinquent.
Fortunately, Ryuuji finds solace in being classmates with his best friend, Yusaku Kitamura, and the girl he has a crush on, Minori Kushieda.
Ryuuji’s school life takes an unexpected turn when he crosses paths with Taiga Aisaka, known as “The most dangerous animal of the school.”
Upon discovering that Taiga is friends with his crush, Minori, Ryuuji sees an opportunity to get closer to her. However, he soon learns that Taiga also has feelings for his best friend, Yusaku, leading them to strike a pact to help each other win over their respective crushes.
The series unfolds with significant plot twists, focusing on the lives of these friends and the blossoming love between them. Spanning ten volumes, Toradora! moves at a brisk pace, keeping readers engaged.
For those interested in exploring this engaging tale of love and friendship, the light novel can be officially read through Seven Seas Entertainment’s website.
7. Death Note Another Note: Los Angeles BB Renzoku
Death Note Another Note: Los Angeles serves as a prequel to one of the most famous Shounen anime of all time, Death Note.
The light novel focuses on the events of a chain murder happening in the city of Los Angeles. The serial killer behind these murders unexpectedly leaves indecipherable puzzles that lead to his subsequent murder.
The local police are confused and traumatized as they have never seen anything like this. The authorities hired the greatest detective on Earth, L, to take on the scene.
Being the most decorative detective in the world, L has solved cases that no one could ever. Despite L’s peculiar tactics, he has never shown his real face to the public. L has never tackled a case he can not crack, but this time, he needs help.
L enlists the FBI agent named Naomi Misora; he starts cracking down on the serial killer using the bodies and egos the killer left behind to solve the Los Angeles killing spree case.
The light novel spans only one volume and is written by the greatest Japanese novelist of all time, NISIOISIN, who is also the mastermind behind the Monogatari Series.
6. WorldEnd: What Do You Do At The End Of The World?
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WorldEnd is a compelling light novel series penned by Akira Kareno and illustrated by the artist known under the pseudonym ‘ue.’
Set 500 years in the future, the story unfolds in a world where humanity has been driven to extinction by fearsome creatures known as ‘beasts.’ The surviving races have taken refuge on floating sky islands, but the threat of the beasts continues to loom over them.
To combat these relentless monstrosities, ancient weapons are employed, wieldable only by a special group of girls known as The Leprechauns.
Amidst the precarious existence of these girls, a mysterious figure emerges from the depths of humanity’s past. The last survivor of the human race, awakened from a long slumber, enters the lives of the girls, bringing with him secrets and complexities.
Spanning five volumes and 25 chapters, WorldEnd weaves a tale of survival, legacy, and the unbreakable bonds that form in the face of adversity.
The light novel spans five volumes with 25 chapters. WorldEnd can be read on Yen Press’s official website.
5. Kubikiri Cycle: Zaregoto
Kubikiri Cycle, commonly referred to as Zaregoto, is a captivating light novel series penned by the legendary author NISIOISIN, with illustrations by Take.
The narrative centers around an unnamed protagonist, referred to only as the narrator. His real name remains a mystery throughout the series, adding to the enigmatic atmosphere. The novel explores the perplexing and often mysterious events that the narrator encounters daily.
Initially focusing on adventure, the series shifts gears after the first book, with action and fighting taking center stage. Despite the narrator’s attempts to remain a bystander, he invariably finds himself entangled in the unfolding events, becoming an unwilling participant in the story’s intrigues.
The world of Zaregoto is divided into four distinct territories: The ‘Outer’ World, The ‘Economic’ World, The ‘Violence’ World, and The ‘Political’ World. Each territory possesses its own unique characteristics and plays a vital role in shaping the world’s dynamics.
The Zaregoto series is a thrilling blend of mystery, action, and philosophical exploration, set in a multifaceted world that invites readers to ponder the complexities of human nature and society.
The light novel spans ten volumes and can be read through the official English licensing website Vertical Books.
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4. Welcome To NHK!
Welcome to the NHK! is one of Japan’s best-selling light novels, crafted by Tatsuhiko Takimoto and illustrated by Yoshitoshi ABe.
The novel is about the life of Tatsuhiro Satou, a hikikomori, or social recluse, entering his fourth year of unemployment. Isolated and adrift, Tatsuhiro becomes consumed by the idea that a vast conspiracy is orchestrating the events of his life.
His existence takes an unexpected turn when he encounters Misaki Nakahara, a young woman who claims she can cure him of his reclusive ways. The two strike a pact to meet daily at a local park, where Misaki embarks on a mission to rehabilitate Tatsuhiro.
What begins as straightforward daily lessons soon evolves into complex psychological engagements, as Misaki’s methods become increasingly unorthodox. The relationship between Tatsuhiro and Misaki deepens, weaving a tale that explores themes of isolation, mental health, and redemption.
Welcome to the NHK! offers a story that resonates with anyone who has ever felt out of step with the world around them.
The light novel only consists of one volume, a one-shot, to be more precise. It can be officially read on Tokyo Pop’s website.
Fate/Zero is a celebrated light novel penned by Gen Urobuchi, with illustrations by Tomotaka Takeuchi. It’s part of the expansive storyline of the famous visual novel series, Fate.
Set in the city of Fuyuki, Japan, the novel centers around the “Holy Grail War,” a brutal and mystical battle fought by mages and their summoned heroic spirits. The prize? The Holy Grail, a powerful artifact that can grant any wish to the victor.
As the war unfolds, alliances are forged and broken, strategies are devised, and the lines between right and wrong blur. The characters must confront not only their enemies but also their own beliefs and desires.
Spanning four volumes and consisting of 18 chapters, Fate/Zero can be found at your nearest bookstores.
2. The Empty Box and Zeroth Maria
Perhaps the best-written short light novel on this list. The Empty Box and Zeroth Maria is a light novel written by Eiji Mikage and illustrated by Tetsuo.
The light novel takes the supernatural themes to another level. The story follows a student named Kazuki Hoshino who lives a normal daily life. Kazuki treasures his normal life more than anything.
However, his mundane existence is shattered with the arrival of a mysterious transfer student named Aya Otonashi. Though Kazuki has no memory of ever meeting her, Aya claims to have encountered him over a thousand times in her lifetime.
Even more perplexing, she accuses Kazuki of a crime he has no recollection of committing.
As the threads of the story unravel, readers are drawn into a world where the boundaries between reality and the supernatural blur.
The light novel spans seven volumes and can be officially read on Yen Press’s website.
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1. Three Days of Happiness
A light novel that is suitable for everyone to read. Three Days of Happiness is an exceptional light novel written by Sugaru Miaki and illustrated by E9L.
It tells the story of Kusunoki, a twenty-year-old man who believes he’s destined for greatness despite his miserable existence.
Having faced rejection since childhood, Kusunoki finds himself without money, dreams, or motivation. His life takes an unexpected turn when he discovers a shop where he can sell his lifespan for cash. Seeing little value in his life, he sells all but the last three months of his time.
Now, with the shop’s clerk, Miyagi, as his observer, Kusunoki must decide how to spend his remaining days. Will he cherish these last moments, or will he use them to reflect on his past failures?
The light novel spans one volume and can be officially read on Yen Press’s website.
These short light novels offer a wonderful entry point into this unique storytelling format. Whether you’re new to reading novels or simply prefer concise and engaging narratives, these works provide a rich and varied experience.
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