Why Are Light Novel Titles So Long?

    God, do we remember the gone-by days of Wattpad fanfiction? Like, the novel-length stories with bad self-insert protagonists and a bad boy version of whatever character was trending? I mean, I’m definitely guilty of this too, my days of being a fanfiction writer were filled with cringe. And the one trend I followed just as religiously, was the long light novel titles that gave away most of the story right there. And looks like this trend continues strong, with Light Novels.

    By now, you are probably not a newcomer to the medium that is light novels. It’s the next big thing after manga, however, it has been part of the anime subculture for years now. Some of our favorite anime probably started their lives as a light novel. Famous examples of this include critically acclaimed shows like Violet Evergarden, Isekai hits such as KonoSuba: God’s Blessing On This Wonderful World, etc.

    Light Novels are known for their accessible nature and for providing entertainment in short bursts. This makes them the perfect vehicle for quick fantasy indulgences, but also runs the problem of being too ubiquitous. There are just so many light novels coming out, that often they blur into one big, congealed mess, with the same story being repeated over and over again. This is where the song titles come in.

    Though, it has become kind of ridiculous now. As someone who grew up reading heavily as a child, the song titles are often funny. I mean, a 7-word name is already pushing it, there are now light novels that have the entire synopsis just printed as the title. Hell, did you know there is a light novel out there from Japan that has a title that spans 196 pages?! Not words. Pages. Like, what the heck is going on?

    There could be many reasons for the paragraph-level names for various light novels, but we can’t deny it works. Again, light novels have recently skyrocketed in popularity amongst geeks and enthusiasts alike. So clearly, whatever they’re doing, is in the right direction. But why exactly? Let’s break down the phenomenon of long titles in light novels!

    Long Light Novel Titles Grab The Reader’s Attention!

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    We are starting with the most obvious reason for titles longer than the name of a reigning monarch, which is that it pulls you in. Weird things sell, and humans have a very short attention span. So, when we see something that’s out of the ordinary, we automatically gravitate toward it.

    I mean, think about it. Would you have picked up a J.K. Rowling book if it was just titled ‘Boy Wizard’ and nothing else? Of course not! Or, well, fine you may have but it wouldn’t be as eye-catching. Words matter and using them to grab the attention of a potential reader is key to any published work’s success.

    It works even better when it’s something relatable. I mean, look at all the Wattpad novels that are now published physically, that were basically fanservice scenarios with huge raunchy titles. If it sells, it sells!

    Blame It On Japan(ese Publishing Sites)!

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    I promise that’s not a typo. Light novels are a cornerstone of reading in Japan, and writers know that. So, there are plenty of writers, amateur and seasoned alike, who publish their works on popular Japanese sites such as ‘Shousetsuka ni Narou’, which directly translates to ‘Let’s Be Novelists’.

    Now, mind you, these sites have thousands of authors publishing multiple works all the time. And because of that, a lot of potentially good novels get lost in the crowd. To stand out, these synopsis length names help out the author because the reader doesn’t need to open the link and read the back description to find out if the novel interests them.

    This site has been especially popular because it has given a platform to so many successful novels. So, of course, authors would use it to their full advantage.

    Long Light Novel Titles Isn’t A New Concept!

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    So, you’d imagine that another reason for these super convoluted names is because all the good, short titles have been exhausted way before light novels became popular. But research shows that isn’t true.

    I mean, yeah, light novels weren’t as big before the internet took off, but this long title culture is older than the internet age. Remember the Wattpad thing I mentioned? That wasn’t a joke. If you go as far back as the dawn of or LiveJournal, long titles were already in vogue.

    Hell, there have been independent studies done using another Japanese light novel publishing site, known as ‘Ranobe Mori’ or ‘Light Novel Forest’ that show titles that were 30+ characters long, even before the 2000s. Sure, it wasn’t as common back then but that doesn’t matter. Because nowadays, they are a staple of the medium.

    Sure, you can have a good novel without some thesis-level title. But it won’t be as fun, now would it?

    Anza Qureshi
    Anza Qureshi
    Anza Qureshi is a writer, licensed dentist and certified Uchiha fangirl. When she isn't doing root canals or listing down anime waifus, you can find her screeching about her favorite JRPGs across social media.

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