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Do light novels have better stories than manga?

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Blique
Post #561412
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4:47 pm, Jul 16 2012
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Well, this part I've edited under a spoiler tag didn't go too well with everyone. It was meant to be a tool to open up discussion, but I guess it's unneeded at this point. Feel free to ignore~

Spoiler (mouse over to view)
Let's first look at this from an anime standpoint, where all series (should) have equal ground. I'll only list high quality anime, since, due to manga's popularity, for every good adaptation, there's 20 bad ones...I've yet to see a bad anime adaptation of a light novel though...

Light novel anime: Haruhi Suzumiya, Spice and Wolf, Bakemonogatari, Toradora!, Baccano!, Durarara!!, Welcome to the NHK, Angel Beats!, Tatami Galaxy, Kyouran Kazoku Nikki

Manga anime: Highschool of the Dead, Mitsudomoe, Deadman Wonderland, Kodomo no Jikan, Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, Rainbow: Nisha Rokubou no Shichinin, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Lucky Star, Claymore, Genshiken

In my opinion, 9/10 of the light novel anime ruminate on deeper topics more often than not, while 5.5/10 of the manga anime do.

Other things I've found, manga tends to stick to common ground, whether that be shoujo/shounen styles or the "sum up the entire plot in the first chapter" rule. Light novels, on the other hand, are often more innovative, sometimes to the point that it's hard to decide which genres it would fit under. They often introduce important main characters, even the love interest, many chapters after starting, something very rare in manga (the latter part, anyway).

At times, these traits can be attributed to how light novels are sometimes published in volumes, manga in chapters. Manga magazines are often specialized by genre, so its series must fit in. A single uninteresting chapter can get the mangaka in danger of being axed. This may also lead to mangaka feeling more pressured to add fast-paced action instead of slow-moving depth.

However, many light novels are published in magazines as well. So another theory to explain the differences, manga draw sensibilities from manga, while light novels draw from both manga and novels. Therefore, manga is less susceptible to change, and light novels are more open to different ideas (since novels are everywhere and much more varied).

Those are my ideas. What are yours? Debating is much loved, I'd like to get some good conclusions to this. smile

Last edited by Blique at 7:30 pm, Jul 17

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Spawnblade
Post #561416
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5:26 pm, Jul 16 2012
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You seemed to have summed it up rather well.

I can think of a few questionable light novel adaptations though:

Chrome Shelled Regios
High School DxD (? Haven't watched enough of this one to know for sure, but the first couple episodes were meh.)
Kampfer
Maoyuu Maou Yuusha

I would also like to point out that light novel -> anime adaptations are less likely to continue their series to a full conclusion than manga -> anime adaptations. It's a pity too. There are some really great novels that could have had a number of follow-up series (especially considering the success of the anime they did have), but haven't. I don't know if it's so the books sell better or what. A few off the top of my head:

Full Metal Panic
Haruhi Suzumiya
Kaze no Stigma


Reiten
Post #561423
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7:03 pm, Jul 16 2012
Posts: 25


Right Blique did sum it up quite well.

Another thing about light novels is that they tend to tell the story in greater detail. You can get more story in 1 page of text then you can in a drawing. On the other hand battles and stuff that is action heavy usually works better in manga form.

The thing about light novel anime adaptions is that they tend to try to make it seem like a complete story with an end thus deviating from the novel. A good example is the already mentioned Chrome Shelled Regios adaption. They strung stuff together from various volumes and wrote an ending for it that deviated from the novel. It looks like the adaption for Campione is going this way too.

As for bad light novel adaptions check Zero no Tsukaima starting at season 2.

mirahsan2
Post #561426
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8:29 pm, Jul 16 2012
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Yeah Zero no Tsukaima and Shakugan no Shana were just eh in their middle seasons. 2 for Shana, and 2 and 3 for Zero. Don't forget though that if an adaption is not done well, all versions hurt to. Novel, Manga, Anime, Game, etc.

Alaena Night
Post #561427
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8:52 pm, Jul 16 2012
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@ Blique: I think you have excellent points and I also believe you've come to the right conclusion, but I don't think it's merely a matter of the place from which they draw their inspiration.

Instead, I think it's a matter of development. Although pictures are aesthetically pleasing and can be complex and revealing, language often allows for a more in-depth exploration than manga does, especially since manga consists primarily of dialogue and images; actual narration (text boxes) make up a much smaller part of the story. Thus, if the mangaka doesn't have the ability to fully communicate a complex story only through art (with subtle expressions and detailed backgrounds), manga often ends up being shallower (though, admittedly, much prettier) than your average light novel. Done right, Manga is everything a light novel can be and much, much more because of the visual element. However, I don't think it's always (or even often) done right. Most times, neither the art nor the story are developed to their full potential.

Additionally, most mangaka draw in addition to writing their own stories. This may sound kind of cruel, but while a lot of mangaka have excellent drawing skills, not all of them are capable of telling good stories. Instead, they recycle old ideas and sell them with pretty pictures and bishies with long, flowing hair. ^^; In contrast, writers of light novels (though often NOT artists themselves) are at the very least more likely to be good at what they actually do (which is writing).

Okay. Well, I'm not sure if that makes any sense, but that's what I think. Then again, I'm one of those people who adore mangaka whose art styles may be simple, "dated," or "unattractive" so long as they have an excellent story to tell.

Feel free to tear me apart. I look forward to any further observations.

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Pionfou
Post #561432
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9:48 pm, Jul 16 2012
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Judging story quality of two entire mediums based on a sample random selection of anime adaptations is ridiculous. I can list plenty of good manga based anime adaptations: Ghost in the Shell, Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou, Haibane Renmei, Honey and Clover, Nodame Cantabile, Mushishi, Hourou Musuko, Usagi Drop, Chihayafuru, Sakamichi no Apollon, etc. I can also list plenty of bad light novel based anime adaptations: Infinite Stratos, High School DxD, Strike Witches, To Aru, Accel World, Shakugan no Shana, Zero no Tsukaima, Kampfer, Hyouka, etc.

I don't think either list says anything about story quality of manga or light novels as a whole. Although, I don't think it's a meaningful topic in the first place. There are good stories to be found in both mediums.

Furthermore, every medium has it's advantages. Drawing a fight, scenery, etc. is more natural than describing it. On the other hand, it's much easier to describe thoughts than it is portray them in art.

There are mangas that take full advantage of the visual aspect of the medium like Ultra Heaven, which provides a psychedelic experience that you would not be able to convey with words. Some manga lack text and still remain delightful like Little Little.

Alaena Night
Post #561440 - Reply to (#561432) by Pionfou
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10:33 pm, Jul 16 2012
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Quote from Pionfou
Judging story quality of two entire mediums based on a sample random selection of anime adaptations is ridiculous. I can list plenty of good manga based anime adaptations: Ghost in the Shell, Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou, Haibane Renmei, Honey and Clover, Nodame Cantabile, Mushishi, Hourou Musuko, Usagi Drop, Chihayafuru, Sakamichi no Apollon, etc. I can also list plenty of bad light novel based anime adaptations: Infinite Stratos, High School DxD, Strike Witches, To Aru, Accel World, Shakugan no Shana, Zero no Tsukaima, Kampfer, Hyouka, etc.


Excellent point. As a random side note, all of the excellent manga adaptations you mentioned are either seinen or josei and are written for older readers and feature more complex characters and mature storylines. The bad light novel adaptations you mentioned are (with a few exceptions) generally ecchi or are saturated with such themes. I have not read the novel Hyouka, but I find the anime enjoyable enough, especially for its portrayals of its characters as multi-dimensional people rather than cardboard-cutout stereotypes.

Both drawing and writing about fights or scenery are copies of reality. If they are done correctly, neither is less "natural" than the other, I don't think.

I agree completely with the point you made—there are a huge number of excellent manga adaptations and there are a lot of bad novel adaptations.

However, I think that novel adaptations (in general) seem to produce more complex anime.

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Damnedman
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11:54 pm, Jul 16 2012
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I think maybe because it's harder to for a light novel to get adapted than manga, so only the ones that stand out and are popular get adapted into anime. Thus it's less likely that a bad light novel adaptation is made. Also, it seems that these adaptations tend to take a lot more liberties with how they're made, so they can pick and choose the best parts animate without ruining the story (hopefully). As for the more complicated plot, it's a lot harder to depict battles with flashy moves in light novels and excess fanservice tends to fall flat without pictures, so it's more likely that the author will focus on character development and plot to make the story interesting. Walls of texts to elaborate on the story are also more acceptable since... well a light novel is pretty much a wall of text. Manga tend to have a lot less dialogue in favor of action and such so they tend to have less depth.

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auriga
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12:09 am, Jul 17 2012
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Just a correction: Angel Beats! isn't a light novel adaptation but an original anime.

I agree with the points put forward by Alaena Night and Pionfou. Though one thing caught my eye:

Quote from Alaena Night
As a random side note, all of the excellent manga adaptations you mentioned are either seinen or josei and are written for older readers and feature more complex characters and mature storylines. The bad light novel adaptations you mentioned are (with a few exceptions) generally ecchi or are saturated with such themes.


Perhaps it would be better to limit the scope of this discussion? Blique mentioned shounen and shoujo in the OP; if we limit the discussion to those then I would agree that most shounen and shoujo manga are stereotypical and are fueled by popularity rather than substance. But since the thread title is "Do light novels have better stories than manga," does this mean we are including the more complex and less mainstream seinen and josei demographics in this statement? Just something to think about.

Pionfou
Post #561446
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12:09 am, Jul 17 2012
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Quote from Alaena Night
Excellent point. As a random side note, all of the excellent manga adaptations you mentioned are either seinen or josei and are written for older readers and feature more complex characters and mature storylines. The bad light novel adaptations you mentioned are (with a few exceptions) generally e ...
I just didn't like Hyouka. It's not in the same category as the other series (not that I'm saying people aren't allowed to enjoy them) but it's fresh in my mind so I tacked it on.

Quote
Both drawing and writing about fights or scenery are copies of reality. If they are done correctly, neither is less "natural" than the other, I don't think.
What I meant by natural is from the perspective of the practitioner. I think drawing is much more natural because it is simply a direct visual copy of what is percieved. A description requires a translation of an image into a language.

To put it another way, I think drawing scenery well does not take talent. No, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that talent plays no role but even a talentless person like me can copy scenery well. Anyone can describe something adequately but to describe something well takes talent.


I think the quantity of adaptations is one of the reasons. There is usually at least one generic action anime, one generic harem anime, etc. per season. Usually all of them are manga (or VN) adaptations because there is no point in coming up with an original story simply to fill the niche.

nccssmm
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Shin_hannin
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4:36 am, Jul 17 2012
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Let me just take things into consideration (though I may sound redundant by doing so) and compare from the perspective of a reader and a viewer.

I'll begin with a premise that drawing takes more time than writing if we assume the author already has the story in mind. In this case comparing the same story will more or less depend on the illustrations. A picture paints a thousand words, so a really well-depicted illustration could make a whole new story. On the other hand, a light novel depends mainly on the author's creative mind.

My second premise is time frame. A single chapter of a manga has often very little time frame than their light novel counterparts - mainly because it needs more space and time. Most of the time, light novels comes are far ahead of the story. While light novels allow for more freestyle writing, their manga counterparts needs to adjust to the genre and target audience which further puts their time frame apart.

My third premise is fan base. While avid readers of light novels will almost remain an avid reader, manga readers are not. Every chapter of a manga must attract fans to read the next chapter and so on. Continued serialization comes with a cost and must be met with equal demand. You'd see some manga chapters packed with some things just to make them interesting.

My fourth premise - difference in genre. A slice of life/mature and sensitive topics are best depicted in written form. Action/shounen and comedy materials are best accompanied with graphics.

My verdict - yes LN should have better stories. Base on your examples, those genre are best when in written form. But if I have to choose between naruto LN and the manga, obviously I'll go for the manga (just an example since I couldn't think of another one). I guess my fourth premise carry half the burden of choice.



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Raine-san
Post #561477 - Reply to (#561446) by Pionfou
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5:13 am, Jul 17 2012
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Quote from Pionfou
What I meant by natural is from the perspective of the practitioner. I think drawing is much more natural because it is simply a direct visual copy of what is percieved. A description requires a translation of an image into a language.

To put it another way, I think drawing scenery well does not take talent. No, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that talent plays no role but even a talentless person like me can copy scenery well. Anyone can describe something adequately but to describe something well takes talent


I disagree.
Describing can be made by pictures just as it is made by words; it's just they are in different dimensions of the way of expression. There are plain descriptions just as there are plain sceneries, and the same goes for the description or scenery that is the product of talent and creativity.

I think it all depends on the skill of the author, though I agree with what has been said about the genre which the format fits best. There are things that are easily expressed using images, and other things that can only be said. It's not that the words are interchangeable with pictures or backwards, but more like each one has its own ways and aims. With that you can expect that only authors with real talent can convey what they want with the tools they have, whichever format is used.

Drakron
Post #561484
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5:39 am, Jul 17 2012
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I dont think I want to enter a discussion were the evidence presented were "Light Novels have better stories than Manga" is ... Anime adaptations of said Light Novels and Manga.

Why stop there? why not bring up Drama CDs, Visual Novels as we are at it ...


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Post #561487 - Reply to (#561426) by mirahsan2
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6:06 am, Jul 17 2012
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Quote from mirahsan2
Yeah Zero no Tsukaima and Shakugan no Shana were just eh in their middle seasons. 2 for Shana, and 2 and 3 for Zero. Don't forget though that if an adaption is not done well, all versions hurt to. Novel, Manga, Anime, Game, etc.

I have to disagree on that point, though redundant, even though the anime adaption of Zero was done poorly, I personally thoroughly enjoyed the LN and am still waiting for period release of it. I think your point is more along the line that the poor adaption will paint a bad image and a slight prejudice against it. Making the reader to be hesitant to go and get into the said LN and/or manga version of it. Which people needs to be more open and tolerant of different genre etc.

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Post #561489 - Reply to (#561412) by Blique
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6:27 am, Jul 17 2012
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Quote from Blique
Light novel anime: Haruhi Suzumiya, Spice and Wolf, Bakemonogatari, Toradora!, Baccano!, Durarara!!, Welcome to the NHK, Angel Beats!, Tatami Galaxy, Kyouran Kazoku Nikki

Manga anime: Highschool of the Dead, Mitsudomoe, Deadman Wonderland, Kodomo no Jikan, Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, Rainbow: Nisha Rokubou no Shichinin, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Lucky Star, Claymore, Genshiken

There are literally thousands of "light novel anime" and "manga anime" so making conclusions based off this extremely short list is utterly absurd and flawed: a perfect example of cherry picking I'd say.

Quote from Blique
I've yet to see a bad anime adaptation of a light novel though..

Are you nuts? It's extremely rare for a light novel to be well adapted into anime. For example, Itsuka Tenma no Kuro Usagi, Kamisama no Memochou, Inukami, Zero no Tsukaima, Dantalian no Shoka and Dai Densetsu no Yusha no Densetsu have been completely destroyed by its anime adaptations, and that's just the ones I have on the tip of my tongue. Also, your list is wrong: Angel Beats! was not an adaptation of a light novel: it was an original anime. The light novel and manga are spin-offs and prequels to the anime, not an adaptation. And Welcome to the NHK! a good adaptation? Please! the anime was so censored that much of the plot did not make any sense! like the hallucinations: since the anime censored the use of drugs, they were never explained.

Quote from Blique
Light novels, on the other hand, are often more innovative, sometimes to the point that it's hard to decide which genres it would fit under. They often introduce important main characters, even the love interest, many chapters after starting, something very rare in manga (the latter part, anyway).

Stop inventing stuff. The only way you can claim that is if you have read enough light novels to reach that conclusion and unless you know Japanese, how could you possibly do that? The number of Light Novels translated into English is so minimum that your claims are either ridiculous or extremely biased due to low exposure to the medium.

Quote from Blique
I imagine that Light novels, on the other hand, are often more innovative, sometimes to the point that it's hard to decide which genres it would fit under.

Here, I fixed it for you.

Personally, I believe your unfounded beliefs come from the old stereotypes that "cartoons" and "comics" are for kids, therefore they are inferior to novels, which are literature and thus, more innovative and "open to different ideas" as you say.

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