Sci-fi and Fantasy from Haikasoru

(pictured: Loups-Garous)
Pictured: Loups-Garous (Japanese cover, by redjuice)

Haikasoru is a Viz Media imprint dedicated to translated works of Japanese pop fiction, sometimes aimed for the Young Adult demographic. The genres focused on the most are space opera, dark fantasy, and hard science.

Though technically not considered light novels, many of these books will surely be of interest to readers who enjoy stories from Japan in general (be it light novels, anime, manga, etc). This page will keep track of what novels are available specifically from Haikasoru.

(Note — Separate entries for the following Haikasoru novels: All You Need is Kill, Brave Story, Mardock Scramble, Rocket Girls, and Slum Online.)

Battle Royale — by Koushun Takami
In an alternative totalitarian Japan, junior high school students are sent to an island and forced to slay one another for the glory of the regime. But this time, last year’s “winner” Shogo Kawada is playing the game again! Will he and his friends–the clever jock Shuya Nanahara and kindhearted Noriko Nakagawa–survive the game, or will they be slaughtered by a psychotic classmate who is playing for keeps?
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Belka, Why Don’t You Bark? — by Hideo Furukawa
In 1943, when Japanese troops retreat from the Aleutian island of Kiska, they leave behind four military dogs. One of them dies in isolation, and the others are taken under the protection of US troops. Meanwhile, in the USSR, a KGB military dog handler kidnaps the daughter of a Japanese yakuza. Named after the Russian astronaut dog Strelka, the girl develops a psychic connection with canines. In this multigenerational epic as seen through the eyes of man's best friend, the dogs who are used as mere tools for the benefit of humankind gradually discover their true selves and learn something about humanity as well.
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The Book of Heroes — by Miyuki Miyabe
When her brother Hiroki disappears after a violent altercation with school bullies, Yuriko finds a magical book in his room. The book leads her to another world where she learns that Hiroki has been possessed by a spirit from The Book of Heroes, and that every story ever told has some truth to it and some horrible lie. With the help of the monk Sky, the dictionary-turned-mouse Aju, and the mysterious Man of Ash, Yuriko has to piece together the mystery of her vanished brother and save the world from the evil King in Yellow.
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The Cage of Zeus — by Sayuri Ueda
The Rounds are humans with the sex organs of both genders. Artificially created to test the limits of the human body in space, they are now a minority, despised and hunted by the terrorist group the Vessel of Life. Aboard Jupiter-I, a space station orbiting the gas giant that shares its name, the Rounds have created their own society with a radically different view of gender and of life itself. Security chief Shirosaki keeps the peace between the Rounds and the typically gendered “Monaurals,” but when a terrorist strike hits the station, the balance of power is at risk…and an entire people is targeted for genocide.
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Dragon Sword and Wind Child — by Noriko Ogiwara
The God of Light and the Goddess of Darkness have waged a ruthless war across the land of Toyoashihara for generations. But for fifteen-year-old Saya, the war is far away--until the day she discovers that she is the reincarnation of the Water Maiden and a princess of the Children of the Dark. Raised to love the Light and detest the Dark, Saya must come to terms with her heritage even as the Light and Dark both seek to claim her, for she is the only mortal who an awaken the legendary Dragon Sword, the weapon destined to bring an end to he war. Can Saya make the choice between the Light and Dark, or is she doomed--like all the Water Maidens who came before her…?
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The Future is Japanese — by Pat Cadigan, Toh EnJoe, Project Itoh, Hideyuki Kikuchi, Ken Liu, David Moles, Issui Ogawa, Felicity Savage, Ekaterina Sedia, Bruce Sterling, Rachel Swirsky, TOBI Hirotaka, and Catherynne Valente
A web browser that threatens to conquer the world. The longest, loneliest railroad on Earth. A North Korean nuke hitting Tokyo, a hollow asteroid full of automated rice paddies, and a specialist in breaking up “virtual” marriages. And yes, giant robots. These thirteen stories from and about the Land of the Rising Sun run the gamut from fantasy to cyberpunk, and will leave you knowing that the future is Japanese!
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Good Luck, Yukikaze — by Chouhei Kambayashi
The alien JAM have been at war with humanity for over thirty years… or have they? Rei Fukai of the FAF’s Special Air Force and his intelligent tactical reconnaissance fighter plane Yukikaze have seen endless battles, but after declaring “Humans are unnecessary now,” and forcibly ejecting Fukai, Yukikaze is on its own. Is the target of the JAM’s hostility really Earth’s machines?
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Harmony — by Project Itoh
In the future, Utopia has finally been achieved thanks to medical nanotechnology and a powerful ethic of social welfare and mutual consideration. This perfect world isn’t that perfect though, and three young girls stand up to totalitarian kindness and super-medicine by attempting suicide via starvation. It doesn’t work, but one of the girls--Tuan Kirie--grows up to be a member of the World Health Organization. As a crisis threatens the harmony of the new world, Tuan rediscovers another member of her suicide pact, and together they must help save the planet…from itself.
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Ico: Castle in the Mist — by Miyuki Miyabe
A boy with horns, marked for death. A girl who sleeps in a cage of iron. The Castle in the Mist has called for its sacrifice: a horned child, born once a generation. When, on a single night in his thirteenth year, Ico’s horns grow long and curved, he knows his time has come. But why does the Castle in the Mist demand this offering, and what will Ico do with the girl imprisoned within the Castle's walls? Delve into the mysteries of Miyuki Miyabe’s grand achievement of imagination, inspired by the award-winning game for the PlayStation 2 computer entertainment system, now remastered for PlayStation 3.
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The Lord of Sands and Time — by Issui Ogawa
Sixty-two years after human life on Earth was annihilated by rampaging alien invaders, the enigmatic Messenger O is sent back in time with a mission to unite humanity of past eras–during the Second World War, in ancient Japan, and at the dawn of humanity–to defeat the invasion before it begins. However, in a future shredded by love and genocide, love waits for O. Will O save humanity only to doom himself?
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Loups-Garous — by Natsuhiko Kyogoku
In the near future, humans will communicate almost exclusively through online networks-- face-to-face meetings are rare and the surveillance state nearly all-powerful. So when a serial killer starts slaughtering junior high students, the crackdown is harsh. The killer’s latest victim turns out to have been in contact with three young girls: Mio Tsuzuki, a certified prodigy; Hazuki Makino, a quiet but opinionated classmate; and Ayumi Kono, her best friend. And as the girls get caught up in trying to find the killer--who might just be a werewolf-- Hazuki learns that there is much more [to their monitored communications] than meets the eye.
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The Melancholy of Mechagirl — by Catherynne M. Valente
A woman who dreams of machines. A paper lantern that falls in love. The most compelling video game you've never played and that nobody can ever play twice. This collection of Catherynne M. Valente's stories and poems with Japanese themes includes the lauded novella “Silently and Very Fast,” the award-nominated “Thirteen Ways of Looking at Space/Time,” and “Ghosts of Gunkanjima”--which originally appeared in a book smaller than your palm, published in a limited edition of twenty-four.
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Metal Gear Solid: Guns of the Patriots — by Project Itoh
From the legendary video game franchise! Solid Snake is a soldier and part of a worldwide nanotechnology network known as the Sons of the Patriots System. Time is running out for Snake as, thanks to the deadly FOXDIE virus, he has been transformed into a walking biological weapon. Not only is the clock ticking for Snake, but for the world itself. Snake turns to the SOP for help, only to find that it has been hacked by his old enemy Liquid--and whoever controls the SOP System controls the world.
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Mirror Sword and Shadow Prince — by Noriko Ogiwara
When the heir to the empire comes to Mino, the lives of young Oguna and Toko change forever. Oguna is drafted to become a shadow prince, a double trained to take the place of the hunted royal. But soon Oguna is given the Mirror Sword, and his power to wield it threatens the entire nation. Only Toko can stop him, but to do so she needs to gather four magatama, beads with magical powers that can be strung together to form the Misumaru of Death. Toko's journey is one of both adventure and self-discovery, and also brings her face to face with the tragic truth behind Oguna's transformation. A story of two parallel quests, of a pure love tried by the power of fate, the second volume of Tales of the Magatama is as thrilling as Dragon Sword and Wind Child.
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MM9 — by Hiroshi Yamamoto
Japan is beset by natural disasters all the time: typhoons, earthquakes, and…giant monster attacks. A special anti-monster unit called the Meteorological Agency Monsterological Measures Department (MMD) has been formed to deal with natural disasters of high “monster magnitude.” The work is challenging, the public is hostile, and the monsters are hungry, but the MMD crew has science, teamwork… and a legendary secret weapon on their side. Together, they can save Japan, and the universe!
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The Navidad Incident: The Downfall of Matias Guili — by Natsuki Ikezawa
In this sweeping magical-realist epic set in the fictional south sea island Republic of Navidad, Ikezawa gives his imagination free rein to reinvent the myths of the twentieth century Japan. The story takes off as a delegation of Japanese war veterans pays an official visit to the ex-World War II colony, only to see the Japanese flag burst into flames. The following day, the tour bus, and its passengers, simply vanish. The locals exchange absurd rumors-- the bus was last seen attending Catholic mass, the bus must have skipped across the lagoon-- but the president suspects a covert guerrilla organization is trying to undermine his connections with Japan. Can the real answers to the mystery be found, or will the president have to be content with the surreal answers?
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The Next Continent — by Issui Ogawa
The year is 2025 and Gotoba General Construction--a firm that has built structures to survive the Antarctic and the Sahara--has received its most daunting challenge yet. Sennosuke Touenji, the chairman of one of the world’s largest leisure conglomerates, wants a moon base fit for civilian use, and he wants his granddaughter Taé to be his eyes and ears on the harsh lunar surface. Taé and Gotoba engineer Aomine head to the moon where adventure, trouble, and perhaps romance await.
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The Ouroboros Wave — by Jyouji Hayashi
Ninety years from now, a satellite detects a nearby black hole scientists dub Kali for the Hindu goddess of destruction. Humanity embarks on a generations-long project to tap the energy of the black hole and establish colonies on planets across the solar system. Earth and Mars and the moons Europa (Jupiter) and Titania (Uranus) develop radically different societies, with only Kali, that swirling vortex of destruction and creation, and the hated but crucial Artificial Accretion Disk Development association (AADD) in common.
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Phantasm Japan: Fantasies Light and Dark, From and About Japan — by Nadia Bulkin, Gary A. Braunbeck, Quentin S. Crisp, Project Itoh, Yusaku Kitano, Jacqueline Koyanagi, Alex Dally MacFarlane, James A. Moore, Zachary Mason, Miyuki Miyabe, Lauren Naturale, Tim Pratt, Benjanun Sriduangkaew, Seia Tanabe, Joseph Tomaras, Dempow Torishima, and Sayuri Ueda
The secret history of the most famous secret agent in the world. A bunny costume that reveals the truth in our souls. The unsettling notion that Japan itself may be a dream. The tastiest meal you'll never have, a fedora-wearing neckbeard's deadly date with a yokai, and the worst work shift anyone--human or not--has ever lived through. Welcome to Phantasm Japan.
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Self-Reference ENGINE — by Toh EnJoe
Instructions for Use: Read chapters in order. Contemplate the dreams of twenty-two dead Freuds. Note your position in space-time at all times (and spaces). Keep an eye out for a talking bobby sock named Bobby Socks. Beware the star-man Alpha Centauri. Remember that the chapter entitled “Japanese” is translated from the Japanese, but should be read in Japanese. Warning: if reading this book on the back of a catfish statue, the text may vanish at any moment, and you may forget that it ever existed. From the mind of Toh EnJoe comes Self-Reference ENGINE, a textual machine that combines the rigor of Stanislaw Lem with the imagination of Jorge Luis Borges. Do not operate heavy machinery for one hour after reading.
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The Stories of Ibis — by Hiroshi Yamamoto
In a world where humans are a minority and androids have created their own civilization, a wandering storyteller meets the beautiful android Ibis. She tells him seven stories of human/android interaction in order to reveal the secret behind humanity’s fall. The stories that Ibis speaks of are the “seven novels” about the events surrounding the announcements of the development of artificial intelligence (AI) in the 20th and 21st centuries. At a glance, these stories do not appear to have any sort of connection, but what is the true meaning behind them? What are Ibis’s real intentions?
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Summer, Fireworks, and My Corpse — by Otsuichi
Two short novels, including the title story and Black Fairy Tale, plus a bonus short story. Summer is a simple story of a nine-year-old girl who dies while on summer vacation. While her youthful killers try to hide her body, she tells us the story--from the point of view of her dead body--of the children’s attempt to get away with murder. Black Fairy Tale is classic J-horror: a young girl loses an eye in an accident, but receives a transplant. Now she can see again, but what she sees out of her new left eye is the experiences and memories of its previous owner. Its previous deceased owner.
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Ten Billion Days and One Hundred Billion Nights — by Ryu Mitsuse
Ten billion days--that is how long it will take the philosopher Plato to determine the true systems of the world. One hundred billion nights--that is how far into the future Jesus of Nazareth, Siddhartha, and the demigod Asura will travel to witness the end of all worlds. Named the greatest Japanese science fiction novel of all time, Ten Billion Days and One Hundred Billion Nights is an epic eons in the making. Originally published in 1967, the novel was revised by the author in later years and republished in 1973.
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Usurper of the Sun — by Housuke Nojiri
Aki Shiraishi is a high school student working in the astronomy club and one of the few witnesses to an amazing event–someone is building a tower on the planet Mercury. Soon, the Builders have constructed a ring around the sun, threatening the ecology of Earth with an immense shadow. Aki is inspired to pursue a career in science, and the truth. She must determine the purpose of the ring and the plans of its creators, as the survival of both species–humanity and the alien Builders–hangs in the balance.
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Virus: The Day of Resurrection — by Sakyo Komatsu
In this classic of Japanese SF from 1964, American astronauts on a space mission discover a strange virus and bring it to Earth, where rogue scientists transform it into a fatal version of the flu. At first, life continues as normal. A celebrity dies in a car accident, nuclear disarmament talks proceed apace, and then a disease hits poultry stocks worldwide, leading to an egg shortage just as demand for a new influenza vaccine--which requires eggs for its production--spikes. Soon, even vaccinated individuals simply begin to die of heart attacks. Governments the world over hoard their information about the flu, so by the time the secret within the secret is understood, it is too late. Infrastructure collapses, a US general goes rogue, and nearly all human life on Earth is wiped out over the course of a few months. Soon, there are just ten thousand men and a handful of women living in international research stations in Antarctica. For years they struggle to recreate society with their limited resources. Then one of the researchers realizes that an imminent major earthquake in the now-depopulated United States may lead to nuclear Armageddon…
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Yukikaze — by Chouhei Kambayashi
More than thirty years ago a hyper-dimensional passageway suddenly appeared… the first stage of an attempted invasion by an enigmatic alien host. Humanity managed to push the invaders back through the passageway to the strange planet nicknamed “Faery.” Now, Second Lieutenant Rei Fukai carries out his missions in the skies over Faery. His only constant companion in this lonely task is his fighter plane, the sentient FFR-31 Super Sylph, call sign: YUKIKAZE.
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Zoo — by Otsuichi
A man receives a photo of his girlfriend every day in the mail…so that he can keep track of her decomposition. A deathtrap that takes a week to kill its victims. Haunted parks and airplanes held in the sky by the power of belief. These are just a few of the stories by Otsuichi, Japan’s master of dark fantasy.
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Any broken links or incorrect information? Any thoughts on these light novels?
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8 thoughts on “Sci-fi and Fantasy from Haikasoru

    1. Good to hear! There’s quite a few books from Haikasoru I’d like to read; I’d be interested to hear which ones have impressed people the most.
      Harmony sounds like an interesting (and rather dark) take on the dystopian theme that’s been popular lately.

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