A new digital publisher for light novels translated into English has appeared in the form of J-Novel Club.
From the introduction on their home page:
We are proud to announce J-Novel Club, the first place on the web where you can read officially licensed Japanese light novels online, as they are being translated! And then collect the finished, high-quality e-books from your favorite e-book store or go Premium and download straight from us!
At the moment there are four light novel series available, each with two to four chapters translated so far:
- Brave Chronicle: The Ruinmaker — by Kenya Atsui (with art by Saori Toyota)
- My Big Sister Lives in a Fantasy World — by Tsuyoshi Fujitaka (with art by An2A)
- My Little Sister Can Read Kanji — by Takashi Kajii (with art by Halki Minamura)
- Occultic;Nine — by Chiyomaru Shikura (with art by pako)
It sounds like there could be at least six more titles announced by the end of the year, on top of this. I imagine they will be titles from Hobby Japan or Overlap, the publishers that J-Novel Club has partnered with.
A free preview of the first chapter or two is available for each series. To read on as the stories continue to be translated, you will want to subscribe to their services. A regular membership costs $4.95 a month, and allows you to read all the latest updates on their website (or with an app on your cell phone — search for J-Novel Club on the Android or iOS store). A premium membership is also available for $10.95 a month, which gives you the bonus of one credit each month to download a full ebook from their site. There are more details here.
Once a light novel volume is completed, J-Novel Club will release it for Kindle, Nook, etc. So if you would rather wait for specific volumes to release and purchase them individually for your e-reader, that will be an option too.
Below you will find a cover and synopsis for each series, as well as a link to an Amazon preorder page. Also, I have read the first chapter for each title, so I will include my first impressions on them too.
Brave Chronicle: The Ruinmaker
Meet Kurono Kokuya, a student in the lowest rank at Star Gate Academy â€“ the worldâ€™s cutting-edge training facility for star sorcerers, the beings who use star sorcery to protect the Earth from otherworld invasions. His childhood friend Yukihime Yukigane just happens to be the worldâ€™s strongest star sorcerer, and she never lets him forget that fact. One day, their days of peace are interrupted by a powerful threat from another world. Kokuya and Yukihime stand on the front lines, risking their lives to protect those they love, but will they be able to defeat the Dark Lord Redge and his cruel minions?
Amazon link — December 3 release
Cho’s First Impressions: This is a fantasy adventure story set at a high school, so I think it will be of particular interest to those who are enjoying titles such as The Asterisk War and The Irregular from Magic High School. It’s not the sort of story I personally care for, and I didn’t see this one doing anything much to break the mold. There were three illustrations in this first segment alone though, and the artwork was quite nice.
My Big Sister Lives in a Fantasy World
One day, first year high school student Yuichi Sakaki suddenly awakens the power of â€œSoul Readerâ€ within him, and he can see words above peoples heads that describe their true nature! With just a glance at the people around him, he sees crazy things like â€œZombieâ€, â€œWitchâ€, and â€œVampireâ€… That would be bad enough, but then there is â€œSerial Killerâ€ Natsuki Takeuchi walking straight toward him… Nobody would ever believe him! Well, except for his older sister Mutsuko: This kind of stuff is right up her alley.
Amazon link — December 3 release
Cho’s First Impressions: This one reminded me of the various stories with the “chuunibyou” theme we’ve had in recent years. (Titles like When Supernatural Battles Become Commonplace and Love, Chunibyo, and Other Delusions come to mind.) The setup for this one is fun, and after reading the first segment I’m actually not sure what direction the story is going to go. I’m guessing it may be similar to Psycome, combining lighthearted “harem” antics with a more serious thriller plot.
My Little Sister Can Read Kanji
The year is 2202, and Japan has become the land of moe. Aspiring author Gin Imose and his little sister Kuroha are traveling to TOKYO to meet with the world famous author, Gai Odaira. Kuroha is uninterested in his orthodox literary style, and amazingly is able to read ancient modern Japanese books written in kanji! This fateful encounter sets off a chain of events that could change the course of literary history! Could it be that, long ago, books could be about more than little sisters showing their panties and getting in compromising situations with their non-blood-related older brothers? Impossible! Itâ€™s hard to even imagine a Japan where everyone could read kanji and the Prime Minister was a 3D human being…
Amazon link — December 17 release
Cho’s First Impressions: I didn’t expect much from this one, but I found myself pleasantly surprised by how earnest and silly it was. Just from the synopsis there, you can see it’s working with a completely ridiculous premise. On the surface it’s amusing, but there are layers of bizarre satire you can read into it all too… which is also part of the joke? The story is poking fun at what makes a book a fine work of classic literature, and what makes a book a trashy pulp novel (or, you know… a light novel). Also worth mentioning is the translation here, which is great. This seems like one of the last light novels you would expect someone to attempt working into English, but here it is.
From the mind behind Steins;Gate, Chaos;Head, Robotics;Notes, and Chaos;Child! Now a hit anime, too! –Q: Do you believe in ghosts? A: Of course not! Yuta Gamon, a young boy who lives in Kichijoji, runs an Occult-related blog called “Kirikiri Basara”. He spends his days dreaming of making a fortune off his affiliate links. Suddenly, Yuta’s blog brings together the fate of nine strangers, as what starts off as a tiny feeling that something’s wrong develops into a case that goes beyond imagination. Black magic, the afterlife, psychics, fortune-telling, other dimensions, prophecies, hypnosis, urban legends… The world is filled with flim-flam!
Amazon link — December 3 release
Cho’s First Impressions: I didn’t know anything about this series going into it, but upon reading the first segment it was easy to see it was from the same author as the popular Steins;Gate visual novel. The two main characters reminded me very much of Okabe and Mayuri, though to be honest I liked the Steins;Gate counterparts much more. But perhaps it’s too soon to judge? I am at least interested in seeing how things play out in regard to the occult; I love a good ghost story. But I guess it’s too soon to guess where things will go on that front? This looks to be a slow burner compared to the other light novels here, but that’s not surprising since Steins;Gate had an extensive setup too.
Are there any light novels here that catch your eye? There is a long free preview for each series, so be sure to give some of them a look! I’ll be curious to see what other series are picked up for J-Novel Club, and I hope things work out well for all parties involved. I think this could be a great way for more niche light novel labels to reach English readers more feasibly, so I hope everyone interested in these titles gives this a shot.