Introduction to Light Novels & The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

Light novels are short Japanese novels targeted specifically at young adult audiences. They are one formerly lesser discussed inspiration/original form of popular anime series – this changed primarily thanks to one particular series (more on that in a second), and it is surprising to find out certain popular series began life not as manga as is a typical assumption but as a light novel. Much like manga light novels end up being produced both prior to and after other adaptations of a series; while not currently reviewable (they’re out of print) both Onegai Teacher and Onegai Twins spawned light novels. Onegai Twins in particular is unusual in taking a different ultimate outcome to the story than the anime (though for the curious essentially it switches which of the two characters is Maiku’s sister).

There are numerous ones I really want to review but cannot, lacking any kind of authorized translation or availability in the West (amongst these is Ben-To hopefully still as amusingly silly as its anime incarnation. Put simply Ben-To is a fighting anime except rather than a show of strength or skill, the scraps in this story occur in supermarkets at night over who gets to buy the discounted bento boxes. To repeat: they’re scrapping over who can buy and then eat cheap meals from a supermarket. Which is either going to sound amazing or stupid (or both) depending on your viewpoint. Where it really excels is that the series clings to this ultimate incentive behind the character’s interactions – even while others attempt to turn the combat into some kind of typical fighting situation. The regulars say ‘No’, there is no prestige or show of strength here. There is simply getting discounted food. The anime might not bear its length wonderfully well, but I was thoroughly amused the whole time. Aside from some problematic story elements/tone mis-matches), but I will be looking at Strawberry Panic, the Sword Art Online series, the Boogiepop novels and Spice & Wolf amongst others.

First though, is the series that seemed inescapable for years but now rarely gets mentioned. If you watched anime in July of 2006 you knew who Haruhi Suzumiya was. In the same way it became hard to move for shouting about something like, say, Attack on Titan in recent years, Haruhi took over for a year or two. Haruhi was huge, the praise inciting backlashes and references and all manner of hints and nods (the series Lucky Star possibly going too far with Haruhi’s voice actress playing the lead role who is in turn something of a Haruhi fan). And it all went so wrong, in a way that few people could have suspected; the demand for more episodes met with some new episodes but what felt like a joke played on the audience – the “Endless Eight” infamous for the tedium it induced. There’s a bright spot in the film The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya which was overly long but otherwise well executed, but even then it became clear Haruhi could never live up to its own potential. The fatal flaw that eventually turned everyone off the series in place right from the start. So:The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.

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Sobek supports World Book Night

World Book Night 2014

Hello there!

Did you know that, in the United Kingdom, 35% of people don’t read for pleasure? Don’t you think that this is a crying shame?

If you speak to any bookworm, myself included, they will tell you that reading is good for the soul. It’s an undisputed fact that it helps to build the imagination, nurturing ideas and helping to treat all manner of social and mental conditions. Literature helps us to expand our knowledge of the world – allowing us to consider ideologies that we may never have discovered or experience places that would otherwise have been inaccessible to us.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was some kind of worldwide event that helped to promote the joy of reading to those 35% people?

The 23rd April is World Book Night – an event that does just this. In short, it is a celebration of books which encourages people who have grown up loving them to share their passion with those around them. Every year, thousands of people in the UK alone give up some of their free time to hit the streets, seeking out people who do not regularly read and tempting them to try something new.

To accomplish this task, they are each given a box of free books. The books that are available on every given year are selected before hand by a panel of judges and volunteers pick their favourite to champion before they hit the streets. On top of this, World Book Night donates thousands of novels to potential readers in difficult to reach locations, including prisons, care homes, hospitals, sheltered, supported and social housing.

I am proud to have been selected as a World Book Night volunteer for the last two years now. In 2012, my chosen novel was The Player of Games by one of my all-time favourite authors, Iain M Banks. Last year, I championed Casino Royale by Ian Fleming. This April I will be giving out free copies of After the Funeral by Agatha Christie.

I was encouraged to read from when I was very young and it saddens me to think that not everyone was so fortunate. If you happen to see Sobek and I wandering Norwich City Centre with our box of books on 23rd April, please give us a wave and usher any of your non-reader friends in our direction. If we can help one person to discover an untapped love of literature, we will consider the night to be roaring success!

If you want to learn more about the event, or find out if any special World Book Night events are taking place in your local libraries and book shops, please visit their website – http://www.worldbooknight.org/. They truly deserve your support.

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