Light Novel Kindling: The Shoujo Light Novels are Omnipresent

Welcome back to Light Novel Kindling! Here, I will take a look at our next Light Novel Club selection and give my thoughts on something related to it. At the end of this post, I will also announce the light novel we’ll be reading for the meeting afterwards, which in this case will be in January 2021 (since we’re taking the holiday season off).

Our next Light Novel Club selection is The Saint’s Magic Power is Omnipotent, Vol. 1, with discussion beginning November 14th and running through the end of the month on Discord! Licensed by Seven Seas, the synopsis of this volume is as such:

This is Not the Saint You’re Looking For

Could workaholic office lady Sei be a legendary Saint? Not according to the crown prince of another world who summoned her and quickly declared a different girl was the real Saint! That suits Sei just fine–she would much rather spend her days quietly helping people with her unbelievably powerful magic. But how long can Sei live her ideal life of leisure before her true nature is revealed?

This is the third “shoujo” light novel that the Light Novel Club will have covered, after Tearmoon Empire and Of Dragons and Fae. I put “shoujo” in quotation marks because technically, the original Japanese light novel was published under a male-oriented label (the actual terms “shounen” and “shoujo” aren’t really used in the light novel industry). That said, its manga adaptation was published under an official “shoujo” label, so yeah… if that’s not confusing, it’s definitely a good indication of how labels like “shoujo” and “shounen” aren’t always very meaningful and are ultimately just marketing terms. And Seven Seas clearly wants to market this light novel to “shoujo” fans.

With the recent discussion on our favorite non-shounen anime, I couldn’t help but think of how light novels (and their manga and anime adaptations) fit into that discussion. As I mentioned, light novels don’t really use terms like “shounen” and “shoujo” in their marketing like manga does, though they do often have separate labels for “female-oriented” works. Overall, though, it’s easy to see that most light novels are aimed at male readers, whether that be the teenager-based “shounen” demographic or the adult-based “seinen” demographic. (One way to get an idea of a light novel’s target demographic is to look at what its manga adaptation is published under; for example, That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime’s main manga is published in a shounen magazine.) In contrast, while female manga readership has been well-established through “shoujo” and “josei” (aimed at adult women) manga, light novels have not been as prominent there, particularly for English readers.

The rise in “female-oriented” light novels, particularly with regards to English licensing, is a notable effort to expand the appeal of light novels to a wider audience. It mainly started with Cross Infinite World’s independent efforts to publish titles like Obsessions of an Otome Gamer and I Became the Secretary of a Hero! J-Novel Club would then bring more attention to the world of shoujo light novels when they started their “J-Novel Heart” label, which Tearmoon Empire was part of. Now, with Seven Seas publishing Saint’s Magic and other shoujo novels (Yen Press has yet to license any such light novels, though they have licensed manga adaptations of some shoujo novels), it seems that shoujo novels are here to stay.

Of course, just because these novels are “aimed at female readers” doesn’t mean male readers can’t enjoy them. After all, I am male, and I have been enjoying a lot of these shoujo novels. Just like how there are plenty of male fans of shoujo manga and anime, there is nothing unusual at all for a guy to be reading shoujo novels. It helps that many of these novels are in the popular isekai or fantasy genres, which helps established fans of those types of stories find something familiar as they try them out.

With all that said, the big question is: what makes these shoujo light novels different? And that… is a question we will be answering in our discussion of this novel later this month! So if you want to participate in that discussion, join the Light Novel Club on our Discord!

The Light Novel Club will be taking a break for the holidays in December, but if you want to get a head start on January’s Light Novel Club reading: we will be reading Infinite Dendrogram, Vol. 5! We’ve already covered four volumes of this series and we’re looking forward to covering the volume that wraps up the first arc. And if you haven’t started this series yet, you have a good amount of time to catch up before we begin discussion on January 23rd, 2021. You can pick up volume 5 from J-Novel Club here!


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