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Twelve Kingdoms


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ridiculus



Joined: 16 Jul 2010
Posts: 72

PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2012 5:19 am Reply with quote
There is a new edition of Twelve Kingdoms in Japan from Shinchousha, the publisher of the first novel in the series, Mashou no ko, and some other Ono works like Shiki. This edition is furnished with the all-new covers from Akihiro Yamada, which, in my opinion, look even better than the first ones.

But one thing puzzles me. I am not sure - not at all - that the books in the series are 'light novels'. Surely, the first edition was under the Kodansha x Bunko White Heart label, which could be categorized as a light novel label, but not necessarily, and the first parts were published a long time ago, when that term didn't even exist.

I have learned many things from Andrew Cunningham, a translator who lived several years in Japan and ran an excellent blog, Eastern Standard, and even he called Twelve Kingdoms a light novel series, but I am still not sure.

First and foremost, Fuyumi Ono is not from that literary 'environment'. There are light novel awards, light novel magazines and such, but she is not associated with them. Some of her books are targated at teenagers, or, more specifically, teenage girls, but does that automatically make them 'light novels'? Is Japanese translation of American young adult fiction also marketed as 'light novels'? Because there are other editions of Twelve Kingdoms, not just this new one, but the one from Kodansha Bunko too.

There are illustrations in the books, but they are so different from the norm, and more like illustrations in western fantasy literature. And they are not necessary anyway.

Her style is much different from those usually found in the 'proper' light novels. There are many kanji, some of them very difficult, like the word for kirin (Chinese qilin): two kanji with 43 strokes total!

I think some books can be marketed both as light novels AND regular novels, depending on the content and the circumstances of the market, and Twelve Kingdoms is one of them.

Some people even categorized Shiki as a light novel Rolling Eyes , but I consider that to be a joke.

If someone could explain this better or had strong counterarguments, I would be grateful.
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hyojodoji



Joined: 08 Jan 2010
Posts: 425

PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2012 9:14 am Reply with quote
ridiculus wrote:
...and the first parts were published a long time ago, when that term didn't even exist.

Sasamoto Yūichi said that when he had shown a draft of Operation Fairy to an editor of Asahi Sonorama in 1983, there had not yet been the term 'light novel'. (It is said that the system operator of NIFTY-Serve's Science Fiction/Fantasy Forum coined the term 'light novel' in the late 80s or in the early 90s.)
So, it is probable that light novel's predecessors existed before the term/genre's being established.
(Kōdansha X Bunko White Heart started in 1991, though.)


ridiculus wrote:
But one thing puzzles me. I am not sure - not at all - that the books in the series are 'light novels'. Surely, the first edition was under the Kodansha x Bunko White Heart label, which could be categorized as a light novel label, but not necessarily,

Light Novel Perfect Book deals with Kōdansha X Bunko White Heart as a light novel imprint.
It also calls The Twelve Kingdoms light novels.
'What is a light novel?' is a difficult question, however.


ridiculus wrote:
Because there are other editions of Twelve Kingdoms, not just this new one, but the one from Kodansha Bunko too.

You mean regular Kōdansha Bunko, rather than Kōdansha X Bunko White Heart?
The Twelve Kingdoms' having been released also under the Kōdansha Bunko imprint probably means that Kōdansha thought it could be marketed also as regular novels.
 
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Key
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Joined: 03 Nov 2003
Posts: 11826
Location: Indianapolis, IN (formerly Mimiho Valley)

PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2012 10:25 am Reply with quote
Based on the several light novels that I've read, I would not consider any of the Twelve Kingdoms novels to be in that category. But what I think and what the Japanese apparently think on classification issues like this have not agreed on a few occasions before, so. . .
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Alan45
Village ElderVillage Elder


Joined: 25 Aug 2010
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Location: Virginia

PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2012 10:41 am Reply with quote
Does it really matter??

I assume that the term "light novel" is a marketing term in Japan. It would probably effect where it is shelved in a book store and possibly in a library. I don't see why it would be important to a reader, especially in this country. It is either a good book or a not so good one (and these are very good). The marketing classification should not be an issue.
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ridiculus



Joined: 16 Jul 2010
Posts: 72

PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2012 12:30 pm Reply with quote
@hyojodoji

Thank you very much for your comment! Yes, the second edition is by regular Kodansha Bunko. And as I am aware, Shinchou Bunko is not associated with light novels even remotely. Moreover, that's where Mashou no ko (prequel to the Twelve Kingdoms) was published for the first time.

@Key

Yes, I have the same feeling, and that's the reason for my question.

Alan45 wrote:
Does it really matter??


No, it does not affect my opinion on the quality of the book, but we are free to discuss pure theory, aren't we? Wink Especially since the non-Japanese fans are usually very zealous about the Japanese classifications.
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Alan45
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Joined: 25 Aug 2010
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2012 1:43 pm Reply with quote
@ridiculus

I see no problem with a discussion of theory, but usually the theory is intended to have some application. Yes, some fans want to catagorize things to an extreme degree. You have only to look at the talk back threads to see people fighting over what catagory a specific work falls in without any agreement of the characteristics of the catagory or any agreement as to what the works presence in the catagory would mean.

From what you have said the Twelve Kingdoms books could fall into the light novel catagory or not depending on which edition you look at and how you define light novel. You basically answered your own question. Having arrived at this point, where does it take you? If it is just to scratch an intellectual itch, I can relate but if it is for some other purpose, I'm curious as to what you would do with the information.
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nursemcquade



Joined: 25 May 2009
Posts: 26
Location: NY

PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2012 3:39 pm Reply with quote
Seemingly the term "light novel" is used as more of a marketing term today than anything else. I always thought it had to do with the length of the novel. I believe that the Japanese releases of Twelve Kingdoms are fairly short.

I haven't read many light novels, but from what I have read it seems that the writing in Twelve Kingdoms is more sophisticated than others in the category. I've also read a translation of Ono's "Masho no Ko." It was also quite short but it's hard to determine the complexity or depth of the original text based on a fan translation (as the one I read was a bit clunky).

As others have stated, both the concept of a light novel in Japan and the term itself predates the Twelve Kingdoms novels by at least a decade.
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ridiculus



Joined: 16 Jul 2010
Posts: 72

PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2012 5:48 pm Reply with quote
Masho no ko was published under Shincho Bunko label in 1991, and was almost 450 pages long. The new edition has almost 500 pages. In any case, that is too much for a light novel. Some of the subsequent books were initially published in two volumes, but the newer editions haven't always followed that choice. For example, Kaze no umi... was 2 volumes long as part of the White Heart imprint, and one volume as part of Kodansha Bunko. The newest, Shincho Bunko edition of the book will also be single volume.

Well, maybe I'll have more to say when I get the books. By the way, there is much new information on Fuyumi Ono these days, because recently two new works have simultanously been published: Kidan hyakkei (I hope that's the correct transcription, and the translation is something like "100 Views of Ghost/Demon Tales") and Zan-e . But that's the topic for another thread.
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maaya



Joined: 14 Oct 2007
Posts: 976

PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2012 7:53 am Reply with quote
the new editions look so pretty, I'm tempted to rebuy the whole series. The actual text is also going to be slightly updated.

Concerning the classification, I posted this somewhere else before, but: Fuyumi Ono is in general not a typical light novel author. Most of her works were never published as light novels. 12 Kingdoms (and Ghost Hunt) being the exception was first published under Kodansha's White Heart light novel imprint (when it got popular they published it again in an "adult" edition without the "comic covers").

The new edition of 12 Kingdoms isn't published under a light novel imprint anymore, so I think the series has really lost that "status". The editors and readers refer to it as a simple "fantasy novel".

Masho no Ko in any case was never ever published as a light novel.
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hyojodoji



Joined: 08 Jan 2010
Posts: 425

PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2013 7:06 pm Reply with quote
Shinchōsha will publish a Twelve Kingdoms book which will contain 4 short stories by Ono Fuyumi in July of 2013.

http://www.shinchosha.co.jp/​12kokuki/​log/​34.​html
 
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Dhaos



Joined: 19 Nov 2011
Posts: 23

PostPosted: Sat May 04, 2013 10:27 am Reply with quote
Has this series been completed? I've always wanted to read the story since I finished the anime, and was left with a bitter taste because it was abruptly terminated.
Also, what's the status of fan translation? I know that official translation only arrive to a certain point.
Sorry to ask very basic questions, but I wasn't able to find clear answers on the internet.
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hyojodoji



Joined: 08 Jan 2010
Posts: 425

PostPosted: Sat May 04, 2013 9:15 pm Reply with quote
Dhaos wrote:
Has this series been completed?

The Twelve Kingdoms has not been completed yet.


There are jokes and rumours about The Twelve Kingdoms' being unfinished in the light novel fandom in Japan.
There was a thread about The Twelve Kingdoms on 2ch in January, and in the thread a 2channeller said,
Quote:
If an author writes a fantasy, he/she should finish it before he/she comes to be not able to bear the junior high schooler-ish setting which he/she thought of in his/her young days.


Another 2channeller asked a question in the thread:
Quote:
So why does she come to be not able to write The Twelve Kingdoms, after all?

And a few people responded to it.
Quote:
Probably because she cannot think up the ending.

Quote:
The cause of her 'defeat' is that she has taken to explaining the setting halfway.

Quote:
It seems that The Twelve Kingdoms is an 'assignment', rather than what she really wants to write. If she cannot motivate herself due to a shortage of ideas, thinking of explanations being too much trouble, and pressure, there is no way out.

 
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Dhaos



Joined: 19 Nov 2011
Posts: 23

PostPosted: Sun May 05, 2013 10:34 am Reply with quote
Btw, do you know where I can find volume 2 and volume 3 for cheap? I can find almost all the other volumes as ebooks, but not volume 2 and 3, and they are too expensive on amazon (shipping cost to europe).
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hyojodoji



Joined: 08 Jan 2010
Posts: 425

PostPosted: Sun May 05, 2013 11:18 am Reply with quote
Dhaos wrote:
...and they are too expensive on amazon (shipping cost to europe).

Er―you mean Amazon US?

Dhaos wrote:
Btw, do you know where I can find volume 2 and volume 3 for cheap?

Possibly on Amazon UK, Amazon France, and so on? I don't know which country in Europe you live in, though.
 
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hyojodoji



Joined: 08 Jan 2010
Posts: 425

PostPosted: Thu May 16, 2013 6:12 am Reply with quote
Ono Fuyumi's Zan-é has received the 26th Yamamoto Shūgorō Prize.
 
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