Twitter User Charts Length of Light Novel Titles Over Time
posted on by Kim Morrissy
Light novels have gained notoriety in recent years for the sheer length of some of their titles. This isn't just restricted to light novels; Japanese book and film titles tend to be long in general. However, light novels are particularly infamous for the quirky premises laid out in their titles.
Japanese Twitter user @GenreCodeLovers posted a series of tweets on February 11 showing the number of Japanese characters in light novel titles as a function of time. The user claims that the data was collected from Ranobe Mori (Light Novel Forest), a website that collects light novel publication data. This data includes the subtitles and volume numbers as part of the overall title.
【突発図表】「ラノベのタイトルが長くなったのはいつ頃?」という話題がTLに流れてたので、『ラノベタイトル長年別分布』なんてものを作ってみたり。— ジャンルコード探検隊 (@GenreCodeLovers) February 10, 2019
The chart plots every light novel on Ranobe Mori's database from 1975 to 2018. The chart shows not only an increase in the average length of titles over time but also an increase in the range of lengths.
A second chart shows the average mean length (blue), median length (black), and mode length (red) over time.
【突発図表追加】ラノベのタイトル長の「中央値」と「平均値」の図。比較的長いこと、15字程度の長さだったのが、ここ数年で伸びていることがわかります。 pic.twitter.com/9QTzdgQLj2— ジャンルコード探検隊 (@GenreCodeLovers) February 10, 2019
A third chart shows the mean average of light novel titles sorted by publishers. The publisher with the highest mean average is Kadokawa Sneaker Bunko, which publishes The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and Konosuba - God's Blessing on This Wonderful World!. The higher averages appear to belong to publishers owned by Kadokawa, which owned 48% of the light novel market in 2011.
According to the Ranobe Mori database, the series with the longest title is Keiichi Sigsawa's I'm A High School Boy and a Successful Light Novel Author, But I'm Being Strangled By A Female Classmate Who's A Voice Actress And Is Younger Than Me (Danshi Kōkōsei de Urekko Light Novel Sakka o Shiteiru Keredo, Toshishita no Classmate de Seiyū no Onnanoko ni Kubi o Shimerareteiru.). This matches up with a previous ranking of light novel titles by Japanese media website DDNavi from 2014.
Finally, @GenreCodeLovers made a chart showing the longest new title according to each year. Notably, Sigsawa's Sword Art Online Alternative Gun Gale Online series series was the longest title in 2016 as well. This is ironic considering that Kino's Journey is only four characters long in Japanese, making it one of the shortest light novel titles.
【突発図表(大)】年別、一番長いタイトル一覧(ラノベの杜db登録に基づく)。— ジャンルコード探検隊 (@GenreCodeLovers) February 11, 2019
@GenreCodeLovers's findings have been corroborated by other fan studies showing that the mean average length of light novel titles has been increasing over time. One blogger who found that the average titles length had increased by three characters between 2015 and 2017 stressed that one should not jump to the conclusion that all light novels with long titles must be following the "clickbait title" trend. Some titles, like Only Sense Online, are considered long simply because they are written phonetically in katakana or with the roman alphabet, which tends to increase the character count in Japanese. However, it's undeniable that light novel titles have been getting longer over time.