Haven Editorial: Visual and light novels


“Though Mikoto’s words made Shirai unsettled, Shirai decided to continue on with the job at hand. The last bus would leave in ten minutes. Shirai held onto her dry and crumpled bag tightly as she dashed toward the destination which she could not see. Unknowingly, the minor doubt in Shirai’s heart vanished completely.”

(Paragraph taken from A certain Magical Index, light novel translation.)

Repeating names a lot:
I am a writer an author of sorts, though I mostly dabble in questionable fan comics and a metric ton of articles. In this very text both visual and light novels counts for both, due to the writing style. Due to my unfortunate habit of not seeing my own spelling errors, though this is due to a light case of dyslexia. Yet even one such as me can see that the text above is a terrible read, a truly terrible piece of grammatical structure. Sure I adore the story and love the universe. However I can not really get my head around the writing style of spamming a name over and over again. Especially when the subject of the phrase has not been changed. AS far as I know in Japanese, you don’t have to use the persons name until the subject has been changed. After all the translator did manage to use noun “her” in the middle of the paragraph. If would be fine and dandy if this was a rare thing, However it is not, it’s a common occurrence in a lot of media, such as visual novels. The thing that is most puzzling about this though, is that the author somehow have a perfectly sensible grammatical structure in the afterword.

Some sources claims that this is due to the nature of a light novel and the combination of the three Japanese alphabets. (hiragana, katakana and kanji) But in the case of the phrase above, this explanation falls flat on it’s face. In general it seems to me that many of the authors just use the name over and over, instead of finding a meaningful character description or adjective. I know the language is fully capable of this. Because I have actually studied it. An argument some would make is that I probably have no idea what I’m talking about, but I certainly do know what I’m going on about. I’m writing this editorial after all. I know for a fact that if I ever handed in an essay written like that, my grade school teacher would have been both annoyed and would have me rewrite it. We’re talking about teachers whom somewhere along the line stopped teaching grammar and expected us to use a thesaurus to weed out spelling errors. Then again most of these light novel authors are not professional writers until after they have published these books. Which means I can only hope that the next book written by the author will have better sentence structure.

An counteractive wall of text:
Naturally I have more points to make. As I stated earlier, I can’t stand doing visual novels. I find them extremely boring, sluggish and terribly uninteractive. A visual novel is essentially a book, usually a wall of text with pictures and sound effects, that have the potential to enhance the scene. Such as showing pictures of the character talking and indicating that they are walking away. However these games as they some would claim them to be, are not very interactive at all. Infact the most interaction in store is usually in the form of a dialogue choice and being able to rewind to a previous point in the story. One would be right to assume that this would make it a faster and more user friendly way to navigate a story without starting a new game all the time. This depends entirety on how well the mechanic is implemented by the programmer. Some games can only jump to saves, while others can speed up, rewind and time skip. It’s a bit hit and miss and not everyone knows how to make a good interface. Mind you, some of these games can have a brilliant plot or very interesting ideas and brings up cool concepts, yet those are often hidden by walls of text and a ludicrous slow pace. Especially when quantum physics and ability explanation is involved. What makes novels such as these even worse is that the pictures hardly visualize anything at all. There are some newer ones that have a lot of character animations involved, even if they fail hard to have them interact with the static environment. Yes I hold a grudge towards people whom try to force me to play such a game when I say no, I don’t wanna. Basically the structure, speed and the visual fails to hold my interest. If I want to reed a book, I will reed a book and enjoy it at my own pace. Should I decide to watch an anime, then I will do so. Not to mention that I have a lot of much more interactive games to pick from. To me a game needs action, interactivity and require active player input. Also should there be an audio book version of a story I have no problems listening to that, while doing something constructive. Essentially I feel that visual novels falls short on every point and that there are better choices to pick from. This is indeed my opinion and should you as the reader like visual novel games, then by all means enjoy them, play them and share your love. If someone says no, then accept that, it is not the end of the world. I gave several ones a shot, lost interest and got quite fidgety and distracted, wanting to do something else.


Njål H Sand