I honestly didn’t think it was possible. Even today, before I saw the news, I was thinking that light novels had no future in North America. However, Yen Press exceeded my expectations and did the impossible. They’ve announced that they’ve received the licenses to the Sword Art Online and Accel World light novels, along with other releases.
Publishing company, Yen Press, has announced a whole slew of announcements at their industry panel at Japan Expo USA. Yen Press has announced that they have received the licenses to the Sword Art Online and Accel World light novels, both written by Reki Kawahara. Along with the light novels, Yen Press will also be releasing the Sword Art Online manga series, which includes the Aincrad and Fairy Dance arcs. Yen Press will be releasing the first volume of the Sword Art Online light novels in early 2014. As for now, the release date for the Accel World light novels are unknown.
Madoka Magica: The Different Story Volume 1
Yen Press has also licensed the Madoka Magica manga spinoff: The Different Story. Original concept from the anime was created by Gen Urobuchi, but this series was created by Hanokage, the author of the original Madoka Magica manga. This manga series will be a what-if story focusing on Tomoe Mami. The story will reveal Mami’s past and how she involved herself with a Mahou Shoujo from another town, Sakura Kyouko. The manga series will deviate from the original story of the anime and will feature an original story of its own. Yen Press is planning to release the first volume of the series in March 2014.
Light novels are a very exceptional media in Japan, almost matching the popularity of anime and manga. Nearly any anime you see are adaptations from light novels. These series include not only Sword Art Online and Accel World, but also Oreimo, Toradora, A Certain Magical Index, Bakemonogatari, and much, much more. However, the popularity of light novels in North America sorely differs from that of Japan’s. In North America, light novels are considered to be like any other book, and a majority of people don’t like to read anything without a lot of flashy illustrations.
I’m definitely happy that Yen Press made this decision, but on the other hand, this may hurt them more than they were hoping to gain. I highly recommend reading the light novel sources. They include much more content that the anime has not covered, and you may get a head start on that second season of Sword Art Online you’ve always wanted.
Look forward to more news from Yen Press in the future about their newly announced titles, so stay tuned.