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Light Novels – Issue 3

Light novels are different from traditional novels in that they are much shorter, the length of what we call a novella, sometimes even shorter than that. They consist of small story arcs, what you would see in one to five episodes of an anime adaptation, and feature drawings every few pages to help with a crucial scene’s depiction, even if it’s just showing a character sitting and having something to drink.

Light novels are different from traditional novels in that they are much shorter, the length of what we call a novella, sometimes even shorter than that. They consist of small story arcs, what you would see in one to five episodes of an anime adaptation, and feature drawings every few pages to help with a crucial scene’s depiction, even if it’s just showing a character sitting and having something to drink.

light-novels-issue-3-shana

Shakugan no Shana: I came across Shakugan no Shana when the anime came out. I dug it and because the seasons weren’t coming fast enough, I decided it was time to go to the source.

The world of Shakugan no Shana is a complex one, but I’ll try to make it as easy to understand as possible: There are two worlds, Guze and ours. For the denizens of Guze, our world is ripe with The Power of Existence (PE), the fundamental essence for all beings. Without it, you simple cease to be, vanishing from the world and memory. By consuming PE in large amounts, the Guze no Tomogara (the bad guys) cause imbalances in our world, as it strains to adapt to so many people just ceasing to exist. To combat the Tomogara and preserve the harmony of our world are Flame Haze, humans who have forged contracts with the Lords of Guze, entities akin to gods. While the Tomogara are physically in our world, the Kings work through their Hazes. When the Guze devour someone’s existence, the Flame Haze create Torches out of the remnants of a person’s existence. The Torch is a clone of that person, and is meant to slowly fade away to help the world adapt more easily to the change.

Tomogara and the Hazes have clashed for centuries and when a Haze dies, the Lord finds another one to take their place. For the Flame of Heaven, Alastor, one of the most powerful Lords, his latest Haze is a young girl, the Flame-Haired Red-Hot-Eyed Hunter. During a confrontation in Misaki City, where most of the story takes places, she comes across an unusual Torch called Yuji Sakai, who acts perfectly human while other Torches are almost mindless. Even more baffling is the fact he doesn’t fade away. He’s not a normal Torch but a Mystes, the bearer a magical artifact from Guze mixed in with his Power of Existence. The artifact restores him every day.

The story revolves around the battles with the Tomogara, their leaders and organisations. There are also the many mysteries of the twin worlds, some of which are in Yuji himself. Eventually he stops being the victim and begins training to become a warrior by the Haze’s side.

More importantly though the story is about Shana and Yuji’s relationship, between a seemingly normal boy and a girl who’s never known anything but battle and hardship. I’m a sucker for romance, and I become very critical of how books handle the evolution of a relationship, and Shana does a wonderful job. Part of it comes from not wasting too much time on the usual anime shyness. Yuji himself is very confident in his feelings while Shana is much more apprehensive and abashed since everything is completely new for her, but once she’s aware of what her feelings are, she’s completely straightforward and I like that.

The only downside is that sometimes between the Lords, Tomogara and Haze’s titles, nicknames and their different powers and plots you can get a bit lost.

The action and character descriptions are pretty good and the fights and enemies are pretty exciting though.

light-novels-issue-3-hunter-d

Vampire Hunter D: The world has ended, reborn and ended again. First humanity all but died out in a nuclear war. From the ashes and shadows, the Vampires rose from their slumber and took over the world. Humanity was under their heel and they ruled over us like cattle, but then humans revolted and took over once more, sending the few Vampires around to hide.

But Vampires didn’t really waste their time while they were in charge. To protect themselves they recreated the many monsters of myth and legend through genetic experimentation, creating armies of monsters that now roam the countryside. Because of this, there are now Hunters, men and women risking their lives to kill these creatures and protect settlements and get paid for the bounties. Some are even hired to take care of a particular creature.

The most powerful among them are the Vampire Hunters, those that go against the ancient lords themselves. And the most notable among them is the man called D. Quite and impassive, D is universally feared, not just because of his skills but his nature. He’s a Dhampyr, a half-vampire.

What makes the Vampire Hunter D universe work so well is that it’s a fantasy post-apocalyptic Western. Technology is futuristic, with energy barriers and laser guns, but society and its values have regressed to the American western, with farmers, bandits and sheriffs. All horses are cyborgs, and you can get a new one if yours stops working, to give you an example of this futuristic yet archaic world.

D’s usual stories are around a Vampire targeting a particular villager, a woman to make her his bride, but the plot and characters aren’t ever straightforward. There are hidden agendas, and enemies of circumstance. D or one of the secondary characters will severely piss someone off, sparking a secondary villain to complicate things, or there are subplots you only become aware of late in the story.

At the centre of every story is the mystery of D’s heritage, which I won’t spoil.

It’s post-apocalyptic Sci-dark-fantasy, and if that’s not appealing enough for you, I don’t know what is!

Oh, have I mentioned Final Fantasy’s Yoshitaka Amano does all the art? It’s gothic-ly gorgeous!

light-novels-issue-3-dxd

High School DxD: High School DxD is a strange beast. It’s about the conspiracies and conflicts between the different factions in Heaven, Hell and everything in between. There’s political manoeuvring, deceit, arranged marriages and duels of honour…but there’s also love, friendship and quite a healthy dose of lewdness.

Most of that comes from the main character Hyodo Issei, who’s an unabashed pervert. Fantasising all day about boobs, butts and much more, he not only serves as protagonist but also comic relief.

When the story opens, a Fallen Angel murders Issei and a Demon revives him as part of her army, one of her bound soldiers. The Demon Lord is Rias Gremory, the younger sister of the current Satan, the title for the king of hell. The way the Armies of Hell work is closely tied to Chess, with each soldier having a piece associated to them much like a Class in a video game. For example, a Demon Lord may have up to eight pawns, two Rooks, two Bishops, etc. What makes this important is the fact that to revive Issei, Rias uses all her Pawn spots, making him potentially one of the most powerful soldiers in her army.

In the world of DxD, God gave some humans Sacred Gears, powerful artifacts that exist within them, a part of them. Demons often choose Humans with gears, as it’s the only way to get their hands on them. At the start of the show it’s believed that Issei’s is one of the more common SGs called Twice Critical, which boosts the wearer’s attack power for one attack, but requires charging for a little while. But as the series progresses it becomes obvious that his gear is something else, something much more powerful, it’s just that it hasn’t completely evolved.

This is a very sexual show, not explicitly, but there are many lustful moments. In anime terms, it would be “fan service” and the anime is actually plentiful in that regard, but what makes it good is the world it takes place. It takes the Christian Myth and gives it a new spin to actually make it interesting and quite appealing. Characters have good motivations and even with all the sensual banter and the close-to-sexual situations, the characters stand out as having incredible depth.

Issei’s not just a unidimensional pervert, he cares about the people around him and he is actually in love with one of them, but the pervert side of him can’t say no to the advances of the other female members of the cast. What makes him an extremely likeable protagonist is that he’s earnest in everything. His naiveté makes him the best pawn in the world, but his overwhelming desire to help those closest to him also makes him the worst pawn.

DxD is a strange beast as I said. The fan service aspect of it, which hits you right in the face as soon as you pick up a volume, can put you off but if you give it a shot to show you how perfect its world-building is, then you’re in for a fun ride!

And that’s the third issue down, the last one for 2014. Join me in a fortnight for three more Light Novel series, the first three of 2015.

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3 responses

  1. The first season of Shana was excellent. The second had a lot of filler at the start forcing them to rush the finale. I didn’t care for season 3 because it was just action with a nonsensical plot. Oh well at least the finale was nice. I think I would prefer High School DXD’s anime over the books so I can fully appreciate the eye candy… er story.

    Like

    December 26, 2014 at 8:22 pm

    • The problem with the 3rd season is that all the answers come at the end, so for the longest time you don’t know what the hell is going on, which makes it seem nonsensical. I agree that season 1 was much stronger overall than the others.

      The finale was indeed very nice.

      The HSDXD anime is pretty good, and the eye candy…er story is plentiful :P

      Like

      January 2, 2015 at 9:22 pm

  2. Terrio

    Reblogged this on Official Home of Terrio Jenkins.

    Like

    December 28, 2014 at 4:51 am

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