Looking back even three years ago, the English light novel industry was considered “dead on arrival”. Aside from a couple of breakouts like Little, Brown’s The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya” and Yen Press’ Spice & Wolf, consumers and industry alike had little faith in the genre – with Viz Media’s cancellation of Shakugan no Shana only two volumes into the twenty-six volume series being a strong reminder of how fragile the market was (yes – I’m still salty about that!. The huge international success of the Sword Art Online anime however, led to a significant light novel revival and today, the industry has welcomed a brand-new, Crunchyroll-esque service for the industry – J-Novel Club.
Founded by Samuel Pinansky of Anime Sols, J-Novel is an online service where subscribers can read regularly updated chapters of select light novel series’, as opposed to waiting months for collected volumes (although they will still be released digitally on services like Amazon Kindle). Members can opt for a basis subscription at $4.50 per month (or $54 per year), granting them access to new weekly chapters of all J-Novel’s titles, or a Premium Membership for $10.95 pm ($120 pa), which also gives access to one free collected eBook per month. The first part of all their launch titles are currently available for free, with subsequent instalments requiring a membership.
J-Novel’s launch line-up is as follows:
Occultic Nine by Chiyomaru Shikura (ill. by pako)
From the mind behind Steins;Gate, Chaos;Head, Robotics;Notes, and Chaos;Child! Now a hit anime, too! –Q: Do you believe in ghosts? A: Of course not! Yuta Gamon, a young boy who lives in Kichijoji, runs an Occult-related blog called “Kirikiri Basara”. He spends his days dreaming of making a fortune off his affiliate links. Suddenly, Yuta’s blog brings together the fate of nine strangers, as what starts off as a tiny feeling that something’s wrong develops into a case that goes beyond imagination. Black magic, the afterlife, psychics, fortune-telling, other dimensions, prophecies, hypnosis, urban legends… The world is filled with flim-flam!.
Brave Chronicle: The Ruinmaker by Kenya Atsui (ill. by Saori Toyota)
Meet Kurono Kokuya, a student in the lowest rank at Star Gate Academy – the world’s cutting-edge training facility for star sorcerers, the beings who use star sorcery to protect the Earth from otherworld invasions. His childhood friend Yukihime Yukigane just happens to be the world’s strongest star sorcerer, and she never lets him forget that fact. One day, their days of peace are interrupted by a powerful threat from another world. Kokuya and Yukihime stand on the front lines, risking their lives to protect those they love, but will they be able to defeat the Dark Lord Redge and his cruel minions?
My Big Sister Lives In A Fantasy World by Tsuyoshi Fujitaka (ill. by An2a).
One day, first year high school student Yuichi Sakaki suddenly awakens the power of “Soul Reader” within him, and he can see words above peoples heads that describe their true nature! With just a glance at the people around him, he sees crazy things like “Zombie”, “Witch”, and “Vampire”… That would be bad enough, but then there is “Serial Killer” Natsuki Takeuchi walking straight toward him… Nobody would ever believe him! Well, except for his older sister Mutsuko: This kind of stuff is right up her alley.
My Little Sister Can Read Kanji by Takashi Kajii (ill. by Halki Minamura)
The year is 2202, and Japan has become the land of moe. Aspiring author Gin Imose and his little sister Kuroha are traveling to TOKYO to meet with the world famous author, Gai Odaira. Kuroha is uninterested in his orthodox literary style, and amazingly is able to read ancient modern Japanese books written in kanji! This fateful encounter sets off a chain of events that could change the course of literary history! Could it be that, long ago, books could be about more than little sisters showing their panties and getting in compromising situations with their non-blood- related older brothers? Impossible! It’s hard to even imagine a Japan where everyone could read kanji and the Prime Minister was a 3D human being…
If you would like to sign up or preview the free chapters available, you can head over to the J Novel website now! Mobile apps are also available on the iOS and Android stores.