The Light Novels are Where It’s At for No Game, No Life

Last time on this NGNL saga, I wasn’t particularly impressed by it…but I guess you could say that I found a kindred spirit through looking at the structure of the novels and their translation.

How It All Began

After picking up novels 1 – 4 from a branch of the library I don’t normally visit, at first I thought I’d just be reading for Materialisation Shiritori (which I like the general concept of, but I don’t like the experimentation with the R18 stuff – that basically sums up my feelings on the entire series). However, before I knew it, I was partway through the 3rd book and for a series that gets so lewd it’s embarrassing to read in public, that’s no mean feat.

So I turned on my Author Brain and scrutinised the novels to try and find why this happened.

Characteristics of the Light Novel

The first thing you notice when you look at the contents is that there are only 4 chapters, an epilogue, an author’s afterword and an introduction in the space of about 200 pages in each volume. On top of that, dialogue is often not noted to be by a character or noted in the previous sentence to their dialogue – you have to guess from context who says what, through their personality and speech patterns. This makes for speedy reading (hence the “light” in “light novel”), although it may hinder people who aren’t familiar with the context required for understanding. Notably, I don’t top 2000 words in my posts often, when some other bloggers (I don’t know who specifically so I can’t name names, but I know there are some out there) regularly top 5000…a feat I simply couldn’t achieve due to the way I write and the fact motivation never seems to last too long once it strikes.

Another notable thing, which could be attributed to the author or the translator (this last one being Daniel Komen for the Yen On imprint), is the use of formatting and deliberately disjointed writing to aid the illusion of speed in more action-driven parts, such as the game Love or Loved 2 in volume 3. Bolded font or text written in much larger fonts is used for yelling or declarations of another sort, while emphasis is used for stress of less importance than the large font or bolding (such as when pointing out superhuman skills at Love or Loved 2, or like I did in the first paragraph of this post).

At other points, strategically-placed hyphens and bracketed translations are used. The latter is specifically used in Sora’s game of Othello against Kurami (who’s regrettably called “Chlammy” in the light novels), where the knowledge of the numbers is needed to play the game…but hypothetically you could do away with the Japanese numerals, meaning 1) the translator kept them either for aesthetic reasons or 2) to aid people to distinguish between the Roman numerals used as a translation. Notably, Blank is written as ” “, to substitute for the Japanese square brackets (i.e.『   』) without being too conspicuous to the casual reader’s eye and still retaining the same information.

The translator (or the author – it’s hard to tell when all you have is the final product) uses leetspeak and abbreviations at certain parts of the story for modernity’s sake – since this is about gamers, they should speak the way gamers speak, after all. I interpret this as a show of trust through knowledge of mutual context, as if the author + translator combo is playing mind games with you as you read the story of games being played for the sake of Disboard-

-that’s an awfully convoluted simile, but hopefully you get what I mean.

The final parts that stands out are the unnatural overuse of letters to point out how long sounds are held and occasionally using strikethroughs to cross out words for unintentional humour. Yomu has noted I do these already.

“So what’s this all for?” you ask?

…Good question.

People say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but it’s also a good way to learn. In that sense, by being able to imitate the writing of the No Game, No Life light novel, I’ll be able to write better April Fool’s Day prank posts expand on my repertoire as a writer, and maybe teach you a thing or two about how to write this way as well.

“Whaddaya mean, though?! There must be more than that.”

W-Well, it just so happened that my existing style was kind of like the one in the light novel, so why not?! Plus translation of anything – a light novel included – is simply a series of aesthetic choices, one after another, and stringing them together in a way the translator thinks is faithful to the original, so it also works in that sense.

…I can do that, can’t I?

So, how did you like this? I admit it seems a bit out of my league, as light novels aren’t part of the name of this blog, but since I took the light novels on due to the anime…I think it should suffice.




3 thoughts on “The Light Novels are Where It’s At for No Game, No Life

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  1. I’ll admit, the writing style of No Game No Life is the reason I won’t go beyond the first volume. As much as I loved the anime and wanted to know what happened next in the story, I found it really tiresome to read with all the excessive punctuation and disjointed nature of it all. I kind of prefer stories that naturally flow and NGNL felt anything but flowing as I tried to read it.

    Liked by 2 people

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