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Light Novel vs Manga: What’s The Difference?

When you start to read Japanese fiction stories, the door from a new world opens to you. You go through adventures and relationships that you never thought you would. Then, you get to know light novels and manga.

But yet, while reading them, you don’t exactly know what is the difference between a manga and a light novel. After all, what are they? Comics? Books?

A light novel is, like the name says, a novel that contains less text and simpler words. It can have illustrations and pictures. It is, overall, easier to read because of its structure. A manga is a general name for comic books in Japan, so is a very big universe to explore. All mangas need to have illustrations and/or pictures.

Light novels and manga seem like simple concepts, but they are deeper than that. If you want to understand more about them, and if want some recommendations of the best manga and light novel out there to read, just keep on reading this article.

The Real Difference Between Light Novels And Manga

As I have said before, a light novel is a novel with simpler words and lesser text that has as targets, young people and teenagers. In Japanese, light novel means “raito noberu”, and this term is a wasei-eigo –  that is, a Japanese term that is formed from words in English.

Most of the light novels that you will find have some kind of illustration and/or pictures. In the old days, they used to be in black and white colors, but nowadays it is common to find light novels with colored illustrations.

What Are Light Novels?

Light novels are usually short in size if you compare them to the size of ordinary novels, which is why they are called “light”.

But some of them are part of a big series, so it is more like light novels are little pieces of books, or a book divided into little pieces so it is easier for the reader to read it and get involved in the history.

That way, you will spend less time in a single light novel, so you will have more time to read other light novels.

Today is normal to see people from other countries produce light novels, especially the Korean people and the Chinese people. Some of the most beloved light novels are not Japanese, and there is nothing wrong with that. It is nice to see how another culture gets to do a light novel.

The internet has been a great platform for new writers to write light novels in the way they want to. Most of the time, they will illustrate the light novel as well. There are thousands of websites to publish your light novel in.

There is a very rich community on the internet for those who like light novels and want to get to know more about this incredible format.

Overall, a light novel is made up of 200-250 pages, nothing more than that.

The words are something between 40000-50000. Some of the most known and loved light novels are: Haruhi Suzumiya Series, Full Metal Panic, Ascendance of a Bookworm, Katanagatari, Re: ZERO – Starting Life in Another World -, Sword Art Online, and Monogatari Series.

What is Manga?

Manga is the Japanese term for comic books, so this is a very general term. Pretty much any comic book is a manga. People from the Western side of the world are used to use this term to refer only to Japanese comic books, but mangas are not produced only by the Japanese people.

As it happens with light novels, there are a lot of famous mangas that were made by Koreans, Chineses, Filipinos, and people from other countries.

Also, everyone reads mangas. There is no target age. Kids, teenagers, adults, seniors, everyone loves mangas. If you think that mangas are something only for kids, let me introduce you to a mangaka (a person that writes mangas) called Junji Ito.

Try to read his manga collection called “Tomie” in the dark. Let see if after this you will still believe that mangas are for kids only.

The truth is that mangas are a very rich field. There are mangas about drama, sci-fi, comedy, action, adventure, mythology, and even hentai. Most of the animes you’ve watched probably came from a manga.

Some of the most known mangas that became anime are Dragon Ball, Fullmetal Alchemist, Death Note, Sailor Moon, My Hero Academia, Attack on Titan, Devilman, Akira, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, and Haikyu!!.

If you want to read a manga that is not an anime yet, try Yugamin Doesn’t Have Any Friends, Akumetsu, and 20th Century Boys. Seinen, Shonen, Shojo, Josei, and Kodomomuke are famous manga genres.

Light Novel vs Manga: Key Differences

  • Are short in size;
  • Doesn’t need to have pictures or illustrations;
  • Rarely exceeds 250 pages;
  • Most light novels are part of a series;
  • It targets teenagers and young people;
  • Is the Japanese word for comic books;
  • Requires have illustrations or pictures;
  • Suitable for people of all ages;
  • It is read from right to left;
  • It usually has black and white illustrations;

What Comes First: Light Novel or Manga?

Well,  it is normal that light novels become mangas and after this, become animes. So, overall, first, someone makes a light novel, then gets the investment to write a manga, and then gets the public and investment to make an anime.

But obviously, this is not a rule. Nowadays, it is something common to happen because the internet has made it easier for people to publish their own light novels.

Is “Your Name” a Light Novel or Manga?

Neither. Your Name (Kimi no Na Wa) is an anime movie that became a light novel afterward. Well, actually the light novel was released a month prior to the movie to get the hype up, but it was written because of the movie.

The light novel was released on June 18, 2016, and the movie was released on July 3, 2016. On August 23, 2016, a manga version was released.

Is “Overlord” a Light Novel or Manga?

Overlord is a Japanese light novel series released on July 30, 2012, written by Kugane Maruyama. On June 26, 2015, a manga adaptation was released by Satoshi Öshio. The anime was released on July 7, 2015, by Madhouse.

Is “That Time I Got Reincarnated As A Slime” a Light Novel or Manga?

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime is probably one of the most famous and loved on-going Japanese light novels. It was serialized online between 2013 and 2016 before Micro Magazine acquired it and released it as a light novel.

The manga started to be published on March 26, 2016, and the anime television series was released on October 2, 2018.

Is “Kono Suba” a Light Novel or Manga?

KonoSuba: God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World! Is a Japanese light novel that had its novel series released on December 20, 2012. The light novel itself was released on October 1, 2013. The manga was released on September 9, 2014, and the anime television series was released on January 14, 2016.

James Smith

James is a passionate explorer and the creative mind behind, a platform dedicated to unraveling captivating distinctions. With an insatiable curiosity, he uncovers hidden nuances in various aspects of life, from cultural traditions to scientific phenomena. James believes that appreciating differences fosters personal growth and societal empathy.