Since actual Japanese sources on writing light novels aren’t easy to find in English, I am sharing translations of some of the more interesting articles I have found during my current research here on my blog. Since my Japanese is poor, this is a machine translation done using DeepL Translation software and is presented “as is” with all the awkward phrasing and odd words intact. That said, it’s amazing how good translation systems are getting.
This particular article is from 2012, and was done by the Light Novel Research Institute, which seems to be a semi-abandoned site since nothing has been added for quite some time. Although there are no names, I get the feeling this site was a collaborative effort by light novel writers and fans to try to create a bible of sorts for writing light novels, and apparently the “group” went on to publish a book on the subject.
Again, this article is a snapshot of what romantic comedy light novels looked like during a certain era and reflects the tastes of that era. Like the other article on writing light novel romcoms I translated, it tells us a lot about what was popular at the time it was written. In fact, this one provides a lot more specific examples than the other one did, which is nice.
One other interesting point about this article is that it reveals a very clear debate in the community about “violent girls” (see Part 8 – Brutal and Violent Honesty Between the Couple) who express their affections through hitting and hurting the male lead. This trope can be traced back to 70s and 80s manga (Urusei Yatsura and City Hunter both use this for gags) and naturally it’s part of light novels written by those who grew up on those manga as well.
The following is an unofficial English translation of a Japanese article about writing romantic comedy light novels. It is presented here for educational and research purposes only. The original Japanese text can be found here.
How to make love and romantic comedy
- Love is the greatest concern of mankind
- Jealousy creates romantic feelings
- The bigger the obstacle, the more love burns
- A harem with an extreme ratio of men to women
- How to make a man and a woman fall in love effectively
- Rejecting courtship from a High Status Partner
- Be dominated by a beautiful girl and then help her.
- Brutal and Violent Honesty Between the Couple
- Annoying demands that acknowledge the hero’s power
- The sadness of not being able to be with the one you love, but still working for their sake.
In the 1990s, light novels were created using shonen manga techniques. However, in the 2000s, due to the influence of bishojo games and other factors, light novels began to evolve in their own way, incorporating techniques for writing exciting and fun relationships with girls, as well as shoujo manga techniques for creating sadness and depicting the inner life.
It is rare to find a work without romantic comedy elements.
In this section, I will analyze and introduce the classic romantic comedy techniques as well as the advanced romantic comedy techniques commonly found in popular light novel works.
1. Love is humanity’s greatest concern
The biggest themes that humans seek in stories are “struggle” and “love.”
It is impossible to create a story that will be accepted by the masses without involving both of these two.
Hollywood movies have repeatedly made stories in which the righteous hero defeats the bad guys, falls in love with a beautiful woman, and has a happy ending.
Both “struggle” and “romance” depict an extraordinary world, but romance has the advantage of being familiar and therefore easy to relate to. Above all, love is the greatest concern of mankind, both in the past and the present.
Even in folklore such as Greek mythology and Arthurian legend, love has been involved in key parts of the story.
There are not many saints who really believe that world peace is more important than being popular with the opposite sex.
Dieting, choosing trendy clothes, and setting your hair are all things you do to make yourself more beautiful, to look cool, and above all, to be popular with the opposite sex.
It is very important to include the element of romance in your story, because there is no one who is not interested in romance, and it will attract the reader’s interest.
However, the element of romance is not something that can just be included in a novel.
No one will be interested in a love story with no ups and downs between a man and a woman who can be found anywhere.
There is an effective way to make use of this.
2. Jealousy creates romantic feelings.
The best way to create romantic feelings in a character is to use jealousy.
A man and a woman who are more than friends and less than lovers often do not consider each other as the opposite sex, but when a rival for love enters the picture, the relationship is in danger. When they see that the person they thought was theirs is getting along well with another person of the opposite sex, they feel jealousy and become determined not to let their partner be taken away.
Jealousy is expressed in the form of taking it out on the other person or thing, and in light novels, where ease of understanding is important, this is the most royal of romantic expressions.
However, when the heroine uses jealousy as a driving force to attack the hero, the romantic feelings become visible.
The series has sold a total of 3 million copies, and the hit novel by Takemiya Yuyuko, “Toradora! (published in March 2006) is a highly acclaimed romantic comedy. Let’s take this work as an example.
The hero, Ryuji Takasu, and the heroine, Taiga Osaka, are both in love with each other’s best friend, and they form a partnership to make it happen. Because of the ease with which they share their secret, Taiga and Ryuji become as close as family, eating at Ryuji’s house, shopping and going to school together, and having Ryuji remove stains from her clothes.
It is not until the end of the second volume, when she witnesses Ryuji embracing (or seemingly embracing) Ami, a beautiful girl, that Taiga becomes conscious of Ryuji as a member of the opposite sex.
Taiga is in a foul mood and lashes out at Ryuji, but Ryuji is confused as to why she is in a foul mood.
‘You’re pissed off? I am? Do I look like that? Why? Is this what you’re trying to tell me? Ami Kawashima and I were flirting, and I witnessed it, and I got jealous, and I got angry, and I got mad, and I got pissed off, and I thought I deserved to have you apologize to me… Are you trying to tell me that I’m such a miserable woman, that you’re worth it, that I’m worth being jealous of?”Quotes from “Toradora! Volume 3
This is Taiga’s line, but she’s so mad with jealousy that it’s really scary.
In this way, a crack appears in their lukewarm relationship. This crack leads to a change in the relationship as they become aware of each other.
During the swimming match, when Ryuji goes into a semi-fainting state and drowns, Taiga rescues him despite the odds being stacked against him and shouts, “Ryuji is mine.
“Ryuji is mine…ohhh! No one touches him, no one!”Quoted in “Toradora! Volume 3
This is nothing but a confession of love, isn’t it?
The feeling of jealousy is the flip side of liking the other person.
By making them jealous, you can change the relationship from friends to lovers, and make it a natural transition to a romantic relationship.
In fact, this pattern can be applied to siblings as well.
”Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai” [My little sister can’t be this cute!] (published on August 10, 2008), a huge hit with a cumulative circulation of 5 million copies, is a comedy work that depicts the struggles of Kyosuke, an older brother who is pushed around by his younger sister, Kirino.
In volume 7, Kirino asks Kyosuke to date her as her boyfriend in order to turn down a modeling job, and Kyosuke reluctantly accepts. However, during the date, when Kyosuke is distracted by another girl, Kirino becomes unhappy and tells him that she will ask her real boyfriend next time and that she doesn’t need him to date her anymore.
Kyosuke is very upset by this, and asks a female friend who is close to Kirino if her sister really has a boyfriend, but she doesn’t know the truth. Finally, a handsome man who claims to be Kirino’s boyfriend comes to the house, and things get heated.
The episodes in volume 7 consist of an exchange of jealousy: Kirino is jealous of a girl who is close to Kyosuke, and Kyosuke is jealous of Kirino’s boyfriend.
By the time we get to volume 7, the relationship between the two siblings has become a good one, and Kyosuke is completely at ease. This is the first time that they have been able to repair the cracks in their relationship and bring them closer together.
…… So you’re saying I can’t give you my sister unless it’s a man I approve of?
Yes! I don’t care how great you are, …… I’m worried about my sister! I’m so worried about her! If you’re frustrated, go ahead and try to reassure me!Quote from Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai, Volume 7
Kyosuke shouts this in front of his sister and her boyfriend. His jealousy brings out his true feelings.
This is the same as Taiga Osaka in “Toradora! It’s a straightforward and unpretentious statement, just like Taiga Osaka in that it reaches the heart of the other person (and the reader).
Of course, Kyosuke’s feelings here are not love, but love for his sibling and possessiveness, but it does result in a deepening of their love for each other. After that, the relationship between Kyosuke and Kirino goes beyond the boundaries of brother and sister and they become too close, and finally end up getting together in the final volume.
Jealousy is an expression of possessiveness, an evocation of romantic feelings, and the best way to make a character feel romantic is to use jealousy.
3. The bigger the obstacle, the more love burns.
When a pure-hearted young man and a girl, born into two families that have been at odds with each other for so long that they even murder each other, fall in love……
This is Shakespeare’s famous play, Romeo and Juliet.
This tragic love story is popular all over the world and has been read by many generations.
It is often used as the subject of plays, and is one of the greatest love stories of all time.
What is the secret of the fun of “Romeo and Juliet”?
It’s about a man and a woman who are destined never to be together, but who want each other intensely and have a series of dangerous secret meetings.
The reader wonders what will happen if they are found out. I want them to never find out.
You will be reading with a sense of excitement, hoping that your love will be fulfilled.
This tension is irresistible, and when the two overcome the many difficulties and talk about their love, it is a great catharsis (release of suppressed psychology).
Yay! Yay! Hooray! That’s how I feel.
In the end, the story ends with a bad ending, but people are greatly moved to tears by this all-too-pure love.
As you can see from this example.
The bigger the obstacle, the bigger the love burns.
…… In other words, it becomes interesting.
This is the most important factor in creating a love story.
This is the most important factor in creating a love story, and the most popular love stories in the world always follow this rule.
For example, in “Cinderella,” there is a difference in status between the lower class nobility and royalty, and in “The Little Mermaid,” the difference between the races of humans and mermaids on the earth acts as an obstacle that tears them apart.
Stories where brother and sister love each other are also popular in light novels.
When you incorporate romantic elements into your story, don’t make it easy for them to get together.
Always create obstacles to love.
It’s better to create obstacles to love. The story will definitely be more interesting if you do.
In romantic comedies, the combo of “two people approaching each other, good vibes flowing, but they stop short of each other” is persistently repeated, and the flame of love gradually burns higher.
The thrill of the moment is the best part of a love story.
There are a variety of possible obstacles such as love triangles, parental disagreements, racial differences, status differences, religious differences, military conscription due to war, blood ties, long-distance relationships, incurable diseases, amnesia in one of them, and curses that prevent them from touching each other’s bodies.
4. A Harem State with an Extreme Ratio of Men to Women
There are harem novels, manga, and anime.
I think the genre was pioneered by the huge hit “Tenchi Muyo”, in which a dull, ordinary guy suddenly finds himself in the presence of several beautiful girls and becomes very popular.
Recently, there has been an overabundance of these kinds of stories, and they have become a bit of a buzzkill, but these stories have gained overwhelming support from male readers, and a number of them have become hits.
”Maburaho”, “Mamotte Morogetsu Ten”, “Love Hina”, “Oh, Goddess”, “Sister Princess” ……
The list could go on and on.
The gal game and erotic game industries have never tired of adopting this pattern and selling dreams to many unattractive men, including myself.
So, why is this annoying, completely unrealistic, and feminist-condemned method so popular?
The answer is simple.
It’s because every man in the world is dreaming of a harem life where he is popular with multiple cute girls.
These works satisfy our desires (oy).
The real pleasure of novels is to temporarily leave the real world and enter the unreal world.
The reader projects himself or herself onto the protagonist and has a virtual experience there that should not be possible.
Now, what if the virtual experience is that of being popular with a crowd of beautiful girls?
You would hate to come back to the real world (laughs).
(laughs) This is the reason why harem-type works are so popular.
Don’t underestimate the ridiculousness of it. Don’t retreat, young lady.
It is the author’s duty to entertain the readers.
If the author alone enjoys the story and the readers don’t, it’s nothing more than self-satisfaction.
This is one of the golden patterns that make a story interesting.
Make the ratio of male and female characters extreme.
One technique for creating a story is to make the ratio of male to female characters extreme.
For example, you can have only beautiful girls or only beautiful guys in your story.
Excess or extremes in something can be an eye-catching element.
5. How to make a man and a woman fall in love effectively
The element of romance is essential for creating an interesting story.
Perhaps the most difficult part of creating this is the meeting scene between the man and woman who fall in love.
First impressions are very important in any field.
How romantic and impactful the encounter scene is will determine how interesting the rest of the romance will be.
It’s all about how to create what we call a fateful encounter.
So, what exactly is the most effective way to create this encounter scene between a man and a woman?
Let me give you a straight answer.
The best way to create an encounter between a man and a woman is for the man to save the woman from a crisis.
In light novels, this is often seen in boy meets girl stories, such as “Toaru Majutsu no Index” [A Certain Magical Index] (2004/04).
The story begins when the protagonist rescues a girl who has been injured by a sorcerer and falls onto the balcony of the protagonist’s house.
This form of encounter satisfies the instinctive desires of both men and women.
Therefore, whether the reader is a man or a woman, he or she will be able to deeply sympathize with the story.
First of all, every man has the desire to be a hero.
We want to be admired by others for our great achievements. We want to be honored. They want to receive enthusiastic cheers from girls.
Therefore, when a man dashingly saves a cute princess from a pinch and says, “Thank you, ____-sama. I’m so happy when I get a “kiss” that I feel like I’m going to fly to the end of the universe.
Also, every girl has a desire to be a princess.
They want to be cherished by men. They want to be loved. They want to be treated as a special person.
Therefore, when a second prince on a white horse saves you from a pinch and says kind words to you, your crush circuit is sparked.
In other words, this way of meeting can make both men and women feel happy. Above all.
It’s very easy to develop a romantic relationship between two people if you use this kind of starting point.
A man who rescues a cute girl at the right time will, in all likelihood, be interested in her.
After that, what kind of man can leave a girl alone with the possibility of getting into danger?
He will show his strong sense of justice and will want to get involved in any case related to the girl.
And in the process, it’s easy to convert that sense of justice into romantic feelings.
This psychology is also utilized in “A Certain Magical Index” to make the main character get involved in the case.
It doesn’t quite develop into a romantic relationship, though.
Also, when a girl is saved from a crisis by a man, she is strongly moved: “How kind and reliable he is to protect me with his own body! That’s how I feel.”
And this emotion can be easily sublimated into romantic feelings.
A man saving a woman’s life is the royal road to romance.
This is the royal road to romance, and you too should take this glorious road.
The reverse pattern
In the famous tragic love story “The Little Mermaid” by Andersen, the reverse is true: the main character, the Little Mermaid, rescues a drowning prince from a shipwreck on a stormy night, and falls in love with him.
In works with a female protagonist, it is more popular if the female character is not only protected by the male protagonist, but also proactively takes action based on her own judgment to save the life of the male protagonist.
In light novels, “Shakugan no Shana” (November 2002) is a good example. The story is about a heroine who saves the hero and escorts him.
Developing romance from the worst first impression
Contrary to the previous section, there is a pattern where the encounter itself is in the worst possible way, but afterwards, they gradually become attracted to each other and develop a romantic relationship.
This method is considered a classic in shoujo manga.
In “The Knight-Princess of The Gale” by popular light novelist Yamaguchi Noboru, the heroine Carine fights a duel with Sandrion, who later becomes her first love, and is effectively defeated.
There are several ways to turn a lousy, lousy encounter into a romantic relationship.
The theory is to take advantage of a common phenomenon in real life: “When a jerk does something good once in a while, he becomes overly likable.”
It is common in real life for a character’s impression to be greatly influenced by the gap between his or her usual behavior, such as, “He’s usually a bad guy, but he helped me out when a disaster happened,” or “He was kind to me, even though he’s usually a strict senior,” so even if a character’s psychology works this way, readers can naturally accept it.
A man and a woman in an adversarial relationship can also be brought into a romantic relationship by using the same psychology.
“A man and a woman, complete strangers, bump into each other on the street by accident, their lips touch, and their relationship begins to turn sour.”
This is the pattern of romantic comedies from a long time ago.
“You come across the guy you thought was a jerk feeding milk to an abandoned dog in the rain.”
If you talk to him properly, you may find that he is a surprisingly nice guy, and your impression of him will change for the better, leading to romantic feelings.
“A man and a woman belonging to opposing organizations are fighting because of their differences in positions, and one or both of them start out hating the other.”
It seems almost impossible to improve the relationship, but this can be done by putting them in a situation where they have to cooperate with each other.
In a common pinch, you have no choice but to join forces with a person of the opposite sex. However, in the process of working together, you see the good in the other person, and you find yourself becoming attracted to them, even though you used to hate them.
This method of reversing a negative relationship is also highly used and established.
It is much more effective than a mundane encounter, because the process of getting to know each other becomes more dramatic when the initial relationship is at its worst.
Here I have used a symbolic situation, but you can apply it in any number of ways by rearranging it.
- No matter what kind of encounter you are staging, try to have a general idea of how you want it to go, and then flesh it out later.
- If you are unsure of the direction you want to take, the impression you give to the reader will be vague, and the effort required by the writer will increase.
There is a popular novel, “Tsukihime,” in which the hero meets the heroine in the worst possible way.
In this story, the hero meets the heroine, a vampire, by dismembering and killing her.
Afterwards, the resurrected heroine seeks him out and presses him, saying, “You’re going to be responsible for killing me.”
The damage from being killed once has caused a major power down, so she wants him to help her defeat her enemy.
Actually, the heroine is far more powerful than the hero, and the hero only killed her by surprise with his special power, so he complies.
It’s a pattern of cooperating in order to defeat a common enemy, even though they don’t like each other, because they can rely on each other’s abilities. This is a golden pattern that is used not only in romance, but also when a character who was initially an enemy joins as an ally.
6. Rejecting Courtship from a High Status Partner
This is a story I heard from a female light novelist after meeting her at an offline meeting.
She told me that as of late 2011, there are fewer and fewer novels for girls that end up with a prince like the fairy tales of old.
Princes appear and develop romantic feelings for the heroine, but the heroine doesn’t choose the prince, but instead chooses one of his attendants or other low status male characters.
If we consider the psychology of women who like this kind of story
They are attracted to the fact that the heroine is loved and recognized as a woman by a high-level man like a handsome prince, but she turns him down and ends up with a man of low status in search of true love.
In other words, it is not that the value of princes themselves has plummeted, but that the desire to gain a great sense of self-affirmation by being loved by a prince has not changed.
One of the major rewards that people seek in love is the satisfaction of their need for approval.
To put it simply, we want the opposite sex to think of us as valuable.
This does not mean that they welcome any kind of approval or love call from the opposite sex, but rather they seek approval from someone they like or from a high level opposite sex person who has a high reputation in the world.
Men want to be loved by a beautiful princess or the beautiful young lady of a conglomerate.
If you are a woman, you want to be loved by a handsome prince or the heir to a wealthy family with beautiful eyes.
They want the approval of the super-winners in the romantic market, who have added value such as social status, economic power, popularity, intelligence, and physical ability in addition to the prerequisite of being attractive in appearance.
The approval of the winning opponents is an endorsement that says, “You are wonderful and valuable.”
The inexplicable pleasure comes in rejecting the courtship, saying, “I refuse to go out with you,” or “You’re annoying.”
This is exactly the same in light novels for men.
In Yamaguchi Noboru’s “The Familiar of Zero” (2004/6), the protagonist Cyto rejects the confession of love from the princess, who is also his lord, and ends up with the heroine Louise.
Despite the fact that it would definitely be more beneficial to respond to the princess’s courtship, refusing not only creates a sense of pleasure, but also emphasizes the innocence of love.
In the spin-off of “The Familiar of Zero”, “The Knight-Princess of The Gale” (2009/10), the princess is also used as a love interest.
The protagonist Carine, a knight in male attire, is assigned to guard the princess, and when she takes a liking to him, she aggressively attacks Carine in love. However, Carine hides the fact that she is actually a woman, so she has to worry about how to treat the princess without offending her.
Male readers who are emotionally involved with Karine will grin at the situation where she is passionately attacked by a beautiful princess and has a hard time deciding how to reject her.
”Maria-sama ga mitaru” (1998/4), which was overwhelmingly popular among men despite being a label for girls, also attracts readers with a similar situation.
The heroine, Yumi, is asked by her adored senior, Shoko Ogasawara, “Rosa Kinensis en Bouton”, to become her sister (Suru) to help her out of her predicament, but she refuses, saying that she does not want to sign a contract in this way.
Shoko is a modern-day princess, a young lady of a conglomerate with good looks, grace and elegance, and the younger sister (soule) of the “Red Rose (Rosa Kinensis),” the executive member of the Mountain Lily Society, the student council of Lillian Girls’ Academy.
In this school, there is an unusual system called “Soule” where upperclassmen who take on leadership roles make a promise to become “sisters” with lowerclassmen.
Shoko passionately attacks Yumi in order to make her her sister, even though Yumi refuses.
This is to say, “You have great value! This is of the same significance as being told, “You have great value! I have no choice but to follow her for the rest of my life.”
In Kenji Inoue’s “Baka and Test: Summon the Beasts” (2007/1), Yuji Sakamoto, the protagonist’s bad friend, is in love with Shoko Kirishima, the most beautiful girl in his grade, and is being aggressively approached by what can only be described as a stalker.
Shoko wants to marry Yuji, and tries to get him to sign the marriage certificate at every opportunity. “I’m being chased around by a beautiful girl,” he says. “Don’t come over here! Don’t come here!” This is the kind of relationship that has been established. Moreover, she never loses interest in Yuji and continues to chase after him even though he treats her like this.
This shows that the protagonist (or someone similar to the protagonist), the reader’s alter ego, is in a stronger position than the other person to reject the approval of a valuable member of the opposite sex (to the reader).
Not only being loved by the prince or princess in the story, but also prodding them to do so is an extremely powerful process of self-affirmation.
This is where “healing” occurs, and this is what attracts people to want to keep reading the story.
7. Helping after being dominated by a beautiful girl
Being “dominated” is synonymous with being “valued.”
Humans own dogs and cats and dominate them because they are “cute”. We spend a lot of time and money to take care of them because they give us positive feedback such as healing and warmth.
The word “domination” has a negative image of being exploited unilaterally by a powerful person, but dominating something is very costly, and if you don’t feel the value of the object of domination, you won’t bother trying to dominate it.
Being dominated by a beautiful girl is the same as being loved and recognized as valuable by a beautiful girl.
In “The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya” (2003/06), one of the biggest hits of the 2000s, Kyon, the narrator, is forced by Haruhi, the heroine, to help form a club.
When Haruhi takes over the literature club’s room and turns it into a base of operations for the SOS club (Haruhi Suzumiya’s group to make the world a more exciting place), she tells him, “I’m going to be in this room after school.”
We’ll meet in this room after school. Make sure you come. If you don’t, you’ll be executed.
“Oh, I want to be told by a beautiful girl like Haruhi that I’ll be executed if I don’t come!”
I’m sure there are many readers who felt happy inside when they read this.
If you think about why Haruhi gives such an order, it’s because she wants Kyon to come to the club room.
If she wants Kyon to come to the club room, it means that she recognizes Kyon as a valuable person and wants him to be around her.
While she orders Kyon around and acts like a tyrant, Haruhi is actually dependent on him.
Kyon is driven around by the self-centered Haruhi, but at the same time, he does his best to help her in her time of need, scolds her when she gets out of control, and responds to the trust of his friends.
He’s not just Haruhi’s slave or puppet, but he also plays the role of a hero, protecting and guiding the heroine.
By doing so, Haruhi and her friends take notice of him, and readers who are emotionally invested in Kyon can experience catharsis.
The demerit of being a pathetic man, which arises from being dominated by a beautiful girl and thus having his value recognized, is eliminated by saving the beautiful girl and sublimated into pleasure.
This structure of romantic comedy can also be seen in later hit works.
For example, in “Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai” [My little sister can’t…] (2008/8), the protagonist, Kyosuke Kosaka, is ordered by his beautiful sister Kirino to buy erotic games in the middle of the night, to cooperate in an interview for a cell phone novel, and to play the role of her boyfriend by force.
Kirino’s sister treats her like a slave.
However, he is able to maintain his image as a cool protagonist by putting his body on the line to solve Kirino’s problems and save her.
Above all, the fact that Kirino forces Kyosuke to go along with her hobbies and to do unreasonable things is a sign that she is spoiling and forgiving her brother.
If the relationship between the siblings is really cold, the natural thing to do is to ignore each other and not interfere.
If you can say whatever you want, it means that you are psychologically close to each other and you trust that the other person will never hate you or abandon you.
There is also a rather minor work called “Student Council Basasu!” ～(2009/6), in which the student council president, a beautiful girl with absolute power over the school, forces the male students to wear girls’ uniforms.
The main character and the other male students rebel against this and challenge each other to three games.
“In this school, I am the law, I am justice, and I am God! If you understand that, you will obey me!”Quotes from “Student Council Basu! ～The Tyrant of Ojousama Academy” by Aoi Bantana
Although she rebels against this kind of domination, it does not lead to a situation where the domination relationship is completely overturned.
It is humiliating for a boy to be dominated by a girl, so although he fights back, he is subjected to even more tyranny from the tyrant. This is what makes them feel good.
It’s a pleasure to be dominated by a beautiful girl and to have your value recognized by her while maintaining your honor as a boy.
The protagonist is the servant of the student council president, who is the daughter of a conglomerate, and they have a master-servant relationship even in private. However, because they are childhood friends, he does not use honorifics at all, and can say whatever he wants to her to get her to do what he wants.
Although she is in control, he is free to rebel, and this brings him closer to her and makes her like him.
This is a situation that can only be described as the realization of a boy’s dream (fantasy).
8. Brutal and Violent Honesty Between the Couple
When Index, the heroine of the blockbuster hit “Toaru Majutsu no Index” (April 2004), which has sold over 13.4 million copies, meets the main character, Kamijou Touma, she bites his hand along with a piece of yakisoba bread that he offers her.
After that, whenever she gets angry at Kamijou, she attacks him by biting his head.
This is the “skinship of attack.”
I also want to be bitten on the head by Index-tan.
Because this is evidence that Index has forgiven Kamijou, and shows that their psychological distance is close.
In the encounter scene, the comedy of Index biting Kamijou after turning his eyes to hunger gives the impression that this is not something unusual between them, but a kind of skinship.
If you have a sibling, you know that siblings play things like wrestling and hit their sibling’s body without hesitation.
When it comes to close members of the opposite sex, such as a girlfriend or a marriage partner, they may ask, “Have you gained weight?”
This is because you have the trust that the other person will never dislike you even if you do these things.
Kamijou said, “What the hell is this radio wave doing talking to an alien? This is another “skinship of attack.”
This is also a kind of “skinship called attack”. It’s a mild form of psychological attack.
An exchange of mild aggression is a sign of trust and is not much different from flirting.
In the scene in the example, it is true that Kamijou is making fun of Index, but at the same time, he subconsciously trusts that Index will not hate him for doing so.
At the same time, he subconsciously trusts that Index won’t hate him for doing so, or he can say that he is expressing his true feelings without fear of being disliked.
By repeating these mild physical and emotional attacks, the two people become closer and closer.
In human relationships, there is a law that says, “The more you show your emotions, the more people will like you” (reference to the book of the same name by sociologist Kato Risa).
In a nutshell, it is easier to get along with each other if you talk honestly, as it shortens the psychological distance between you.
This law applies not only to the hero and heroine of the story, but also to the reader.
People are more likely to like characters who are acting with their true feelings. What is the secret of Gian’s popularity?
The heroines of light novels make full use of this psychological law.
Louise, the heroine of “The Familiar of Zero” (June 2004), inflicts terrible violence on the hero, Saito, in the name of discipline.
This is to cover up her jealousy and embarrassment when he gets along with other girls, but it’s so out of the ordinary that a normal person could have died.
In “The Familiar of Zero,” the “skinship of aggression” is used not only to close the distance between the two, but also as a memorable gag.
Louise’s chastisement scene is not horrific, but rather lightly comedic, in the style of a rom-com comedy. The unusual violence is easy to turn into laughter because it is unusual.
Kirino, the heroine of “Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai” (August 2008), forces her older brother, the protagonist Kyosuke, to play a bishojo game featuring his sister.
Kyousuke, who has never been an otaku, doesn’t like it, but since he promised to help his sister, he reluctantly has to play the game.
Kirino is very happy to be able to talk about her hobby, but Kyosuke is badly hurt.
It’s “skinship” in the form of a psychological attack.
Kirino is opening herself up here and closing the psychological distance between her and Kyosuke. Kyosuke, too, closes the psychological distance with her by sharing his sister’s secret.
What is clever about this work is that Kirino is initially portrayed as a fashionable girl with no otaku attributes, but later she is shown to be a high-level otaku, which makes the readers sympathize with her.
By depicting the joy of hiding one’s otaku attributes and being able to talk about it with someone you trust, which readers have probably experienced at one time or another, the story increases the reader’s empathy and liking for Kirino.
It is a brilliant composition with the readership in mind.
The two main points of this kind of “skinship as attack” are as follows
- A relationship where you can talk honestly. A relationship of trust that is not broken by swearing or physical attacks (from the female to the male).
- Affection, which is proven by helping the other person as much as possible in a pinch.
As I mentioned in “How to shake the reader’s heart?,” in order to get pleasure, you need to arouse the opposite emotion.
When two people who normally swear at each other help each other out, rather than when two people who normally get along well help each other out, the “affection” becomes truer and more moving.
Moreover, the “skinship of aggression” is a pose that indicates that you do not unconditionally like the other person.
This is why the romantic comedy of “I don’t know why, but I’m attracted to him, even though he’s a jerk,” is so convincing. There is an old saying that the more they fight, the better they get along, so this is very realistic.
The reason why such romantic comedies have been on the rise since the early 2000s is that human relationships are becoming weaker in modern society.
For example, at the beginning of the first volume of “Bungaku Shoujo” series (April 2006), the heroine, Amano Tohko, talks about her favorite literary works without letting her emotions get the better of her.
The protagonist, who is listening to this, makes fun of her curiosity, but Tohko is not offended and laughs it off.
To be honest, this kind of relationship is rarely seen outside of romance novels.
Blabbing about your hobbies to the opposite sex is a pretty risky move. You may be perceived as creepy or even be turned away.
It takes a strong relationship of trust to be able to remain unfazed by this.
If only there was a literary girl like Tohko in my club, I’m sure there are many people (I’m one of them) who have fainted in agony.
It’s hard for people to show their true feelings because if they show their true feelings and are thought of as a troublesome person or are disliked, they won’t be able to survive in school or in organizations.
However, the dilemma is that if you don’t show your true feelings, you can’t build a real relationship with others.
Light novels make us dream of an ideal relationship that solves this dilemma.
Rain’s opinion 2012/04/22
Hello, my name is Rain. I’m a big fan of almost all the contents in Raiken.
Now, let’s get down to business. Today’s update, “Skinship as Aggression,” has caused discussion and it seems that some people do not have a good impression of it.
As an example, Mikoto Misaka from “Toaru Majutsu no Index” is often depicted attacking the main character, Kamijou Touma, to the point of instant death. There was an opinion that this was “too much”.
Also, there are negative opinions about the actions of Louise (abbreviated) from “The Familiar of Zero” who is a representative of the “tsundere” style. The characterization of Louise as a “tsundere” who hides her embarrassment with violence has also been criticized by some people who say, “I can’t help but think she’s a crazy person who uses violence every chance she gets.”
Whether it’s a lack of description, too many attacks, or a lack of reading comprehension, …… the cause is not clear, but it seems that some people have a bad impression of “one-sided attacks from the heroine.” If you misuse it, you can easily become a crazy person.
I’m not sure if I can rely on the information I’ve gleaned from these sites, though.
In the meantime, I would like to ask you to add a note about this issue.
Reply by Upie (administrator) on Apr 24, 2012
Both “Toaru Majutsu no Index” and The Familiar of Zero” are selling well, aren’t they?
The former has a total circulation of 13.4 million copies, and the latter 4.5 million. (Data as of April 2012)
I think the common thread between these works is the method of creating hit works.
Misaka Mikoto attacks Kamijou Touma with an electric shock that could kill him instantly because she knows he can completely nullify the attack. She chooses Kamijou as the one with whom she can let go, and play with him.
In other words, even if the act is too much for the average person’s eyes, for her, she thinks that she is challenging someone who is stronger than her, or even lightly hitting his head. The damage this causes to the people around her is enormous, so I’m pretty sure she’s a personality destroyer.
However, on the other hand, this also means that he is so crazy about Kamijou that he can’t see the people around him. As a reader, I think it was popular because he has a desire to have a girl chase him to the point of being so crazy about him.
Kamijou feels that this girl is “annoying”, but being chased by a beautiful girl and feeling annoyed by her is a pretty good situation.
I also think that Louise is a bit much.
But her actions are the flip side of her love for Saito, and it means that she is loved and emotionally disturbed by Saito to the point of being so angry.
I think that’s the way I’m taking it.
Also, because it’s so overdone, it’s so memorable that when I hear “The Familiar of Zero” I think of Louise beating up Saito.
If there is one thing I would be careful about, it would be that the hero gives a good amount of payback.
Both Kamijou and Saito are not afraid to say what they want to say to the heroine.
When I first read “The Familiar of Zero”, I was so impressed by the unreserved attitude of Saito, who is now Louise’s servant.
However, he does not return the violence in the same way.
This is because hurting a girl is a disqualifying act for a hero.
Another light novel author I know says that the trick is to make the characters in light novels unique and extreme in character.
If a character has little personality, it will not leave a lasting impression on the reader, and therefore, the reader will not remember it.
If that’s the case, then being called “too much” or “a character failure” on the Internet is just what the author wants, and it leaves a good impression on the readers.
If the characters were really boring or unimportant, they would end up being buried without causing any controversy.
The author of “Full Metal Panic” (1998), which has sold more than 10 million copies in total, Shouji Gahigashi, said in an interview in “Light Novel Complete Reader” (2004), called “This is how I made my debut.”
Although commercially successful, there are many silly, ridiculous, and poorly written works. I’m not saying that you should force yourself to praise them, but don’t ignore them. Just think about why they are selling well.Quote from “The Complete Light Novel Reader”, an interview with Choji Gaito
Critiquing works on the Internet is a metaphorical way of saying, “Why are there so many crazy heroines in novels? They’re just dangerous women.”
As a writer or an aspiring writer, I don’t want to sympathize with this or take it seriously, but as Mr. Shoji Gaito says, “What makes them popular? Why is it selling so well?”
Mr. Park’s opinion2012/11/03
There seems to be an opinion that Louise’s attacks are excessive, but if you look back after considering the difference in status between nobles and commoners in medieval Europe, I think Louise’s attacks are still lovable.
To give you an extreme example.
Let’s say a commoner and a servant who works in a nobleman’s mansion get into a fist fight. The commoner hits the servant, or the servant hits the commoner.
Then after the commoner is caught, his hand is cut off.
Another story goes that a commoner’s offensive behavior toward a nobleman resulted in the death of all 300 inhabitants of a village.
A nobleman’s maidservant was stripped naked beside a winter lake, they broke the lake ice, and then poured water on the maidservant. As a result, the water froze in no time at all, and the servant, who had turned into a living statue, was left behind, laughing.
If you look at Louise’s words and actions with that historical background in mind, it still seems better, doesn’t it?
Of course, my opinion is not the whole of history, so there will be various opinions, but personally, I think there is more love in her actions than in her physical destruction or life-threatening punishments.
I hope you don’t mind that I’m a bit of a Louise fan.
9. Annoying demands that acknowledge the hero’s power
One of the common romantic comedy techniques in hit light novels is that the heroine makes annoying demands of the hero.
The heroine has some goal that she wants to achieve, and in order to achieve it, she forces the hero’s cooperation.
The hero says and does things like “I’m annoyed!” and “I don’t want to!” but thanks to these actions, the hero becomes friends with the heroine, gets involved in strange incidents and experiences unusual situations, and is surrounded by girls.
In the second volume of the “Bungaku Shoujo” series, “Bungaku Shoujo” and the Hungry Ghost (Ghost)” (published in August 2006), the main character, Konoha Inoue, wants to study for his exams, but his senior in the art club, Tohko Amano, asks him to confirm the identity of a ghost. As a result he is forced by his senior in the art club, Tohko Amano, to help her guard the school at night in order to confirm the identity of the ghost.
Konoha feels guilty for lying to his family and saying that he was going to study at a friend’s house, and calls the situation “playing detective with a ghost senior,” to his dismay.
It is objectively a very fortunate situation to have a beautiful girl, Tohko, who trusts you enough to allow you to be alone with her at night.
A normal high school boy would never experience such a situation. If a beautiful girl like Tohko-senpai were to ask me to cooperate, I think I would be jumping for joy inside.
However, the reason why I don’t feel that way is because the main character basically has to be “unhappy”.
Most people don’t sympathize with people who are fortunate enough to live a life full of happiness.
Most people live with some kind of dissatisfaction or problem in their current situation. Therefore, it is only when the characters are in a state of unhappiness that they feel real and we have empathy toward them.
Happiness doesn’t just come to us from a shelf. Life is a series of pains and troubles.
This is the way most people view life.
For this reason, it is easier to accept an opportunity when presented as a pinch than an opportunity presented as a chance.
In the hit “The Irregular at Magic High School” (released in October 2008), the main character, Tatsuya Shiba, is invited to join the Public Morals Committee by Mari Watanabe, the head of the Public Morals Committee. The student council president, Mayumi Nanakusa, fully agrees to this.
However, Tatsuya, who is a second-year student who seems to have inferior magical abilities, is reluctant to join the committee because he feels that he might antagonize the first-year students who are also highly skilled in magic.
In fact, he ends up in a mock battle with the vice president of the student council, who is opposed to his becoming a member of the public prosecutor’s committee.
This situation is a real pinch.
However, Mari and Mayumi, who are beautiful and powerful girls, recognize his abilities and invite him to join them. It’s quite a delicious situation to be able to live a cackling and giggling school life under the beautiful girls.
Best of all, he gets to be with his beloved sister, the super genius Miyuki, who has also been recruited by the student council.
Tatsuya is reluctant to join the student council at first, but the three beautiful girls, Mari, Mayumi, and his sister, persuade him to join. And after defeating the vice president in a mock battle, the other members recognize his abilities and he becomes a member of the Public Morals Committee.
He is annoyed by the demands of the girls, but in the end, he says, “I can’t help it. If you insist so much, then I’ll go along with it.”
Although it is a passive attitude, it is pleasurable because it reflects the reader’s desire to be appreciated by beautiful girls and to help them. Everyone wants to be recognized by a beautiful girl.
This is also the case with “Sword Art Online” (published in 2002), which ranked first in the “This Light Novel is Amazing!
The story is about 10,000 players, including the protagonist, who are trapped in an online game world and fight through a death game where if you are killed in the game, your brain is actually destroyed and you die. Once the game is cleared, everyone who survives can return to the real world.
The main character, Kirito, gets a rare item, a very tasty piece of meat. Asuna, the most popular and beautiful girl among the game players, has the skill to cook this meat, so Kirito asks her to cook it for him.
Kirito asks for a bite of the meat if she cooks it for him, but Asuna tells him to give her half and invites him to her room as a cooking place.
Her crony, Cladir, is vehemently opposed to this, but she forcefully pushes her way past him and takes Kirito to her home. There, she asks him to team up with her to see how strong Kirito is, as he is rumored to be very strong.
Kirito was so worried about the fact that he was responsible for wiping out his party in the past, that he had been a solo player.
Again, “the hero makes an annoying demand from the heroine.”
The fact that the heroine recognizes the hero’s power and demands that he cooperate with her is also common to “The Irregular at Magic High School” and “Bungaku Shoujo.
(The hero of “Bungaku Shoujo” was once the youngest best-selling author, and is now a personal writer, writing novels for the book eating girl, Tohko.)
This is objectively quite a convenient situation for Kirito, so the author creates a negative situation: feud with Cladir, jealousy from other players.
If the protagonist is too happy, this is all bullshit! The reason is that if the protagonist is too happy, he will not feel real.
Asuna’s demands lead to Kirito being hated by her stalker, Cladir, who challenges him to a duel.
(As a side note, Sword Art Online, despite its sci-fi worldview, uses a primitive love plot in which men send women meat from their hunting and fight over them in a duel. This gives the story a strong sense of reality, as if human activities are the same in any age and in any world).
The vice president who is hostile to Tatsuya Shiba in “The Irregular at Magic High School” and Cladir in “Sword Art Online” play the same role. Both of them are necessary haters in order to measure the protagonist’s strength and not make him think that they are just guessing and being opportunistic in order to get him to accept the demands of a beautiful girl. Cladir is also a love interest.
The fact that the hero is annoyed by the heroine is a sign that the heroine recognizes the hero’s need for her, and that he is close enough to her that she can be selfish.
Men have a desire to be relied on by women, and they find girls who are selfish to be cute.
This is probably the reason why modern readers are looking for a spiritual bond with the opposite sex (beautiful girls), as human relationships are becoming thinner and thinner.
- The beautiful girl recognizes the protagonist’s power and asks for his cooperation.
- The situation puts the protagonist in a pinch, to his detriment.
A structure that exploits human psychology.
According to the book “Nihon de ichiban taisetsu ni shitai kaisha” [Japan’s most Cherished Companies, by Sakamoto Koji] (published on March 21, 2008), happiness is defined as…
- To be loved by others
- To be praised by others
- To be useful to others
- Being needed by others.
And these stories satisfy these four requirements.
An annoying request from the heroine, acknowledging the hero’s power, satisfies number 3 and 4 of these.
Furthermore, when the hero meets the heroine’s expectations, numbers 1 and 2 are also satisfied.
This structure makes the hero happy, and the readers, who put themselves in the hero’s shoes, also feel happy.
It can be said that light novels are created by exploring human psychology to find out how to get pleasure from them.
10. The sadness of not being able to be with the one you love, but still working for their sake.
A female friend of mine recommended that I read “Genjyu Descent Tan” (2006/06), which is on a label for girls, and I found it interesting.
At the beginning of the first volume, two men were fighting over who would help the heroine up after she almost fell. One of the men is the heroine’s admirer, and the other is her childhood friend, both of whom are candidates for her hand.
The heroine is troubled, thinking, “Stop fighting, I’m not happy about this.”
I couldn’t help but want to make a comment.
In labels for girls, and in girls’ manga, this kind of development of two handsome men fighting over the heroine comes out in different ways and with different products.
When I asked the women if they were attracted to this kind of development, their eyes lit up and they answered, “Yes!” they replied. Perhaps this is because it gives them the approval that they are loved enough for someone to fight over them, and that they are worthy.
In shoujo manga (girls’ manga), a man who loses in love will say, “You rejected me, but that doesn’t change the fact that I still love you,” and will help the heroine when she is in trouble.
In the manga “Fushigi Yuugi” (1992), the Emperor of the Red South Kingdom, who was rejected by the heroine, still fights to protect her passionately.
It’s a pleasant feeling to be loved so much by the emperor, and yet to be able to refuse his courtship.
The key points are especially “the sadness that his feelings will not be fulfilled” and “still he fights for the sake of the girl he loves.”
From a man’s point of view, it is tempting to tsk-tsk that such a man will never exist, but for a woman who instinctively wants to be loved by a man, it is a pleasant feeling. Pure love is an act of wishing for the happiness of the one you love, even if you don’t get anything in return.
These techniques used in works for girls have also been imported to labels for boys.
IS [Infinite Stratos]” (2009/5) is a shonen label work that was made into an anime and has sold over 1.35 million copies (as of June 2012).
In this work, the protagonist is the only boy in the entire school, and the rest are all girls, which seems to be a direct attempt to appeal to junior high school boys’ fantasies. The reason why it became a hit is that the author wasn’t shy to make the content of the fantasy so direct that most authors would be too embarrassed to do the same.
The main characters are beautiful girls who, who after meeting each other and having small events, either immediately gain maximum sensitivity to the protagonist or appear with maximum sensitivity and fight over him.
It is worth noting that there are two childhood friends, which is usually fatal if it is a harem story, and they were covered in attributes.
However, they each say, “I’m your childhood friend!” “I made this promise to him a long time ago!” They fight over the history they have built up with the protagonist and how well they get along with him.
I thought this was a good way to remove the promise trope of a harem story like a bishojo game and use it as a source of conflict.
Just like in shoujo manga, the reader’s cheeks are left to relax at the prospect of beautiful girls fighting over them.
In “The Familiar of Zero” (2004), although the heroines don’t explicitly fight with each other over the main character Saito, they all have to give up their feelings because Saito’s choice is Louise.
However, the fact that they love the protagonist does not change, so they continue to lend him their strength to make the beloved protagonist happy.
The sadness that arises here is exactly the same kind of sadness as in the shoujo manga I mentioned earlier.
Tabitha loves Saito and helps him, but she doesn’t say it out loud and keeps it hidden deep in her heart, and this point of “Tabitha’s feelings will never come true” and “for the sake of the man she loves” is great! This is a good point.
This is not just a conditional reflex of “moe” caused by the combination of symbols such as a younger sister, a maid, and cat ears, but a “sadness” in the style of shoujo manga. By doing this, the reader can feel that Tabitha is not just a floppy two-dimensional character, but a living person who sheds tears.
As a matter of fact, as a social animal that acts in groups, humans can only empathize with and feel attraction for people of their own kind who have a soul.
Men are instinctively programmed to feel sexual desire through sight, so it is possible to feel “moe” just by looking at a two-dimensional beautiful girl illustration, but this is a low-order pleasure that relies only on sexual desire. The real pleasure comes when you learn about the story of the character in the illustration, think about that story, and feel as if she is a living person with a soul (illusion).
For example, when an audience member sees the illustration of Kyoko in “Puella Magi Madoka Magica” (a hit late-night anime that aired in January 2011), she feels that “Kyoko has to be happy with Sayaka!” And then she is not perceived as a two-dimensional character, but as a sympathetic human being with a soul, and hence, her appeal is doubled.
In fact, it is not peculiar to women that they find “the sadness of not being able to realize one’s feelings” and “for the sake of the person one loves” in shoujo manga interesting, and it can be applied to men as well.
Kyoko is a girl who has lived a self-centered life, but she sacrifices her life in order to save Sayaka, who is about to become her friend. (I couldn’t stop thinking about Kyoko and Sayaka for a while either.)
Puella Magi Madoka Magica” has become a hot topic because of its brutal development, but at its core, it is a shoujo manga-like sadness where a girl’s feelings don’t reach the person she loves and she still wants to be there for that person she loves.
Sayaka sacrificed herself for the boy she loves, but he chose another girl! This painfully sad development is a must-see. This is a very shoujo manga-like story.
Yasutaka Tsutsui’s romantic science fiction novel “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time,” first published in 1967, has become immensely popular, and has been made into a live-action movie, an animated movie, a TV drama, and a manga, making it a rare work that is still popular more than 40 years later.
It was reprinted by Kadokawa Tsubasa Bunko (a children’s book label) in 2009.
In a time when new light novels often disappear from the shelves of bookstores in about two months (as of 2012), what is the appeal of this work that has been loved for so long? In this story, the heroine’s love for her beloved is the most important thing.
In this work, the heroine’s love interest, a boy, is an academic from the future, so he returns to the future to complete his own research. He confesses his love to the heroine, but in order to pretend that his interference in the past never happened, he erases her memory. The heroine cries out, “I don’t want to forget you. This is where their “sadness of not being able to reach their feelings” is born. They part, promising to meet again someday.
In order to protect the heroine and the people he loves, he extinguishes all the seeds of misfortune, such as the fires and traffic accidents that strike them. This is a gratuitous act that asks for nothing in return: “Even if you forget about me, I will continue to protect you,” for the sake of the girl he still loves.
The combination of these two elements made his love pure and true, and struck a chord with readers.
Although Yasutaka Tsutsui is a male author, he probably studied and wrote a lot of shoujo novels.
The romance that girls are looking for is packed into this book.
It is interesting even for men to read. I think that’s why it became a historical super long-seller.
For romance, there is nothing better than shoujo manga, and for moe, there is nothing better than bishojo games.
Since the time of mythology, women have been weaving sad love stories such as Pyramus and Thisbe, which became the motif of Romeo and Juliet.
Although bishojo games are a young genre that flourished after Konami’s “Tokimeki Memorial” became a hit in 1994, they are a shrouded world that does not compromise when it comes to making otaku moe.
There are a lot of things we can learn from these two. “The Familiar of Zero” and “IS [Infinite Stratos]” inherit the best parts of both.
It has a harem of girls who are popular with each other, and it also has a battle of love for the main character, and it has the sadness of a shoujo manga.
(Although “IS” has a love battle over the main character, it lacks the “sadness” of “feelings not coming true”. It is more about maintaining the “most enjoyable state of love” between friends and lovers. It can be said that this work is more like a bishojo game than a shoujo manga.)