What makes licensing LNs so hard compared to Manga / Anime?



  • I dont know if this has been asked before, and I personally could not find a topic on it, with that said I have this question that has been bothering me for a while.

    What makes licensing LNs so hard compared to Anime & Manga?

    Some of the most requested licenses, like Akashic records, Highschool DxD and others have both their Manga and Anime licensed, so its just weird from that standpoint to not get the LN as well.

    I wont pretend to know to much about the licensing world, job and the work that goes into that, I would suspect the most job one had to do would be on the LN side, since there would be the most translating to do, yet I just find it weird, that we get the Anime & Manga license yet no LN.

    What makes this so hard? The money? The label? Do the labels themselves not want to strike a deal? I mean after you would license Manga & Anime for it, one would think the LN would surely follow.


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    I'm guessing the first thing would be the cost of actually translating LNs. Anime and Manga have alot less to translate, and the amount that you have to pay the translators would be alot less and the production time is also quicker as well. Manga does have a few additional thing though depending on how much redrawing they have to do.
    So they would have to sell a lot more to recoup the cost on the licencing plus translation costs before they start to turn a profit.
    That's just the first thing that comes to mind.


  • Premium Member

    It might have to do with that manga is mainstream in the west, while LN are not? I think in like 5-10 years from now we will see much more LN getting licensed.


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    I think it's because

    1. it way more expensive at least in translation cost, than manga or anime
    2. the market is still young and not that big, so your probably going to make less despite higher cost
    3. it's more of a difference with anime, but a LN which manage to get something like 4~5 vol is really unlikely to be stop (except if the sell became terribly low or some special circonstances like New Life) so when you licence a novel you may be in for a lot of volumes and if the serie doesn’t do well you can't really stop it because you would lose a part of your reader trust. Whereas most of the time an anime is going to last around 12 or 24 ep and only get a second 2 if it was really popular so the odd of being stuck with a money-lossing serie are lower.
    4. it doesn’t consern every serie but one the ones you list is a good exemple: some serie may have a big fandom but not the type to go read novel, DxD is a ecchi serie which mostly appeal to a teen audience which aren't the biggest of reader in the west, so even if the fandom as a whole is big, the fan who read novel might be quite low even more if they have other way (anime/manga) to get it and on a probably more fitting medium (who want to imagine tits when you can see them).

    In fact DxD has all the bad sign: it's a long serie in a genre which may be a big risk, it's mostly like for its ecchi (even if the plot is okay its not really what attract people), it has an anime adaption which didn't stop and show the ecchi, and the publisher is a problem.


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    @raitoiro I’m repeating things I’ve seen in other discussions, but they could be applied to other series. With DxD, because of it’s length and the fact that there has already been four seasons of anime and I don’t know how much of the manga translated and published in English, there is a legitimate fear that the early volumes of a translated light novel might not sell very well. At least not adequately enough to make business sense to license it. In the end, this is a business and Sam needs to make a profit to stay in business.

    Some of the “high volume count” series that JNC has licensed (Rokujouma and Orphen come to mind) have situations that lend themselves to rolling the dice, so to speak, and licensing them. DxD really doesn’t have anything to give it a leg up.


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    @paul-nebeling are either of those "high volume count" series doing well for J-NC?

    I really should pull my finger out and buy Rokujouma, but it feels intimidating to buy so many volumes in one go. Same prob with Grimgar that I actually became a member for initially - got too far behind & the more time passes the more intimidating catching up feels, even though I could just buy a few vols a month until I knock one off then start the other... Ok, talked myself into it.


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    I feel like the 19+ volume New Life + series would have done well. Seemed to have buzz around it... Before the unfortunateness that happened.

    What's the longest series (Japan length) that has been successful here? Grimgar?


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    @terrence Smartphone has 15 volumes out right now. And new volumes keep coming out every ~3 months. Grimgar is a bit more unstable with its release schedule from what I've seen.

    EDIT
    After thinking about it a bit more there are several other long series:

    • Cooking with Wild Game has also 15 volumes (ongoing); but it's a new series.
    • I Saved Too Many Girls and Caused the Apocalypse has 16 volumes (complete).
    • The Master of Ragnarok & Blesser of Einherjar has 16 volumes (ongoing) our right now. (I wonder how that piece of crap anime affected its sales, though.)
    • Outbreak Company has 18 volumes (complete). Anime aired quite a big ago, though.

    That's leaving out Rokujouma and Orphen that have been both mentioned already. Those are the longest with 30+ volumes.


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    @smashman42 Honestly, I have no idea. I don’t even know where to find sales information. Anyone?


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    @paul-nebeling looking at the Amazon Kindle best sellers rank, especially on the first couple days after being published, is a good indication. Any rank above 10,000 is decent. Above 2,000 is rather successful. Smartphone and Realist Hero have been seen to go as high as 500-600 on their newest volumes.


  • Premium Member

    @smashman42 said in What makes licensing LNs so hard compared to Manga / Anime?:

    @paul-nebeling I really should pull my finger out and buy Rokujouma, but it feels intimidating to buy so many volumes in one go. Same prob with Grimgar that I actually became a member for initially - got too far behind & the more time passes the more intimidating catching up feels, even though I could just buy a few vols a month until I knock one off then start the other... Ok, talked myself into it.

    I had the same thought. I ended up blowing through volumes 1-18 of Rokujouma in about three weeks. (Admittedly they're on the shorter side for light novels, but still...)


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    I highly suggest Rokujyouma. I really want Sam to eventually make a profit off it, as it'll make it more likely he'll license long series from time to time.

    And it's pretty awesome.


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    Rokujouma is so intimidating. For me it's more the money investment than the time though.

    Orphen deserves some love too (of course, I've only read one volume, so I'm not doing much to love it either yet, but I will). This post by Steiner depresses me, I feel the need to fan campaign when the anime releases. T_T

    https://twitter.com/DistantValhalla/status/1077898072590610433?s=17


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    @terrence Orphen deserves better than whats happening right now.

    Rokujouma has the same effect on me. I'm gonna buy and read it, but I need to be at the cabin or something similar, without too mich extra stuff to distract me.


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    If it helps, you can read Rokujyouma in bite-sized pieces.

    I mean, there is an overarching arc, but it's something that doesn't come into the forefront all the time. It's basically composed of plot arc - slice of life - plot arc - slice of life stuff, each plot arc tying together to form the overall plot.


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    @dtta I think what @Terrence was referring to was the cost. With 32 volumes currently out, at $6 per premium credit, that’s close to $200 to purchase the entire series in one shot.

    Very intimidating.


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    The nice thing about Rokujouma is you can read the volumes free on the app, so don’t let cost keep you back. Then if you want your own copies you can buy them slowly. I’m pretty far behind but excited to get back to it, one of my favorite LNs and a rare case where the series seems to get better and better as it goes along.


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    I always has this question too.
    but sadly the audience is just not much compared to the cost/work to do the publishing.

    but I am quite sure, digital edition has lower production cost and risk than printed one so it was a big development compared to three or four years ago.

    for example there is one publisher in my country (Shining Rose Media) that after 6 years now only able to publish 12 LN title, with 6 of them is a one volume complete LN, and out of 6 series only once did it reach the second volume and it was the last published LN in the past 2 year from this publisher.
    by my amateurish point of view I guess the sale just not as good as expected
    the price was also the problem I guess, with book priced twice of comic book. and how Novel are all character little picture its just too niche even for the fan-base.

    Though I hope more people (millennial) goes to digital currency and start too look at digital publishing and maybe some lower price point than dead tree version so it become easier to invest on some title.


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    @paul-nebeling Well, that's why I mentioned how it's interspersed. Don't /have/ to buy it in one shot. ;) Hell, you can't really anyway, yet.


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    So, I might have bought Rokujouma in one hit. Damn I wish I bought more credits on that Black Friday discount