Weight Loss Novels + "Plus-Sized" Hero Novels - Yay or Nay, Any You Want, and What Kind of Presentation is Comfortable?
Thinking about genres we don't really have in the LN space stateside, weight loss novels haven't really become a thing yet. We've gotten a few manga lately (Alicia's Diet Quest and Plus-Sized Elf). I wouldn't mind stuff with weight loss as a subject matter, especially when it can encourage more healthy activities and advice.
One difficult aspect is that Japan, afaik, has a hard time with presenting body image stuff in a healthy way. They have slurs for overweight individuals that I've even seen used in LN titles and descriptions. Even male characters that are muscle-bound, whom those in the West may see as more of a healthy ideal body image are called "gorillas".
Would you like weight loss novels to come over? Are there some you hope stay stuck in Japan (based on weight shaming or other aspects of negative weight identity culture present in the books) but others you'd accept?
One's I've been requesting:
"I was Summoned to A Different World, but Forcibly Sent Back to Japan Because of My Weight, So I Decided to Lose It".
That one looks interesting, though it does revolve around a rejection because of weight. This is very similar to Plus Size Elf, but in the reverse, a hero being rejected from going through the gate because he is not slim enough to be a functioning hero according to some authority. I brought this up in the LN podcast, and there was a comment brought up that some can't help their weight to an extent (though I don't know the full science of that, so someone please educate me), but I kind of jumped on that to say I wouldn't mind a story dealing with acceptance of someone who can't help their size, no matter the amount of training they do maybe they can't lose the weight permanently or maybe their healthy size is bigger than average, but that they prove how tough they can be and should be accepted as a capable hero still.
This thread was partially inspired by me bungling the synopsis for "White Pig Noble's Daughter" in the latest LN podcast which I said was about the girl losing weight to attract a guy, but the synopsis does not mention that at all, more losing weight to escape from the clutches of the villainess who only keeps people she sees as "ugly" in her estimation. I think I was assuming that down the line, she will attract somebody to marry her, weight loss or no, and that marriage will help her escape the castle, but that doesn't have to happen; I would not mind reading a story where she loses the weight for her own self, doesn't get tied down to any man, and independently walks out of there too.
That novel has also been criticized for the protagonist's mental self-harm type mentality when it comes to her weight, her beating herself up over things real or imagined about her weight issue for about 10 chapters of the WN iirc. It seems that's kind of the barrier for people to get passed or take a hard pass on this one, and I'm totally fine with whatever you decide on this one.
"Observation Record of a Self-proclaimed Villainess’ Fiance" is another one I'd like to look into more.
Feel free to post or link your requests and provide support (or complaints) about any novels with plus sized individuals being protagonists that don't involve weight loss too.
Excuse me if anything is offensive here in the OP or in future requests, and I always welcome education on any subject matter. I want to do some health improvement this year myself, I am not the size I want to be, so I'm not interested in shaming anyone, fictional or otherwise. =)
Some of the "Plus-Sized" protagonist novels I've seen:
"Because I’ve Been Reincarnated as the Piggy Duke, This Time I Will Say I Like You"
That one has some fans on JNC. =)
Majimena imōto moe buta ga eiyū de motete kami taiō sa reru Fantajia
Wake up with overwhelming younger sister power, a different world older brother!
As Yogashi Sota, who pledged to lose weight for his sister, is jogging, he's suddenly reborn into another world. The world of the transition destination ... ... Debu is a hero!? But, still want to lose weight.
This novel looks fun and colorful from the cover, but it describes the protagonist as Debu "デブ" (chubby). As far as I know, this is a slur for overweight individuals in Japan, and not something that should be used? I believe the title calls him a pig or swine as well?
This only has one volume, so probably no need to worry about it coming stateside if it is offensive.
Funny/sad story, in the mobile game Dragalia Lost, there was an event character whose side story helped your resident fairy lose weight, because she ate too much and got fat. It's become a widespread meme in the playerbase because the English version of the game (you can switch between languages at will) removed the "fat Notte" sprite and replaced it with her normal sprite. So, the side story is kind of weird when Notte talks about getting fat and being forced to lose weight, but she looks normal otherwise. However, if you switch languages to Japanese, she still has the fat sprite.
I think society just doesn't have a perfect answer to these kinds of issues. For example, some swears are considered "worse" (e.g. cunt) than others (e.g. bitch, bastard), even though you could make an argument for all of them being equally demeaning. I can understand why someone might be wary of using "overweightness" as a focus in their stories, but I also think there's a line where people are way too sensitive about it. The problem is that everyone will draw that line in a different place, so in the end there will always be someone complaining.
A reason more weight loss-related manga/LNs haven't come over, aside from publishers thinking they simply won't sell, could just be that they don't want to risk opening that can of worms if they read the cultural atmosphere wrong.
I picked up plus sized elf and haven’t really dug it that much. None of the characters are very engaging to me and the protagonist is so vanilla that Nilla Wafers are too edgy for him. That said I wouldn’t be adverse to something in this genre of it were good.
as a trope, I don't have a moral objection to it. I wonder how well it translates. Things that may be funny in the context of Japanese culture may come across differently to a broader audience. "Body-shaming" for laughs might turn off a bunch of folks, but a 'plucky' protagonist overcoming the obstacle of obesity might be well recieved
I think it boils down to 'it depends'
but a 'plucky' protagonist overcoming the obstacle of obesity might be well recieved
The problem with this approach, again, is that it "demonizes" being fat. "Being fit/thin is better, you should want to not be fat." There are people who are genetically predisposed to easily gaining weight, there are others who would need to making huge changes to their lives in order to support the diet and exercise regiment needed to lose weight that may not be viable given their circumstances. Even though the general concept of wanting to lose weight can seem benign, the social consequences of pushing that mentality too hard can have adverse effects on many individuals.
Like I said above, there is certainly a line where people are being too sensitive about the topic, but I don't blame authors/anime producers from shying away from the topic.
I agree with you, and it's a difficult tightrope walk. Can weight ever be a plot point?
It is wrong to demonize being fat (or height, gender, any other intrinsic characteristic of a person) - I don't want to sugar coat that - at the same time a common theme I've seen in LN's is the 'desire to get stronger'. If a character learns to fight, learns to run long distances, becomes better st basketball, bests their personal record in swimming times, masters a martial arts technique etc. This is perseverance, or talent. And a trope (right or wrong) is that you start with a scrawny weakling or the chubby kid who got bullied, or couldn't defend someone or whatever. Hopefully the story addressees the wrongness of bullying and doesn't pass judgement on body type.
I have not read any of the particular novels referenced in the thread so far, and sadly, many of the characters I have encountered in LN's where being overweight is relevant to a character/story- it most often portrayed in the context of a negative.
I'd like to see more characters like Poncho in Realist Hero, where weight is not treated as a positive or a negative. Or someone like Kenichi in Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple, who transforms himself, not out of a sense of shame over his body, but because he wants to be able to protect those he loves (fat or thin wasn't relevant, he just wants to be strong, and acquire skills because he believes he lacks talent)
Perhaps I didn't express myself well. I am aware that in Japan, especially for women, the demonizing of being 'overweight' (and what overweight is) is different than it is in the United States, and for that reason what may be considered 'ok' in a LN (in Japan/ Japanese cultural context) would not be 'ok' here. I certainly see why a publisher would be hesitant to take a risk.
Accel World has a heavy MC who isn’t demonized for his weight. I would absolutely be down for more main characters like him.