manga vs light novel

Manga Vs Light Novel | 5 Major Difference Between Manga and Light Novels

23 de May, 2024Shopify API

Manga and light novels are often confused to be the same. But that’s a huge misconception cause manga and light novels are very different from each other in terms of its format, continuity, imagery, etc.

Delve into the world of Japanese storytelling! Debating between action-packed manga panels or detailed light novel prose? This guide dives into the unique strengths of each format, helping you choose your next adventure.



Manga Vs Light Novel

What Is Manga?

Manga is a very famous entertainment material that originated in Japan and it’s cherished all around the world by anime geeks.

Manga is simply Japanese for “comics” although there are a few differences between the English comics we’ve seen so far. 

Manga is printed in black and white instead of color and the characters have more detail and emotive features than the characters displayed in English comic books.

It's read by people of all ages and there are several genres in manga similar to anime, such as action, adventure, comedy, horror, romance, fantasy, sci-fi, drama, mystery, etc. 

Mangas are generally serialised in manga magazines in Japan and each episode would be published every week.

One episode of manga in a manga magazine contains a lot of stories and they’re continually published every week. 

To read the entire collection of manga episodes there are tankobon volumes of the manga.

Manga is written by a mangaka who’s a manga artist and there are several other people involved in drawing imagery, editing, and publishing. Many mangas have been adapted into anime and films and even some anime have been adapted to mangas.

Some of the best-selling mangas are One Piece, Dragon Ball, Naruto, Case Closed/ Detective Conan, Golgo 13, and Black Jack.

What Are Light Novels?

As the name suggests, light novels are small novels that are published with a similar style to manga and it was initially targeted towards young adults who were drifting away from manga.

The average length of a light novel is a maximum of 50,000 words. Unlike mangas, light novels focus more on the plot rather than imagery and dialogues. 

However, in recent times there has been an increase in including images in light novels but not to the extent of mangas. 

Since light novels are mostly focused on the story itself, it has relatively a smaller fan base than mangas and most of the fans are usually teens and adults. 

Most light novels are published in the form of books and some are serialized in magazines similar to manga publications.

Initially, light novels evolved from pulp magazines where illustrations of popular anime, games, and movies were published in order to attract a younger fan base. It has been a popular norm to adapt light novels into movies, anime, and mangas. 

There are many light novels translated to the English Language published in the form of paperbacks or tankobon volumes similar to manga.

Some of the best-selling mangas that have sold over 10 million copies are A Certain Magical Index, That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime, Sword Art Online, The Irregular at Magic High School, and Haruhi Suzumiya.

Differences Between Manga and Light Novels

Now that we know the nature of both mangas and light novels, it’s time to look into the major differences between them. There are a few notables between them such as:

Difference in Mediums

Mangas and light novels share many similarities yet they offer different experiences and make different impressions on the reader.

While both are visual mediums of storytelling that originate from Japan, they are vastly different in terms of the kind of stories they tell, the target demographic and the way they are marketed. 

Mangas fall under the umbrella of comic books, while light novels are usually just novels with pictures and they are mostly marketed toward people who may not be so excited about typical novels. 

While there are exceptions, generally light novels are seen as more sophisticated than mangas and are often associated with higher education. 

The main difference between a manga and a light novel can be found in the reading experience. 

Reading manga requires a certain kind of technique that requires the reader to pay attention to the images, which occasionally lead the story. Manga chapters are shorter, which allows for a quick pace, making it easier for inexperienced readers to keep up. 

Light novels, however, require the reader to rely on words and more traditional storytelling techniques to understand the story and to make sense of the various scenes that are depicted in the novel.

Light novels tend to be much longer and wordier than mangas, and provide a more enriching experience.

Difference in Style Between Manga and Light Novels

When it comes to their style, mangas and light novels can range from stories of the supernatural to stories of everyday life, but the extent of the detail and depth may vary. Generally, light novels provide a much larger scope than mangas, while mangas put much of the detail into the visual aspects of the story.

Differences in How Manga and Light Novels are Released

The other difference between mangas and light novels originates in their respective releases. In terms of distribution, mangas are commonly released in magazines and collected into volumes, while light novels are usually released as independent books. 

In Japan, mangas are often printed in black and white and sold at various convenience stores, while light novels are typically printed in full color and sold in bookstores. 

In the end, mangas and light novels are both mediums of storytelling that can be enjoyed in different ways, depending on your preferences. 

Mangas require less time to read, but they may lack depth in comparison to light novels, which may require more time, but offer an extremely detailed and enriching experience. 

Regardless of your tastes, mangas and light novels are both great mediums of storytelling that can offer an unforgettable journey with the right story.

Difference in Format Between Manga Vs Light Novel

The format of mangas and light novels plays a huge role in portraying the content. Mangas, as we know, are more character-driven and their main emphasis is on characters’ dialogues, emotions, and reactions than the story itself. 

Throughout the progress of the manga, the stories and the script are followed by several images to entertain the readers. Hence why most manga readers are children and teenagers. 

On the other hand, light novels are centered more towards the story instead of illustrations. The plot of the light novels is heavily addressed and given more clarification than a manga. This makes light novels more appealing to a mature audience such as young adults. 

Difference in Illustrations and Imagery Between Manga and Light Novel

Both mangas and light novels portray images but mangas mostly rely on eye-catching illustrations. The comic book style is adapted in mangas and the characters' actions and dialogues are thoroughly highlighted in them. 

This keeps the audience more invested in the manga as they can see what the characters are feeling and going through.

Light novels only have a few images of characters in them given that they’re more narrative-oriented. However, the quality of the illustrations should be addressed here. Since light novels have few illustrations, their quality is higher than manga illustrations. 

In addition, light novels give more detail to the characters’ appearance and mangakas have to draw tons of images hence the quality of the illustrations can fluctuate.

Importance To Words Given Manga Vs Light Novels

Evidently, light novels give more importance to words than mangas do. This is mainly because light novels are targeted towards young adults who are more into lore than graphics. This has made light novels an interesting hobby for most people who love to read. 

Light novels provide clear insight into the history of the narrative, characters, and why things are as they’re in the plot. 

Hence light novels are much more comprehensive and informative than mangas. There’s unlikely a place for doubts to arise since everything is mentioned clear-cut.

Whereas, mangas place their emphasis on the characters’ dialogues which are also beneficial for the readers to understand what the characters are feeling. 

However, this is a monotonous element in mangas which can cause confusion among the readers if several characters keep conveying their dialogues.

Manga Vs Light Novels in Length

The length is another important factor when it comes to reading materials. When it’s too long and boring it can be a major downside to most readers. 

Light novels are supposed to have a maximum of 50,000 words whereas there’s no specific word limit for mangas.

As a result, light novels are short and slow-paced than mangas because the writers have to stick to the plot throughout the end and use the length of words to keep the story going. 

On the other hand, mangas can go on for several years since there’s no word limit hence why mangas are fast-paced than light novels. 

Difference in Continuity

Since light novels have a word limit of 50,000 they cannot be continued further. The story has to end someday and it can only be continued if the writers intend to make a sequel for the original narrative. 

Hence, there’s unlikely for light novels to go on forever like mangas.

Speaking of mangas, we know they can continue as long as the authors wish. The longest ever manga to be published is Dokaben which has a total of 205 volumes. It was initially published in April 1972 and ended in September 2018.

Which is Better, Manga or Light Novels?

Now that we’ve discussed some of the differences between mangas and light novels it’s time to conclude which is better. To be fair, both mangas and light novels are different in their own way and portray the stories to their readers in a fascinating manner. 

There’s no winner here because it finally comes to one’s preference. Children and teenagers would prefer manga due to its variety of images and the emphasis it places on the characters. Moreover, there’s a large fan base for manga who are grown adults as well. 

Light novels would be preferred by a much more mature audience because they focus on the plot and have a comprehensive way of presenting the narrative. 

In addition, since mangas and light novels are targeted towards a completely different audience hence it’s tough to conclude a winner.


What comes first light novel or manga?

In most instances, the light novel would be the first source material for any adaptations. If the light novels are popular they are adapted into manga and then into anime and live action films.
In some cases, the light novels are adapted directly into anime. In addition, there may not even be light novels hence some anime are adapted directly from the manga.

Are light novels like manga?

Light novels and manga are both reading materials created for entertainment purposes. Light novels and mangas have a similar style to some extent but are vastly different from one another.
Mangas are more character-oriented and display a vast collection of images while light novels are more narrative-oriented and have a word limit of 50,000.


Do all manga have light novels?

Light novels are like novellas that have a style similar to manga but are based on presenting a detailed view of the storyline.
Most of the time mangas and anime are adapted from light novels. However, not all mangas have light novels and not all light novels are adapted to other forms of entertainment.

Which is better light novel or manga?

Light novels provide the readers with a comprehensive plot that prevents any misconceptions in their minds. Hence, light novels are more preferred by a mature audience.
Whereas, mangas are more character-driven and focus on imagery, climax, and dialogues hence they’re ideal for the youth.
It comes down to the preference of the audience as to which is better than the other.

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