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Japanese Manga and Anime Titles Are Too Damn Long. Here's Why.

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The anime scene in Japan, while not exactly booming in recent years, has certainly kept up appearances, starting over 50 new anime series in the month of April alone. Most are sequels or are based off of existing properties, like manga or light novels. Among some of the recent popular shows based on light novels, a noticeable growing trend can be observed with long wordy titles like, "俺の妹がこんなに可愛いわけがない" (There's No Way My Little Sister Is This Cute) or "僕は友達が少ない" (I Have Few Friends) or "もし高校野球の女子マネージャーがドラッカーの『マネジメント』を読んだら" (What If A High School Baseball Team Manager Read Drucker's 'Management'"). Pan Tachibana is the author of one such Japanese light novel series, and recently talked with Kotaku about his thoughts on the trend.

Tachibana, a history buff and a geek in his own right who enjoys play-by-mail RPGs (and has spent more money on the Idolm@ster Cinderella Girls game than he is willing to admit...), got his start as a scenario writer for adult games and through friendships cultivated over the years, was offered a chance to write for the Fujimi Shobo publishing company where he created the series "だから僕はHができない" (That's Why I Can't Have Ecchi). The story takes place in a world where spirits of death form binding contracts with the souls of mortals for their excess soul energy. Through a series of events, the main character, Ryousuke Kaga, enters a contract with a spirit which results with his soul energy is drained in the form of his libido. The series is currently being made into an anime that is scheduled to air in Japan this July.


As to the title decision of his novel, Tachibana remarked that choosing the title was the hardest part of writing for him, and in fact, he was unable to decide on a title until the very last moment. "I hadn't received any awards, so I didn't have that sort of selling point to draw in readers. " Tachibana explains. "At the very least, I wanted a title that was both attention-grabbing and catchy, and at the same time would let the reader know what sort of story they were getting." Indeed, the emergence of the long, wordy title is something of a natural evolution in light novels. Thanks to the light novel boom, there is no shortage of numerous competing popular titles already on the shelves, and in order to capture new readers, it has become commonplace to try to find quick and easy ways to grab their interest. "There's no guarantee that someone will take the time to read the plot description of a book, so if the title is long and has its own descriptive meaning, it serves that purpose." Tachibana explains.


Despite the increase of lengthy descriptive titles of book, anime, and games, the growing trend of wordy descriptive titles may be reaching a saturation point, and Tachibana himself believes that the trend will soon be over. "If you look at the bookshelves now, there is really a plethora of books with long titles." says Tachibana. "And while it's a selling trend for now, newer works are going to have to go a different route if they will want to stand out in their own way." So what does Tachibana predict will be the next trend in titles? "If I knew that, then my life would be a whole lot easier." laughs Tachibana.