Editorial: A look on Faust

(art by VOFAN)

(art by VOFAN)

In 2003, a nice Japanese person from Kodansha, named Katsushi Ota, decided to create, in collaboration with big names from the LN world, a magazine under the name Faust. And in 2008, decided that the English market was a good place to sell them.

Del Rey Manga, (definitely one of my favourite publishers and the most interesting one from the so-called “Tokyopop Era”) as the US Kodansha representative of the time, delivered two out of the 8 volumes only released in Japan. Or in fact, two anthologies made from those magazines. Its goal was simple: to make the world of light novels accessible to everybody, even the neophytes. A goal I found easy to fulfil, with an editor who could be called a specialist of the subject. If Cho or I could be called light novel aficionados, then Ota would be a leading expert.

faust 1

Volume 1 Cover

Faust is a gathering of various novellas written by famous LN authors who dedicated their time to write more engaging and creative stories. It’s the top of the top. You couldn’t go wrong with it. It’s provocative, it’s different and it’s probably due to their format.

Light novels are inherently long-winded stories. They’re 300 pages stories with a lot of fluff, mainly character thoughts or just plain descriptions. Most of the time, they go overboard with those. It’s one of the main cons of reading a light novel. After all, if the author can’t fill those 300 pages with enough quality-writing (and you can be assured that most the time, they can’t), reading them becomes tedious.

Novellas kept their descriptions to the bare minimum and allowed much more creativity, even if some recurring quirks from light novels were still present. However, it isn’t as apparent because of the aforementioned problems that can be addressed thanks to the smaller, tighter grasp on the story development.

 

Alongside the novellas, Faust also compiled some manga coming form the only release of Comic Faust, a one time spin-off, and some neat features like interviews or editorials. They’re here to spice things up and provide other experiences for interested readers. Those too, are shortened, to not extensively turn the book into a huge, non-practical pile of paper.

The manga features are lacking, probably due to the look more experimental of the works presented. Aside from two of all of them, they’re either too short to make us feel invested or simply ignore typical manga rules (not a bad thing but more interesting on a longer work).

Editorials and essays are always welcome in my book, and I won’t deny that the Lost in translation?! interview with Andrew Cunningham and Yukari Shiina was my favourite. There’s also a nice talk between the writers and Ota discussing the release of Faust in the U.S.

faust 2

Volume 2 Cover

Faust in itself was a good effort from Kodansha and Ota to help make light novels more popular in the U.S. during the late 2000s. It is a bit saddening for us to only receive two anthologies instead of the eight original issues. But those anthologies still delivered what they promised: Fiction and Manga from the cutting edge of Japanese pop culture.

Unfortunately, to keep things short, I won’t do a review of each novella and you could assume from the get-go that I like them a lot, thanks to their tighter proses and unusual premises. For a list of the novellas, you can check the presentation page here on the site.

If you have questions concerning Faust and its publication, feel free to ask them in the comments!

6 responses to “Editorial: A look on Faust

  1. Oh wow this the first time i hear about this one! I’m a big fan of short stories so this one is a must buy :D!
    The volumes are over priced now since it’s out of print but i’ll still try to get them.
    Thanks for reviewing it :D

  2. Was very lucky to have chanced upon (and subsequently bought) a copy of Faust Vol. 1 at a secondhand bookstore.

    I love Kara no Kyoukai to bits, and seeing as it’s the closest I’m ever gonna get to an official KnK localization (thanks to the ‘View from Above’ excerpt), the anthology is and for a long time will be one of my most cherished books.

  3. I had a copy of the first volume back in the day, but I don’t recall reading it unfortunately. I feel like I would appreciate the stories a lot more now than I would have then anyways though; I’ll have to look into picking these up someday.

    I think it’s interesting that we see Del Rey’s LNs as ancient history, but it hasn’t even been ten years yet since these Faust anthologies were released, ha ha. I’d love to see a project like this given another shot though. Perhaps with everyone online all the time now, digital is the way to go for some kind of monthly short story from a random light novel author? Yen Press is already doing simulpubs with some of their manga, so it doesn’t seem impossible.

    In the meantime, I think it is worth mentioning that short story anthologies from Japan are still a thing fortunately, thanks to Haikasoru (Phantasm Japan, Hanzai Japan, etc). I picked them up in an ebook bundle, but haven’t gotten around to reading them yet.

    • I think one of the reasons we consider Del Rey and Tokyopop ancient history is the overall feel of their releases. Del Rey, especially, is known for Zaregoto and the Death Note Novel, which clash a lot with the current LN licensing choices made by Yen On.
      Ironic, considering Yen Press is also a decade old.

      Considering Japan’s attachment to e-readers, I’m surprised no publisher has thought of publishing short stories written by LN authors. Maybe the end of Faust’s publication was what dissuaded them.

      I should also read the Haikasoru anthologies you mentioned since they too look very promising.

      • Del Rey certainly licensed some unusual titles, but I wouldn’t use those examples! Zaregoto is from Nisio Isin, whose Monogatari books are currently being brought over. And Death Note: Another Note (which was from Viz, not Del Rey) is tied to a hugely popular shounen franchise — I imagine if another Death Note novel was written now, it would be brought over too. We are getting LNs for Tokyo Ghoul and Seven Deadly Sins licensed, and I won’t be surprised if that trend continues.

        I am not certain about how attached to e-readers the Japanese market is. It’s true that everyone has a smartphone, but I’m not sure if people are buying light novels on them. There’s a particularly strong attachment to physical media still in Japan, and light novels (and books in general) are dirt cheap. Lots of small bookstores everywhere, including used shops that make the cheap books even cheaper — so the main arguments for ebooks (convenience and cheaper costs) are not as big a deal in Japan. There is still a growing presence, I’m sure, but the shift appears to be quite gradual at the moment.

  4. Huh, well count me as surprised, I had no idea Del Rey released any LNs, but I guess since Faust never finished, it was forgotten with time. Thanks for writing this piece Melody and reminding some people!

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