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 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 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!