Difference Between Light Novel And Manga

When discussing Japanese pop culture, two terms that often come up are light novels and manga. Both are popular mediums for storytelling, but they have significant differences. This article will explore those differences and clarify what sets these two mediums apart.


Let’s start with manga, which is more widely known in the West. Manga, in simple words, is a Japanese-style comic book or graphic novel. Manga is typically black and white, though some series do come out in full color. Manga is read from right to left, which is different from most Western comics.

Manga covers a broad range of genres, from action to romance, comedy to horror, and even sports to cooking. It’s available in several forms, including weekly and monthly magazines or as standalone volumes known as tankobon. Manga is known for its distinct art style, defined mainly by its large-eyed characters and exaggerated facial expressions.

Manga storylines can be long-running, spanning dozens or hundreds of chapters, or even multiple volumes. Sometimes, manga is adapted into anime, animated television programs or movies, which can help make a particular series even more popular.

Light Novels:

Now, let’s move on to light novels. Light novels are another form of Japanese entertainment that has gained international acclaim after their adaptations were screened in hit anime shows. Light novels are similar to regular novels in terms of formatting, but lighter and more accessible. Light novels became popular in the early 2000s and enjoyed tremendous success.

Light novels are usually targeted at young adults and adolescents, and their stories range across various genres. Light novels are shorter than traditional novels, with around 50,000–70,000 words. One key difference between light novels and traditional novels is the inclusion of illustrations to help readers visualize the characters and situations better.

Light novels often get adaptations into anime or manga, which amplifies their reach to a wider audience. Unlike manga, Light novels are typically chaptered, and the chapters are often grouped into volumes for print publication.

What sets them apart?

Before delving into the key differences between manga and light novels, let’s first understand their similarities. Both mediums are used to tell stories, feature Japanese-style storytelling and are highly popular in Japan.

Now let’s see how they differ. Manga is a graphic medium, while light novels are primarily text-based. Manga uses images to convey the story, while light novels use words. Manga is known for its unique artistic style, while light novels often have some black and white illustrations as added features. Manga storylines can be lengthy, and they’re typically broken down into chapters, while light novels generally have a lighter, easier-to-digest structure.

Another difference is that light novels are often easier to translate into different languages, making them more accessible to non-Japanese speaking audiences. They’re also more popular in Asian countries such as China, Korea, and Taiwan. In contrast, manga is highly visual, and some people may find it harder to understand the culturally specific art style.

However, the most significant difference between light novels and manga is the way they tell their stories. Manga typically focuses on visual storytelling, emphasizing the importance of the art in conveying emotions and expressions. It’s the art that brings the characters to life and plays a crucial role in developing the storyline and pacing.

On the other hand, light novels use words to describe the characters, their actions, and their experiences. The written text is used to create rich and complex worlds, and emphasis is given to character development, plot, and world-building.


In conclusion, there are several differences between light novels and manga. Light novels are primarily text-based with some illustrations, while manga is a graphic medium with a focus on visual storytelling. Light novels are shorter and more accessible than traditional novels, with a variety of genres available. Manga is typically read from right to left and has a unique art style that’s recognizably Japanese.

Despite those differences, there’s no reason to choose one over the other. They’re similar in their use of Japanese-style storytelling and storytelling techniques, but the medium is different. Whether you prefer manga, light novels, or both, it’s safe to say that their popularity and influence will continue to grow worldwide.