Next month, a new anime will be premiering with the title Shuumatsu Nani Shitemasu ka? Isogashii Desu ka? Sukutte Moratte Ii Desu ka? (officially translated to What Do You Do at the End of the World? Are You Busy? Will You Save Us?). It probably took you no time at all to figure out that this is a light novel adaptation — based solely on the length of the title. While it’s already being referred to officially as SukaSuka for short by both the official company and fans, it does bring to mind that question: why the heck are light novel titles so freaking long??
One of the earliest “long-form” titles was The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, whose original light novel was published back in 2003. Nowadays that seems downright tame, but at the time fans here and there did comment on the title’s length, both in Japanese in English. In 2008, OreImo — short for Ore no Imōto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai — appeared on the scene, and while it was not the only long light novel title on the scene, it did mark the beginning of a trend.
Ever since, titles have been creeping upward in length bit by bit, with abbreviations at the ready. Granted, abbreviations are not new to anime; even short titles get shortened further still by the fans. But as more light novels got longer titles, and as those books were turned into anime, the abbreviations became almost necessary. If nothing else, hashtags and URLs and Twitter handles couldn’t be that long!
It came to the point where titles were full sentences long. Some even included other book titles in them — MoshiDora‘s full title translates to What If the Manageress of a High School Baseball Team read Drucker’s “Management”? For a while it was slightly annoying at worst and funny at best. But recently, bookstores have complained of their inability to list new books because their titles don’t fit in the shop’s forms, and graphic designers for localization companies can’t fit the titles on the new covers.
But fans and writers maintain that long titles are fine… and even necessary. In such a crowded market, they say, long, interesting titles can get you noticed. Plus, there’s a level of “geek cred” in being able to rattle off the entire title of a show.
At present, two titles are tied for longest, clocking in at 65 characters each. The newest, coming out this month, translates to (I’ve Already Saved This World and Taken Its Wealth and Power and I Live Happily in a Castle with a Female Knight and Demon Queen, So To All Other Heroes) Stay Out of This Fantasy World.
What do you think? Are light novel titles getting too crazy, or is it just a bit of fun?