Manga Vs Light Novel | 5 Major Difference Between Manga and Light Novels

manga vs light novel

Manga and light novels are often confused to be the same. But that’s a huge misconception cause manga and light novels are very different from each other in terms of its format, continuity, imagery, etc. Here we trace the differences between manga vs light novels to understand both forms of art better. Check it out! 

Entertainment is a crucial part of our life and we know that without any form of entertainment our life’s going to be bland and dull. In a world where the internet is our source of entertainment, we’ve been introduced to several entertainment contents like video games, music, anime, etc. 

But does entertainment necessarily have to be electrical? That’s where books and novels come in place because not everyone likes to watch and learn new things.

Just like the comic books we’ve seen over the years, the Japanese are fond of manga and light novels that have their own style and designs of portraying stories. Manga and light novels have been the sensational form of entertainment presently. 

But which is better? Keep reading further to know if manga or light novels are a better medium for readers.

Manga Vs Light Novel

What Is Manga?

Manga is a very famous entertainment material that originated in Japan and it’s cherished all around the world by anime geeks. Manga is simply Japanese for “comics” although there are a few differences between the English comics we’ve seen so far. 

Manga is printed in black and white instead of color and the characters have more detail and emotive features than the characters displayed in English comic books.

It’s read by people of all ages and there are several genres in manga similar to anime, such as action, adventure, comedy, horror, romance, fantasy, sci-fi, drama, mystery, etc. 

Mangas are generally serialised in manga magazines in Japan and each episode would be published every week. One episode of manga in a manga magazine contains a lot of stories and they’re continually published every week. 

To read the entire collection of manga episodes there are tankobon volumes of the manga.

Manga is written by a mangaka who’s a manga artist and there are several other people involved in drawing imagery, editing, and publishing. Many mangas have been adapted into anime and films and even some anime have been adapted to mangas.

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Some of the best-selling mangas are One Piece, Dragon Ball, Naruto, Case Closed/ Detective Conan, Golgo 13, and Black Jack.

What Are Light Novels?

As the name suggests, light novels are small novels that are published with a similar style to manga and it was initially targeted towards young adults who were drifting away from manga.

The average length of a light novel is a maximum of 50,000 words. Unlike mangas, light novels focus more on the plot rather than imagery and dialogues. 

However, in recent times there has been an increase in including images in light novels but not to the extent of mangas. 

Since light novels are mostly focused on the story itself, it has relatively a smaller fan base than mangas and most of the fans are usually teens and adults. 

Most light novels are published in the form of books and some are serialized in magazines similar to manga publications.

Initially, light novels evolved from pulp magazines where illustrations of popular anime, games, and movies were published in order to attract a younger fan base. It has been a popular norm to adapt light novels into movies, anime, and mangas. 

There are many light novels translated to the English Language published in the form of paperbacks or tankobon volumes similar to manga. Some of the best-selling mangas that have sold over 10 million copies are A Certain Magical Index, That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime, Sword Art Online, The Irregular at Magic High School, and Haruhi Suzumiya.

Differences Between Manga and Light Novels

Now that we know the nature of both mangas and light novels, it’s time to look into the major differences between them. There are a few notables between them such as:


The format of mangas and light novels plays a huge role in portraying the content. Mangas, as we know, are more character-driven and their main emphasis is on characters’ dialogues, emotions, and reactions than the story itself. 

Throughout the progress of the manga, the stories and the script are followed by several images to entertain the readers. Hence why most manga readers are children and teenagers. 

On the other hand, light novels are centered more towards the story instead of illustrations. The plot of the light novels is heavily addressed and given more clarification than a manga. This makes light novels more appealing to a mature audience such as young adults. 

Illustrations and Imagery

Both mangas and light novels portray images but mangas mostly rely on eye-catching illustrations. The comic book style is adapted in mangas and the characters’ actions and dialogues are thoroughly highlighted in them. 

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This keeps the audience more invested in the manga as they can see what the characters are feeling and going through.

Light novels only have a few images of characters in them given that they’re more narrative-oriented. However, the quality of the illustrations should be addressed here. Since light novels have few illustrations, their quality is higher than manga illustrations. 

In addition, light novels give more detail to the characters’ appearance and mangakas have to draw tons of images hence the quality of the illustrations can fluctuate.

Importance To Words

Evidently, light novels give more importance to words than mangas do. This is mainly because light novels are targeted towards young adults who are more into lore than graphics. This has made light novels an interesting hobby for most people who love to read. 

Light novels provide clear insight into the history of the narrative, characters, and why things are as they’re in the plot. 

Hence light novels are much more comprehensive and informative than mangas. There’s unlikely a place for doubts to arise since everything is mentioned clear-cut.

Whereas, mangas place their emphasis on the characters’ dialogues which are also beneficial for the readers to understand what the characters are feeling. 

However, this is a monotonous element in mangas which can cause confusion among the readers if several characters keep conveying their dialogues.


The length is another important factor when it comes to reading materials. When it’s too long and boring it can be a major downside to most readers. 

Light novels are supposed to have a maximum of 50,000 words whereas there’s no specific word limit for mangas.

As a result, light novels are short and slow-paced than mangas because the writers have to stick to the plot throughout the end and use the length of words to keep the story going. 

On the other hand, mangas can go on for several years since there’s no word limit hence why mangas are fast-paced than light novels. 


Since light novels have a word limit of 50,000 they cannot be continued further. The story has to end someday and it can only be continued if the writers intend to make a sequel for the original narrative. 

Hence, there’s unlikely for light novels to go on forever like mangas.

Speaking of mangas, we know they can continue as long as the authors wish. The longest ever manga to be published is Dokaben which has a total of 205 volumes. It was initially published in April 1972 and ended in September 2018.

Which is Better, Manga or Light Novels?

Now that we’ve discussed some of the differences between mangas and light novels it’s time to conclude which is better. To be fair, both mangas and light novels are different in their own way and portray the stories to their readers in a fascinating manner. 

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There’s no winner here because it finally comes to one’s preference. Children and teenagers would prefer manga due to its variety of images and the emphasis it places on the characters. Moreover, there’s a large fan base for manga who are grown adults as well. 

Light novels would be preferred by a much more mature audience because they focus on the plot and have a comprehensive way of presenting the narrative. 

In addition, since mangas and light novels are targeted towards a completely different audience hence it’s tough to conclude a winner.

Manga vs Light Novel: FAQs

What comes first light novel or manga?

In most instances, the light novel would be the first source material for any adaptations. If the light novels are popular they are adapted into manga and then into anime and live action films. In some cases, the light novels are adapted directly into anime. In addition, there may not even be light novels hence some anime are adapted directly from the manga. 

Are light novels like manga?

Light novels and manga are both reading materials created for entertainment purposes. Light novels and mangas have a similar style to some extent but are vastly different from one another. Mangas are more character-oriented and display a vast collection of images while light novels are more narrative-oriented and have a word limit of 50,000.

Do all manga have light novels?

Light novels are like novellas that have a style similar to manga but are based on presenting a detailed view of the storyline. Most of the time mangas and anime are adapted from light novels. However, not all mangas have light novels and not all light novels are adapted to other forms of entertainment.

Which is better light novel or manga?

Light novels provide the readers with a comprehensive plot that prevents any misconceptions in their minds. Hence, light novels are more preferred by a mature audience. Whereas, mangas are more character-driven and focus on imagery, climax, and dialogues hence they’re ideal for the youth. It comes down to the preference of the audience as to which is better than the other.

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