Horo fans are aghast at the decision of the English publishers of sagacious wolf light novel series Spice and Wolf to dump the titular spicy wolf Horo completely in an effort to appeal to “fantasy audiences,” who presumably cannot be expected to buy anything without a scantily clad lady or dragon on the cover.
Yen Press lengthily excuses their decision to dump the charming cover illustrations which formed the basis for a series of light novels, anime, games and manga, saying there is no way real Americans will buy books with funny Chinese cartoons on the cover:
What is a light novel, really? It’s a novel. It’s a book with spiffy illustrations.
Sure, there are some distinct challenges when it comes to positioning these books in our market, but ultimately there are a lot more readers of novels out there right now than there are readers of manga and comics.
That’s a huge potential audience, and we really want to help our novels realize that potential. These are great stories, and we’re proud to be introducing them to whole new readership.
Some of the “spiffy illustrations” currently getting in the way of marketing this book to the swords and sex hungry US fantasy market:
They are keen to spin the decision as one made “in the best interests” of Horo fans and light novel aficionados alike:
We think this design really captures Holo’s playful spirit in a way that will appeal to fantasy audiences. At the same time, though, we certainly know that some of the existing SPICE AND WOLF fans out there might have a harder time embracing this new direction.
What we hope, though, is that those fans understand our reasons for making these changes and will turn out to support this property that they know and love and in turn support the success of light novels in general in this market so that one day — hopefully! — we’ll be in a very different place where we can confidently and successfully utilize the original cover art for these books.
What I’d really like to see come to pass is the day where light novels are actually bringing new readers into the manga community!
Possibly not if all the existing fans of the franchise are aghast at the ruination inflicted upon poor Horo by a now almost universally vilified Yen Press.
Yen Press are attempting to appease actual Horo fans, whom they dismiss as “hardcore,” and hawk their own rag in the process, by offering a limited edition dust jacket featuring the original artwork packaged with their magazine, though it is hard to see many being satisfied by this…
Fans can however take scant solace in the fact that even Yen Press is not ready to start stripping out the interior illustrations yet – these will remain intact for now.
It is indeed curious that whilst some companies are desperate to copy Japanese visual styles in order to effectively market their own products, others actually dealing with licensing Japanese works are desperate to downplay the same visual elements, even to the extent of suppressing the art in favour of western styles or 3D CG…