• Hokkaido Shimbun

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“Isekai Rebuilding Project,” a fantasy novel by a Hokkaido-based writer who publishes under the pseudonym Yukika Minamino, has become available to English-reading audiences through a website run by an American digital publisher of Japanese novels aimed at teenagers and young adults.

The addition of Minamino’s work and four other fantasy novels to J-Novel Club’s offering is in response to the growing popularity of anime and “light novels” — illustrated novels targeting young readers — among American youths.

The book, published in Japanese in March, is a tale about Eiji, an ordinary city clerk from Hokkaido leading a prosaic life who is transported to a parallel world on a mission to restore it to its authentic form. He also befriends a mythical dragon.

In the United States, increasing attention is being paid to the term “isekai” — meaning “another world” — amid the growing popularity of the manga and light novel genre, which involves the main character being transported to another world.

“This tale is situated in the landscape of Hokkaido, and I hope that people around the world can learn about the secrets of this region’s charm,” Minamino, 49, who lives in the town of Mori in the subprefecture of Oshima in southern Hokkaido, said of his novel.

J-Novel Club was launched in Texas in 2016 by Samuel Pinansky, an expert on Japanese subculture, who wanted to bring the latest Japanese light novels to the world stage by translating them into English. The novels are published on the website as a series of chapters, and the first few chapters can be viewed free of charge. After releasing the rest of the chapters to regular subscribers, the publisher sells the publications via digital bookstores.

So far, the company has published about 70 light novels, but it decided to reach out to adult fantasy novel enthusiasts as well. In November, J-Novel Club acquired licenses for the “Legend Novels” series released by Japan’s major publishing house Kodansha Ltd.

Under the agreement, Pinansky’s company plans to publish five works, including Minamino’s work, out of more than 50 books published under the label. Minamino’s work was released in English on Nov. 17.

Kodansha said the American publisher must have chosen to share Minamino’s work because of its rich storyline.

“I feel overwhelmed knowing that people from around the world will be reading my books,” Minamino said.

Kodansha, too, has high expectations that the English release of its fantasy novels for youths will help the company broaden its overseas readership.

This section features topics and issues from Hokkaido covered by the Hokkaido Shimbun, the largest newspaper in the prefecture. The original article was published on Dec. 3.

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