In Japan, there is an ongoing debate on whether or not light novels such as Reki Kawahara’s Sword Art Online and Accel World, Wataru Watari’s My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU, and NisiOisin’s Monogatari series should ever be considered as part of Japanese literature. However, one Japanese Literature professor has decided that they are indeed a part of Japanese literature, and even included the Monogatari series in his classes.
Illustrated by VOFAN, the Monogatari series epitomizes Japanese word play, which author NisiOisin is quite known for doing. Masahiro Hirose, a professor of Japanese Literature at the Aichi University of Education is quite fond of the series, and he has included the very first volume of Bakemonogatari, which includes Hitagi Crab, Mayoi Snail, and Suruga Monkey, as part of the “Seminar on Japanese Literature” lessons.
Hirose is a huge supporter of light novels, and feels that it really is an important part of Japanese literature. He feels that he must bridge the so-called “divide” between light novels and Japanese literature, and his lessons often integrate popular light novels such as Sword Art Online and ToraDora!. He has been known for quoting a line Tsukimonogatari in one of his talks, and in an earlier presentation, included Sword Art Online. According to the professor, Sword Art Online is “fantasy is used to reflect reality,” which is pretty much what most works in Japanese literature is all about.
Most critics of the idea often argue that light novels are more of a form of entertainment, rather than actual literature, and clearly, Prof. Hirose disagrees with them, as he has admitted that he intends to “shatter” the divide between Japanese literature and the light novel industry.