Lets start by talking about the Cheers episode, Do Not Forsake Me, O’ My Postman. This will eventually tie into anime, manga, and light novels. Trust me. It just takes a bit. I have to explain the plot of this episode first. For some reason the details of a random sitcom episode from 1992 is no longer part of the pop culture lexicon.
In Do Not Forsake Me, O’ My Postman the B-plot of the episode is Rebecca Howe looking to find someone to write a jingle for the bar after their rival bar gets a good deal of success with some commercials. She has almost no money for the ad campaign so she hires Sy Flembeck. It soon turns out that all of his songs basically take the tune of Old MacDonald, Mary had a Little Lamb, or other songs that would have a Round Folk Song Index number. He then just slaps some hackneyed lyrics on the old saw when he can’t even spell Cheers correctly in the song. She soon kicks him out of the bar for such a shoddy attempt at advertising.
To Rebecca’s surprise all of Sy’s jingles are earworms. Annoying and insipid earworms, but that could be said of most earworms. Apparently Sy’s previous work on the ad for Fred’s Tune Ups is still stuck in the parton’s heads. As much as they all hate the song they remember the name of the auto repair shop and its location.
The main part of the skit is here if you have never seen it.
As a side note the man who played Sy Flembeck, John Mahoney, would later go on to play Martin Crane in the spinoff series Frasier. They even make a sly reference to that fact in Frasier about that.
I bring this up because I have to wonder if this little comedy skit inadvertently explains the proliferation of obscenely long light novel titles. If you have ever spent any time on twitter about once per week someone brings up how dorky and awkward modern light novel titles sound. You have gone from Slayers and Baccano! to What if a Prestigious School’s Student Council President were to Read Abdul Alhazred’s Necronomicon? or I’m A High School Boy and a Successful Light Novel Author, But I’m Being Strangled By A Female Classmate Who’s A Voice Actress And Is Younger Than Me. Even A Certain Magical Index and The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya are a mouthful even if they are not the paragraph length titles of my previous examples.
You have to wonder why anyone would name a series like this.
But think about it. A day in which someone does not make a snowclone of My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute is the day everyone in anime fandom was killed by a terrible flesh-eating bacteria transmitted by the Attack on Titan opening. (Not everyone would die but everyone who was still alive would be so busy talking about who died that they JUST might forget to make a Oreimo jokes. This assumes the first comment is not, “I Can’t Believe My Anime Fandom was this Devastated by Tragedy.”) As much as people say they hate those titles (and quite possibly actually hate them) they tend not to leave your head. There is even several twitter feeds that are just made up Light Novel title names.
I feel like it was not too long ago that word mash titles like Full Metal Panic! and I My Me! Strawberry Eggs that seem to make no sense at all were popular. You would sometimes just watch the show in hoped that it might explain the odd title. They tend to get stuck in your head if you like it or not. There is even a US card game based on this idea.
But like anything else overexposure tends to wear away at the power of such tricks. The first few titles are extremely memorable for standing out from the pack. Past the point of novelty it takes something special for an extremely long title to stand out. Usually the property has to be really strong or ultimately horrible to still stand out. But that has never stopped the entertainment industry from running an idea into the ground until it is no longer profitable. I’m sure the next catchy gimmick will eventually come along and everyone will start using that instead.
I’m not saying that we now have to embrace the hyper long light novel title. I was just hoping to explain it to a certain degree.
2 thoughts on “Do Not Forsake Me, O’ My Cute Little Light Novelist Cousin”
I view it as another example of how advertising wisdom is in a state of partial flux nowadays such that “making something people never forget that becomes part of the culture” and “making something that encourages people to actually spend their money” are no longer as closely linked as they once were. If everyone can remember the name and location of a shop with clarity thanks to a song they hate, is that shop really the place they’ll want to take their car to get fixed?
It’s a similar thing with light novels. I myself have made a smattering of jokes at the expense of these premise-explaining titles. But does that mean I now consume that content? No, it’s the opposite. Thanks to the combination of the outlandish titles with their perceived homogeneity of content–does every LN have a cover image of young girls in frilly skirts and exposed thighs, no matter WHAT the title is, or is it just 90% of them?–I’ve never actually bothered to READ one. And anytime I hear that an anime is based on a light novel that makes me initially inclined to NOT watch it. I’ve still never watched any of Oreimo, which I have to shorten to “Oreimo” because its actual title is too obnoxiously long to type out. And I don’t think I want to start…because then when I talk about it, I’d at some point have to type out said title.
I can understand why it’s being done, thanks in part to posts like this. I just strongly question the wisdom and effectiveness in doing so.
I’m A High School Boy and a Successful Light Novel Author, But I’m Being Strangled By A Female Classmate Who’s A Voice Actress And Is Younger Than Me is by the author of Kino’s Journey. If anything says, “This is an idea pushed by editors and marketing” it would be that fact alone.
If anything gimmicks like this lose their power when everyone starts using them so hopefully we will see this trend die down soon.