Regarding Light Novels: “World Reformation” has Potential, Knight’s & Magic Translation Restarted and Epubs for the Win

no game no life sora shiro gendo ikari pose
Now, welcome lost sheep. I remind you that opening a tab in Chrome is “Ctrl + T” while closing this one is “Ctrl + W”.

Just my weekly attempt to talk about a part of the world I cherish so much, my saviour number #3: Light Novels. I say that, but in reality it will probably mostly about me showing gratitude towards translators-sama, Web Novels and other types of novels as well. But, hey. Coherency isn’t something you should expect from this blog to begin with.

Since this post became far longer than what I initially meant to, here’s a brief pointed list:


Umu, what to say. This week was quite good under the LN part of AMLNVN for me. To start with, I began reading the new translation project of Reigokai-sama, renowned translator of the Light (well, in this case Web) Novel Tsuki ga Michibiku Isekai Douchu, which is another Isekai set tale I strongly recommend (well, his blog site isn’t called “Isekai Translation” for nothing, heh), or so it seemed. Why?

Because his new project, “World Reformation Activities of the Dark God — Loving Humans So Much, I Reincarnated in One — or if you prefer the Japanese title “Yonaoshi ankoku-shin no honsō ―― ningen sukisugite ningen ni tensei shita ――” (as if the English one wasn’t forgettable enough), isn’t really about a Japanese dude getting stabbed or run over by truck-sama just to be transported in another world, nope. It’s about a human loving God reincarnating in a human to study them more because he’s overly kininarimasu! or, for those not familiar with Hyouka (go freaking watch it please)…

Hyouka meme kininarimasu
From Hyouka (Anime)

…curious and interested about them. Well, there is more and detailed stuff behind it, such as:

  • he’s Entropy, the God of Darkness/Dark God;
  • there are 5 other Gods, one for each element light, wind, earth, water, fire;
  • he is the only human-loving one, so he had to fight against the other 5 and… got sealed for 1600 years;
  • light God is a Goddess and apparently has a crush on Entropy, so she freed him;
  • either way, he got sealed, freed and reincarnated in a human named Haine;
  • and so on, more than this and I’ll spoil too much (most of this came from the prologue so I haven’t ruined anything! Nyahaha!).

There are already 27 chapters whelp, not even a day passed from the beginning of making this post and I had to edit it as freaking 30 chapters have already been translated by the God that is Reigokai-sama (seriously, talking about amazing speed, he even bulks more of them in one post so to keep the words lentgh of Tsuki ga Michibiku’s releases! As World Reformation has shorter chapters than Tsuki, which by the way, has been on hiatus for a while as of now…), so I suggest starting it, or if you prefer reading in bulks, wait for more(?), as second arc will probably be finished in not too much time with this pace (first arc has been already completed! Sasuga Reigokai-sama!). I recommend it, but to be honest, as for now it is by no means an extraordinary thing, but still rather enjoyable. At least more than most of your average Isekai series, then again… this isn’t an Isekai set Light Novel.

Light Novel Illustration of World Reformation activities of the Dark God — Loving humans so much, I reincarnated in one —
Light Novel Illustration of “World Reformation activities of the Dark God — Loving humans so much, I reincarnated in one —”

Not to mention, this was personally picked up from Translator-sama, and one doesn’t simply pick up the first Web Novel to translate without enjoying its story, so I have faith in Reigokai-sama’s taste. Albeit I fear a little that it will get too generic since until now I’ve only seen females as candidates to be Haine’s companions and his power, the “Dark Matter” is quite OP (well, he IS a God), I like the concept that it is based on though: Gods create humans so to be slaves that just need to worship the former while the only pro-mankind one is sealed away. I mean, rather than a having all human loving and caring Gods, I would like to see some selfish and crazy ones (hue hue, I reminded the “Dungeon Seeker”‘s one, that was truly a psycho-path indeed. And I loved it).

On a side and funny note, among the usual lurker of his site, there is one named “Truck-kun”, which I find quite amusing for obvious reason.


Now, with that covered up, another good news fo low leechers who can’t read the superior language that is Japanese like me, is that Skythewood, another illustrious (I believe) translator-sama, who contrarily to what I’ve just stated translates from Chinese Light Novels and is the main reason I got to enjoy series such as Overlord (no idea why the link has “knights and magic” in it though, yep, it’s not a mistake) and Youjo Senki (best projects picked up by him/her/they(?) in my opinion), resumed translating the Light Novel Knight’s & Magic, by releasing the prologue of Volume 5 a day or two ago.

Ernesti Echevarria light novel
Our lovely and cute, daga Otoko da, main character: Eru (Ernesti Echevarria)

I don’t think I need to introduce this one, as there is a currently airing, albeit quite rushed, Anime adaptation. Well, in few words, it’s about a mecha Otaku genius programmer who, while on his way to return home and have some blissful time assembling mecha models, got run over by truck, or rather, this time was a normal car, and obviously got sent to another world in which, for Steins;Gate’s will, the main weapons are… pan pan ka pan! yes, mecha or how they’re called there “Silhouette Knights”. Ah, of course, there are also magic and swords there, the former being pretty much programming.

Yeah, as you might notice by the little amount of irony, I’m a little bothered by how much blessed he was in getting reincarnated there. By the way, he became a beautiful silver haired trap, well, at least he kept his gender as male, in contrast to a certain businessman who is now a beautiful crazy loli in a battlefield in a parallel Germany during World War I…

tanya degurechaff crazy light novel
My, hello there. Just your everyday Isekai’d in a loli in war time by Being X here.

Fumu, lastly, as I wanted to contribute somehow to the community, i’ve started doing Epubs of the Light Novels I read, such as Tsuki ga Michibiku Isekai Douchuu, Death March and the aforementioned World Reformation. Hm? Why Epubs and not PDFs you ask? Well, I’ll do them too sooner or later, but Epub come first as they involve HTML and CSS (which I’m learning) and for lots of other good reason I got from redditor D33VIL’s post, which I’ll report here because I wish this was spread to as many people as possible (then again, this is the wrong place to do this…):

I’m making this post to try and get more people to use EPUBs as well as (hopefully) shine some light on how to make them and some things that may annoy or impress me. I’m really no pro on the subject, but I have been tinkering with EPUBs for a while and would like to at least think that i know one or two things about the subject.

Why EPUB?

EPUB is a format used primarily for e-books. It is made with the intention to give users the best reading experience on a digital device.

Well, PDF is also good for reading! – someone that i just made into an enemy for life…

Well, yeah, but no. PDF is great for its own purpose, but that purpose is not reading books. PDF, or Portable Document Format, is made for (you guessed it) documents. They often need their specified formatting to get their point made. Margin should be this, font this, font size this, page numbers here and yada yada. PDF makes it look great on that specified A4 paper, but what if you dont have A4 paper?

This is where EPUB shines. It adapts to whatever device you are using as well as give you the option to change it to best suit your reading experience. Reading on a wide screen tablet, you may want the text to split in two columns when in landscape mode? EPUB can do that. You may not like to keep scrolling back and forth over the document whenever you reach the end of the line? EPUB fixes that. You may get tired of all the zooming to read the text? EPUB handles that.

It is kind of like a miracle drug for e-books, but i still see people stuck with PDF for reasons i can not understand. Unless you are printing the PDF, then you might probably be better off reading an EPUB version.

RANT OVER

How does EPUB work?

Simply put? It’s a website.

An EPUB file is simply a zip folder (that has had the .zip extension changed to .epub) containing a mandatory content.opf file and a toc.ncx as well as the html (or xhtml, more on that later), images and css (style files) that makes up your book.

EPUB readers works exactly like browsers (which is pretty darn smart if you ask me). Websites and “normal” programs, while people think they are the same, are pretty different. A program you design, code and create before distributing the end product. Websites differ, they are designed and coded, but never created. They send the design and code to the browser to create the website, meaning that it still has room to do some final adjustments.

Why did i say this? It will hopefully be clear when I tell you how to make epubs.

How to read EPUBs?

Every device probably have a ton of different readers. The ones I’ve used are;

  • Windows Desktop – Calibre
  • Windows Apps – Bazaar
  • Browser – Google Books
  • Android – MoonReader+ (This is by far my favorite)

Again, there are multiple programs, others that have been mentioned here in the comments are

  • Marvin reader
  • Pocketbook
  • Bookari
  • Kobo’s Win10 app
  • Firefox’s EPUBReader addon

How to make EPUBs?

The best way to make EPUBs is probably to use a tool like Sigil and learn some web-programming, namely html and css. I will try to give a rundown of what might be good to know and such, but i strongly recommend learning or at least be very quick to google, html and css. There are a lot of better and in depth tutorials regarding these things out there. Google will do a better job than me in helping you find them.

However there are other ways to create EPUBs than fiddling only in code, but even then i recommend knowing some web-programming to know how to fix potential errors and such. I’ll mention some things about this later.

HTML

HTML contains the main structure of the book, it specifies headers, paragraphs, the actual text, links and images. An empty html file in Sigil looks like this:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?> <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.1//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml11/DTD/xhtml11.dtd"> <html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml"> <head> <title></title> </head> <body> <p>&nbsp;</p> </body> </html>

With the exception of the first two lines that specifies metadata, everything has a start and an end tag. The end tag looks like the start tag, with the exception of a / before the tag name. There are exceptions to this,
is a tag that specifies a new line (break row) and does not need an ending tag. 
also has another minor problem that will be mentioned later.

Anyway, examples are often easiest to learn from, so here is a shorted version of a file that has some stuff in it.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?> <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.1//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml11/DTD/xhtml11.dtd"> <html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml"> <head> <title></title> <link href="../Styles/StyleSheet.css" type="text/css" rel="stylesheet"/> </head> <body> <h2 class="big_title">The Place You Called From</h2> <p id="title_author"> Sugaru Miaki </p> <p><b>Associated Names:</b> The Place I Called From <u>&amp;</u> 君が電話をかけていた場所 (メディアワークス文庫)</p> <p><b>The Place You Called From</b> is a novel by Sugaru Miaki, also known as Fafoo, writer of <b>Starting Over</b>,<b> Three Days of Happiness</b>, and <b>Pain, Pain, Go Away</b>.</p> <p><b>Description:</b> The story is about a boy entering high school, who answers a strange call from a public phone one night. The caller challenges him to a bet: She’ll remove the birthmark which he sees as the cause of so many problems, and he’ll have fifty days to win the heart of a girl he’d considered far beyond his reach. And with this, a very strange summer begins. </p> </body> </html>

This is a description file for the novel The Place You Called From, lets break it down.

The first difference is the tag inside the tag, this one tells the file that i will use/link to another document that contains all the style for the text. href specifies that it is a link, double dot says the parent folder of the one i’m in, Styles is the name of the folder containing the file, and StyleSheet.css is the name of the file. I also specify that it is a text/css file and stylesheet.

This line can be copy-pasted and just make sure your folder and file name are correct, everything else should be left like it is.

Next comes the body tag. This tag contains all the juicy stuff, everything you see in your book is placed here.

<h2 class="big_title">The Place You Called From</h2>

tells a lot. h2 is a header, more specifically header 2, which is smaller than header 1. class=”big_title” is one of the more important things here.

When designing html files you can reference things in 3 different ways.

  1. Tags – Everything that has this tag.
  2. Class – Everything part of this class.
  3. ID – That one thing that has this ID.
  • Extra: you can actually combine these, but that is often overkill. Example being things that are part of class A and B.

Now we know that the class=”big_title” only specifies that this header tag is part of the “big_title” class. Multiple tags can share the same class, but only one tag can use an ID. The line below it uses exactly this, an ID but does this to give an ID for this

tag, which specifies a paragraph (this is the tag you want book text to be placed within).

CSS

Now that we know what html does (more or less), lets move to the CSS, Cascade Style Sheet. This does what you could guess from the name, it styles and it can look like this.

h1{
text-align: center;
}
h2{
text-align: center;
}
h3{
text-align: center;
}
#title_author
{
text-align: center;
font-weight: bold;
font-size: 120%;
}
.tl_note{
font-size: 80%;
}
.big_title
{
font-size: 220%;
}
.image_full {
  display: block;
  text-align: center;
  text-indent: 0;
  padding: 0;
  margin: 0;
  page-break-inside: avoid;
}
.image_portrait {
  clear: both;
  width: auto;
  max-height: 100%;
  max-width: 100%;
  overflow: hidden;
  page-break-inside: avoid;
  height: 100%;
  text-indent: 0;
}

By referencing with the name of a tag without any prefix, we are referring to all instances of that tag, like h1, h2 and h3. When we use a # sign in front of something, we are referring to the ID, and when we use a . (dot) we mean a class.

This is the code we linked the file to in the other snippet, namely StyleSheet.css and as we can see, the big_title class exist here. It specifies that the font-size should be 220%. Note the way its written. Reference (dot as prefix since its a class) followed by curly brackets. Inside them you write the property you want to change, be it color, font size, alignment, whatever, followed by a colon and your desired change before ending it with a semicolon and the closing curly bracket.

There are a lot of people struggling with these things on google (quite often beginners), so there is often a lot of help to find with a quick google search.

Do and Don’t

I might have already scared everyone away, and if so, i’m sorry! But we passed the hard and boring stuff. But for those left, I’d like to talk about what i think we should always do and don’t do when designing our EPUBs.

Don’t

  1. Don’t add your own fonts. There are plenty built in ones already and you do not need that one extra font to show that one tiny thing. Some readers change the font to their standard ones anyway.
  2. Don’t convert EPUBs from PDF. Since PDF doesn’t care in what order text comes, it can get misaligned when converted to EPUB. Additionally, ligatures can mess everything up. The word “first” contains an f followed by an i, some pdf fonts use one character to show this. Converting this to EPUB often removes both the f and i completely, since there is no character able to represent it.
  3. If you convert PDF to EPUB, then at least go through it once. Fix headlines and the table of content at least.
  4. Dont use too much styling. People want to read the text, if people want to change the styling (font size and such) they can do it on their reader. You don’t have to baby them.
  5. Dont use extra tags, it makes the code cluttered and invites errors with different readers. I’d say don’t style your paragraphs/main text. Let the reader do that that to their liking.
  6. Dont style directly in the html. Below you see all three don’ts; too much css, extra span tags for no reason, and css in the middle of the html.
     <h1 class="c0 c2" id="h.ac0hc6rkt56t"><span style="overflow: hidden; display: inline-block; margin: 0.00px 0.00px; border: 0.00px solid #000000; transform: rotate(0.00rad) translateZ(0px); -webkit-transform: rotate(0.00rad) translateZ(0px); width: 624.00px; height: 444.00px;"> <img alt="shuumatsuc1intro.png" src="../Images/image08.png" style="width: 624.00px; height: 444.00px; margin-left: 0.00px; margin-top: 0.00px; transform: rotate(0.00rad) translateZ(0px); -webkit-transform: rotate(0.00rad) translateZ(0px);" title=""/> </span><span>Chapter 1: Before This World Ends - A</span></h1> <p class="c0 c1"><span>The night before the final battle. </span></p>
    

    This could instead be like this. Only add what you need, and style is kept in a seperate file. Since that clutter is repeated all over the place, it increases file size as well.

     <h1 class="c0 c2" id="h.ac0hc6rkt56t">Chapter 1: Before This World Ends - A</h1> <p class="c0 c1">The night before the final battle.</p>
    
  7. Don’t use 4KUHDSUPERRESOLUTION for all images. Think of the file size, if you have 10 images all of them being 5 MB, then your EPUB is at least 50 MB, use JPG and compress your images, often you wont even see the full resolution on a display. If you’d like, you can make the pictures clickable and link to the full resolution online, or add all the links in the end.

Do

  1. Use a seperate html file for every chapter. Sigil makes connecting them easy anyway. With separete files the book is easier to work with and can possibly be better displayed for some devices (page breaks and such).
  2. Use h1, h2, h3 and so on tags accordingly! Sigil can automatically create a table of contents for you, WHICH YOU SHOULD ALWAYS HAVE, so dont make your life harder than it have to be. h1 for either book title or grand headline, and work your way from there… Example:

    h1 – Main Headline

    h2 – Sub Headline

    h3 – Sub Sub Headline

  3. Add a table of contents. (I felt that this needed to have its own mention.)
  4. Try to use XHTML instead of HTML, i mentioned this earlier, but here is why. Lets start by saying that both works. There is no difference in the file-format, but they differ in the way they are written. Simply put, XHTML is more strict.
    <br>as mentioned earlier does not have a closing tag. XHTML requires all tags to be closed. To do this you write it as <br/>. By enforcing that all tags are closed, you can prevent errors and bugs in some EPUB readers.
  5. Run the Sigil EPUB Sanity Check! Mistakes happen, tags that havent been closed and such. Even if you converted it using a different tool, it is always a good idea to open it in Sigil and do a Sanity Check.
  6. Open the file in Calibre before finishing the EPUB. If the book is part of a series, then specify that. Add a description, make sure author and cover art is correct as well as fixing other stuff you think is important, like maybe genres. I personally love it when books that are part of series have that (and all other things mentioned) specified.
  7. Feel free to use links for translator notes and such. You can place links to other places in your document, which is very good when wanting to add a translator note. MoonReader+ for example makes it possible to open the note on top of the book like a pop-up.
  8. Do try to put the image tags inside a div tag. This makes positioning and sizing of the image easier as you have a way to specify the place they will rest in. It is also often a good idea to have different classes for portrait and landscape images.

    Additional things that were mentioned in the comments:

  9. For clarity multiple files for cover/Titlepage and TOC would be better for some readers to handle.
  10. When generating a TOC, use (under Sigil) Tools > Epub3 Tools > Generate NCX from NAV and Tools > Table of Contents > Generate TOC. (This is easy if you follow the second “Do” point.)
  11. The Check EPUB tools works great for elementary errors like wrong formatting but doesnt pick up everything, if you want to use an epub what works for 99% of the cases and even upload it to Google Books you need to check further, use Pagina EPUB Checker. It checks the files after the most recent epuib standard and shows you whats wrong. If you get rid of every error is structural the same like a proffessional made one and no readers should have major problems.
  12. If you include illustrations its better to implement them as SVG (scaling vector graphics). (I know that this is not always available, but vectorised images are always better in quality compared to rasterized images, they are often smaller too.)
  13. Use a separate html file for every illustration. You can use all the fancy CSS you can think of to make the reading system avoid putting a page break in the middle of the illustration, but there’s always at least one reader that’s going to ignore it. Depending on the illustration’s dimensions, you can also end up with a page that consists of the image and a couple of lines of text at the bottom. You’ll have to break up the chapter files into several parts for this, but it ensures that every illustration has its own page.

Tips

  1. To easier make good EPUBs, i recommend directly using the translators website. If you are profficient with html you can use the html code directly from the translators website. Some translator websites have very simple html code, which you can see by pressing F12 or rightclick and inspect element (at least on chrome). Copy and pasting this will give you already written html, but it can invite weird formatting that looks good on their page, but not in the EPUB. There are cases where the translators dont use <p>tags to set up their text, and in these cases it can get troublesome. Also there are cases where translators use a bunch of <br> and other stuff.

    Additional tips from the comments:

  2. There are multiple converters from webpages to epub file but the best one you can work (if it works on the site) is WebToEpub, it converts 90% of the cases without horribly formatting or other errors.
  3. If Sigil confuses you, you can still create the LN using MS Word or Libra Office, import to Calibre, convert to EPUB, and then just do some light edits from there using Sigil. The conversion does almost everything for you as it will keep the layout intact. You just need to edit the table of contents to ensure its working right and manually break the images into their own pages.

Disclaimer

If i’ve come out as an ass, I do apologise! Hopefully i managed to help someone (maybe even 2 people!) with making EPUBs. If not, maybe i’ve managed to bring some annoying or good points into light for other EPUB creators.

This post is longer than i expected… Well Well, no one is gonna read it anyway!

EDIT: I didn’t think that this post would get the attention that it got, and my late night writing was annoying so i decided to fix some spelling errors as well as make some things more clear. Additionally i included more Do and Don’t from you guys great comments! (If you guys who see that your contribution got mentioned want to have your name there, just let me know and i’ll fix it!) EDIT2: I missed some formatting stuff…

Well then, that was all for this week. I hope to write something for next one too…. though you can bet I will not write this much (I think).

Other AMLNVN stuff.

Author: Izanaginookami

Your average and pessimistic otaku who was saved by Anime first, then Manga, to only be saved once again by Light Novels and Visual Novels. Thus tries to spread their worlds, without much success though: there are mostly rants about Reality getting in the way to access the AMLNVN World. Oh well. Screw it. I'm most of the time dead tired, not to mention I've discovered I'm more of a "watcher" than a "creator". Thus do not expect too much activity. I do try my best to be of help to the Otaku community though, but as a lowly leecher who doesn't know the Superior (Japanese) language (nor Chinese nor Korean), I can only share things Translators-sama's godly works.

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