Japanese reading report

First thing this week I read vol. 12 (final) of 甘々と稲妻. It’s one of the very first series I started reading (actually, looking at my bookshelf on Honto, it may have been the first series I read after よつばと), so to finally get to the end was bittersweet. This last volume did a lot of time-skipping, ending with Tsumugi graduating highschool and heading off to college to study nutrition science. Some aspects of the ending felt a little vague to me but I’m overall happy with how everything came together.

Next up I read vol. 2 and 3 of 少女終末旅行, which I started almost a year ago and never finished (despite having seen and enjoyed the anime). I had intended to finish the series this week but I got distracted by other things.

Throughout the week I watched some more ハイキュー!, finishing 11 episodes (up to 17 now). I gotta say I didn’t really like it for a good chunk of the first season but it’s becoming more enjoyable as it goes on. I’m really kind of antipathetic towards sports and it’s tough to get invested. It’s good practice though and I’m following it decently well.

Last up, I read two weeks’ worth of 夜市, which brings my second novel to a close. I really enjoyed this one all the way through, but the second story, 古道, was definitely the star of the show. Lots of cool worldbuilding, good pacing, and in my opinion it did a better job of setting up plot threads than the first story in the book did. Would highly recommend. I already grabbed a couple of other books by the same author so I might move on to another one pretty soon.

Japanese reading report

This week I decided to start watching ハイキュー!after hearing good stuff about it from one of my friends. Currently 5 episodes in, hoping to do at least that much next week too. I’ve been using subtitles this time around and it’s helping me follow just about everything, though I’m not sure if I’m going to keep it up as I continue.

I also ended up reading some manga, probably because it’s a tough habit to break. 甘々と稲妻 vol. 9, 10, and 11 brings me just shy of the end of the series, so I’ll be finishing that up this coming week. The character development has been really good as we approach the finale and I’m super excited to see events I predicted at the very beginning finally coming to fruition.

Getting back on the Persona 4 bandwagon, I played through 11 in-game days, bringing me up to 6/5.

Finally (literally; I only finished at the last minute) I caught up with 夜市. We only have two weeks left until the book is over and I’m honestly expecting a not-so-happy ending. Still very interesting and fun to read; learning new words and getting lots of repetition.

Japanese reading report

After writing my last report, I realized that I had just finished my 45th volume of manga since the beginning of the year. My goal for the entire year was 52 (one per week), and obviously I’m way ahead of schedule. With only seven volumes remaining, I decided to try to achieve that goal in one week, reading one per day — a pace which would prove a challenge due to me taking part in my brother’s bridal party. Since I had just bought the remaining six volumes of 外つ国の少女 (probably the easiest series I’m reading), I decided to get all caught up with that, plus one more to total.

I finished vol. 4 the first day, starting immediately after posting my last report. On Monday I read most of 女神異聞録ペルソナ vol. 6, then finished it on Tuesday. Wednesday was pretty busy but I squeezed in 外つ国の少女 vol. 5 at the end of the day.

On Thursday I woke up early and knocked out 15 pages of 夜市 to stay on track with the wanikani book club. I read 外つ国の少女 vol. 6 and 7 throughout the rest of the day when I could find time. Friday was another early morning to read vol. 8, and I read part of vol. 9 while falling asleep that night. Saturday, the day of the wedding, was predictably busy. I managed to steal a few moments to read some more of vol. 9 but didn’t end up finishing it until Sunday morning.

It’s kind of funny…I picked 外つ国の少女 to read for this sprint because it had been pretty easy up to this point, but around vol. 7 it suddenly took a change from the laid-back “girl and her monster” pace and turned into full-on political intrigue complete with a lot of fantasy worldbuilding. Fortunately it was still manageable. I really really need the next volume to come out though. The ending of this one was such a tangle of emotions and I’m super invested in seeing what happens.

I think at this point I’m going to dial way back on my manga consumption and just read things as they catch my fancy. I’ve been wanting to do more audio immersion so I’m thinking I’ll start watching Haikyuu (a friend of mine has gotten really into it recently). Plus my little sister has overtaken me in Persona 4 so I should probably get back to that…

Japanese reading report

First up this week I read Spy X Family vol. 1, which I got for free on Honto ages ago but ended up not reading because I think it was a bit above my level at that point. Really enjoyed it this time; the characterization is great and the writing is snappy and hilarious, and I couldn’t resist reading the first chapter of vol. 2 in 立ち読み. There are only four volumes out right now so I’m planning to grab the rest next time I make a manga haul.

Next up was ヨコハマ買い出し紀行 vol. 3, which wraps up the volumes I got for free on cmoa. Another character has joined the cast, with a brand new dialect similar but not identical to the old man who’s been in it from the beginning. Some of the patterns (like けんど instead of けど) are apparently 神奈川方言, which makes sense I suppose, given the setting. Just like before this one went pretty quickly. Will definitely be continuing this series a little later.

Kept up with the wanikani 夜市 book club. The story has gone in a direction that’s sort of compatible with my prediction from last week, but not exactly the same. Just out of curiosity I decided to use a stopwatch to measure how much time it took me to read this week’s section (16 pages) and ended up at about two hours, which surprised me; it feels like the time goes by a lot faster.

The last thing I read this week was 天つ狐と封印詩 vol. 1, which I picked up on a whim a while ago and never ended up reading. It’s basically about a kid who inherits an old house full of cursed stuff and has to get in touch with his onmyouji heritage to maintain it all I guess. Not bad but not something I’m going to prioritize keeping up with…I did see that vol. 2 came out recently so I might grab it at some point.

Japanese reading report

This week was pretty slow unfortunately. I’m still technically ahead of pace for my yearly goals but since I’ve been reading so much lately it feels like I slacked off.

The first thing I read was ヨコハマ買い出し紀行 vol. 2, which was pretty quick and easy. The most difficult part was definitely a chapter where two of the (elderly) characters are having a flashback to their youth, which seemed to shift their dialect into overdrive. There’s quite a lot of weirdly affected speech in this manga actually — just as one example, one of the main characters practically never pronounces the first “n” sound of any word, so he’ll say something like あんで instead of なんで. It’s pretty interesting and fortunately most of the time I don’t have a problem with it.

Kept up to date with the 夜市 book club. This week’s section ended on a cliffhanger that actually fits with a prediction I made last week, along the lines of “don’t eat the food in fairyland”. Looking forward to seeing what happens next.

Throughout the week I read 女神異聞録ペルソナ vol. 5 in bits and pieces, mostly while I was falling asleep. Over halfway done with the series now. Nothing too new to say about it except that the characters continue to grow on me and I definitely see why people like them so much.

Played just a little of Persona 4, only three in-game days (bringing me up to 5/26). Not much to go into detail about, just knocking out social links and sidequests.

Japanese reading report

This week I prioritized Persona 4 and 大図書館の羊飼い, spending a minimum of 30 minutes per day in each. I’ve reached 5/23 in the former, though much of that was spent in the dungeon, which took up a lot of time over the course of just one in-game day. In the latter, we’ve cleared the first major story beat and established a library club of sorts, plus introduced a new character. Both have been going pretty smoothly.

Stayed current with 夜市 this week as well. The tone of this story is definitely a bit darker than the last one and the setting is super well-established. Fun word that stuck out to me this time: 竹林, which came up a few times before I bothered checking the dictionary; it’s pretty obvious that it means “bamboo grove” but I wouldn’t have expected ちくりん as the reading.

Throughout the week I read 女神異聞録ペルソナ vol. 4. There were a few points where I felt like it needed a few more panels to ease a transition, but not too bad. I don’t usually translate in my head as I read but I keep finding myself doing it here…based on my limited experience, the English scanlation is pretty bad and I keep wondering if I could do a better job.

Next up was 鬼滅の刃 vol. 21, which just came out the other day. 鬼舞辻無惨 is always a great character to read because he uses a lot of old language. He used a kanji I’d never seen before in 餓える (かつえる), which was then reinforced a few pages later with 餓鬼, which was a great “aha!” moment since I knew about that particular type of youkai from playing Nioh. Also came across や否や, one of my recently-studied N1 grammar points. Really really enjoyed this volume.

Finally, I read ヨコハマ買い出し紀行 vol. 1, which was a nomination for the next book in the wanikani intermediate book club — the idea being that it’s not too hard to read but it could be read at a faster pace than normal. Well, I blazed through the sample pages and decided I wouldn’t want to pace myself, so I read the whole book in about an hour. Really wholesome 癒やし系 type manga with nice art. I’m definitely going to keep reading it.

Japanese reading report

This week was super productive. I hit all my normal goals and then some.

For manga, I read 女神異聞録ペルソナ vol. 3, which keeps getting better. They introduced some interesting parallel world stuff which is certainly shaping up to elevate the plot, which seemed pretty standard up to this point. Next up was 阿波連さんははかれない vol. 3, which was as hilarious as ever. Also read とつくにの少女 vol. 3 and wished I had the next volume ready to go so I could move on right away — while it’s light on dialogue the art style is just fantastic and the stakes have suddenly gone up a lot. I remember having trouble with this one on the first volume but it was the easiest one I read this week, so maybe sometime soon I’ll grab the next six volumes and read them all over the course of a week to get caught up. Finally, since I needed something to read while falling asleep for the last two nights, I read 甘々と稲妻 vol. 8. Had to look up a decent amount of food vocab this time around — fortunately all of them were new words though. It’s surprising sometimes just how well a lot of cooking terms have stuck in my memory despite the fact that I haven’t been seeing them too much lately.

Kept up to date with the Wanikani book club on 夜市. We’re actually into a story called 風の古道, which features a different setting, different characters, and even a different perspective, switching from third- to first-person. Compared to the lat story, this one seems like it might be a little scarier based on the hints that have been dropped so far. Still reading it pretty easily, though I’ve learned some oddball words like 小便小僧 that I definitely had to look up in order to get what was going on.

Continued playing Persona 4. Last week I left off at 4/18 and today it’s 5/7. Definitely taking this at a more leisurely pace than P5, but since I can bring my Vita anywhere the pressure to finish it in a hurry is off. I never noticed in the English version, but pretty much all the teachers in this game have super thick country accents or other quirky ways of speaking.

Also read a bit more of 大図書館の羊飼い. I’ve heard that visual novels are super difficult and while I can’t say that this one is really all that bad, it does have quite a lot of vocabulary I haven’t seen before (fortunately no unfamiliar grammar, so it’s not too hard to look stuff up). A few cool phrases that stuck out to me: 溺れる者は藁をもつかむ, 三十六計逃げるに如かず, 虫の知らせ, 黄泉の国. It took long enough but by the point I left off we had finally made it to the titular library and met a handful of characters.

It’s been a good long while since I’ve been to the gym, so 響け!ユーフォニアム has been on hiatus (it used to be the show I would watch while on the treadmill). I decided to pick it back up and watched two more episodes. Still following along with subs2srs but it seems like I’ve been catching more than I used to, so my review workload is lower. Also watched an episode of 魔法使いの嫁. I read the first couple of volumes in English a long time ago and I’ve been meaning to get back to it, but since I don’t want to buy the manga right away I figured I’d start watching the show. Started going through it with subs2srs but I know they use a decent amount of made-up fantasy words so I’m not going to stress about it too much.

Japanese reading report

Putting in my report early this week since I’ll have guests over the weekend and probably won’t get a chance to read much.

First up, I finished vol. 2 of 女神異聞録ペルソナ after running out of time to finish it last week. Now that the base cast has been established they’ve been introducing new characters and they keep impressing. One scene in particular features the newest member shocking the entire party by his ability to avoid fighting demons by negotiating with them, which is basically just an excuse to drop in a bunch of heinous puns.

This week’s chunk of 夜市 actually brings the titular story to a close with half of the book still remaining. When I realized this was published by the Kadokawa horror imprint it set me up to expect some pretty awful developments, but in the end it was more akin to the kind of philosophical emptiness that that Twilight Zone usually instills. I liked it quite a lot and I’ll be looking forward to how the next story plays out (based on a quick skim of the first page it seems to be quite different from the get-go).

I also read vol. 9 of Flying Witch, which I was very excited to get (it’s a monthly manga so we only get a new volume about every ten months). There were lots of opportunities to pick up new words through context alone, which is always fun. Picked up a new grammar point, がてら, which appears in my N1 新完全マスター grammar book. There were quite a few good chapters in here; in one, Makoto’s mini mandrakes are causing hilarious mischief and a new character from America is introduced, leading to a few pages of very broken English until it’s revealed that she can speak Japanese too. Interestingly, both of the manga I read this week used horizontal text to indicate when characters were speaking a foreign language that was being translated into Japanese for the benefit of the reader. There was also a chapter featuring the samurai ghost Okada, who was much easier to understand this time than when I first met him in the last volume.

I also jumped on the Persona 4 train, though I’m actually picking up from an old save on my Vita rather than the new Steam release. Some friends of mine are starting to play it in English so I figured I’d follow along and get some practice in. Most of my time this week was spent idly grinding to get a good set of personas for the Yukiko fight so it was a bit light on actual reading, but worth mentioning I think.

Japanese reading report

This week was pretty busy so I wasn’t able to quite meet all of my goals (at least at the time of writing; I’ll probably wrap up another one before the end of the day).

First up, I did finally finish Persona 5: Royal. The post-game content was really really good and I’m happy to report I was able to follow along with all of it (and then later discuss the ending with some friends and make sure I hadn’t missed anything major). Very very happy with the way everything wrapped up; it was down to the wire with a few social links but I did manage to do a 100% coop, all-missions-clear run so I’m satisfied that I saw as much content as possible. On that note, I’m pretty sure that over the course of this game I’ve seen every grammar point I’ve learned to date, plus a bunch of new ones and a ton of new vocabulary. I was especially tickled to see ~わ~わで for the first time in the wild after learning about it ages ago.

I launched immediately into 大図書館の羊飼い, which I’d bought almost a year ago but had dropped pretty quickly due to the immediate onslaught of difficult material. I’ve been holding off on visual novels until I can read them without too much difficulty (and without any kind of external tools, since all my VNs are for Switch and PS Vita). This time around it was much better and I think I’ll stick with it at a leisurely pace.

I read about half of 女神異聞録ペルソナ vol. 2. The characters are great and I really like the art style. Not knowing much about Persona 1 and 2, some of the plot developments so far have been kind of surprising and I can definitely see how this was sort of prior to the series finding what made it distinct from mainline SMT.

Finally, I read all but one page of the allotted chunk of 夜市 from the Wanikani book club. A pretty major development has just taken place and it’s gone into a sort of flashback mode. This upcoming week will wrap up the first story in the book so I’m looking forward to seeing how everything comes together.

Honorable mention: finished the last two sidequests in Persona 5: Scramble, which I had been sitting on for a while (a high-difficulty repeat of the final battle, plus a fight against the Reaper), which unlocked a super cute cutscene with Lavenza and brought the post-game content to a close. Loading this clear save allows for a proper NG+ mode along with a new extreme difficulty, which I briefly tried only to die in two hits in the pregame sample battle. I’ll probably go back to it in the future but for now I’m calling it quits.

Read fast and skip things

This post originally appeared as a comment on the WaniKani forums

Reading broadly, rather than reading deeply, is what helped me the most when I was first starting out.

Let’s say in your reading, you come to a page that has 10 sentences:

  • Four sentences are completely comprehensible. They contain vocab and grammar you’ve studied, or they’re just common phrases that you’ve seen many times in the wild.
  • Three sentences are i+1. You know almost all the words and can infer the last one by context, or there’s some new grammar that you’ve brushed with before, and it’s just about to click into place.
  • Three sentences are incomprehensible. There’s some unfamiliar slang, a weird pronunciation, or a bothersome 和製英語 that’s going to send you off on a wild goose chase.

That’s a decent mix of difficulty and if you sat down and dug into everything, you’d certainly come away with more knowledge. But let’s simulate what might actually happen:

  • You open up your manga and the first sentence you read is easy. Things are going well.
  • The very next line is incomprehensible. You pull out your dictionary, search around on the internet to see if there’s some new grammar point that would help…but it takes a while because honestly, you’re not even confident in what you need to be looking up. If you’re determined to understand everything you come across, maybe your reading session actually ends here because you run out of time or get frustrated.
  • But what a shame! The third sentence is i+1 and you would have understood it with just a fraction of the effort you just spent on the last one. To make matters worse, this sentence actually provides valuable context that immediately clears up any confusion you would have had – a character “pronounces” (in kana) an unknown word that had been written in kanji, and now you suddenly recognize it; or an ambiguous construction is suddenly clear because of context that wasn’t available yet.

Obviously this is a contrived example and it won’t always be the case that every difficult sentence will be followed by one that holds the key to unlocking its meaning. But here’s the thing: in each of these scenarios, it’s the third, the i+1 sentence, that provides the greatest learning boost. For my money, reading should be all about seeking out those moments. If you get bogged down by difficult sentences, you’ll be encountering i+1 material less often simply by virtue of the fact that you’ll have less overall coverage.

I’m a firm proponent of skipping stuff you don’t understand. Pick your battles of course; some words will be easy to look up, and if you run into multiple incomprehensible sentences in a row it’s probably a good idea to slow down so you don’t get lost. Overall though, I find that the more reading you do (not merely the more time you spend reading), the better.