Japanese reading report

This week I read ten volumes of manga, and I had to actually double-check that number when I went to type it in because I felt like I must have counted wrong, but this definitely breaks my record and I have a feeling I might be at a tipping point. Feels pretty good.

In no particular order this time: read 呪術廻戦 vol. 9 (wrapping up the flashback arc), 古見さん vol. 24 (featuring nothing of major importance but was still highly enjoyable; now the longest series I’ve read), and その着せ替え人形は恋をする vol. 1 (certified Pure Gyaru™, surprisingly nice, will probably read some more).

I also read 虚の記憶 vol. 1 and hated it. It’s getting the first one-star rating in my library and I’m pretty disappointed. This is a manga by EVE (the guy who makes all those crazy music videos) and I was expecting something really off-the-wall and visually interesting. What I got instead was a totally boring story, very bland characters who are clearly supposed to be cool but simply aren’t, and like…only one monster design that was actually interesting at all? If there was one positive experience here, it’s that I’ve often wondered if I would be capable of identifying poor/amateurish writing in Japanese, where I can obviously do it easily in English — and now I know. Huge letdown and I’m actually pretty mad that I already bought vol. 2.

Fortunately, this week also had Summertime Rendering vol. 8-13. This series went from barely on my radar to being potentially my favorite series of all time in the first week and this past week has only solidified that position. I went ahead and bought the full set on Mandarake just so I could have it on my shelf despite the fact that I was down to the last volume before the package even arrived. Seriously can’t overstate how much I love it and I think I’m going to be chasing this feeling for a good long while.

Japanese reading report

This week I accidentally averaged one volume of manga per day, plus a bit of anime here and there. For anime I think it was just a few more episodes of 赤髪の白雪姫 (I watch it on my laptop when I’m cooking or if I have a big batch of dishes to watch). It took an entire season but things have started to get interesting finally.

It hardly bears mentioning but I read 呪術廻戦 vol. 0.5 (the bonus manga that came with the midnight screening of the movie). Just eight pages and I didn’t count it towards my yearly manga goal but I wanted to log it somewhere at least. Next I read かいじゅう色の島 vol. 1, which I actually thought was a oneshot at first. I grabbed it on a whim based on a very pretty animated trailer. It was fine, probably won’t read any more. Also got back to reading トニカクカワイイ with vol. 7 since my sister has been hounding me to catch up to her.

Most of my manga this week was Summertime Rendering because holy crap, I don’t think I’ve ever been this obsessed with a series before. I read volumes 2-7 in what feels like no time at all. Some nights I would literally tell myself “okay I’m just going to read a chapter or two as I fall asleep” and then find myself at the end of the book. The storytelling is amazing; really good foreshadowing, complex characters, pulse-pounding momentum. There have been quite a few points where I either picked up on some small detail and then saw it pay off an entire volume later, or went back to grab a screenshot and noticed a detail I had missed before.

All that aside, I’ve also been having a ton of fun with the dialect. Every character is native to 和歌山 and only two of them have actually been off the island where the story takes place, so nearly every piece of dialogue and exposition is all in 和歌山弁. There’s a lot of shared DNA with 大阪弁 but there’s also some brand new stuff. Fortunately (and surprisingly) I’ve never reached a point where I was actually stuck. Just by reading it I’ve been captivated by the rhythm and wordfeel and I’m really excited for the anime adaptaion so I can hear it all voiced. It’s seriously so good and I’m probably going to binge the remaining six volumes this coming week as well.

Japanese reading report

This week I read four volumes of manga and watched a bunch of anime.

First up was Chainsaw Man vol. 1. I’ve always had an idea I would dislike this series and…I do! A bunch of my friends are really pumped for the anime so I figured I would at least give it the old college try in case I was missing out and I have to say I really can’t see myself getting into it. I’ve heard some stuff about the worldbuilding that seemed interesting but the first volume felt so underdeveloped and bland. I’ll probably read vol. 2 just because I have it in my library but it would have to see a dramatic improvement for me to go any further with it.

Next I read 少女終末旅行 vol. 4. It’s been a while since I saw the anime but I think I maybe have one more chapter before I’m caught up. For whatever reason I find myself going really slowly whenever I read this series despite the fact that there’s not much text and the page count is low.

Throughout the week I watched all 12 episodes of ヴァニタスのカルテ season 1, which was great. Might want to read the manga at some point but season 2 is coming out pretty soon so I’ll probably watch that first. I also watched all six episodes of いつだって僕らの恋は10センチだった, which was pretty good. Considering it’s half the length of a normal show it seemed inevitable that it would end up feeling rushed but other than that it was nice. I watched a few more episodes of 赤髪の白雪姫 as well, not sure how many but I’m done with season 1 now.

Yesterday I read アラガネの子 vol. 1, which I had bought a while ago for some reason…maybe one of those things where I pick something up just because it came out the very same day? It’s a somewhat new fantasy series where the magic system is based on precious stones. It feels a little unripe at the moment and the scene at the very end of the book definitely didn’t hit like a typical shounen action cliffhanger but it had some great moments so I’ll probably pick up the next volume soonish.

Lastly, today I read vol. 1 of スマータイムレンダ, another one from my backlog. There’s an anime coming out this April and it reminded me to give it a try. Was definitely not expecting to get so hooked right away. Planning to move on to vol. 2 right away since I already have it and potentially prioritize this series for a little while.

Japanese reading report

Alright, it’s my combination last-report-for-2021 and first-report-for-2022! This past week I did nothing but read manga. I wanted to close the year out with a bang and see how many I could fit in, and I ended up with a total of nine volumes read.

First up was 極妻デイズ vol. 1. I got the first three volumes for free a little bit ago and since one of my soft goals for this coming year is to read more female-oriented manga, I decided to give this series a try. Basic premise: the main girl is a ひきこもり who’s obsessed with a yakuza-themed gacha game, and one day as she’s trying to work up the nerve to go to school, she happens to save the life of a local mob boss. He decides she’s the perfect candidate to take over for him as patriarch (matriarch) and tries to get her to fall in love with one of his three grandsons, all of whom are unworthy of the position in some way. It’s entertaining enough but nothing amazing. I’ll probably finish the next two volumes but likely won’t continue past what I have already.

Next: むとうとさとう vol. 3. It’s been a while since I read any of this and I’d kind of forgotten most of the characters but fortunately most of them are just one-note comedy types. Not a ton to say about this one. I enjoy reading it but it does seem like the only character with any depth is さとう most of the time. Still really funny.

僕の心のヤバイやつ vol. 3: hilarious, and makes me glad I stuck with the series after a pretty rocky start. The initially bizarre characterization of the main pair has paid off into something pretty interesting and it feels like they have a good dynamic now instead of just him being edgy and murdery and her being inconsiderate.

珈琲をしづかに was another vol. 1 I’ve been sitting on a while. Really nice coffeeshop vibes, cute 和服 heroine, promising premise about what it really means to become an adult. I bought the next volume to see if I’ll continue reading it.

Next up was 早乙女選手、ひたかくす vol. 1, which I didn’t like much at all. This is a series I’ve had in my library for probably like three years? I’m pretty sure it was one the first “purchases” I made back when I was looking for free manga to just get started with. The one thing I’ll say is that when I first started trying to read it, it was basically impossible due to no furigana and the fact that the main character talks in a heavy kansai dialect. At this point neither of those things are a problem at all so it was nice to be able to blaze right through it.

Next: ホリミヤ vol. 3. I’ll probably binge through a few of these in the near future. It’s really funny and I know my sister has been champing at the bit to discuss the non-anime content with me.

I’ve been sitting on 戦隊大失格 vol. 3 for a long time now. I think when it came out I was still in the middle of trying to polish off one of my novels or something. Unfortunately what that means is that I had totally forgotten a bunch of details from the last volume, but thankfully the important points are woven into the story well enough that I wasn’t in the dark for long. Some pretty interesting reveals throughout, and one implication in particular that I’m very curious to see about later.

On New Year’s Eve I squeezed one more volume in before the new year with 阿波連さんははかれない vol. 5. I’m sure the sake had something to do with it but I was howling the entire time. The newly introduced 古文 teacher kept showing up and dropping increasingly horrible gags with old words like をかし・いと・あはれ and I kept losing it.

Finally, today I started the new year off on the right foot by reading vol. 7 of Spy Family (also been on the list for a while). Honestly I feel like nothing really happened in this one? The first chapter paid off a big cliffhanger, but then pretty much the entire middle of the book was just silly vignettes with one character at a time. The last chapter rounds them all up again so hopefully we’ll have some highjinks in the near future.

2021 in Japanese

Another year has come and gone, and I’ve managed to stay consistent with my Japanese pursuits throughout. If I were to measure my progress in terms of pure vocabulary count or new grammar discovered, this year would definitely not as dramatic as the last (let alone the one before that), but I feel good about how things have turned out.

Continue reading →

Book review: 青春ブタ野郎はプチデビル後輩の夢を見ない (Rascal does not dream of Petite Devil Kouhai)

Finishing off the year on a high note. I really liked this one; just like with the previous volume, the book is only an improvement coming from the (excellent) anime. Granted, when I recently rewatched the series, I was watching without subtitles and my comprehension is still not perfect by any means, but there were some things which I’m pretty sure were simply not included (it seemed like any non-dialogue exposition stood a high chance of not making the cut).

Anyway, I was excited to read this one in particular because Tomoe is my favorite of the girls so far and I was excited to see her again. While the show does a good job of demonstrating her struggles and motivations, I do feel like it did a poor job of explaining why Sakuta would go along with her goofy pretend-boyfriend scheme, but just the simple explanation that she reminded him of the days when his sister was having trouble at school did the trick.

The rest of the book was nice. Sakuta doesn’t have the same chemistry with Tomoe as he does with Mai (okay, he really doesn’t have any chemistry with her and I get that that’s the whole point) but their dynamic is fun and I like the way he gently bullies her into esteeming herself the way she deserves. I also like that Sakuta involves Mai in the whole affair from the beginning as opposed to trying to pull it off without involving her. Another nice bonus in the book that I think they skipped in the anime: making it obvious that Yuuma is aware of Rio’s feelings for him, but pretends to not notice due to the fact that he already has a girlfriend. It makes his character a bit more interesting coming into the next arc.

I’m not sure when I’ll pick up the next book but I definitely will be continuing the series. I read this one pretty slowly so my memory of the whole thing is not super strong but I enjoyed myself all throughout it and I’m still looking forward to reading beyond the end of the adapted material.

Japanese reading report

This week, finally all caught up on my yearly goals, I decided to take it easy and just read manga. So that’s what I did! First up was 怪獣8号, which I’ve had in my library for a while now. My sister asked me if I had any predictions for what might be “the next big thing” and that was my immediate answer just based on what I’ve heard about it here and there. I checked to see if it was getting translated and apparently vol. 1 had come out in English literally a week beforehand, so I took it as an opportunity to finally read it myself (and also buy her a copy). As soon as I started reading it I immediately remembered why I had put it on hold when I first got it — no furigana and the first few pages are pretty dense, and there were several pages that could have passed as Chinese. Fortunately at this point it was nothing I couldn’t handle. I liked it quite a lot and grabbed a few more volumes so I can keep going.

Next I read 魔女と野獣, another that’s been on my backlog for a while. Based on the cover (which features a woman and a man) I figured she was the witch and he was the beast — but apparently she’s the beast and the two of them are witch hunters. The introductory arc was pretty nuts and there’s been some pretty interesting worldbuilding so far.

Last up, I just finished ミステリと言う勿れ vol. 2 a few minutes ago. What I expected to be the conclusion to another standalone story pivoted pretty hard at the very end and went in a totally unexpected direction that got an audible gasp out of me. There was another standalone chapter that would honestly be an incredible feat of translation if they ever decide to put out an English version of this series, and then one which sets up the next arc (good thing I have vol. 3 and 4 ready to go). Really good all the way through, at times quite hilarious. I want to read more josei manga this coming year and this is definitely on the list.

Japanese reading report

20 more hours of SMTV brings me to 77 hours and the end of the game, and with it, the completion of my video games goal for the year. The last arc went by more quickly than I expected, probably because I found an 写せ身 with reflect phys and pretty much sailed through the final few bosses. Had a really good time with it throughout and will be going back for at least one more ending (I’ve been playing it a bit today, but nothing to report since I’m just rushing through until endgame where I can start paying attention to the quests and such that I haven’t finished yet).

With that out of the way, I turned my full attention to プチデビル後輩 and polished off the last chunk between yesterday and today. Same as usual, I guess I don’t have a lot to say about this one week-to-week, but I’ll be writing up my overall impressions sometime next week.

Japanese reading report

I put in another 20 hours of SMTV this week, current total 57 hours. I did do a bit of grinding at one point a couple of days ago, but probably not more than an hour or two. Some pretty big story events have taken place and it seems like we’re probably in the final act. I’m not sure I’ll be finishing it this coming week but hopefully it won’t take more than two. Still having a good time, not running into too much that I have to look up. Still have no idea what the protagonist says when he casts his unique lightning spell (〇〇の雷(いかずち)を!)

I finished フルバ and loved every minute of it. Apparently the reason “the ending is nothing but depression” was because the show is now over, well played Kate. Good feels all around. I’m not sure how well I would have comprehended it last year so I’m glad I held off until now because it was 95% comprehensible with no issues. I also resumed my paused watchthrough of 赤髪の白雪姫 and I’m up to episode 8. Honestly haven’t been incredibly sold on this one so far? but we’ll see. It only recently started carrying storylines across more than one episode so maybe now is when it starts to pick up.

Up to 73% through プチデビル後輩, still ahead of schedule but slowly starting to lose my lead. Once I finish SMTV I’ll be able to prioritize it but for now I’m not worried. This week covered the aftermath of the train station incident and some miscellaneous slice-of-life bits after that. I feel like a broken record but once again, some good stuff that didn’t make it into the show. I’m noticing a pattern here actually; it seems like anything that happened in Sakuta’s inner monologue (that he didn’t have an excuse to vocalize to somebody) ran a high chance of simply getting cut from the script. Whatever my novel goal ends up being next year (if I even set one) I think I’d like to get caught up with this series at the very least.