This week I took the plunge and started watching anime with no subs (had been doing J-sub for a little bit and decided to go all the way). As expected it’s harder to follow along than before, but not as much as I’d expected — I think if I was at 75% comprehension with J-subs then I’m at 65% now? Definitely encouraging. The hardest part ended up being the fact that I apparently use subtitles to cue me into the fact that there’s something new happening, so in their absence I found it a little harder to multitask. I’ll finish up K-On next week and probably then move onto something a little more challenging.
I’m just about done with vol. 6 of ５等分の花嫁 (will be finished by the end of the day), and that’s still going pretty well. I hit my first major wall today in the form of five messages from the male MC to each of the heroines, which made me realize it’s been a long time since I’ve had to break down a sentence word by word and puzzle it out. I’m still on my 1/wk pace and at this rate I’m actually going to run out of books — vol. 9 is due out in the middle of April.
I also took a brief dip back into 甘々と稲妻 this morning, as I had just gotten into the bath when I came across the aforementioned sentences and didn’t want to skip over them (it seemed like an emotionally important moment), and received a minor shock when I realized that, in contrast to ５花嫁 which has furigana on every kanji, here it only appears on names for people and ingredients/dishes. It was gratifying, then, to realize that I was actually able to read the entire chapter without any issue. I ran across a few recently-learned vocabulary words and some N2 grammar that I hadn’t seen in the wild.
This week I got most of the way through ５花嫁 vol. 5, still on my pace of one volume per week. I finally figured out how to view bookmarks in my e-reader, which is amazingly helpful; I can skip over words I don’t know (maintaining momentum), but still be able to come back and make note of them for later.
Notable success stories this time around: figuring out what 何食わぬ顔 meant without looking it up; and instantly understanding 現実主義 (which led to ruefully admitting that maybe it wasn’t so dumb for WaniKani to teach 主義 on its own). There was one moment a few chapters ago where the MC is feverish and transitions from a story about his childhood to a flight of fancy involving aliens with shogi pieces for heads…for a minute there I thought I’d skimmed over something very important until the other characters’ reactions clued me in to the fact that they were just as lost as I was. I plan to finish reading vol. 5 tomorrow before allowing myself to play Sekiro ✌
I’ve also been trying to find more time to watch anime with J-subs, so this week I watched three more episodes of K-On. Still not having too much trouble with it so I might try the next episode with no subtitles at all and see how that goes.
In my last report I had just started reading vol. 3 of ５花嫁, and now I’m about 40% through vol. 4. The original plan was to have finished vol. 4 by today, but this week has been rough between work and feeling unwell at home, so the fact that I’ve managed to make time for at least some reading on top of my baseline vocab/grammar reviews feels like a victory. Hoping I can do better this coming week.
My strategy of only looking up words when I wouldn’t understand the scene otherwise continues to be pretty effective, though I did get tripped up by some bad assumptions a couple of times this week: 隠し味 is “secret ingredient”, not something to hide bad flavors; and 仲たがい means breaking up, not making up. Fortunately in both of these cases it didn’t take long for me to realize my mistake, and now both of those words are pretty firmly embedded in my memory. I don’t think I even ended up making flashcards for either of them…I’ve actually been making fewer cards lately because a lot of the words I’m coming across are repeated in the book itself, which ends up reinforcing them naturally instead of out-of-context.
Last Saturday I finished vol. 1 of ５等分の花嫁 and wanted to try and finish vol. 2 in one week (workload of about 30 pages per day). I ended up stuck at work very late last night with a lot of downtime between tasks, so I ended up reading 100 (manga) pages in just one day. I’m on to vol. 3 now, so I only have a few more chapters before I’m caught up with the anime.
It’s novel for me to be reading ahead — so far it’s always been the case that I watch the show first (which occasionally makes me wonder if I’m actually comprehending the text or just remembering what happened). I picked up a new grammar point, which was pretty fun (ずとも, “without even doing” from N1). I basically crammed all the grammar points up to N3 and then started reading, so I don’t often run into new ones.
I’m also “discovering” fewer new words that I have to look up; those 100 pages only produced 25 new vocab flash cards. Not to say that I knew every single word except for those 25, just that I’m having to look up fewer and fewer words in order to grasp the meaning of a given sentence. Feels like progress.
Since December I’ve been playing through Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth. It’ll be released to the West in June, and I’m determined to at least beat the main story before that time I play it in sessions of about an hour and a half at a time, three sessions per week, and I livestream it on Twitch, plus going through sidequests on my off-days.
PQ2 is really interesting because — despite being essentially a fanservice game — it still has a lot of flavor in terms of the way characters talk. Kanji abbreviates everything; the Velvet Room attendants generally use sonkeigo; Yusuke uses flowery language and idioms that I would probably recognize from Japanese literature were I more familiar.
I’ve also been reading 五等分の花嫁 after the anime captivated me earlier this month (I actually stopped watching so I can catch up). I’m just about finished with the first volume. I have a waterproof e-reader, and I’ve been using that fact as an excuse to get me to take more baths. Reading in the bath is amazing.
Between the two of these (PQ2 with its variety of dungeons, and ５花嫁 with its five distinct heroines) I’ve been picking up a huge variety of vocab. PQ2 had a whole “subquest” based on 数が入った四字熟語 — I’m looking forward to seeing how they localize that. One funny moment this week was when I read the scene in ５花嫁 where Futarou talks to the girls’ father on the phone. He’s a pretty rich guy who “speaks” pretty much exclusively in kanji, so this was the first time I saw 勿論 not written in kana. I didn’t bother putting it in my flashcards because I figured it was pretty rare — and the very next day it showed up in PQ2, this time coming from Yusuke. Needless to say, that particular word is pretty much cemented in my memory now.
As a final note: when I first started playing PQ2 there were a lot of words I didn’t know, and my vocab deck was growing really quickly. Last session I maybe added ten new words. It’s really encouraging to see that measurable improvement.