Japanese reading report

Another rough week for me, but I did manage to finish 古見さん vol. 1 and play a little more of Persona 4 (though not really enough to comment on).

Something I like about 古見さん is that it uses a lot of noun phrases to frame different scenes. For example, at one point Komi is trying to screw up the courage to enter a café and order a drink, and the narration goes like this: 意を決して入る古見さん・一旦、出る古見さん・もう一度頑張った古見さん. It gives the scenes a great rhythm and feels like a creative way to add flavor to the text. A neat learning opportunity that I didn’t even recognize at first: the phrase 泣きそう is repeated a few times in one specific chapter, and I’d just interpreted this as “looks like he’s crying”. Coincidentally, somebody was asking about this exact construction in one of the study channels and I learned that そう can also mean “about to ~”, which fit the scene much better.

Lastly, the final chapter of vol. 1 involves Tadano and Komi trying to make friends with some of the popular kids, and this was my chance to have a series of Japanese school games explained to me. I have to admit my comprehension was pretty low for this part but fortunately the joke at the end was that Komi didn’t understand how to play either. The funny thing is that not one hour after I’d finished reading, my roommate and I were watching Nichijou and they played one of those exact same games. It got me motivated to go back and try re-reading that section to see if I can make some more sense out of it.

Japanese reading report

This week I read Flying Witch vol. 5, about half of KomiSan vol. 1, and a little more of Persona 4.

I actually skipped Flying Witch vol. 4 by accident; I guess I switched the filenames on 4 and 5 and didn’t even notice until I was nearly done with vol. 5. The final chapter is about a tooth that one of the characters keeps in a little treasure box in her room, and for a while I was trying to figure out what exactly it was — they kept calling it ハマベーの歯, and I knew it had something to do with a beach trip, so I figured it was some kind of seashell…it took some searching around on the internet to realize that I’d skipped a whole volume and was lacking context that would have made the whole thing a non-issue. I’ll be going back to catch up next week.

I finally picked up 古見さんはコミュ症です after hearing Zengor and some others talk about it for a while now; I read a sample of it last time and it was well above my level, but now it’s quite accessible. I like how most of the characters’ names are puns, and so far it’s been really nice and wholesome.

Persona 4 progress continues to trickle in; I cleared the battle with Shadow Chie and got through a number of Velvet Room information sessions. One thing I that stuck out to me was the word 今宵, used by Igor and Margaret the first time you meet them. I’d never heard it before so I figured it was probably a formal or uncommon word…and then I immediately heard it in a song the next day. It’s funny how something like that can permanently cement a word into your memory.

Finally, following a conversation we had in #chit_chat recently, decided to try shadowing the ラジオドラマ podcast I listen to when I ride my bike to work. It feels like it could be great for helping me improve both my listening and my pronunciation, but it’s really hard right now 😓 I’m going to keep at it in the future, though maybe with an audiobook proper so I can work on more than just dialogue.

Japanese reading report

When I first started looking into reading Japanese manga, I picked up a bunch of free volumes on Honto.jp, all of which were well above my level. This week I finally read one of them, and it’s still a little bit above my level, but not to the point where I got overly lost. It was a little longer than most 単行本 I read, and also quite a bit higher on text density, so I didn’t have too much time to read anything else this week.

かなたかける is a story about a little girl named Kanata who loves running, and specifically likes to pass people. She transfers from Tokyo to Hakone discovers that that she’s the slowest person in her new class– it’s easy to outrun people who are just walking through the 商店街, but running in an actual race is a different story.

The first volume mainly involves Kanata trying to fit in at school despite being a spacey weirdo. She runs all the way to school every day to the puzzlement of her classmates, who can see her from the bus; she says things that are easily misunderstood (relatable am I right); and she’s a little socially stunted due to attending a very small school in the past. At one point she’s being bullied and somebody tells her “why don’t you run back to Tokyo if it’s so boring here” …and she decides that’s actually a great idea so she tries it out. By the end of the book she’s learned to run a little faster, but more importantly her classmates have realized that she’s far above them when it comes to endurance racing, which I suspect will play a role as the story continues.

There’s very little furigana in this book, but it hasn’t been too much of a problem. As far as I can remember the only words I had trouble with were ones that used kanji I wasn’t used to; 他人事 was one example that tripped me up. I’ve picked up a fair number of words that have to do with running, like かけっこ (track meet), 鬼ごっこ (the game of tag), グラウンド (running track), and シューズ (which specifically seems to refer to running shoes).

Bonus round: I played a little more Persona 4, just getting past Chie’s shadow fight. The only time I really spend playing P4 is when I’m trying to fall asleep, so my sessions have been pretty short. I also listened to a bit more きくドラ, but my podcasts app kept bugging and restarting the episode, so I ended up hearing the first five minutes over and over again. Hardly worth mentioning but input is input.

Japanese reading report

This week was pretty busy for me so I didn’t manage to meet my reading (time) goal most days. I did read all of 外つ国の少女 vol. 1, which, though it’s not very text-heavy, does have an interesting writing style that I had a bit of difficulty puzzling through. The main characters are a little girl (シヴァ) and a gentle monster of some kind (I don’t know if he has a name, but she calls him せんせー), and they both speak in very different ways. There’s a fair bit of the archaic speech I’ve run into before, plus one or two occurrences of the “have to do” grammar point ~ねばならぬ, which I’m glad I actually recognized when I saw it — I’ve had a terrible time remembering it in my Bunpro reviews. Also a fun little payoff from something I remember Chrouya saying a long time ago; “醜い and 見にくい have the same reading. Coincidence?” so when I saw the monster referring to himself as 醜い I knew exactly what it meant. Each page has a fair number of sound effects too, which is great — there aren’t too many of them but they’re used consistently in similar places, which really helps give a feeling of what they’re supposed to represent.

The other major piece of input I got this week was a replay of the Persona 4 Golden drama CD. One day I had to ride my bike to-and-from work twice in one day, which left me pretty much exactly enough time to listen to the one-hour episode. The first time I listened to it I was surprised by how much I comprehended, and this time felt like a minor improvement on that…maybe 5% higher (which is actually an appreciable difference based on an article Tael shared earlier).

Finally (and I’m not even sure if this counts) I downloaded the 6k core Anki deck and customized my cards to focus on sentence comprehension. My plan here is just to casually go through when I have a spare minute, immediately deleting any cards I understand. I’ve actually already learned a couple of patterns this way, like using つ as an age counter for young children.

Japanese reading report

At the beginning of this week I was on another flight (this time coming home) and had about 5 hours of uninterrupted reading time. I read the second half of Flying Witch vol. 2, and all of vol. 3. It was the first time I’ve ever read an entire 単行本 in one day; feels pretty good. Probably the biggest benefit of reading Flying Witch at this point is that I have nearly perfect comprehension — I only had to look up maybe five words throughout 1.5 volumes — which allows me to essentially put 99% of my effort into improving my reading speed. I’m still much slower than if I were reading something in English, but that just comes with practice.

Throughout the rest of the week I finished vol. 4 of 甘々と稲妻, which feels like it’s actually getting more difficult as the series goes on — the author makes creative use of handwriting in addition to regular fonts and it seems to be ramping up 😓Aside from that it’s not too bad; I like to alternate between manga with furigana and without to make sure I’m not getting lazy.

Finally, I’ve been playing a little bit of Persona 4 here and there; basically just because I was in the mood to replay it and figured I might as well do so in Japanese. It feels a little like cheating since I’ve played it (at least the beginning) multiple times in English, but it’s still good practice. Chie and Yousuke each have a characteristic way of talking that can be hard to decipher at times but it’s fun regardless. I’m also dabbling a little bit in ひまわり (the visual novel that our dear departed Bot-chan’s avatar came from). I’d started it a while ago but didn’t get very far since I was looking up a lot of words instead of trying to maintain momentum — we’ll see how I do this time around.