Japanese reading report

This week was the first week since the reading club began that I didn’t finish an entire 単行本 of manga, which feels a bit bad. I did have a good mix of input though.

Two more episodes of HKBK under my belt, and the last one (13) was actually somewhat within my ability. The topic was Perfume, one of my favorite bands and in fact my introduction to Japanese music and even media in general. I know a decent amount about the band and I’m very familiar with their music so that helped a lot when it came to following the conversation. There was one moment I thought was kind of funny, where the two hosts were second-guessing themselves over whether A-chan’s name was “A-chan” or “Ai-chan” and all the while I knew the right answer.

I finished 月がきれい with a total of 8 episodes watched this week. Towards the end where the plot started to get a little more complicated, I know I had a hard time following some of the secondary threads, but I was still able to keep up with the normal conversations. I finally got to hear ならまだしも in the wild after struggling with it on Bunpro basically every time I see it, so hopefully that helps it stick a bit.

My manga this week was supposed to be マグネット島通信, which I got for free on MangaZ back when I first started trying to read manga (but never managed to get very far into). I thought was about halfway done with it and on a good pace to finish by the end of the week…until I realized that I was actually missing a fair number of pages. Something went wrong in the ebook conversion process I guess, so I put that one on hold until I could get it resolved (late last night). Once I got an accurate page count I ended up being 37% through it, so I expect to finish it up next week. So far though, I’m enjoying it a lot. There’s very little furigana but I’m not having much trouble at all, and the dialogue feels very natural and grounded, not like what you so often see in anime and manga.

While マグネット was on hold I went back to 甘々と稲妻 to keep me busy. It’s always nice when you revisit a series after a long break and find that it’s gotten a lot easier to read. I read two chapters here, bringing me up to 34%. I plan to finish this volume next week as well.

The most recent thing I’ve read is this article about a glitch in Bloodborne that systematically reduces the pool from which the random dungeons can be drawn. It’s actually a Japanese translation of a Reddit post in English so it feels like a bit of a waste of time, but the server I found it in was reading a Google Translation and I wasn’t about to let them suffer like that. Looking up the Japanese terms for Bloodborne items was fun; for whatever reason the JP wikis for souls games and such are never all that good, so it can be difficult to find the right information.

Japanese reading report

This week I listened to a few more episodes of HKBK, watched ep 1 of Flying Witch and up through ep 4 of 月がきれい, read a bit of JP Wikipedia, Flying Witch vol. 6 and 一週間フレンズ ch. 1, and listened to the White Album 2 soundtrack more times than I can count.

HKBK continues to largely go over my head. Ep 11, the latest one I’ve listened to, is about a monthly manga publication called 月刊アフタヌーン and I recognized some of the titles they mentioned (the one that comes to mind is 蟲師) so that portion at least was a success.

I’ve been passively listening to Japanese music daily since I first started studying, so I don’t usually feel it’s worthy of mentioning. This week I decided to try listening a little more actively and I have to assume it’s working out well — each time I listen to a song I pick up a little more. The language in the White Album 2 soundtrack is very poetic and literary (I was struck by the use of 明日「あす」 coming up in a song just a day after somebody asked what the difference was between it and あした). A good amount of it still goes over my head but I’m going to keep drilling it. The compilation I used was here if anyone’s interested.

月がきれい is still pretty easy to follow with regards to the main plot. There are a few moments where Kotarou will say “Dazai wrote […]” or “Souseki said […]”, and at moments like this I basically lose track of the conversation immediately. Fortunately such moments don’t come up too frequently.

The Flying Witch anime is (like many adaptations) pretty much word-for-word to the manga so the first episode was very straightforward. There were definitely a few moments that I couldn’t follow (sentences that were too long or spoken too quickly), but nothing too bad. I’m going to look into using subs2srs for this and set the cards up to specifically train listening.

The WaniKani forum beginner reading club is reading 一週間フレンズ over the next few months. Having finished the first chapter in a week I’m way ahead of them and I’m planning to see if I can help out with any questions over there. Really though, it was just an excuse to read the manga — I loved the anime and so far the manga is great so far.

Flying Witch vol. 6 had an interesting moment where I had to go and search around on the internet as I wasn’t able to find definitions for two of the words they used, namely テラ系 and 九行(ここのつ). It turned out that the magic system in the world of the series is separated into nine aspects(九行, nine ways), of which Makoto is an earth user (テラ系, terra). I don’t think this has ever been mentioned in the series before but it’s a neat bit of worldbuilding and was fortunately outlined on the JP wikipedia page for the series.

Another wikipedia page I read was the story of 隙間女, styled in English as “the girl from the gap”. She’s a monster of some kind who hids in narrow spaces such as between a dresser and the wall. I heard about her a long time ago but could never find any good information on the English internet and I didn’t know how to find her in Japanese — and then I randomly learned the word 隙間 on WaniKani this week and tried tacking on 女 to test my luck. The story was ultimately pretty straightforward but I was so pleased to have found a good source for it.

Japanese reading report

This week I read 古見さん vol. 2, watched さよならの朝に約束の花をかざろう (Maquia), started 月がきれい and listened to a LOT of HKBK.

I held off on starting 古見さん for the first few days this week as I’m expecting a new volume of 5等分の花嫁 to come out soon and I wanted to use a 20% off coupon to get them both at the same time. For the first few days I basically listened to HKBK nonstop, bringing me up to episode 8. As before, I’m not sure exactly how much it’s helping me because my comprehension is still pretty low — at this point the grammar I’m hearing is all familiar but when I stop to think about the words as they come by it’s a little disheartening just how much vocabulary I’m lacking. At the very least I’m picking up new vocab in each episode and maybe getting so much audio immersion will help out without me realizing it.

古見さん vol. 2 was easier for me than vol. 1, and I’m not entirely sure what to attribute that to. There were a few parts where a certain new character goes on a long rant (using lots of JK lingo) and it always felt daunting to see a massive wall of text, but I was generally able to keep up. Due to the delay at the beginning of the week I only had four days to read this volume, but it was a pretty manageable pace.

I ordered a BluRay drive so I could rip some of my disks that don’t have the option to disable subtitles, which meant that this week I could finally start rewatching 月がきれい — or so I thought. I accidentally chose the English voice track for every episode but the first, so that’s where I stopped this time around. Just based on ep. 1, I don’t think I’m going to have a problem following along.

Finally, Maquia is another rewatch and came with its own set of hardships; the JP track has hardsubs so I had to rip both EN and JP separately, then switch the audio tracks and remux. It’s been a while since I saw this movie and fortunately I’d forgotten a decent amount of it. My comprehension this time around was pretty good, with the exception of a few characters who I could hardly understand at all. There was a special moment at the end which feels like the end of one particular journey; before I even saw the movie, I was completely in love with ウィアートル, the song that plays in the credits. I hardly understood any of the words, but I never looked up the lyrics; I wanted to grow into understanding it. This time when the credits rolled, I understood everything without even really trying. That kind of tangible progress is so rare and it was really encouraging.

Japanese reading report

This week I read 川柳少女 vol. 1. I’d gotten it for free on Honto a while back, and I honestly started reading it because one of my recent WaniKani vocabulary lessons was 川柳, which I knew I was going to leech unless I could build some association with it in context.

The basic premise of 川柳少女 is that the main character, 七々子, has difficulty talking (is it just me or is this almost a genre of its own?) and so writes out everything she wants to say as a 川柳, which is basically a comedic haiku. Since I haven’t read much Japanese poetry, this was an interesting introduction, even if the poems featured in the book aren’t always quite well-formed. I looked up more words than usual this week, though I had less trouble with the actual 川柳 than I expected. I probably won’t continue the series right away (I still have a backlog to work through before I buy any new books), but I’d certainly recommend it to anyone else.

Due to a family emergency I was away from home for four days this week, and finding time to read was pretty tough. I haven’t yet had time for my weekly movie so I’ll update this report a little later tonight.

(Update)

Once I got back into town I had about an hour to walk until I got home, so I took advantage of that time to listen to another 1.5 episodes of HKBK, which (as usual) oscillated between comprehensible and incomprehensible. It helped that the first episode was about Pixar movies, so I was able to follow along decently well; they talked about the differences between cell animation and CGI, which movies they’d seen and what they liked or disliked about them, and so on. The next episode was about ブルボン, and about all I got out of that one was that it’s the name of a candy company. I’m sure if I was more familiar with the company ahead of time I might have had better luck, but it is what it is.

I just finished up watching Miss Hokusai, and…to be honest I have no idea what to make of this movie. Being a period piece, it has a lot of dialogue that might as well have been gibberish. Apparently “Edo dialect” used やす instead of ます; many of the characters use おいら (but the main character, Oei, uses おれ despite being a woman); and there are a few courtesans who also have a peculiar way of talking which was hard to follow.

Moment-to-moment I didn’t feel like I was keeping up with anything that was happening, but at the end of the movie I realized that I’d somehow managed to understand the basic story, even if a lot of the intricacies were likely lost on me. Nonetheless, it was enjoyable and input is input.