Japanese reading report

This week was a struggle. I managed to hit my minimum every day but I honestly thought I was going to break my 1000+ day streak at one point. I’m not sure if next week will be any better so I’m really going to have to think of ways to steal some extra time.

Three volumes of manga: 殺し愛 vol. 8 and 葬送のフリーレン vol. 2 and 3. 殺し愛 is honestly starting to wear me down…they’ve pulled the same near-death fakeout four or five times now and I’ve realized that I don’t feel any peril from the situations anymore. I bought all 13 volumes back when it was still really strong but I feel like I might drop it soon. I’ve mentioned it before but the Indian guy is incredibly annoying. Katakana speech is bad enough but I can’t imagine that imperative + ください is a mistake anyone would realistically make.

葬送のフリーレン on the other hand is a delight. These two volumes see the introduction of some new regular cast members and the first real battle arc. I’m pleased that (so far) my initial expectation that the series would skip quickly through the years, leaving characters behind as a matter of course, was only somewhat true. Curious to see if that’s how it plays out in the future though. Lots of fun words popping up here and there; 斯くあるべし in particular sticks out in my memory.

Last week I went through my watchlist and dropped a bunch of stuff. Down to just four weekly shows now, though two of them (僕のヒーローアカデミア and シュガーアップル・フェアリーテイル) ended this week. シュガーアップル ended on a big cliffhanger that had my sister livid, and Buddy Daddies had a strong penultimate episode though I need to know what kind of juice ミリ is drinking that lets her sleep that soundly. This episode of 文豪ストレイドッグス felt unfocused until the very end; definitely reading ahead once the anime ends (next week).

Finally, I read a little bit of シュガーアップル vol. 1, though not nearly as much as I had planned. With the anime over and the next cour coming out in a couple of months I do kind of want to hustle through it and see if I can read ahead.

Japanese reading report

Anime: seven episodes just like last week. Caught up on Buddy Daddies, 僕のヒーローアカデミア、文豪ストレイドッグス、シュガーアップル . With only one episode left of each of the latter two, I’m definitely planning to start reading the source material at the cutoff point. Also watched three episodes of ロマンティック・キラー and just have to sing its praises again as usual. Planning to watch the final three episodes next week.

Manga: Just one volume, 葬送のフリーレン vol. 1. I’ve had my eye on it for a while and even bought my sister a copy of the English version because I was sure it was going to be good, but had never read it myself until now. It’s really nice. Very similar in a lot of ways to ヨコハマ買い出し紀行. It has a really good balance of slow melancholy scenes, big revelatory art spreads, and funny character moments. I’ll be reading more soon for sure.

Novels: 京都寺町三条のホームズ vol. 7. My last readalong book for a little while (meaning this was also an audiobook; 6:54, full focus). The book started with a cheating scare that I was sure was a dream sequence until it wasn’t, and then seems to go through a few false starts before getting to the real story. Once it finally got there, it was quite nice. There was a small timeskip that seemed pointless but eventually I realized the goal was not to skip past time with our main couple, but to bring a close to the rival arc that’s been going since the beginning of the series. Considering that I was starting to wonder just how much more it could reasonably escalate, I think the resolution worked out well. Curious to see where they go from here but I won’t be moving on right away.

Games: Another 3:00 of FFX. The story has reached a big reveal which I have to admit I feel a bit underwhelmed by. Maybe it’s genre literacy; I remember feeling similarly unfazed by a Xenoblade Chronicles 2 that had a big emotional impact on a friend of mine. I feel a bit like the groundwork wasn’t properly laid for me to appreciate the magnitude of the twist. Still enjoying the moment-to-moment a lot.

Japanese reading report

Nearly all of my reading this week was 京都寺町三条のホームズ vol. 6, which I finished today a week ahead of schedule. As usual I was reading along to the audiobook (8:04) and I have to admit there were several points where I just didn’t bother trying to follow along (for example, going through long lists of famous 掛け軸 and their respective authors).

This volume was pretty unique in that the entire book was about one case. Despite the name, there haven’t been too many “detective” elements to the series so far, with the closest one being the 相笠くりす case a couple of books ago. This one revolves around tracking down a missing girl, unravelling a shady organization, and getting to the bottom of a series of art thefts, all of which are woven together. The resolution was pretty satisfying and on top of everything there was some nice relationship development. A very solid entry in the series indeed.

I’ll be trying to read the next volume through this upcoming week. I had a possibly crazy idea to try to read one book every week for the rest of the month to get ahead of schedule, and then focus entirely on manga for a while. We’ll see how it goes.

I watched seven episodes of anime this week, all today. The standout was 文豪ストレイドッグス (7-10). This season is going some very interesting places and I really liked the exploration of how 与謝野’s ability was abused during the war. The way the message shifted from “saving lives” to “these soldiers will lose their minds before they have a chance to die” was chilling. Also 君死給勿(きみしにたまふことなかれ) is an extremely cool phrase.

I also listened to 無職転生 vol. 1 (7:23, med-high focus) and 2 (7:21, low-med focus). I’ve heard that this is “one of the good isekai series” and I honestly don’t get it. It’s a standard fantasy setting and the main character happens to make references to nerd culture from time to time. However, the first volume led me to a realization about my perspective on isekai in general that I thought was pretty interesting.

Essentially, there’s no reason that the protagonist of 無職転生 couldn’t have taken matters into his own hands to turn his life around without being reincarnated. He even says at the beginning “if only I could turn back time one year, that would be enough”. He gets his wish of a total do-over despite the fact that it was by no means too late for him to change tack in his previous life.

Contrast this with 本好きの下剋上. マイン has a promising career as a librarian (her lifelong dream) right in front of her eyes before she’s killed in a tragic bookshelf accident. Unlike ルディー, she’s reincarnated into poverty; far from being gifted with magic, her body is afflicted by a terminal illness; even her ability to read (an ability which ルディー puts to use immediately to learn magic) does her no good because the world is seemingly bereft of books.

For ルディー, his reincarnation is nothing but a benefit; for マイン it brings her nothing but hardship. One story is about taking advantage of extreme good fortune to have the life you’ve always wanted; the other is about losing everything and then fighting through adversity to get it back.

Finally, I just finished up another 2.5 hours of FFX. I think we’re basically past the intro now and have been largely set free in terms of game mechanics. The worldbuilding is still the standout here. I’m also curious about how the timeline will play out, and the theme of how being the child of a famous hero can be a sort of curse.

Fitness progress

Another mixed week. I did hit most of my exercise days, with only one day per workout type missed.

In an effort to get some bonus gains I switched to goblet squats, using a 20lb weight. This might have been a bad idea. It took a few days to kick in but my knees are pretty sore. I’ll be giving squats a pass this week.

I did a fair amount of pushups, though not following a program this time. I tried focusing on explosive motion instead of rapid-fire motion. I also focused on curls and tricep extensions, the latter of which has recently become possible with my 20lb weights (though not as fast or high-rep as with my lower weights).

Japanese reading report

At the beginning of the week I decided I was tired of not being able to focus on manga and decided to finish off my current book a week ahead of schedule and hopefully get ahead of the game. I read about 2-3x more per day than I had originally planned, and did end up finishing it today (overall audiobook runtime: 7:55 at full focus).. Unfortunately it didn’t actually put me much ahead of schedule…my adjusted pace has gone from one book per 20 days to one per…21 days…

In the end the entire book went by without introducing any new 思春期症候群 cases, which actually surprised me. It’s a pretty focused and rather mundane story about 花楓 moving forward with her life after recovering from her alternate personality disorder. Probably one of the weaker entries in the series for me but it had some good moments for sure. The book ended with a teaser for the next mystery so we might be in for a return to form soon.

Still committed to freeing up some time for manga, so I started my next novel right away; 京都寺町三条のホームズ vol. 6. I’m aiming for two weeks to finish it but if I can stay consistent about finding time in the mornings I might try for one. So far I’ve only read the prologue so not much to say yet.

I listened to ひげひろ 4 (6:01, high focus) and 5 (4:55, high focus) and thought they closed out the series pretty well. I will say the resolution felt a tad rushed but it had a nice ending and five volumes is a very respectable length for a light novel series.

Caught up on some of my seasonal anime backlist. 文豪ストレイドッグス・僕のヒーローアカデミア・シュガーアップル・フェアリーテイル・ 進撃の巨人完結ほんとだよなんで信じてくれないの編 前編. Buddy Daddies was a recap episode this week (naku).

Finally, I started playing Final Fantasy X tonight and have put in about 2:30. The sphere system tutorial dragged on a lot but otherwise it’s been pretty smooth. About 90% of the dialogue is voiced which makes it easy to follow along with. It’s my first FF game ever so I don’t really know what to expect but I’m enjoying myself.

Meals this week

Most of this week was covered by the cooking I did last week with leftover and gifted ingredients. I did a small shopping trip at the beginning of the week to get eggs and brown sugar ($2.19, which will probably work out to something like $0.05 per bowl of oatmeal) along with a few fresh vegetables here and there. I took a second trip at the end of the week to get a couple of things for a family dinner. The total for both trips came to just over $60; still under my max of $70 per week but higher than I would prefer.

I ate oatmeal each morning; greek yogurt with apples and brown sugar, chicken sausage with cotija and arugula.

My parents visited during the middle of the week, which meant for a couple of free meals this time around as well. So far the best money-saving trick I’ve found is to have other people pay for your food. On the other hand, I also went out for dinner with some friends on Tuesday and spent basically the same amount on that one meal as I did on both of my shopping trips combined. I enjoy eating out but it’s definitely not something I can do on a regular basis. Maybe next time I can have people over to cook instead.

I had a nice realization this week that will translate into savings in the future — brewed with the right technique, I actually get more enjoyable results from supermarket coffee (Eight o’clock, $10/lb) than I do from the specialty coffee I’ve been buying for a little while now (Philz, $20/lb + $10 shipping). It generally takes me about three weeks to go through a bag of coffee beans so this is a considerable reduction in my regular spending.

Fitness progress

This past week was a bit of a wash. I didn’t hit all my workout days and I didn’t end up doing my exhaustion tests on Saturday. This coming week I’ll be using the results from last week to set the same goals again. Hoping to bounce back soon.

Japanese reading report

Feels like another light week. I read three volumes of manga and about a quarter of a new novel, listened to three audiobooks, and watched some anime.

Manga: 殺し愛 vol. 6-7 and I’m very much enjoying this series. It feels like the structure is pretty thoroughly planned out and I’m hoping the plan is to tell a complete story and then finish. インド人 is still annoying but the two main characters’ backstory was interesting and they’re basically getting along for real now which is nice. I also read つぐもも vol. 1 and it was fine. Pretty funny at times in a kind of classic slapstick way. I’m not sure why but I’ve had this series on my to-watch list since before I even started learning Japanese…not exactly worth the wait but I might read more.

I started reading 青春ブタ野郎 vol. 8 and I’m about 1/4 through it. So far it’s barely been about anything (at least in the supernatural side of things) so I don’t really have much to say about it. One thing I will mention is that the narrator for the audiobook pronounces 私立 as わたくしりつ every time, which took me by surprise since I initially read しりつ half a second before she got to it. It feels silly but my immediate response was “wow, a real pro!” Definitely feels like one of those things that could be an easy level-up when speaking.

Audiobooks: I was looking for a new series to binge and decided to give ひげひろ a try. Listened to the first three volumes (7:08, 7:09, 6:05, all at high focus) and actually enjoyed them quite a lot. Of all the LN protagonists I’ve read to date, I feel like 吉田 strikes a good balance between being a decent human being and also kind of a しょうもないやつ. The supporting cast members feel pretty well developed and everyone has distinct voices and personalities. There’s a lot of natural-seeming dialogue which will probably be good fodder now that I’m trying to prioritize output.

Anime: Buddy Daddies 7-8, Sugar apple 7-8, MHA 20. Pretty good overall. I’m never going to catch up on everything I’m trying to watch this season.

Meals this week

Very little shopping this time around. I spent the weekend with my parents and was sent home with a bunch of food which ended up being the basis for most of what I ate.

Before I get into what I did eat though, a quick mention of what I didn’t eat — or more specifically, what I bought that went to waste. Last week I picked up a couple of greenhouse tomatoes ($4.96) with the idea of eating them in sandwiches as a special treat. The first one was disappointingly mealy and I ended up neglecting the other one, and by the time I noticed it in the middle of the week it had molded. It feels bad to waste money on ingredients this close to the beginning of the program, especially when they’re comparatively expensive. Going forward I’ll try to be more careful of the perishable goods I buy; both in making good selections and also being proactive about using them up, even if it’s for a purpose that I didn’t originally intend.

The first of my two big meal preps this week was a hearty soup I made with a roast ham my mom gave me. The key ingredients in this were a can of red beans ($1.19), about half of the napa cabbage I bought the first week ($1.70), plus some assorted vegetables and miscellaneous stuff from the pantry like pearl barley. The other meal was a rice casserole with mushrooms and chicken breast, for which nearly every ingredient was either from my mom or had been languishing in the freezer. Between these two meals I was basically set for the rest of the week and then some.

I had a couple of other random meals here and there, again made mostly with existing ingredients. Dinner one night was a grilled chicken wrap and the next was Japanese white stew (made by my sister with ingredients she bought). As a result I was able to freeze more of my prepared food than usual, which is another nice investment in future weeks.

I did a small shopping in the middle of the week which came out to just over $40. Most of this was bulk goods that I’ll be using in the coming weeks (canned tomatoes, brown sugar) as well as some fresh produce from the bargain shelf and a large carton of eggs.

I finished off the huevos rancheros add-ins that I had made for oatmeal the week before, and alternated between sweet (brown sugar and yogurt) and savory (goat cheese and chicken sausage) throughout the rest of the week.

Japanese practice reflection

Last night I had my first-ever proper Japanese conversation practice session with a couple of members from the 日本語と英語 discord server (one native speaker, one fellow learner). It was a lot of fun and I feel encouraged by the outcome; I’ve often felt like all the input I’m getting was doing a great job of helping me develop strong comprehension skills, but not making a huge difference for my production ability. After this practice session, I feel more like my conversation ability is trapped in my head and just needs a little help getting out, like a rusty faucet that needs some encouragement before it can be turned on and off easily.


The biggest thing I noticed is that I rarely had to think hard about the words I wanted to use, but when it did happen it was like my whole brain had shut down. Since we were trading off languages, I was able to fall back on English to keep the conversation going, but I would obviously prefer to move past that.

Since I’ve never really had a proper conversation before, this was also the first time that my typical speech mannerisms had a chance to manifest in Japanese, which was pretty interesting. In English I tend to say stuff like “I guess” (when describing my opinions), and in Japanese I found myself using かな at the end of a lot of my sentences.

One moment I thought was kind of funny was when we were talking about another member of the server and I was asked for my opinion; my answer of 悪いやつじゃないと思う got a laugh out of our native friend and a response of “you’re talking just like a Japanese person!” Just a fun reminder that there’s more to language than just grammar and vocabulary.

Problem areas

Numbers have always been a pain point. More audio immersion would probably be a big help in this regard. At one point I was trying to report on the temperature (-5c) and accidentally said マイナスごじゅう instead of マイナスごど, which got a very surprised reaction. I feel like I made a similar mistake a little later, forgetting to use 回, and then again using ~人目 instead of ~番目 when describing my siblings.

On a number of occasions I found myself suddenly using polite forms (ですます, or saying はい instead of うん or そう) just for one sentence in the middle of a casual conversation. I’m not sure why certain phrases seemed to come out naturally in polite mode but it’s something I want to work on of course.

One more thing that sticks in my mind as a bit of a “regret” is that there were some words I used where I feel like a similar but subtly different word would have been a better fit. As one example in particular, I was asked “why take two trips to Japan instead of staying the whole time” and my answer was 仕事があるから. I feel like 仕事があるし would have been a more natural response in this case, but I thought of it just a moment too late. On another occasion, I was asked if I had heard of something, and I said 知らない at the same time as our native friend said 分からない. Obviously her response would have been more natural.

The last thing I’d like to work on is also a bit of a curiosity. I occasionally found myself code-switching back to English, but only for specific words. One repeat offender was that I would intend to say けど at the end of a sentence, but it would somehow become the English word “though” on its way out of my mouth; another was that I would occasionally just add “so…” at the end, but not with any particular Japanese word in mind, just an example of English brain taking over.

All in all, I feel like it went pretty well and I’m excited for the next one.