Now that my blog supports Japanese characters I can finally start posting the reading reports I’ve been accumulating. Over the next few days, a large number of posts will be back-dated across the last year and a half.

These reports were originally intended for 日本語と英語, a Discord community for people learning Japanese or English.

The long drought

It’s been about four years since I’ve posted regularly on this blog, and the reason is as simple as it is uninteresting: I really didn’t have that much to say. My former job, which dealt with anti-money-laundering and financial compliance, had me under heavy NDA to the point where I couldn’t discuss any details about the technology we were working with, let alone the day-to-day. We were in a continual state of slipping behind; always pushing back against management in an attempt to stop incurring technical debt, and always being rebuffed. It was a vicious cycle that I fed into by being willing to work extreme hours at the cost of my own mental and physical health — which only served to embolden upper management as they saw that we were capable of “working miracles”.

During this time of working long hours and fighting to keep RSI at bay, my motivation to work on personal projects was at an all-time low. I released the odd update for Glide but besides that, I did very little coding at home. Not only was I unable to write about my professional work, but my passion projects were so neglected that there was nothing to write about in the first place.

Something had to fill the gap left by my hobby programming, and by happy coincidence I had begun studying Japanese around the same time that I started my job. I made lots of missteps the first two years (more on that in a later post), but at around the two-year mark I had a breakthrough and started reading extensively, which turned out to be incredibly effective. I’ve been part of a reading club for over a year now (and have submitted a reading report every single week), but when I tried to crosspost my reports here, I found that my ancient WordPress install was still using a latin database charset and everything I typed would show up as ????????. Unwilling to risk losing my existing posts, I left it alone.

Last night I bit the bullet, nuked my entire website and reinstalled WordPress fresh. Fortunately my posts imported without issue (though some media references are still broken).

Since leaving my job I’ve had a lot of free time to work on personal projects; watch this space more details on that front. And with a shiny new database that supports non-latin characters, I should have a lot more freedom to write about what’s been going on with my life lately.


Japanese reading report

This week, same as last, was basically dedicated to P5R. Since last week I’ve finished both November and December and am currently working on the post-game content that was added in Royal. The hardest part this week was definitely the final boss’s philosophizing, which is par for the course so far (it’s the same in both Scramble and Q2). Fortunately this was also a lot of fun; I love learning new (old) words and the way these ancient gods speak always gets me excited. I’ve been cruising through the new content too; a lot of it is voiced and I’m able to keep up with it in real time despite obviously not having played it before. I hope to beat the game today or tomorrow.

On the same track, I’ve started reading 女神異聞録ペルソナ, the manga adaptation of the first game in the series. Finished vol. 1 the other day and it’s quite enjoyable. Based on what I’ve seen I don’t know that I would be able to get into the gameplay of 1&2, so it’s nice to be able to catch up on the lore.

I skipped 夜市 this weekend (the book club updates on Fridays, which only gives me a couple of days until reports are due). Still keeping up with it but I’ll read this week’s section during this week to reset the schedule.

Japanese reading report

This week I did baaaaasically nothing but play P5R. It’s now mid-November and last week I was at the beginning of September. We just finished up the infiltration for the current palace and just have to wait for the deadline at the end of the month. The new content has been ramping up as we get close to endgame, and we got a surprise peek at the new palace, which looks great. Just like last week, lots of social links with unvoiced dialogue to read, but I’m knocking them out steadily.

I did find some time to read manga, mostly at night while I was falling asleep. I went back to 古見さん (vol. 11) for the first time in a while and found it to be just as good as ever.

Last night (and a little bit of today) I also read 17 pages of 夜市, still keeping pace with the bookclub. This chunk has gotten pretty exciting and it ended on a total cliffhanger. My original guess at where the story would go has been flipped on its head and I’m very curious to see where it goes from here.

Japanese reading report

Putting my report in early today because my internet will be limited for the rest of the month.

This week I read 甘々と稲妻 vol. 7, which I’ve been sitting on for a while. Compared to earlier in the series, it feels much less formulaic (as much as I like cooking, I don’t love when that’s the entire point of each chapter).

I also read the latter 3/4 of 一週間フレンズ, which I had started reading a long time ago and lost track of. For some reason 4koma manga always feels a lot slower than the normal stuff, anyone else feel this way? I really liked the anime and I think the manga is actually a lot better…it’s super dense with jokes and the visual comedy is great.

Kept up with Persona 5 Royal. We just finished up Summer Vacation so I guess it’s been almost a month of in-game time since last week’s report. Been doing a lot of social link stuff, which is mostly unvoiced dialogue that I tend to get bogged down on. The voiced sections are still doing pretty well; if I put it on “auto” mode I catch the majority of what goes on

Finally, read a little more of 夜市. The new chunk started on Friday so I’ll be focusing on that for the rest of the day.

Japanese reading report

This week I finally finished 氷菓 with a whopping 20 pages in one day (37 pages total). The last stretch of the book was actually fairly enjoyable and went pretty smoothly. I’m glad to be done with it though. I might continue the 古典部 series at some point but probably not for a while. To wrap up, and to get some bonus audio immersion, I also went through the first five episodes of the anime, which neatly covers the entire first book. The anime was just as good as I remembered it being from years ago and I was able to follow along pretty well (no doubt because I’d already looked up a lot of the difficult words while reading the book).

I launched immediately into 夜市 and so far I’m enjoying it a lot more. The writing style is pretty simple and I’m barely having to look up any words at all so I’m cruising through it. I’ve actually reached the end of the week 2 block (which only started on Friday) so I’m wondering whether I’ll actually read ahead this time around.

With 氷菓 out of the way my manga ban has been lifted, so I read 鬼滅の刃 vol. 20 pretty much right away. This whole book was devoted to one of the few remaining 十二鬼月 and had some pretty cool backstory as well as setting some pretty clear implications for the history of the slayer corps.

I spent a good deal of time on Persona 5 Royal, finishing Futaba’s palace and catching most of the way up to the next deadline. My social stats are basically finished by this point so I’ve been doing a lot of social link stuff. Animal Crossing gets an honorable mention as usual.

Japanese reading report

This week is the first in a long time that I haven’t read any manga at all. I’m working hard on finishing 氷菓, with 15 pages since my last report. For the most part it felt like it went a lot smoother than some other points, so that’s nice. I had planned to finish it over the next two weeks but I might try to accelerate that timeline since I realized yesterday that 鬼滅の刃 vol. 20 comes out much earlier than I had thought and I’ll be anxious to get into it.

The WK bookclub has moved on to their next book, 夜市. I read through the sample pages and I haven’t decided if I’ll keep it up, but one thing I will say is that it’s much easier (and written in a more enjoyable style) than 氷菓, so I might continue it once I finish.

I also played a good chunk of Persona 5: Royal. When I left off last night I had just gotten into Futaba’s palace for the first time and officially started the mission. The main-story sections are great because I can just put the text on auto and let it play out at native speed, so I’ve been making good progress.

Japanese reading report

This week I read the latter half of あさひなぐ vol. 1. The meet ended with a close loss for the 二ツ坂 club, the third-year club members left, and they established the character who’ll likely be our protagonist’s rival going forward. Jumping straight into a competition early in the series to both explain the rules and set the stakes is pretty interesting. I think I’ll probably leave it there for now instead of moving on with the series, but I’ll likely come back to it in the future.

I also read 愚者の星 vol. 2, which I didn’t really like very much. This is a series I picked up right when it came out, which was back in December. After finishing this volume I don’t really see myself following it any further. The main villain showed up again, hid behind one of his retainers, escaped once the MC beat his man…basically exactly the same arc as in the first volume. I’m also getting wicked tired of the goofy made-up language that they use as ruby all over the place.

The last manga I read was 雪にツバサ vol. 1, which I randomly got for free on Honto and decided to read just based on the beautiful cover art. It’s by 高橋しん (who writes かなたかける, which I’ve also been reading) and it’s…kind of a tonal roller coaster. I kind of like it? but it’s also really weird and sometimes gets uncomfortably close to being genuinely distressing.

Played a bit more of Persona 5 Royal, finishing up Kaneshiro and the two weeks up to his deadline and moving into the Medjed arc now.

Stayed current on Animal Crossing but not a lot to talk about there.

Read 10 more pages in 氷菓, which I quite honestly am not enjoying anymore. I’m so close to the end and I do want to actually finish it, so I’m cutting myself off from reading any more manga until it’s over.

Japanese reading report

This week I read the final volume of 5等分の花嫁, vol. 14. The series is now officially over and it’s a pretty neat feeling — this was the manga I started with when I started reading seriously, and it’s the one that helped guide me into my “read fast and skip the hard stuff” strategy. As each new volume has come out it’s been encouraging to see how much I’ve improved since the last one, to the point where (finally) I was able to read this one with basically no trouble at all. Very happy with the way the story concluded. Overall feeling really good about it all.

I also read vol. 2 of 阿波連さんははかれない, which was just as hilarious as the first one.

I only read about half of あさひなぐ vol. 1, which is a manga series about 薙刀. I don’t really know anything about this sport but since I had the first few volumes for free I figured I’d give it a shot. It’s pretty entertaining so far with good visual comedy and some fun characters. At the point I’m at right now the upperclassmen in the 薙刀部 are about to have a meet, which will hopefully explain the rules a bit more.

Played a bit of Animal Crossing (finally unlocked the Able sisters shop; I’m the slowest player in history). I also played a decent amount of P5 Royal; I’m actually taking a break from it to write my report. I should be done with Kaneshiro’s boss fight by the end of the day.

Japanese reading report

This week I read すいとーと vol. 1, which is one of the manga I picked up a while ago because it was a brand new release. It’s about a couple of girls who go out to local restaurants in Fukuoka city, with each chapter focusing on a different spot. I haven’t looked too much into it but I wouldn’t be surprised to find that this was written to drive tourism to the city; one of the running gags is that one of the girls has an encyclopedic knowledge of every restaurant they visit. In any case the food all looks super good so Fukuoka is definitely on my mind at the moment. Picked up a few words of 福岡弁. I might grab vol. 2 when it comes out; it was an enjoyable read but nothing too amazing so far.

After finishing すいとーと I was in the mood to read something simple (with furigana for a change) so I went back to World Trigger and finished vol. 2 over the last two days.

I finished recording the last three episodes in my Persona 5 Scramble series, so about two hours on that front. Feels good to be finished up. The boss battles have dialogue throughout, which is difficult to keep up with while playing normally, so it was nice to be able to go back and comb through it during the editing phase. Now that I have all the videos finished they’ll all be going up on a schedule if anyone is interested.

Read a little of 氷菓 and translated a little of 被虐のノエル. Not really enough to comment on either one this week.