Japanese reading report

This week I had kind of a slump in the middle. There were two days where I was super busy and barely managed to check off my 30m bare minimum reading goal. I somehow still managed to read four new volumes of manga though, so I’m now ahead of my new schedule to read 104 volumes before the end of the year.

First up was 古見さん vol. 18 (I stocked up and bought the rest of the currently-released volumes). The chapter where they got stuck in Otori’s house was probably my favorite even though I utterly failed to figure out any of the puzzles.

Next I read 鬼滅の刃・外伝, which was really great, definitely my highlight of the week. It’s a lot darker than the main series and the art style is markedly different but it does a great job of capturing the tone. It didn’t seem like it was numbered but I hope they make more.

A few weeks ago I read chapter 1 of おとなりに銀河 at the end of another manga volume by the same author, so I grabbed the full version this time and finished it up. It’s basically a cute awkward romance story about writing manga (the main character is an alien who left her people after learning about what love could really be like from shoujo manga). Will definitely be reading along as it releases.

This week’s two chapters of 本好きの下剋上 took me 2:31:30 to finish, which (just like last week) gives me an average of ~4 minutes per page (best time 2:23). Like usual, it went pretty smoothly. I’ve decided to start reading at my own pace once this book is finished so I’m looking forward to that.

Finally, I read 古見さん vol. 19. Time to anxiously await the next volume I guess (being caught up is suffering).

Japanese reading report

Like usual, the first thing I did this week was stay up to date with 本好きの下剋上. These two chapters were just 31 pages so it went pretty quickly. I kept track of my timing this week as well: 2:16.50, giving me an average of ~4 minutes per page with a best time of 2:49. Didn’t really learn any new grammar or vocab from this section but I enjoyed it.

My manga for the week were 女神異聞録ペルソナ vol. 8, Persona 5 Mementos Mission vol. 1, the 十三騎兵防衛圏 anthology, and 鬼滅の刃 vol. 23.

Mementos Mission has been on my backlist for a while, so I jumped on it when vol. 1 became free for a little while. The P5 manga adaptation is pretty good, but Mementos Mission is really excellent so far. It’s a totally new story but it captures the characters really well and the art is great. I grabbed the remaining two volumes so I’ll definitely be continuing it.

It’s been a while since I read 女神異聞録ペルソナ but I’m finally finished with it now. I didn’t love this final arc honestly, but it’s good to be finished with it.

The 十三騎兵防衛圏 anthology was a mixed bag but good overall. My sister has been playing the game in English (which is what reminded me to actually read this) and I’ve been watching her. It’s nicely validating to see that I did actually understand everything that was going on when I played in Japanese.

I’ve been anxiously looking forward to the 鬼滅の刃 finale for months now and it paid off. This last volume was great. I’m really happy with the way everything wrapped up.

Japanese reading report

This week I front-loaded a lot of my reading since I expected to be too busy with Thanksgiving, but I ended up having more time than I expected after all.

First of all I caught up with the WK book club and read the next few chapters of 本好きの下剋上 in the first two days. Following up from the successful proof-of-concept paper, this bit was mostly about setting up to actually produce and sell it. My favorite little moment was when マイン tried to flop down on the fancy sofa in the merchants’ guild and found out that it was just a chair covered with brocade. This chunk was really smooth; I timed myself again and it took me 3:05 to read all 45 pages; average of 4 minutes per page with a best speed of 2.10.

Read 古見さん vol. 17, which gets me totally caught up to what I have on hand. The developments are…not exactly what I was hoping for out of the series? I guess I’ll have to wait and see.

Next I caught up with SPYxFAMILY (vol. 3, 4, and 5). I stocked up on these a while ago and for some reason never got around to them. Some good developments here, including the introduction of an actually good dog character. I’m continually impressed by how the constant misunderstandings are funny rather than frustrating and how a lot of the tension actually comes from “how will they get out of this situation without blowing cover” rather than actual danger per se.

Last manga of the week was Persona 5 vol. 1. Obviously it’s majority review but it’s actually a pretty decent adaptation and I’m enjoying it.

Finally, I listened to about an hour of the 氷菓 audiobook. As before there’s a lot I’m missing but there’s also been some stuff that I understood this time which I either missed or misunderstood the first time around. Still not much of a fan of the narration or main character though.

Japanese reading report

This week I read three more volumes of 古見さん (14, 15, and 16). I’m almost caught up to my current 積ん読 (will probably hold off on buying the rest of the 単行本 until I have a few more things to buy with a coupon). There was some nice character focus in this block, first from 井中 (very underused) and then from 阿瀬, who I was surprised and pleased to see fleshed out beyond the chapter that introduced her.

Stayed on track with 本好きの下剋上. The last chapter ended with some good clearing of the air between two of the main characters and, very importantly, a successful trial run of the paper-making process. I decided to time myself while I was reading this week and found that I was averaging about 4:15-4:30 per page — a slight improvement from last time I tried it.

Listened to a bit more of the 氷菓 audiobook. Really probably not enough to mention but I’m mentioning it anyway.

Japanese reading report

My three manga volumes for this week were ゆらゆらQ vol. 1, ゆるキャン vol. 2, and 古見さん vol. 13. I stayed up to date with the 本好きの下剋上 bookclub, listened to the audiobook of 氷菓, and played some 真3.

ゆらゆらQ is a new series by the author of 甘々と稲妻, so as soon as I saw it I had to pick it up. It’s really cute; the main character is a fox girl who for some reason still looks like a tiny child because she can’t control her glamour abilities like her siblings can. The scenarios are really funny and I love the art so I’m definitely planning to stay current on it. As a bonus, the book also contains the first chapter of おとなりに銀河, which is another series by the same author that seems to be running in parallel. Ironically enough it’s about an overworked mangaka…I hope he’s doing alright.

I stocked up on all the ゆるキャン volumes a while ago but never got around to reading them. Vol. 2 brings us pretty close to where the first season of the anime left off if I’m not mistaken, so I’m planning to catch up before the new season airs.

古見さん is as good as ever. I feel like I read this one really fast for some reason.

本好き is still leaning hard into the intricacies of making paper. As of the last chapter they’ve collected all the materials and tools they need to actually start, and the next chapter is literally called 紙創りの始め so hopefully we get a payoff soon. One amusing development involved someone finally noticing that マイン knows a lot more than any normal 6 y/o should reasonably be able to, which feels like it’s been a long time coming. Learned a cute new grammar point; とばかりに (N1).

I had a long walk to take towards the middle of the week and decided to revisit 氷菓 since it’s been about six months since I finished reading it. It’s still pretty hard to follow honestly, but it was good practice.

Finally, I’ve put in about 7 hours of the Nocturne remaster. Not really sure how I feel about it as a game/story but the writing is definitely interesting, lots of variety.

Japanese reading report

This was a pretty good week for me in manga. I read four volumes in total; トニカクカワイイ vol. 3, 俺物語 vol. 1 and 2, and 歌うヘッドフォン娘. I’m back on track to double my initial goal by the end of the year, if I do decide to pursue that.

トニカクカワイイ is something I might continue reading at some point; at very least I’ll check out the anime. I’m not really sure what it’s going for in terms of big plot stuff but the romantic comedy aspects are nice.

I watched the anime of 俺物語 ages ago and didn’t remember much about it except that it was hilarious and adorable. No plans to continue this one immediately; just trying to make a dent in my ebook library.

歌うヘッドフォン is another one from the backlog; I bought it ages ago because it was a oneshot by the same writer/artist as the first manga I ever tried to read. Nothing super special; good art, some funny gags, but it ends without any real resolution and leaves some threads untied. I’m not sure if it was intended to be a oneshot but it is, so I guess that’s that.

Kept up with 本好きの下剋上 vol. 2. Learned an awful lot about how 和紙 is made, holy smokes — some of the words they were using weren’t even in my dictionary so I had to do some extra research. Not a lot else to say about this chunk, still enjoying myself.

Last (and also least) I started playing the 真3 remake. I swear it took me like an hour just to enter my name; for some reason they just give you a list of every possible kanji grouped by one (nanori?) reading. Pretty bad UX but at least they give you space for four characters per name. I’ve made it through a couple of the first fights so far and I’ll be playing more this coming week.

Book review: 秋の牢獄 (Autumn Prison)

Immediately after finishing 本好きの下剋上 vol. 1, I decided to blaze through another book before the bookclub moved on to vol. 2. 秋の牢獄 is another book by 恒川光太郎, the author of 夜市, and I bought both books at the same time (along with one more, 雷の季節の終わりに) without any knowledge about it beyond the fact that I was really enjoying the writing style. Originally I planned to finish it in two weeks (about 10 pages per day), but it ended up taking me just 11 days, which beats out しあわせの花 as my fastest book so far. I feel like I could have finished it in just a week if I had hustled a little more; the first story (72 pages) took me just three days.

As with 夜市, only the first story in the book is actually called 秋の牢獄, and this first story was my favorite of the three by far (while the others were good, they’re also not as straightforward to summarize so I’ll only be covering this first one). It follows a woman who wakes up one day to discover that it’s November 7th for the second day in a row. Everything that happened yesterday is happening again today, from the weather to the classes at her school to small talk at lunch. Day after day, November the 7th never ends; no matter what she does, everything resets at midnight and she wakes up in her bed at home the next (the same?) morning. It’s not long before the repetition starts to take its toll, but just when it’s becoming too much to bear, she discovers she’s not alone — there are other “replayers” just like herself, some of whom have been stuck in November 7th for hundreds of loops.

Some of the Replayers take full advantage of their effective immortality, since everything (including death and injury) are rolled back at the end of the day. Of course, it’s not all fun and games; in one sobering example, one of the other Replayers wakes up every morning to the sound of his wife getting ready for work, knowing full well that today is the day she intends to cheat on him — over and over again. Interpersonal conflict among the Replayers is briefly touched on and the implications are equally uncomfortable — since it’s impossible to move house, you would do well to avoid making an enemy who would then be able to repeatedly target you day after day.

As if all that isn’t bad enough, this world is also home to a mysterious and terrifying entity known among the Replayers as “the Lord of the North Wind”. Nobody knows who or what it is — some believe it to be a hungry predator that traps people in the loop until the time comes for them to be harvested; others say it’s a benevolent deity who will free you from the loop. The only thing anyone knows for sure is that once you’ve seen it, it won’t be long before you quietly disappear.

The sense of unease, despair, and eventual acceptance throughout the story is incredibly effective. I’ve really come to enjoy this author’s work and I’m excited to read 雷の季節の終わりに, which will be an interesting change of pace as it dedicates a full book to one story. As with Night Market, Autumn Prison is not available in English but I would heartily recommend it to anyone who can read Japanese.

Japanese reading report

This week I found myself in a bit of a slump. Despite easily passing the halfway point in 秋の牢獄 by my last report, it took me a while to finish it up this week. I guess part of it could be that the third story in the book just wasn’t striking my fancy like the other ones. Overall I still enjoyed it, but it never got to the point where I was anxious to read more. Still, 11 days is my new record for reading a standard-size Japanese novel, and that feels pretty good.

Throughout the week I read two volumes of トニカクカワイイ, which I got for free since there’s an anime adaptation in the works. It’s pretty evident that there’s going to be some important plot stuff happening sooner or later (involving the moon), but for now it’s just a cute little romantic comedy that I’m quite enjoying.

I started on 本好きの下剋上 vol. 2, which I’m once again reading with the WK book club. Since I wanted to finish up my other book first, I’m a little late, but I did have time to finish the prologue and the first two chapters, so I’m on track. Sounds like we’re getting right into the paper-making; there’s already been a lot of technical talk about the right types of trees to use when making Japanese-style paper. I have a bit of a leg up here since I already went and watched some videos about it while reading the previous book, but there’s still a decent amount of totally new vocab.

Book review: 本好きの下剋上 vol. 1 (Ascendance of a Bookworm)

This review is rather overdue; I finished reading this book a couple of weeks ago. As of today I’m moving on to the next volume, again with the WaniKani bookclub, with the goal of finishing it just before the end of the year.

本好き is my first foray into the genre of 異世界 fiction; specifically the “reincarnation” subgenre. The hallmark of this kind of story is that our hero (typically a sad loner with no apparent future) meets an untimely death at the very beginning, and is then reborn into a new world (medieval fantasy settings seem to be the norm) with all his memories intact, and usually with some unbalanced magical power to boot. It’s a very popular concept, but one which has never much appealed to me due to the power fantasy trappings that seem to be endemic.

本好き is a bit different. For one, the main character (literally named “Main”, though the official English translation renders her name as “Mayne”; rhymes with “mine”), a book lover who had recently graduated from college with a degree in library science, actually seemed to have a pretty good life ahead of her before she was tragically crushed to death by a falling bookshelf. Things only get worse and worse from the moment she opens her eyes in her new home; she finds herself as a sickly little girl in a poor family, with not a single book in the house to help her while away the hours in bed. It’s not long before we find out that it’s not just her family; this is a world where being able to write your own name is remarkable, and where a single sheet of parchment is worth a month’s salary. Books will be hard to come by.

Though ostensibly the goal of the series is for Mayne to become a librarian against all odds, it’s a long climb to the top. Her goal throughout the whole first book is to come up with some way of writing, whether that be a pseudo-papyrus made of grass or clay tablets, but each new attempt comes with unforeseen challenges. Interleaved with the bookmaking are smaller, more achievable goals like figuring out how to make shampoo in a dirty, hard-fantasy world, or trying to adapt local ingredients to suit her Japanese tastes. Throughout it all, the narration is delightful and full of character.

At the time of writing there are 25 books in the series, with a new one coming out about every three months, so who knows when I’ll ever actually catch up (especially at bookclub pace). I do intend to continue for a while though. The recent anime adaptation apparently covers the first three volumes, so if any of this sounds interesting, be sure to check it out!

Japanese reading report

This week I started 秋の牢獄, by 恒川光太郎, the author of 夜市. Back when I was reading that book with the wanikani book club, I actually started on an epub, so when I decided to do the right thing and buy a proper copy I threw in two more books almost as penance. I’m very glad I did; have been enjoying this one a lot. Just like 夜市 it contains a handful of short stories, of which I’ve now finished the first two. 139 pages in six days gives me a daily average of 23 pages, which I’m pretty sure is my fastest so far.

For manga, I read カラーレス vol. 1 and 世話焼き狐の仙狐さん vol. 1, both of which I got for free. カラーレス is a pretty interesting scifi story about a world where some kind of apocalyptic solar flare has all but erased color from the world and caused all kinds of mutations among the human population. The writing and characters are good and I think the concept has potential, even if it’s a bit of a stretch; probably going to pick up at least one more volume to see if I stick with it.

世話焼き狐の仙狐さん is just fluffy 癒やし系 but it’s pretty funny and cute. 仙狐さん herself talks like a typical fox, with わらわ and じゃ and all those good things. One funny coincidence was the fact that she uses でない as a way to give negative orders, which seems totally natural for her, even though when I saw it for the first time (also this week, in 秋の牢獄) I didn’t know why it was being used. The perks of interleaving a variety of types of media!