Japanese reading report

This week felt a bit slow. Definitely gonna have to step up the pace.

I watched 17 episodes of anime throughout the week; 11 of Naruto and 6 of Skip and Loafer. Not much to say about Naruto, though I liked the episode where このはまる was struggling to come to terms with his grandfather’s death. Skip and Loafer was pure unadulterated sunshine all the way through. I’d been watching with my sister and we had to put it on pause, but of all the shows we were watching together it was the one that I wanted to make sure we finished together. Really really sweet all throughout. The anime only adapts four volumes of the manga so I think I might start reading it.

I read 呪術廻戦 vol. 22 and half of 葬送のフリーレン vol. 9 (will hold off on my thoughts until I finish it). JJK had some pretty hype moments but this volume was mostly one big fight scene so I guess I don’t have too much to say about it.

Only read 35 pages of 面白ければなんでもあり. Honestly most of these chapters were kind of boring. I have no interest in the とある series and it was hard to engage with the topic. I did like the chapters about what makes something “catchy”, and the one about striking the balance to make a character appealing.

Japanese reading report

This week I moved into a new apartment and had to contend with about four hours of semi-unexpected driving to throw a wrench in my reading plans. It mostly worked out alright in the end.

Two more audiobooks; おさまけ 8 (7:13, low/medium focus) and 9 (7:03, medium focus). Still a pretty unremarkable harem series. The latest volume ended with a seemingly unambiguous confession/acceptance moment but the rest of the girls are still scheming. Oh well. It’s still easy to listen to and that’s what matters.

Anime: 呪術廻戦 S2, episodes 4-5. I’ve read the manga so it’s all review but it was fun hearing 天上天下唯我独尊 and recognizing it despite the fact that it’s probably a pretty niche word. The direction of the anime itself is really good. Also watched two episodes of Naruto and forgot to log them on either anilist or Moyase, whoops!

For manga I started off with フリーレン vol. 8. The first half was great — I thought the moral of the rare liquor story was good and then the mining development was really funny. I’m a little mixed on the latter half. The discussion about what it means to be a “good guy” was pretty interesting but I also felt like the story overall was lacking a strong emotional core. I also read 呪術廻戦 vol. 20 and 21 since the anime has reinvigorated my drive to get caught up. This arc has the (apparently) infamous pachinko guy and I dunno, I didn’t think it was all that bad. It’s definitely not very “cursey” but fighting inside the “setting” of a themed pachinko game (featuring hazards and features that the game is ostensibly “based on”) is novel and led to some fun moments.

Prose: I’ve started reading 面白ければなんでもあり as well. I’m 31 pages in at the moment, with only two days of reading over the past week. The essay format is enjoyable and the writing is pretty snappy. Overall pretty interesting based on what I’ve read so far, and I’ve heard it gets into some cool topics later so I’m looking forward to it.

Japanese reading report

This week I decided to focus hard on audiobooks in the hope that I could get ahead of pace again, and as of tonight I’ve finally achieved that goal. There were a lot of them so I won’t go into too much detail.

水族館ガール 1 (11:10, low focus): Not great but I have to admit I zoned out a lot during this one. To a large extent it was a typical “girl learns about a topic” story but at some point the main character finds out she can understand dolphin language and then it takes a weird turn.

うちの家庭教師がグイグイきすぎて勉強どころじゃない!(6:30, med-high focus): Surprisingly entertaining considering what you might imagine based on the title. Guy gets assigned a private tutor because his parents don’t recognize his study ability; said tutor realizes she has nothing to teach him and decides to play videogames in his room all day and generally just be a menace. Her catchphrase こまけに (細かいことを気にするな) is something I plan to adopt for myself.

幼なじみが絶対に負けないラブコメ 4, 5, 6 (24:13 in total, med focus): As I’ve mentioned before, it’s a pretty dumb series. I basically keep it on because it’s incredibly easy to understand and I don’t have to think about what to listen to next.

Anime: I watched one episode of Naruto and the three currently available episodes of 呪術廻戦 S2. It’s a pretty good adaptation so far.

For manga, all I read this week was Gantz vol. 12 and 葬送のフリーレン vol. 7. Gantz is continuing to go further off the rails than even before. 葬送のフリーレン just keeps getting better. Two stories in this volume, 南の勇者 and 秘湯, both had me tearing up, and 好きな場所 was a really cute chapter.

Finally, I’m not sure if I should mention it so early but…I might be starting to play 空の軌跡. I’ve only gotten through the opening series of cutscenes so far but the dialogue is fun. エステル is so funny. I’ve heard good things about the battle system too. Hopefully I can manage to stick with it.

Japanese reading report

My conception of time is way off somehow. I was about to say this week had been really bad, but apparently I read over 120 pages of 本好き 2.3 since my last report so…I guess I scraped by. The latter half of this book introduced a new character who’s more insufferable than anyone who’s come before. So far マイン has a pretty good track record with turning people around, but I don’t know about this guy. I can’t tell what his purpose is going to be and he’s not very fun to read. Oh well. Planning to keep trucking with the series so maybe he’ll get better soon. As usual, this was also an audiobook readalong (10:13, full focus).

I don’t usually mention partially-complete manga volumes but I’ll make an exception in this case. I read almost all of Gantz vol. 12 before leaving my ereader in my mom’s car when she came to visit. I’ll be able to get it back in a couple of days but I was bummed out to have it interrupted. The new cast is fun and the main guy seems to have finally had a bit of actual character growth; taking initiative, showing courage, and showing real care for his girlfriend for the first time since he was dared to start going out with her. Good stuff.

I only watched one episode of Naruto (86). Started a new audiobook about aquariums. Read a bit of some other manga here and there but I’ll cover them in full next week.

Yes, you can “learn kanji”

“Don’t learn kanji, learn words!”

“you can’t ‘learn’ kanji lol”

Hang around in any Japanese-learning community for long enough and you’re guaranteed to see something along these lines. It’s advice that’s inspired by a long history of bad methods, and it’s given sincerely by people who genuinely want to help. It’s also something I happen to strongly disagree with.

Let me explain. I don’t think that the people who say these things, or the motivation behind it, are wrong. But I do think that “learn words, not kanji” is good advice, explained poorly, and that “you can’t learn kanji” is predicated on a bad definition of what it means to learn. I’ve tried to argue my case a number of times, and it never seems to go as well as I would like. This article is my attempt to put my thoughts in order.

If you don’t want to read the whole thing, you can skip down to the summary at the end. However, I would really appreciate if you did read the whole thing, especially if you think you disagree. This is a topic I feel strongly about, and I feel like the very premise itself is fundamentally misunderstood. I’ve put a lot of care into trying to present my case in a way that will make sense, even to people who might completely disagree at first.

I would like to implore anyone reading further to read with an open mind. Be cognizant of the fact that everyone thinks in a different way, and that none of us are wrong — until we try to force our own thought process on another person who is incompatible with it. I’m only writing this article because I’m constantly told my way of learning kanji is invalid by people who don’t seem to even understand it in the first place.

With that out of the way, let’s get into it.

Continue reading →

Japanese reading report

Another pretty packed week of anime. I finished Mashle (ep. 12) and it was okay. Might watch the next season if I don’t have anything better to do. I also watched ep. 56-85 of Naruto and it was a lot of fun. Some of the later episodes at the end of the 我愛羅 arc dragged on a bit but overall I thought it was great. The emotional core of the last part was solid and I think his character was developed really well. Watched a bit more into the next arc as well and it seems to be getting pretty intense.

I read about 80 pages in 本好き 2.3. Fallout from the upset at the end of the last volume has マイン being escorted by a personal guard and the ink industry is out to get her too. It feels a bit directionless at the moment but hopefully it picks up once I pass the halfway point. Planning to finish this one off early this coming week.

Three volumes of manga; Gantz 10 and 11, and 無能なナナ vol. 11 (!). Gantz abruptly shifted gears to introduce a couple of other characters out of nowhere but they’re being incorporated into the story now and I’m guessing they’ll probably join the regular lineup. Each one has something that makes them feel like they’d make things…interesting… if forced to work together so hopefully it turns out the way I’m expecting.

無能なナナ never misses. This volume was great. A really poignant backstory at the beginning; a nice self-contained mystery with good characters in the middle; a huge reveal at the end. Next volume confirmed for spring 2024…泣くしかあるまい

Played a bit more Zelda…had I finished the Zora temple last week? I guess not. I have now!

Japanese reading report

I watched a lot of Naruto this week. 39 episodes spread across four workdays. I’m really enjoying it now. 桜’s inner voice (しゃーんなろ!) is great and her “イメチェン” moment felt like a really good character beat. The one-on-one training arc had a lot of fun moments (I laughed out during a fight with 影真似の術­) and the matches with 日向 and リー were both very hype. The current arc with 自来也 (I knew what his name would be right away) is a bit irritating with all the pervert hijinks but it also seems to be getting pretty serious.

I only read one (full) volume of manga this week; Gantz vol. 9. Our boy keeps on being the worst guy ever to live and yet he somehow gets all the ladies.

Played quite a bit more Zelda. I’ve lit up the whole map at this point and I’m partway through my first temple. I’ve been reading the dialogues aloud which makes things more fun and feels like good practice.

Finally, read about 50 pages of 本好き 2.3. I fell a bit behind schedule on this one but I expect to finish it well ahead of schedule in the end so I’m not too worried. It seems like movable type might be in the near future! マイン has been approached by an acquaintance who’s been told “his metalwork is too fine to be useful” and I can only imagine she’s going to put his particular skills to use. There might also be trouble brewing among the ink 工房 over new advances in ink production.

Japanese reading report

This week was fairly heavily focused on anime, and I decided to bite the bullet and increase my goal from 365 episodes this year (which I was well ahead of schedule on) to 730 (which I’m now just a bit behind on). I watched ep. 11 of Mashle, all 11 episodes of ダンス・ダンス・ダンスール, and the first 13 episodes (1/50th!) of Naruto.

Naruto definitely feels like a show from the 90s, which is interesting considering that it started in 2002. The first few episodes felt like a straight gag format but it took a more serious turn pretty early. Not sure how I feel about it yet but at least it’s very easy to understand. ダンス・ダンス・ダンスール was excellent and I wish I hadn’t put it off for so long. Really good characterizations and some beautiful animation at times. I particularly liked the part where the main guy improvs a ballet routine and is essentially told “you have talent, so go do some other kind of dancing because ballet doesn’t want your creativity” and then takes that opportunity to get serious rather than bucking the system and trying to do it his own way.

I read the last 114 pages of 本好き 2.2 and it was pretty nice. The first epilogue had a really sweet moment which made it very clear how much マイン has grown since the start of the series. This was a readalong as well (12:18). I started on the next book but haven’t really “read” any yet (the first day’s pages were accounted for just by the table of contents etc.

More Zelda, doing a bunch of quests and taking pictures of things (and reading their descriptions) now that I have the camera.

Finally, my one manga this week was Flying Witch 12. Honestly this whole volume was a drag. There were some moments that had me laughing but it took forever to read just because I wasn’t very motivated.

Japanese reading report

Another pretty balanced week. Got some anime, some manga, and some novel/audiobook.

Manga: 僕のヒーローアカデミア vol. 38. I simultaneously felt like it was all over the place and getting too busy, and that it was doing a good job of bringing in characters from all across the series to get their time to shine in the final battle. Plotwise it didn’t feel like much happened here. I think the entire volume covers about 15 minutes of elapsed time. Still fun and had a fair number of “hell yeah” moments.

Also 光が死んだ夏 vol. 3. Fun to see best girl 朝子 on the cover and taking a central role all of a sudden. I do feel like this volume lacked a bit of the tension that I like about the series but it’s still quite good.

I watched anime during work most days this week and ended up with a total of 24 episodes. Finished My Home Hero (pretty good ending, interested to read more) and この爆 (actually kind of a weak final episode imo but still funny). Finally wrapped up Trigun Stampede and thought it felt kind of flat; not bad I guess but it didn’t live up to the hype for me. Also watched all of 魔法使いの嫁 S2 (some good moments but not nearly as good as the first season) and the first ten episodes of of Mashle (funny overall but I can’t tell why it’s such a phenomenon every time a new volume launches.

Only had two good reading days on 本好き 2.2 but it’s going alright. Gonna try and finish it this coming week. The part I thought was most interesting was just that マイン tries to turn Cinderella into a book and everyone thinks it’s a dumb story that would never work in real life. Just kind of funny to think that a fantasy story would be less realistic when it’s being told in a fantasy setting.

Also more Zelda but not much of note.

Japanese reading report

This week ended up being pretty cleanly segregated into three media “eras”. The first few days of the week were all anime, then all manga, then the last were spent entirely on reading my next novel.

For anime: I finished ノラガミ ARAGOTO (ep. 4-13) which I’d forgotten about a few months ago. The first season was only okay for me but I liked the end of this one a lot. Cool character developments and a really good redemption/twist that turned a very cool antagonist into an ally in a believable way. Also watched the latest two episodes of この爆 and the latest My Home Hero — I’m not sure if the last moment of the episode was a fakeout but if not it’s a pretty bold move. Either way looking forward to what comes next.

For manga I read vol. 2, 3, and 4 of 新しいきみへ and enjoyed them even more than the (very good) first volume. I wasn’t sure if this one was still running and I was pleased to find out that it is. Vol. 3 has a paradigm shift that feels somewhat obvious in retrospect but struck me by surprise and I’m very curious to see where things go from here.

I thought it might be fun to blast through a novel in a day or two and ultimately ran out of stamina about halfway through, but it was still a pretty good attack. 191 pages of 本好きの下剋上 vol. 2.2, which puts me just over halfway through the book. I’ll probably be finishing the rest at a more leisurely pace over a week or two. Myne is due to become an older sister and decides to make a picture book (based on the holy scriptures of course) to instill a love of reading in her new sibling, new developments in the italian restaurant and library classification system, and apparently it’s time for a disruption in the gallnut ink market.