Japanese reading report

I started off the week by finishing わたしの幸せな結婚, which I believe only took me another day or two since my last report. The last chapter didn’t really accomplish anything major in terms of story but it did wrap everything up nicely. There are more books in the series but apparently it was originally written to be standalone, so I don’t think I’ll run right out to continue it. I liked the ending and didn’t feel like it needed to continue.

Early in the week I read vol. 1 of 進撃の巨人, since I ended up binging all of season 4 (using english subtitles with my sister so it doesn’t count) and was VERY disappointed in the production quality and needed to cope. I’ve been planning to read through the whole series at some point so this was as good a kickoff as any. I learned a new grammar point (feels like a really long time since that happened), てまで, which I was able to figure out by context but later looked up out of curiosity only to find that it’s considered to be N2, not N1 as I expected.

Throughout the week I read up to chapter 3 of 異世界食堂, which is going pretty smoothly when I can find the motivation to read it. For whatever reason I’m just having trouble setting aside time for it. It’s been so long since I saw the anime that I totally forgot some of the nonsense they get up to — like writing 杯 and giving it furigana meant to represent the language of the person whose perspective is currently in use, or just completely using a made-up word to refer to “onions”.

I finally got around to 戦隊大失格 vol. 1, which is the new series from 春場ねぎ(五等分の花嫁)and I’m liking it a lot so far. The basic premise is that some alien invaders came to earth and got rebuffed by the local Sentai troupe…who cut them a deal of “if you agree to keep this up, we won’t completely wipe you out”. So the current arrangement is that the invaders are stuck on earth, unable to leave and forced to participate in a perfunctory battle every Sunday afternoon, while the “Dragon Keeper” Sentai squad prop themselves up into a huge media empire. The main character (an invader who’s gotten sick of all the song and dance) goes undercover to infiltrate the Keepers and ends up falling in with two unlikely allies(?); a girl who wants to topple the Keeper empire because the battles are boring, and a guy who dreams of a world where humans and the invaders can live in peace. I’m kind of getting Spy Family vibes with the whole “playing both sides” angle and the writing has been really fun so far. Looking forward to continuing the series.

Today I (re)watched five episodes of 四月は君の嘘, which I think I got about halfway through a long time ago (with subtitles). Planning to watch the whole series over the next week if I can. It’s been pretty smooth; even the more technical lingo associated with the music industry has all turned out to be stuff I learned a long time ago from 響け!ユーフォニアム.

Finally, I finished ending A of Nier Replicant with a total of 23 hours (my estimate last week was way off). I’m going to count this towards my goal of five games cleared this year, and will count the other endings as one additional game collectively if I decide to finish them. From playing Automata I know there’s going to be a lot of extra content past the original ending, but honestly this game never really grabbed me and I thought the whole final act was pretty bad.

Japanese reading report

This week was incredibly rough. I was really busy with work for most of the week, which was made worse by the fact that I also spent about five hours driving when I really couldn’t spare the time. I badly need to come up with a way to read on the road (maybe I should start collecting audiobooks).

At the beginning of the week I did manage to put some time into Nier: Replicant, which I also played a bit of a few weeks ago and forgot to mention here. It’s a fun game and mostly pretty easy to understand. There were a few sections that were supposed to be in a “dream world” that was made entirely of words (where the screen fades to black and you just read for a while). I think I have about 30 hours at this point, but most of that was not from this week.

My new ereader came in on Tuesday and I broke it in with ホリミヤ vol. 1, which I read in an afternoon. Since I watched the anime already a good amount of it was review, but there were also some scenes that didn’t get adapted. Cmoa had a big points-back promotion going on so I went ahead and grabbed the rest of the series.

The rest of the week was mostly spent on the road, working, and helping friends move. I stole a few moments for わたしの幸せな結婚 here and there when I could manage it, and just finished chapter four a few minutes ago (just one more to go). This last chapter was pretty exciting and it’s gearing up to be a satisfying ending. By some kind of coincidence the only words I’ve had to look up have had furigana on them; learned a few cool ones that way.

Finally, I spent this afternoon watching ep. 50-60 of 進撃の巨人, which finishes off my rewatch of the first three seasons. Not a lot to really report on but I did have a moment where I forgot I was listening to Japanese and that’s always fun.

Japanese reading report

This week my beloved ereader suddenly bit the dust, which really threw a wrench into my routine. I was able to read a tiny bit of わたしの幸せな結婚, but it was so little that I really don’t have anything to say on that front. I’ll have a new one in the next few days; very much looking forward to getting back to it.

I did manage to get some manga reading done on an epub reader on my phone (here’s hoping I never have to do that again). I read あせとせっけん vol. 1, which was actually a real surprise. I grabbed the first few volumes (free) a while ago but never got around to reading it because the premise is so weird…the two main characters are a girl who sweats a lot and a guy who makes soap for a living; she really likes his soap and he uh…likes the way she smells and wants to use her as inspiration for his work? I never would have actually read it based on that description, but I heard from a friend of mine that it actually turns into a really cute romance so I decided to give it a shot and ended up liking it quite a bit. I’ll probably read the next two volumes before deciding whether to actually continue the series (the final volume apparently released just this week).

I watched 進撃の巨人 ep. 28-49 (about nine hours). Not a whole lot to say here. There were a few expository moments where I was fully expecting to just sort of zone out but accidentally found myself understanding what was going on, which is always nice. Also watched a few episodes of ホリミヤ but I’m only giving it honorable mention — since I’m watching it with my sister we’re using english subs, but the combination of tiny Hulu subs + my terrible eyesight actually meant that I was able to totally ignore them much of the time. Not something I’ll be getting in the habit of though.

This morning I read a little of 異世界食堂, which is the last physical book on my current backlog. It was totally impenetrable when I tried to read it a year or two ago, and aside from a few new words it’s effortless now. Progress feels good.

Japanese reading report

This week I kept on reading わたしの幸せな結婚, reaching about 70% and finishing the third of five chapters. I’m still enjoying it quite a lot. The story is developing in nice ways and the writing style is still really enjoyable. I’ve come across a decent number of katakana words at this point but it still seems like the tendency is to stick with native words wherever possible — I’m also noticing that it uses patterns like このような rather than こんな. Just interesting to see how the style helps to evoke the old-fashioned setting.

I put ジョジョの奇妙な冒険 on hold since my sister started watching 進撃の巨人 and I’ve been planning to rewatch it for some time now. I watched 27 episodes (about 10 hours), almost finishing up the second season. There were a definitely some points where I got lost in a tangle of sino words but fortunately I have a good amount of the manga piled up so I was able to cross-reference some stuff that gave me trouble. I honestly forgot just how much I enjoyed this show when watching it originally and it’s really fun to revisit it.

I wasn’t planning to read any manga this week but I noticed this morning that とつくにの少女 had put out a new volume without me noticing (and finished the series too!) so I grabbed that and quickly read through it. The previous volume left me kind of confused and unsatisfied, but this one cleared up some unanswered questions and also brought the story to a very sweet conclusion.

Japanese reading report

This week I spent basically all of my free time reading わたしの幸せな結婚. I honestly picked this one up just based on the cover art and the fact that it was a best-seller that I had never heard of. I’m about 40% of the way through now and I can easily see why it was so popular. I’ve heard it described as “Meiji-era Cinderella” and that’s not a bad description but it’s definitely an oversimplification. The two main characters are really great; he doesn’t believe in love (having spent his adult life being pursued for his wealth and status) and she doesn’t believe herself worthy of love (having spent her entire life being treated as a slave). Both of them are wrong, of course, and the development has been really sweet. It reminds me a bit of ねねね in some ways, which was a nice surprise.

I also watched 19 episodes of ジョジョの奇妙な冒険 part 4. As always, not a lot to say here.

Book review: 雷の季節の終わりに (When the Thunder Season ends)

This one was weird. After enjoying 夜市 and 秋の牢獄 as much as I did, I was super excited to read a full-length novel in the same style. The title had me intrigued from the moment I saw it, and I’ve had it on my shelf for almost a year now, and now that I’ve finally gotten around to reading it, I was surprised to find that I didn’t like it as much as I expected to. That’s not to say it’s a bad book, by any means, just that perhaps I had set the bar a bit too high.

The titular “thunder season” is a phenomenon unique to the town that the book focuses on, a remote Japanese village called 穏 (meaning something like “quiet” or “peaceful”). Of course that name is a complete lie: during the Thunder Season, demons roam the streets as the locals lock themselves in their homes; people go missing and that’s “just the way it is”. The book largely follows one character who has two people close to him go missing in this way, and as he starts to look into what actually happened to them, he stumbles into one mystery after the other.

The story is told from three perspectives (comprising about 50%, 40%, and 10% each) and they tie together in a satisfying and engaging way. I somewhat frequently see criticism about 恒川光太郎’s reliance on flashbacks to resolve twists, and I think the approach of weaving together multiple different stories (each one setting up or paying off for one of the others) is a great way to accomplish the same goal without bringing the whole thing to a screeching halt.

Ironically, I think the thing I was most looking forward to — the format switch — is actually the thing that weakened the whole experience. The momentum felt wildly inconsistent, with interesting story developments being punctuated with sections that just dragged on and sort of killed my motivation to keep reading. Thinking back, the parts that stuck in my memory were all enjoyable and well-written, so my overall opinion of the book is still good. I do feel like it could have done with a bit of fat-trimming, but perhaps if my reading speed was better I wouldn’t have gotten bogged down so much.

In any case, I would still recommend this book and will definitely be continuing to follow the author’s work in the future.

Japanese reading report

This week I finished 雷の季節の終わりに, one day ahead of schedule. Overall impression of the book is that it’s good but not great; my enjoyment of 夜市 and 秋の牢獄 was very consistent whereas this one had highs (where I would get swept along and read over my daily quota) and lows (where I had trouble finding motivation to put in my time). Fortunately it ended on a high. Will be writing up a full review on that a little later.

I also read ゆるキャン vol. 4, which also means I’m caught up with season 1 of the anime. Not really a lot to say here I guess. I always enjoy this series but it’s rarely a source of new words etc.

Watched episodes 26-48 of ジョジョの奇妙な冒険, finishing up part 3. Never heard so many instances of わい in my entire life.

Japanese reading report

Actually got quite a lot of reading done this week. I think I’ve finally gotten back into the swing of balancing my Japanese input with my work schedule after not having to worry about it for a while now.

First thing I did was finish シャドーハウス vol. 2 (didn’t actually finish it last week after all). I really enjoyed it but darn it’s not anything like I originally expected. It’s starting to remind me of what I’ve heard about 約束のネバーランド, which is unexpected. I don’t think I’d be able to continue if anything bad happened to the main characters.

I watched 20 episodes of ジョジョの奇妙な冒険, 5-25. I’ve actually reached a point where my memory is a lot hazier and the last few episodes have been almost totally unfamiliar, so I’m gratified that I can still keep up with what’s going on (especially considering that most of this was done on my second monitor while I was working and I couldn’t give it my full attention). For some reason I always assumed this series would be really hard to follow and it’s nice that that’s not the case.

I also watched about six hours of a vtuber called 微睡みうと streaming 大逆転裁判. I’d like to play this game myself so I think I’m going to hold off on watching anymore until I catch up. It’s a cool way to get voiceover for a game that doesn’t have it, though it was pretty funny when she choked on the pronunciation of 総天然色. The game is set a good hundred years ago so there are some outdated terms I’m sure. One that tripped me up for ages was 写真(ほとがらひい)which I couldn’t find any definition for…until it was pointed out to me that it was just the word “photography” rendered awkwardly, and in hiragana no less!

I stayed mostly on track with 雷の季節の終わりに, putting me maybe one chapter from the end. If I read ten pages per day for the upcoming week I’ll still finish by the end of the month, so that’s my new target. The threads that were being gathered last week have come all the way together at this point, and it’s left me wondering if there’s anything else (which I didn’t ascribe much importance to at first) that might be tied in as well. One standout kanji moment was seeing 幌 for the first time outside of the word 札幌! Fortunately that makes the reading really easy to remember. I also came across 微睡み shortly after learning it from the mouse vtuber’s name, which is always fun.

At the end of the week I picked up 東京都立呪術高等専門学校, aka 呪術廻戦 0. It’s basically a oneshot that served as the “pilot episode” for the main series, and was re-published as a prequel at some point. Quite enjoyed it; it works quite well as either a standalone work or for fans of the main series. Finishing this volume brings me to the 50% point of my yearly manga goal, two months early.

Lastly, I took a gamble on the US release of Nier: Replicant including Japanese text (like Automata) and it paid off! I got it on release day aka yesterday and have only played about four hours so far but I’m planning to keep at it. So far it’s pretty standard fantasy stuff, nothing too crazy. A little archaic grammar here and there but nothing I can’t handle. One fun thing to note: seeing 敬う here literally an hour after I also saw it in 呪術廻戦 0. I’ve apparently looked it up before but these kinds of coincidences usually help things stick really well.

Japanese reading report

Whoops, almost let the day go by without posting my report.

Had some tough days this week between my new job and some overall fatigue and let a couple of days go by without reading 雷の季節の終わりに at all, but I managed to hit a flow state for the past few days and got caught up again. The two storylines have started to converge I think? There’s been some good development lately both in terms of characters and also the setting itself. I might try and read at a faster pace and finish it up this week. As much as I’ve been perpetually having trouble sitting down with this book, it does go pretty smoothly once I’ve started.

The only manga I’ve read this week was シャドーハウス vol. 1 and about half of vol. 2 (will be finishing it as I fall asleep). I actually grabbed this a while ago but had let it sit on the backlog until a friend of mine mentioned that it was getting an anime adaptation this season. It’s swinging crazily between cute and creepy and I can see some interesting potential in some of the ideas they’ve hinted at. Really enjoying myself with it so far.

Watched ep. 22-26 and (moving on to part 3) 1-4 of ジョジョの奇妙な冒険. Still not much to say about it. I’m understanding it pretty well (much better than I’ve always anticipated) but it’s always hard to say how much of that is based on my memory of the subbed version.

Japanese reading report

At the beginning of the week, I kept making headway through my backlog with 大きくなったら、結婚する! vol. 1 and からかい上手の高木さん vol. 4 back to back. I actually picked the former up almost exactly a year ago and shelved it because it doesn’t have much furigana, but this time it was nice and easy (always a nice feeling). I’ll probably keep reading it pretty soon; it’s cute and there aren’t too many volumes out yet.

Right after this, I started reading うちの師匠はしっぽがない vol. 1, which I’ve been curious about for a long time now but was always too intimidated by. All in all it went pretty smoothly aside from a few 落語 sections. 大阪弁 is pretty neat and not too different from what I’ve heard spoken in Kyoto, so that was fun. Definitely planning to continue it in the future. I read this one over the rest of the week, about a chapter per night as I was falling asleep.

I had a terrible time staying on schedule with 雷の季節の終わりに again, despite really enjoying it by this point…I missed two days and had to make up the difference today. A little behind schedule now but I’m past the halfway point which always feels good.

Watched ep. 15-21 of ジョジョの奇妙な冒険. Not a ton to say, just truckin’ along.

Finally, today I read からかい上手の(元)高木さん vol. 3. I’m surprised I don’t see it recommended more often as a beginner manga. It’s super easy and quite adorable and barely has any surprise N1 西片 monologues at all.