Japanese reading report

This week was pretty slow unfortunately. I’m still technically ahead of pace for my yearly goals but since I’ve been reading so much lately it feels like I slacked off.

The first thing I read was ヨコハマ買い出し紀行 vol. 2, which was pretty quick and easy. The most difficult part was definitely a chapter where two of the (elderly) characters are having a flashback to their youth, which seemed to shift their dialect into overdrive. There’s quite a lot of weirdly affected speech in this manga actually — just as one example, one of the main characters practically never pronounces the first “n” sound of any word, so he’ll say something like あんで instead of なんで. It’s pretty interesting and fortunately most of the time I don’t have a problem with it.

Kept up to date with the 夜市 book club. This week’s section ended on a cliffhanger that actually fits with a prediction I made last week, along the lines of “don’t eat the food in fairyland”. Looking forward to seeing what happens next.

Throughout the week I read 女神異聞録ペルソナ vol. 5 in bits and pieces, mostly while I was falling asleep. Over halfway done with the series now. Nothing too new to say about it except that the characters continue to grow on me and I definitely see why people like them so much.

Played just a little of Persona 4, only three in-game days (bringing me up to 5/26). Not much to go into detail about, just knocking out social links and sidequests.

Japanese reading report

This week I prioritized Persona 4 and 大図書館の羊飼い, spending a minimum of 30 minutes per day in each. I’ve reached 5/23 in the former, though much of that was spent in the dungeon, which took up a lot of time over the course of just one in-game day. In the latter, we’ve cleared the first major story beat and established a library club of sorts, plus introduced a new character. Both have been going pretty smoothly.

Stayed current with 夜市 this week as well. The tone of this story is definitely a bit darker than the last one and the setting is super well-established. Fun word that stuck out to me this time: 竹林, which came up a few times before I bothered checking the dictionary; it’s pretty obvious that it means “bamboo grove” but I wouldn’t have expected ちくりん as the reading.

Throughout the week I read 女神異聞録ペルソナ vol. 4. There were a few points where I felt like it needed a few more panels to ease a transition, but not too bad. I don’t usually translate in my head as I read but I keep finding myself doing it here…based on my limited experience, the English scanlation is pretty bad and I keep wondering if I could do a better job.

Next up was 鬼滅の刃 vol. 21, which just came out the other day. 鬼舞辻無惨 is always a great character to read because he uses a lot of old language. He used a kanji I’d never seen before in 餓える (かつえる), which was then reinforced a few pages later with 餓鬼, which was a great “aha!” moment since I knew about that particular type of youkai from playing Nioh. Also came across や否や, one of my recently-studied N1 grammar points. Really really enjoyed this volume.

Finally, I read ヨコハマ買い出し紀行 vol. 1, which was a nomination for the next book in the wanikani intermediate book club — the idea being that it’s not too hard to read but it could be read at a faster pace than normal. Well, I blazed through the sample pages and decided I wouldn’t want to pace myself, so I read the whole book in about an hour. Really wholesome 癒やし系 type manga with nice art. I’m definitely going to keep reading it.

Japanese reading report

This week was super productive. I hit all my normal goals and then some.

For manga, I read 女神異聞録ペルソナ vol. 3, which keeps getting better. They introduced some interesting parallel world stuff which is certainly shaping up to elevate the plot, which seemed pretty standard up to this point. Next up was 阿波連さんははかれない vol. 3, which was as hilarious as ever. Also read とつくにの少女 vol. 3 and wished I had the next volume ready to go so I could move on right away — while it’s light on dialogue the art style is just fantastic and the stakes have suddenly gone up a lot. I remember having trouble with this one on the first volume but it was the easiest one I read this week, so maybe sometime soon I’ll grab the next six volumes and read them all over the course of a week to get caught up. Finally, since I needed something to read while falling asleep for the last two nights, I read 甘々と稲妻 vol. 8. Had to look up a decent amount of food vocab this time around — fortunately all of them were new words though. It’s surprising sometimes just how well a lot of cooking terms have stuck in my memory despite the fact that I haven’t been seeing them too much lately.

Kept up to date with the Wanikani book club on 夜市. We’re actually into a story called 風の古道, which features a different setting, different characters, and even a different perspective, switching from third- to first-person. Compared to the lat story, this one seems like it might be a little scarier based on the hints that have been dropped so far. Still reading it pretty easily, though I’ve learned some oddball words like 小便小僧 that I definitely had to look up in order to get what was going on.

Continued playing Persona 4. Last week I left off at 4/18 and today it’s 5/7. Definitely taking this at a more leisurely pace than P5, but since I can bring my Vita anywhere the pressure to finish it in a hurry is off. I never noticed in the English version, but pretty much all the teachers in this game have super thick country accents or other quirky ways of speaking.

Also read a bit more of 大図書館の羊飼い. I’ve heard that visual novels are super difficult and while I can’t say that this one is really all that bad, it does have quite a lot of vocabulary I haven’t seen before (fortunately no unfamiliar grammar, so it’s not too hard to look stuff up). A few cool phrases that stuck out to me: 溺れる者は藁をもつかむ, 三十六計逃げるに如かず, 虫の知らせ, 黄泉の国. It took long enough but by the point I left off we had finally made it to the titular library and met a handful of characters.

It’s been a good long while since I’ve been to the gym, so 響け!ユーフォニアム has been on hiatus (it used to be the show I would watch while on the treadmill). I decided to pick it back up and watched two more episodes. Still following along with subs2srs but it seems like I’ve been catching more than I used to, so my review workload is lower. Also watched an episode of 魔法使いの嫁. I read the first couple of volumes in English a long time ago and I’ve been meaning to get back to it, but since I don’t want to buy the manga right away I figured I’d start watching the show. Started going through it with subs2srs but I know they use a decent amount of made-up fantasy words so I’m not going to stress about it too much.

Japanese reading report

Putting in my report early this week since I’ll have guests over the weekend and probably won’t get a chance to read much.

First up, I finished vol. 2 of 女神異聞録ペルソナ after running out of time to finish it last week. Now that the base cast has been established they’ve been introducing new characters and they keep impressing. One scene in particular features the newest member shocking the entire party by his ability to avoid fighting demons by negotiating with them, which is basically just an excuse to drop in a bunch of heinous puns.

This week’s chunk of 夜市 actually brings the titular story to a close with half of the book still remaining. When I realized this was published by the Kadokawa horror imprint it set me up to expect some pretty awful developments, but in the end it was more akin to the kind of philosophical emptiness that that Twilight Zone usually instills. I liked it quite a lot and I’ll be looking forward to how the next story plays out (based on a quick skim of the first page it seems to be quite different from the get-go).

I also read vol. 9 of Flying Witch, which I was very excited to get (it’s a monthly manga so we only get a new volume about every ten months). There were lots of opportunities to pick up new words through context alone, which is always fun. Picked up a new grammar point, がてら, which appears in my N1 新完全マスター grammar book. There were quite a few good chapters in here; in one, Makoto’s mini mandrakes are causing hilarious mischief and a new character from America is introduced, leading to a few pages of very broken English until it’s revealed that she can speak Japanese too. Interestingly, both of the manga I read this week used horizontal text to indicate when characters were speaking a foreign language that was being translated into Japanese for the benefit of the reader. There was also a chapter featuring the samurai ghost Okada, who was much easier to understand this time than when I first met him in the last volume.

I also jumped on the Persona 4 train, though I’m actually picking up from an old save on my Vita rather than the new Steam release. Some friends of mine are starting to play it in English so I figured I’d follow along and get some practice in. Most of my time this week was spent idly grinding to get a good set of personas for the Yukiko fight so it was a bit light on actual reading, but worth mentioning I think.

Japanese reading report

This week was pretty busy so I wasn’t able to quite meet all of my goals (at least at the time of writing; I’ll probably wrap up another one before the end of the day).

First up, I did finally finish Persona 5: Royal. The post-game content was really really good and I’m happy to report I was able to follow along with all of it (and then later discuss the ending with some friends and make sure I hadn’t missed anything major). Very very happy with the way everything wrapped up; it was down to the wire with a few social links but I did manage to do a 100% coop, all-missions-clear run so I’m satisfied that I saw as much content as possible. On that note, I’m pretty sure that over the course of this game I’ve seen every grammar point I’ve learned to date, plus a bunch of new ones and a ton of new vocabulary. I was especially tickled to see ~わ~わで for the first time in the wild after learning about it ages ago.

I launched immediately into 大図書館の羊飼い, which I’d bought almost a year ago but had dropped pretty quickly due to the immediate onslaught of difficult material. I’ve been holding off on visual novels until I can read them without too much difficulty (and without any kind of external tools, since all my VNs are for Switch and PS Vita). This time around it was much better and I think I’ll stick with it at a leisurely pace.

I read about half of 女神異聞録ペルソナ vol. 2. The characters are great and I really like the art style. Not knowing much about Persona 1 and 2, some of the plot developments so far have been kind of surprising and I can definitely see how this was sort of prior to the series finding what made it distinct from mainline SMT.

Finally, I read all but one page of the allotted chunk of 夜市 from the Wanikani book club. A pretty major development has just taken place and it’s gone into a sort of flashback mode. This upcoming week will wrap up the first story in the book so I’m looking forward to seeing how everything comes together.

Honorable mention: finished the last two sidequests in Persona 5: Scramble, which I had been sitting on for a while (a high-difficulty repeat of the final battle, plus a fight against the Reaper), which unlocked a super cute cutscene with Lavenza and brought the post-game content to a close. Loading this clear save allows for a proper NG+ mode along with a new extreme difficulty, which I briefly tried only to die in two hits in the pregame sample battle. I’ll probably go back to it in the future but for now I’m calling it quits.

Read fast and skip things

This post originally appeared as a comment on the WaniKani forums

Reading broadly, rather than reading deeply, is what helped me the most when I was first starting out.

Let’s say in your reading, you come to a page that has 10 sentences:

  • Four sentences are completely comprehensible. They contain vocab and grammar you’ve studied, or they’re just common phrases that you’ve seen many times in the wild.
  • Three sentences are i+1. You know almost all the words and can infer the last one by context, or there’s some new grammar that you’ve brushed with before, and it’s just about to click into place.
  • Three sentences are incomprehensible. There’s some unfamiliar slang, a weird pronunciation, or a bothersome 和製英語 that’s going to send you off on a wild goose chase.

That’s a decent mix of difficulty and if you sat down and dug into everything, you’d certainly come away with more knowledge. But let’s simulate what might actually happen:

  • You open up your manga and the first sentence you read is easy. Things are going well.
  • The very next line is incomprehensible. You pull out your dictionary, search around on the internet to see if there’s some new grammar point that would help…but it takes a while because honestly, you’re not even confident in what you need to be looking up. If you’re determined to understand everything you come across, maybe your reading session actually ends here because you run out of time or get frustrated.
  • But what a shame! The third sentence is i+1 and you would have understood it with just a fraction of the effort you just spent on the last one. To make matters worse, this sentence actually provides valuable context that immediately clears up any confusion you would have had – a character “pronounces” (in kana) an unknown word that had been written in kanji, and now you suddenly recognize it; or an ambiguous construction is suddenly clear because of context that wasn’t available yet.

Obviously this is a contrived example and it won’t always be the case that every difficult sentence will be followed by one that holds the key to unlocking its meaning. But here’s the thing: in each of these scenarios, it’s the third, the i+1 sentence, that provides the greatest learning boost. For my money, reading should be all about seeking out those moments. If you get bogged down by difficult sentences, you’ll be encountering i+1 material less often simply by virtue of the fact that you’ll have less overall coverage.

I’m a firm proponent of skipping stuff you don’t understand. Pick your battles of course; some words will be easy to look up, and if you run into multiple incomprehensible sentences in a row it’s probably a good idea to slow down so you don’t get lost. Overall though, I find that the more reading you do (not merely the more time you spend reading), the better.

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.