As confessed before, I use google translator. It’s a strangely comfy position to hold the manga in my left hand while the right hand is typing. But what I do is that I type in specific kanji and fragments of sentences. In this way I’m getting a feel of the structure, looking at google’s output, where they separate the syllables, adding kana from around the fragment in question or removing them. Eventually I would take those kanji / kana to jigo or ichi, but so far the meaning on the page was too obvious to miss.
So what I do is typing one word at a time, trying out combinations, and thereby getting an idea of the structure and the vocab in use. I see how the translation of larger sections is usually imprecise, but it’s enough for me to get an idea what is inside the sentence in order to come up with my own translation. With @MrGeneric 's words in mind, I observed how I actually shy away from typing in too much text, because then I couldn’t relate anymore between the translation and the source text. I think the largest combination was two words plus two particles at a time.
I’d call this my easy mode. Getting a feel of the text and preparing kanji and vocab for looking up later. I see now why the deciphering and transcribing is stressed so often in this thread, because to really get a full comprehension of how the grammar bends and shapes the meaning of the words I’d need to look up all things involved. Then I’d be overwhelmed, and probably spent hours pouring over the arcana of the first page.
Personally I still think this approach works for me, my current level and the intentions I’ve joined this book club with. It won’t suffice for more complex or exotic sentences, but should still give me the means to dig into earnest research when the need arises. Not because I don’t want to learn grammar at all, but because I’m putting that sort of effort into studying Genki, not closing a chapter until I know every grammar point by heart. I look for making Manga reading a different tool for training a different set of skills, something in approximation of “developing a routine for everyday Japanese”. I want to chat and browse like I used to when starting out on English back in the day, eventually.
I apologize for sharing so much with you in this thread and hope it doesn’t go too far. Writing is my go-to tool for reflecting my methods and hypotheses, and here are people who showed genuine interest in diversity of mind and in guiding beginners like me on their way. Any resonance, feedback or advice is going to have a strong, shaping impact on how I teach myself to learn in this phase, and is therefore much appreciated. Thank you all!