ちいさな森のオオカミちゃん ・ The Wolf of the Small Forest book club! 🌳 (Absolute Beginner Book Club)

Right they’re with you! I’m wrapping up chapter 6, and everything I’ve tried to read is still way over my head, but I feel like I really want to try a book club to see if it helps me get through.

I’ve never read a manga before, not even in English so this should be an interesting experience.


Btw, @ChristopherFritz, since you liked my polls - feel free to take as much or as little from my first-week post as well: ルリドラゴン ・ Ruri Dragon 🐲 Week 1 - #2 by TobiasW

I feel like especially the FAQ is nice. (But I might be biased, because I wrote most of it myself :wink: )


Hello everyone, hello again. It’s been nearly 2 months since my last post. I haven’t touched anything Japanese at all in 2 months. Things are still not good in my personal life, I doubt I’ll be able to do anything close to what I was doing before in the first few weeks of ルリドラゴン, which is a pity, as I really enjoyed that time. However, I do plan to just read this manga this time around. I absolutely will not have time for transcribing every line and translating it. I have 1600 reviews in WK to catch up on, many of which will necessitate re-reading the kanji/vocab readings and meanings over and over again till I get it. So, my plan is to just do the readings, and pop my head in to say I did it. The biggest skill I’m still trying to grow accustomed to both with japanese and life itself is that snail-slow progress will always be better than no progress at all. Showing up for 5 minutes a day is better than 0. I’ve more to say on that at a later stage.

Suffice it to say that this long post is my way of saying hello again, and I missed you all. I did truly appreciate all the help y’all gave me with each of my translations. ありがとうございます❤️


Hey there! Glad you decided to come back to what you enjoy, and consider a little bit every day as sufficient. :slight_smile: I try to avoid giving un-asked for advice, but it just so happens that concerning the reviews I was in a similar situation about four weeks ago. I hadn’t done any Japanese in a year and even stopped my WK subscription during that time.

I just want to let you know how I reduced them to zero.

  1. I adjusted my WK settings to order the reviews by difficulty, lowest first.
  2. I avoided preparations and just did the reviews.
  3. I discovered the little “wrap up” button during reviews to the left below the input field.

I kept it at 10 to 20 reviews at a time and was surprised just how many things I still remembered. Made many burns that way, too. In that way, it became a pleasant routine, and the number of reviews boiled down in no time. Doing three or four brief review sessions a day was way more relaxed than forcing myself to do 100 reviews in one go. That worked for me and I hope it may be helpful for you, too.

Don’t go too hard on yourself, and take care. :slight_smile:


That’s good advice. Also don’t ever worry about giving unsolicited advice, it’s inherently helpful. It’s like holding the door open to someone, you aren’t doing anything wrong if they don’t appreciate it.


Thanks! I had given up on being able to join the club as I really prefer reading physical copies. I normally order from Verasia for EU but they couldn’t get it (it’s out of print), and my amazon.co.jp doesn’t work anymore. But Manga Republic still had it, hooray! Fingers crossed it comes in the next week, but at least I can start the club with the Bookwalker Ch 1 preview.


I’m curious, what do you mean by this? From time to time, amazon will ask you to log in from the actual country you are pretending to occupy. Could it be that this is what’s going on? Because that’s easily solvable by using a vpn.


ah ok, that’s helpful, thank you.

I just tried logging in, and it told me something didn’t look right so it wanted me to do a verification (getting the code through email. When I tried logging back in with the verification code it locked me out and said I would have to phone someone to get it unlocked. It didn’t say I had to be in Japan, but you’re probably right, perhaps with a VPN that wouldn’t have happened. I had made one order without a VPN just fine last year.

I’ve not used a VPN before, but maybe at some point I’ll have to do that

Yeah, that’s I think the location check message, mine said something along the lines of “try emailing us if xyz”. To me this happened when I was on vacation abroad, amazon probably detected that I went out of the country and not even “”“back”“” to Japan. In my case, using a free, ad riddled vpn from the app store and then deleting it immediately after was the solution, and it might be for you as well.

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good tip, thanks so much, I’ll try that!

The best part is there is value to be gained in both transcribing/translating and not transcribing/translating. They put you in different mindsets, exercise different mental muscles, and train you differently.

Going the transcription/translation route helps to see what you don’t understand and better connect the Japanese with your internally recognized meaning in English.

Focusing on reading, accepting you may not understand all of it, and skimming through club discussion (time allowing) to help fill gaps in understanding allows you a chance to build up pattern recognition more readily than when you pick apart each sentence.


When I joined the book club I had more or less already decided that I would not go for transcription - unless motivation and opportunity strike at some point. :smiley: I’d like to share what I think are the benefits of this approach, for those who still haven’t decided for themselves. (TL;DR the bold lines should provide the gist of what I have to say.)

Mangas are not novels
I’ve read mangas before (Bleach, Dragonball and Naruto tbh), so I know that most of the text is dialog. I don’t have to put up with “The hero does X while Y. The scenery A profits especially from feature 12 as exhibited by paraphernalia 40.” Context and vocabulary is mostly narrowed down to the actual action and character development, I suppose, and culminations of dense text are an exception. (I remember especially a little slice of life from the artist himself between Naruto chapters.)

Reading or “pretending to speak Japanese while really just mimicking the mouth-noises as indicated by the script”.
Like when I looked into that free Yatsuba! section the other day. I mouthed/pronounced everything, understood what I did, and filled the gaps with deduction from the context. When curiosity really got me I used a translator and thus got around a little new grammar and vocabulary here and there, piece by piece.

I wasn’t sure if this is cheating inside the book club, but meanwhile I believe it’s even appreciated. Thanks to @ChristopherFritz I feel encourage to stick to this intent, enhanced with what the book club provides and perhaps my own occasional question on top.

Put it down; read it again; repeat
Another key to this concept is that I don’t intent to go through each chapter only once. As with Yatsuba!, I’ll look at a few pages at a time, get the idea from the pictures. Return to page one, read and pronounce, maybe look something up. And repeat, maybe not on the same day, but each week I will probably again and again return to the first page and read it again. Eventually memory and pattern recognition will come, effectively supported by having probably memorized every word in the plot at some point.

Finally: No preparation required
You can just pick up the book when you got the time and enjoy speaking some Japanese for a couple of minutes, even if you don’t understand it yourself. This should feel more like a brief but crisp jog in the afternoon, not a full-blown session at the fitness studio.

In a nutshell I believe the mere act of “pronouncing” the sentences by way of reading the hiragana and furigana, while following the plot provided by pictures, will already nurture the synapses that @ChristopherFritz refers to as pattern recognition. It needs real focus and the will to understand the foreign language, but then it will teach you something even if you didn’t mentally/manually transcribe every single word and particle.


How does 森 differ from 林? My intuition says the first one is more like a deep, large forest…because there is an extra tree kana in the kanji :slight_smile:


Yeah, that’s the exact difference. Sometimes people use the word “grove” for 林


A lot of factors lead me to ha ing to drop the book club last March. A big factor was not imagining how I could manage to do much of anything if I just had literally 10 minutes to spare each day for reading. For オオカミちゃん, I’ve the first 33 trial pages on my phone, and I’d be delighted to commit to just 10 mins a day as that is genuinely all I can spare. But, how do I approach it? Look ups are out of the question, so is it really just a matter of reading those pages to myself each week and then checking the thread for responses? I’m a little lost so any help at all would be appreciated x

If by lookup, you mean dictionary lookups, I would recommend doing those and falling behind than just blindly going through the book not understanding much.

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Maybe I’m having the wrong expectations for myself, but what about using a translator like google or deepL? I personally use that of google quite often because it’s easy to type hiragana and pick katakana/kanji from dropdown menus where needed, though most of the time the engine figures out what I’m typing even if it’s just the hiragana. I do that when I want to try out my own sentences, or when I do the practice section for Genki (because typing is so much faster and easier than writing by hand).

The downside with google is that the engine is a bit wonky at times and doesn’t care much about which particle you are using. The goal here is reading, right? So getting the idea of a statement is pretty much all needed to follow the story. Also, at least with Yatsuba!, my grammar was good enough to see the structure of a sentence and tell verbs from nouns from particles, so in some cases I just type the new word instead of the whole sentence.

All that said, this approach takes a few seconds at the most. With ten minutes a day I could easily manage between 5 and 20 pages in 10 minutes, depending on how much dialog is going on of course.

Final word of caution: This is my first manga read, so I have no personal experience how well this approach is going to work. Hence the book club. Naturally, a translator can’t compare to HiNative, but it is so much quicker and that’s the tradeoff I was looking for in this instance.

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I’m taking the plunge and jumping in here because I’ve always known reading is my biggest weakness. I feel like based on the previous thread for ルリドラゴン this will keep my brain ticking over a bit better to engage with what I’m reading too, not just reading some syllables on a page, but actually unpacking it. Thanks so much for organising! I’ve got my copy ready to go :deciduous_tree: :wolf: :books:


keep in mind there is normally a vocab spreadsheet as well so the burden of lookups is shared across the group… So let’s say you do your reading, and there are many things you don’t understand and you run out of time. You’ll see some things in the thread that people ask or translate. And at the end of the week use your reading time to go through the vocab sheet. And you’ll contribute a bit, which feels good as well.


Why are lookups out of the question? Not being able to look stuff up would be a serious hole in reading, well, anything. Even if you’re doing tadoku-style you would just write the vocab down to look up later (well, I would, at least).

Exactly, you’re not being graded here. Do what you need to do to improve your understanding. Figure out what works for you. (It’s Yotsuba, by the way).