「となりのトトロ」 (“My Neighbor Totoro” in English releases) is a Japanese animated fantasy film by animation Studio Ghibli, and released in theaters in 1988. It is set in postwar rural Japan, and centers around two young sisters. The movie has a fairly slow pace, and dialogue is simple without specialized or technical terms.
Aside from my extreme familiarity with the title (having seen the movie probably over 40 times, mostly the original English dub), I figured some many years ago that it would make for good Japanese reading material. I found a copy of the movie’s script online years ago, and was summarily crushed by the kanji (owing to my then-meager knowledge of them).
Fast-forward to today:
Recently, I discovered that there are “cinema manga” for Studio Ghibli’s movies. A “cinema manga” is made of screenshots from a movie, with dialogue balloons and sound effects applied to it. I figured I’m on WaniKani level 7, level 8 is just around the corner, and that means I’m practically as accomplished in kanji as those level 60’s you see around here. (Any day now and I’ll catch up with them.) So, I bought a copy of 「文春ジブリ文庫 シネマコミック となりのトトロ」, and dove right into reading. And…it’s a whole lot easier than it was when I tried all those years ago. (That’s what we call progress.)
Since I’m a computer geek and something of a numbers geek and pretend to be a statistics geek, I wanted to know how much I should be able to read based on what I’ve learned in WaniKani, and on what I will be learning in WaniKani. (Reaching level 8 will mean I’m practically at the finish line and can soon read all Japanese, right?)
Rather than transcribe the whole book, I opted to downloaded Japanese subtitles for the movie. Since the manga includes all dialogue from the movie, this has been a useful shortcut to generating numbers. There is a shortcoming, however: sometimes the manga uses hiragana where the movie subtitles use kanji. Because of this, my numbers are a little off. This means the level numbers are a little inflated (should be lower), and the percentages are a little deflated (should be higher). I’ve decided this is not an issue for me, as I am interested only in rough numbers, not exact.
Kanji and WaniKani statistics:
From the subtitles, there are 317 unique kanji. Counting duplicates, there are 1170 kanji in all.
How many kanji (unique and total) should one recognized based on their level progress in WaniKani? Here’s what I came up with:
|Level||Unique Kanji||Total Kanji|
By the way, there is one kanji in the manga (that I know of) which is not included in WaniKani: 妖 (in the line, 「それは妖怪ですか？」).
Vocabulary and WaniKani statistics:
I haven’t parsed out all the words, but I did try to see how many words in the manga also appear in WaniKani. The following statistics are looking only at words taught in WaniKani which also appear in the manga.
What is included here:
- Vocabulary regardless of conjugation. (I used mecab to convert conjugated words to their dictionary form to compare with WaniKani.)
- Words that use kanji in the subtitles, but only hiragana in the manga.
What is not included here:
- Words that normally have kanji, but appear as hiragana in the subitles.
- Words that normally are written only in hiragana.
- Any other words not covered by WaniKani.
There are 271 unique words covered by WaniKani that appear in the manga. Due to repeated usage, these words appear a total of 755 times in all. (I do not have a count of overall total words.) Keep in mind, the following numbers are only for words covered by WaniKani.
|Level||Unique Words||Total Words|
It looks like level 7 is the sweet spot to get past the feeling you’re looking up ever other word. Of course, knowing vocabulary and kanji will only get you so far. You need to know enough grammar and conjugations to get by. Between my N5 and somewhat N4 grammar knowledge, and vocabulary I’ve learned outside of WaniKani, I’ve quickly gone through the first 150 pages having only a handful of words I don’t know, and no grammer I didn’t know.
For subtitled movie-watchers:
Everything in this post should apply to the Japanese subtitled release of the movie as well. The only difference is that the subtitles also use 挨拶 (twice!), two more kanji not in WaniKani. The manga uses あいさつ for this word.
Here are some sample pages from this manga.