Summary: Makoto Okazaki is your run of the mill high-schooler, a perfect bullying target. One night, on his way to return a DVD to a friend, he notices a person on a nearby rooftop. The person lunges at him and bites his neck, drinking his blood. The attacker, a beautiful girl, then asks him: “Do you want to die or become like me?” He decides to live…
You can read the @eieio’s original nomination post here, which includes some sample pages.
It’s quite a visually driven story so there are sections where there is no dialog for several pages. Most of the dialog is casual Japanese spoken between friends. If it’s your first manga this will introduce you to a lot of common casual contractions of speech. These may be tricky at first but you’ll soon get used to these with the help of the group.
Virtually all the kanji have furigana, so you don’t need to be at a specific Wanikani level to enjoy reading. You’re going to get some practice in reading katakana words, in fact you’re going to be hit by loads of them in the first couple of pages!
If this book were a movie it would probably be a PG-13. As you’ve probably guessed from the cover it’s going to be a bit gory at times (yes, that’s blood around her mouth not lipstick…)! There are also some sexual references including looking up a girl’s skirt and out of shot masturbation.
About the book club
We create a reading schedule, with a set number of pages to work through each week. The Absolute Beginner Book Club read through volume 1. The first volume has one thread per-week, reading a half-chapter each week. For each of the rest of the 10 volumes, there will be one discussion thread per volume.
In those threads we discuss everything from vocab and grammar to the characters and story. We try to help each other by contributing to the shared vocab list, by answering each other’s questions and by keeping each other motivated.
Who should join?
We’re reading this as an offshoot to the Absolute Beginner Book Club. This book club aims to help readers who are new to native Japanese content successfully read their first book. It will be helpful if you have completed the first volume of a beginner Japanese textbook such as Genki 1 or Japanese for Busy People. That’s around the standard required to sit JLPT N5.
If you’re not at that level yet but interested in reading along you are still very welcome to join. You might need to look up more vocab and grammar, but we try to help each other by compiling a shared vocab list and answering each other’s questions. This is probably one of the most approachable books we’ve read in the Absolute Beginner Book Club in terms of difficulty.
How do I join?
Get yourself a copy of the book (see “buying the book” below)
Click on the participation poll below to let us know you’re planning to join in
Set this thread to “watching” so you get updates on the group (go just past the last post in this thread, click on the grey box that says “normal” or “tracking” and change this to “watching”)
You can find the original Japanese ISBN numbers on the Wikipedia page.
If you’re new to buying Japanese digital books then Book Walker is a relatively straightforward option that is popular among forum users. Purchases can be read on a tablet or computer. Here’s a brief guide to getting started on Book Walker.
I’ve set May 14th as the start date to be two weeks after volume 1 ends, giving one week of rest between volumes. That seems to be pretty standard for book clubs here, but if anybody needs more time (for example, to get a physical copy), we can start later.
When can you start volume 2?
May 14th (1 week break)
May 21st (2 week break)
May 28th (3 week break)
Doesn’t matter to me
I’ve already started!
The pace for the rest of the series seems to be about the same as the first volume (although I haven’t actually read ahead, so if somebody else has, please chime in). We can certainly adjust the pace for the rest of the volumes, but I don’t want it to overwhelm anybody who just started reading manga.
How did you like the pace from volume 1?
Too slow, but a chapter a week might be too fast.
Too slow, but I’ve read a handful of manga before.
Haven’t read it, just did a quick pages overview; the counting might be a bit off but just to have an idea of the pacing. (Pages with with just panting, or Okazaki’s name or “hai”, were omitted from the dialogue pages. I’ll try to go over Micki’s schedule from vol 1 to gauge how heavy the reading was each week, I honestly just followed the instructions as was my first read ever).
Wow ! So glad that that this book club has an offshoot Thanks @msbrown for organizing.
Volume 1 was really cool. I actaully alread read the first chapter of volume 2 because I was really curious about the rest of the story Looking forward to discussing it with everyone next week !
The start date seems pretty clear at May 14th, a week from today! I’m so excited to start volume 2!
Looking at the poll on pacing, it’s a really tough choice between keeping the 1/2 chapter a week pace, or going to one chapter a week. Seeing how 50% answered either “Just right” or “Too slow, but a chapter a week might be too fast”, I think I’ll err on the side of those who need the extra time and keep the same pace for volume 2.
Sorry to anybody who really wants to go faster. We’ll definitely come back to this question later. I have a feeling that after another volume or two we’ll be able to start reading faster.
One thing I struggled with on the 1/2 chapter a week pace was leaving a chapter half-finished to wait for the schedule. What do you all think about reading 1 chapter every 2 weeks instead of 1/2 chapter every week? It’d be the same pace, but people who are reading faster can read a whole chapter at once without getting ahead of the schedule.
What do you all think? Does anybody with more experience running book clubs have an opinion on how this will work out?
I understand that reading a chapter every two weeks is slow for quite a few people who have already had some experience reading, including myself. I understand that would loose some people who want to go faster.
However, I want the pace to be friendly to people who just finished their first ever book in Japanese with the first volume of ハピネス. We’re not stuck with the pace we choose now for all 10 volumes either. My hope is that enough experienced readers who answer questions will bare with us around until then.
I split “Too slow” into different poll choices on purpose. I didn’t want to add them all together as voting for a “one chapter per week” pace. I wanted a separate count for:
“Too slow but I’ve read a handful of manga before” - People who are already experienced. I respect their opinion but I think the pace should be set by those who are just starting out reading since this is the “Absolute beginner” book club.
“Too slow, but a chapter a week might be too fast” - People who found volume 1’s pace slow, but didn’t want to jump to twice the pace yet. I’m counting these people as wanting the same pace for now.
My count of those who want to keep the pace the same (for now):
“Just right” (41%) + “Too slow, but a chapter a week might be too fast” (7%) = 48%
My count of inexperienced readers who want to increase the pace:
“Too slow” = 38%
Those are the numbers I’m comparing to make a decision. I’m not saying my logic is perfect, and maybe I could have designed the poll choices better, but that was my reasoning on why we should keep the same pace for the moment.
I don’t want to shut down any discussion on this. If anybody has a different opinion after reading through my reasoning, feel free to speak up. If there’s more discussion and disagreement, I’ll do another poll with simpler choices, and we’ll just go with the most popular answer.
Or if anybody has other ideas, I’m up for that too. Is it worth trying to organize a schedule of one chapter every 1.5 weeks? (seems difficult to either follow along with half weeks or to finish a week in the middle of a chapter, but we could try something)
I don’t know how the chapters break down in length - but I guess there’s always the option of speeding up partway through the book by agreement if people are all finding it too slow.
But I agree, it’s the absolute beginner’s club, so that should set the pace. People can always read faster (I probably will for this volume, as I have two weeks off, but am then going to be quite busy).
I abstained from voting because I’m one of the people who has already read quite a few manga but since its being discussed I’ll share my thoughts.
I think its important that the pace works for the people who read this as their first book and want to continue reading. As somebody who had to drop out of a few bookclubs in the past because I couldn’t keep up with the pace, I know how dispiriting that can feel and how much it can knock your confidence as a new reader.
Half a chapter a week is a little slow for me, and I find it difficult to read half a chapter and then wait a week - but I’m 100% on board with going at that pace to allow more people to join in. I’d just read the full chapter in one week and fill in the vocab list if needed, and then take a rest week on the second week.
Perhaps it’s worth starting at 1/2 chapter a week, and then reevaluating the pace at the half way point of this volume to see if more people want to speed up at that point.
I just want to say I was one of the people who said “Too slow, but a chapter a week might be too fast” because this is only my second manga I’ve read (after Mitsuboshi Colors) and while even I found the half chapter pace slow sometimes I have the following concerns:
I’ll be doing the Prefectures book at the same time as this book club. This is the first time I’ll be doing two readings at once and don’t want to burn out.
Is the grammar going to get harder? Will later chapters have more content? I admit that I’ve found Happiness MUCH easier than Mitsuboshi Colors, but are we going to start getting chapters that have multiple pages like that news broadcast that can easily take me 30 minutes per page?
All of that said, I really do like the idea of a full chapter every 2 weeks and I might even consider reading it this way myself.