As a club we’ll be putting together a vocabulary list as we go, and answering each other’s questions. We’ll plan to read this at a relatively slow pace so that those who are new to reading native Japanese books can keep up.
If you want to take part, just buy the book and join in the discussion! There’s a membership poll further down.
Three elementary school girls, Yui, Sacchan, and Kotoha, have formed a group called Colors. Their mission is to protect the peace of their neighborhood.
You can read the original nomination post for this book here.
Considering all locations in this series exist in the real world (with the possible exception of their hideout), I’m somewhat tempted to post links every week like I do for Yuru Camp, but I rather suspect that after the first week it’s just gonna be “the koban again, Ameyoko again”, et cetera.
I just bought the book and am joining for my first absolute beginner book club! A big thank you to @ChristopherFritz for running this club and to all of you who are reading and answering our questions!!! I’m sure I’m going to have a bunch.
I’ve been trolling since I joined WaniKani, but I knew I wasn’t ready. I’m now on WaniKani Level 16 & Genki Book 1 Lesson 9. I’ve read most of the free readers available on Todoku. I’m curious whether any of you more seasoned Japanese readers have thoughts about where I’ll struggle or how to keep up? And I’m curious whether any other more recent newbs have suggestions for how you overcame your challenges? Looking forward to the book!
Welcome! When I first started reading native material I got stuck on grammar and the fact that so much was written in hiragana - the meaning of things could have been so much clearer if they’d chucked a kanji in here and there!
P.S. Oh! And the absence of spaces between words! Just trying to parse stuff (again, a kanji or 3 would’ve helped).
The most important thing to know is that you will struggle in the beginning, and that’s a completely natural part of the process. Schedule time each day (or as you are able) where you focus only on reading manga pages, looking up what you can, asking questions, and reading forum discussion. Even if it’s discussion about something you already know, it can be valuable as a review, and you may still learn something new.
You’re going to be seeing a lot of grammar you don’t know yet. Feel free to ask about anything you don’t know or are uncertain about. But don’t fret if you can’t learn everything all at once.
The most common grammar will come up again and again. Over time, your brain’s pattern recognition will kick in and you’ll start recognizing a lot of the grammar that you keep seeing. But it might not happen within a single manga volume. Especially one as short as this (about 145 pages), it’s okay to come out at the other side with only a vague idea of the various grammar. (But if you’re able to grasp anything in finer detail along the way, all the better!)
It’s okay if you sometimes just understand the gist of what is going on, even if you don’t understand all the minor details. Especially if you’re limited on time at any point. The chapters in this series are fairly self-contained, so you can easily come back and re-read any of them again later on down the line.
I think one of the bigger criticisms of Genki is that it uses です and ます for everything. (At least early on. I’m not familiar with the material to know when they switch away from them.) While there are characters who speak like this in Aria, Flying Witch, and Will Ayumu Make His Move?, we’re not going to see such polite speech from a bunch of little kids. Expect to encounter some language “culture shock” of sorts here, unless you’ve already encountered casual speech.
Make it to the end of the volume, and you’ll absolutely be able to look back at the first few chapters and find something that was a complete mystery to you in the beginning, that you’ll have come to recognize right away.
After a long time in the Genki cave, I emerge. V excited to pick up a book club again and ease my way back into Japanese media consumption. I’ve seen clips of Mitsuboshi Colors before and have seen the author’s other work, Hitoribocchi, so I’m looking forward to reading
Will this be your first time reading native Japanese material? If so, get ready to face the hardest thing you’ve encountered yet in learning Japanese!
Now is a good time to assess your readiness.
Being able to read ひらがな without trouble is perhaps the biggest requirement if you want to keep up with book club pace. If you haven’t mastered it yet, but choose to move forward with reading no matter how many grueling hours it’ll take each day, expect to find your recognition and reading speed gradually increasing over the following months.
Are you decent at reading カタカナ? You may be surprised at just how often it gets used. Loan words from English and other language appear in カタカナ, but so do certain Japanese words from time to time. And have you seen all the カタカナ on the book cover yet?
Although WaniKani has you fairly covered on 漢字, that’s the least of a first-time reader’s worries, as this manga includes ふりがな readings beside all kanji in text boxes.
Do you know many vocabulary words yet? We’ll be populating the vocabulary spreadsheet as we go each week, so hopefully that will make looking up all the unknown words easier.
I have to be honest with you, though. Reading words you don’t know can be a real drag. Here you’re just trying to understand a simple sentence, and you’re needing to figure out each. word. you. come. across.
Even once you know the meaning of a word, your brain just isn’t prepared to smoothly read words it’s only encountered for the first time. You just have to accept this fact, and keep going.
The more you see a word, the better you’ll get at recognizing and reading it. It’s sort of like seeing a word repeatedly over time in WaniKani, except with elementary school kids rather than a .
(Your eyes did go over that panel right-to-left, didn’t they?)
Welcome to the elephant in the room.
Here at the Absolute Beginner Book Club, it’s recommended that you know some basic grammar going in:
I’ll let you in on a little secret:
You can start reading with almost no grammar knowledge.
But it’ll be hard.
I mean very hard.
Each manga panel, you can literally spend hours reading up on grammar, trying to learn it as best you can, in hopes that you’ll at least vaguely understand what’s going on in a scene.
At this pace, it’s very easy to fall behind the book club reading schedule quickly. Even asking questions in the book club threads and getting detailed answers may overwhelm you if you’re starting from no grammar knowledge.
The thought of learning enough basics of grammar in the next month may be intimidating.
But, there’s a trick you can use to help your chances.
Take a look at the following dialogue.
If you’ve made you way through WaniKani level one, you may have noticed the word 入り口 above.
And if you’re at least through level five, 近く may have stood out.
Why is that? Because you’ve been exposed to them before.
That’s the trick. Initial exposure.
If you’re starting learning grammar from scratch, with the intent to start reading a manga in Japanese in four weeks, you don’t have the luxury of spending a lot of time learning a few bits of grammar in depth.
Instead, a shallow understanding will get you a wide breadth of knowledge, increasing the chances you’ll recognize grammar when you see it, even if you don’t yet understand it.
It gives you a greater scaffolding, from which you can refer back to lesson material later, or ask questions in the weekly book club threads, and you can build your understanding up from that.
Four weeks is all you need to expose yourself to the basics.
Will that make reading your first native material easy?
But you’ll feel you have a fighting chance.
Resources and Pacing
Do you own a textbook, such as Genki I?
Read through one lesson every two days. Don’t worry about understanding everything. This is all about initial exposure. Depending on the length of your textbook, this pace may be enough to get through the whole book within a month.
Don’t have the cash for a textbook?
Tae Kim’s grammar guide is free. Work your way through a Basic Grammar chapter every two days, and you’ll be ready to go.
Are walls of text not your learning style?
Check out Cure Dolly’s fully subtitled Japanese From Scratch video series. Go down the playlist in order, and watch at least one video every two days. Even better if you can get in one video each day.
I saw new posts in this thread and figured I might’ve missed the start of this bookclub (I picked up 大海原と大海原 late and am still catching up, so I haven’t paid attention to the schedule much) and instead got unexpected encouragement, so thanks for that