I haven’t updated here for a while, mostly because I haven’t been reading much of anything. Except I played the first two months of Animal Crossing: New Horizon entirely in Japanese. Then because I wanted to read something I could get a finished feeling for quicker, I paused Sailor moon to instead read the first volume (of two) short stories collection from 渡瀬悠宇, called The Best Selection.
It is interesting because 渡瀬悠宇 have always been my favorite mangaka because she made my favorite manga series, Alice 19th. (I expect when I’ve read more of the manga series I now own… if they ever manage to get out of Japan … I might have a new favorite). But I’ve read her series Absolute Boyfriend and didn’t find it that interesting and now after reading the four one offs in this volume, I’m starting to think that Alice 19th just happened to combine a lot of my favorite elements and fit me perfectly, while the rest of 渡瀬悠宇’s work seems pretty middle of the road (to me, everyone’s taste is different). (I haven’t read her most famous series, ふしぎ遊戯, because it is 18 volumes long and if I had bought them back when I was reading manga in English… it would have been so expensive. )
Yesterday I finally finished 君の膵臓を食べたい, and I absolutely loved it. It took me a while to start, but yesterday I read the entirety of the last 100 pages or so in 1 day (albeit over the course of a few hours) because I just couldn’t wait to finish it (because it was good, not in a completionist sense). It’s a beautiful story, and with finishing it I think I can safely say I know what kind of stories I enjoy reading in Japanese. 四月は君の嘘、君の名は、おおかみこどもの雨と雪、and
君の膵臓を食べたい easily top my list of favorite books in Japanese, so if anyone wants to share the actual name of the genre, I’d love to know
Without spoiling it for anyone who hasn’t seen/read it, the book centers around the theme of not taking the time we have for granted. It just happened to line up with some events I’ve got going on back home in the states (nothing serious, but still had an effect for sure) so while I don’t think I can call this book my favorite so far, it was definitely the most impactful story I’ve read up until this point. I highly recommend it to anyone who (like me, it seems) enjoys stories that rip your heart out, stomp it into the ground, and then spit on it.
This was also a new record for pages/day for me in Japanese so I’m really excited about that as well! This also makes my 8th novel this year, which is technically behind the quite lofty goal I set of 24 for the year (ie 12 by the end of June), but still over a book/month which I’m quite happy with. I’ve also told myself I’m not allowed to buy any more 鬼滅の刃 until I finish at least one more full novel, so hopefully that will help push me a bit closer to my goal.
Now, onto some slightly easier books before I try to tackle 獣の奏者!
And now volume 10. It was a direct continuation of volume 9, to the point that chapter numbering didn’t reset to 1.
So, obviously, I still like the premise. Also this volume went full on tragedy. Even though I’m in spoiler mode, I don’t want to give too much, but anyway, the main antagonist has a curse that puts target in a battle frenzy, attacking the closest target. Of course, he used it on Bell’s girlfriend the dragon girl before releasing her in the town. And of course the usual group of major heros, among which was アイズ, was there to “stop” here. I loved the scene were Bell saved her and everyone got confused. So, to not get killed as a “friend of monster” or something, he had to say “this is my kill, leave her to me”. That’s barely better, though, since they just decided to ignore him instead. But it bought enough time for the cavalry (the other sentient monsters) to get there, leading to an epic, ~120 pages long battle scene between crazy high level characters and monsters. Of course, destruction ensued, and a lot of people blame Bell and his “selfishness” for that. Way to go from hero to pariah.
Anyway, that was a long book (430 pages or so), most of it was fighting, but it wasn’t too bad. The situation kept evolving and the stakes with it, so it never felt like it was dragging on. And the situation isn’t really resolved at the end, so I guess we will still be talking about that in the next volume? Only one way to find out!
I’ve been reading a children’s history book on the side, and today I finished it. It contains 28 stories of ~6 pages each, but with large font and pictures, so I guess it’s more like 2-3 pages in a normal book. It is the first book of two and covers the history of Japan until ~1500. So I figured it would be a nice thing to read a chapter a day. Turned out that the chapters were way harder to read than I had imagined because they were full of persons’ names, place names, and political roles that I had never heard of, plus of course other words I don’t know yet, so it got a bit tiring at times to try to figure out which is which. Also, most of the important historical events ranked around war, scheming and these things, so usually at least two parties were involved, but often many more. It was a bit difficult to keep track of all those actors and of who did what to whom as the narration was often quite terse due to the space limitations. Also, and this hurt my pedantic mind quite a bit, they did not give the exact dates when something happened, but rather described them as e.g. 今から千二百八十年ほど前のことでした。Which is fine, but - what is the baseline?? Very annoying.
So I guess while I got a high-level overview of Japan’s early history, I probably missed out on or misunderstood many details, but that’s fine for now. I will take a little break from history and then proceed to the second book which covers the newer history, and I hope that I will be able find more connections to already-known names and events.
Fun anecdote: The book seems to be written for elementary school children, judging from the lack of kanji. Which of course leads to entertaining hiragana parsing games
I think I bumped into the following construction a few times until I fully grasped what was going on:
神がみがいた。I initially parsed this as 神が磨いた。and was quite confused as to what it was supposed to mean, but after discovering (on other occasions) that they don’t use the repeater and write the second kanji in hiragana (!), it became clear that it was actually 神々がいた。
Running a book club is not difficult, just propose a schedule, have everybody agree, and then set up the weekly threads (or whatever you see fit for it).
One slight drawback might be that it is not available as ebook, so everybody would need to buy the physical book. But if you are ok with running it even with a small number of participants, that’s fine then.
I just binged ハレルヤオーバードライブ over the past two days (15 manga volumes).
I came across that series shortly after arriving in Japan a bit over 10 years ago. The first volume had just come out, and somehow I managed to read it without too much pain. I also loved the story and decided to keep reading it as it got published. That’s one of the only manga series that I bought new! I somehow stopped reading it back in 2012 just after buying volume 7, but somehow still considered it my favorite manga ever. In fact, I still have those 7 volumes after all those years.
Anyway, I was thinking about it recently and realized the series ended in 2015, so I just bought the remaining volumes at book off and read the full thing again.
And… well, that was a bit underwhelming. I don’t know why, I have such good memories of it. It felt special, and somehow got my heart racing at the time. But now, it’s just yet another high school romance comedy, with a bit of shonen hero progression thrown in. In fact, it’s kind of a high school version of Nana, if I had to make a comparison.
It was entertaining enough, but honestly I was mostly rushing through it just so that I can be done.
(Spoilers ahead, but I feel like it’s not that important, soooo, stop reading if you are interested?)
The thing I ended up appreciating the most was the last bonus chapter. It takes place when all characters are in their mid-twenties. They are adults! Yay! They drink alcohol and are sexual beings and all. Also, the most interesting part for me was what happened of them. There grades were, well, less than stellar in high school, and they went on to focus on their respective bands instead of university after high school for most of them. Some had some success, like the main character whose band became somewhat famous (not making a lot of cash though). The main love interest ended up “retiring” from music and opened her own bar/live house where everyone is gathering. Another became a teacher at the high school where they were, and of course became the supervisor of their old music club. Yet another became a guitarist for hire, basically, etc. So, mostly not great in term of modern day expectations of success, still everyone seemed fine with their situation in life, which felt like a more nuanced result than what I usually see in shonen manga.
Fun thing, one character of the antagonist group is revealed to be going out with one of the characters from main character’s side. That didn’t feel like much of a surprise considering some of their interactions in previous… bonus chapters. I had a fridge logic moment when I realized that they never interact in the main part of the story. Basically, it’s like there’s nothing canon about their relationship! That was a fun realization.
Anyway, tl; dr: probably not my favorite manga anymore
On the 多読 topic, I still haven’t started 狼と香辛料 (not that I do true 多読 though). Unfortunately the routine I had with 空ろの箱と零のマリア of reading outside won’t work as well with this one because suddenly it’s summer and hot. I’ll figure something out though.
On the manga front, I’m planning to buy a bunch more of ヒナまつり because I really enjoyed the first three volumes. I’m also gonna buy a few volumes of new (to me) series to try out. Plus, I read the first chapter of とんがり帽子アトリエ, which was pretty cool. The premise is interesting and the art is beautiful. If I enjoy the first volume as much as the first chapter, I’ll buy some more of that too. Unfortunately some of the manga I want are sold out, so I’m waiting for everything to get back in stock.
Reading has been my happy place since I was old enough to hold a book, so I was glad when I came across this thread full of voracious readers.
I started my Japanese studies just after my 50th birthday a few years ago. Quiltmaking is my thing, and in particular, Japanese quiltmaking. I have tons of crafting-type magazines and books, and I figured it was high time I learned to read them, rather than relying on Google translate to cope with such gems as “medium-weight fusible interfacing” and the like.
Since then, I have been working my way through various 多読-style graded readers, and I recently joined my first book club - ゆるキャンプ. I loved the anime and figured it was a good choice as I already knew the story.
I also joined the ふらいんぐういっち club for the same reason. I was happy to see the club was reading Vol. 5, as it picked up where the anime left off. I’m simultaneously reading Vols. 1 - 4 for extra reading practice.
I intend to keep going with both ゆるキャンプ and ふらいんぐういっち, and other clubs as they pop up.
I recently started on Level 3 (初中級) readers with a view to honing and developing my N4/N3 grammar skills. Since completing (self-studying) Genki I & II, I have been focussing mostly on reading and kanji skills, using reading as a path to developing my grammar skills as I encounter unknown or interesting grammar points (keeping DBJG within easy reach for such occasions and it is probably my most-referenced reference).
Apologies for the long intro. I look forward to getting to know you and sharing our mutual love of reading.