Absolute Beginners Book Club // Now reading: Hunter × Hunter

Take off the (within reason) :rofl:

I thought about it, I guess there can be a drastic increase in difficulty because many manga/anime use a whole another way of expressing and also tons of niche terms


It is like layers of an onion. I need to fully understand something to move on - but spreading things out helps me to go back and reinforce and review things and understand things from different angles. For other languages I have studied, I have access to native speakers day to day - but not so for Japanese (yet), so the reinforcement is even more important for me. This is why I find it helpful also to combine so many different resources - rather than just Genki for example.

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Sounds legit, after all it’s what I’m doing too, by advancing on grammar with yt vids
Anyway I want to add here that I’m currently using the genki vocabs app (5€ price) on iPhone to study the vocabs of lesson 1 I just ended. It provides perfect clear pronunciation for every term, and also some sentences that use only terms of the previous chapters (I’m on lesson 1 so only vocabs I learnt in the greeting and numbers section). This is awesome and very well made, I suggest buying the app to everyone that has just started. I just read my first full sentences and made sense of it all by myself, what a feeling, I’m so happy :joy:


For those of you using Genki, Game Gengo seems like he will start going over Genki vocab and maybe even the review tests. No clue how fast he’ll do it


I will go for this one. Not really in the yokai/terror theme myself.
Other options with no kanji at all are to me more confusing that those with easy kanji and furigana when needed.

If we don’t do it now, maybe the next run. And actually it’s still on sale for free! on bookwalker.


Could someone please update the thread title - we have finished Happiness and started reading Stories of the Japanese Prefectures. Thank you @NicoleRauch!


Hey there people, asking here because I couldn’t find a proper place

Here are some titles that I’d like to eventually read in Japanese (and possibly on paper) one day:
その 着せ替え人形 ビスク・ドール

I was wondering if someone of you read one of these and could tell me the difficulty, I bet in many of them there are difficult 敬語 expressions and niche words.
Is there anything in the list kind enough to an absolute beginner or beginner?

PS. Asking just out of curiosity, I’m going to begin with からかい上手の高木さん anyway


Natively can give you a basic idea of difficulty for a lot of manga and light novels (though it doesn’t have everything, and is based on user feedback, so ymmv for some titles).

For those titles you listed:

鬼滅の刃 is rated between Lvl. 24-30. For comparison’s sake, 五等分の花嫁, the series I’ve been reading on my own, is Lvl. 27, and it has had a lot of things that I’m looking up – vocabulary, mostly, but some grammar as well. This also means it is considered in the JLPT N2 range, roughly. I suspect I’d be looking up even more in 鬼滅の刃, since it’s not a school slice-of-life and is likely to have even more unknown vocabulary.

進撃の巨人 is a similar range, with some volumes getting rated higher, though, at 33.

ヴィンランド・サガ is at lvl 30.

この素晴らしい (Assuming you mean Konosuba, and this isn’t short for another series with a similar title) is at 29-30. It’s also one that I want to read but it still feels out of reach for me, if that helps give you an idea of difficulty (since once you start looking at light novels vs manga, the Natively levels get a little more difficult to judge)

かぐや様 is 28 (manga) and 30 (light novel, which I didn’t know existed for the series). This is also on my to-read list, but feels like a bit too difficult for me to enjoy as of yet.

イジらないで、長瀞さん is also on my list. It’s actually rated at the same difficulty as Takagi-san. You might check Amazon. Digital copies of this were free sometime recently, and that might still be ongoing!

その 着せ替え人形 ビスク・ドール is level 25, so harder than Takagi-san or Nagatoro-san, but easier than others on your list. (This is also on my list, too, so we seem to have similar tastes in series. :laughing:)

The overall summary is that Nagatoro-san and Dress Up Darling are probably the two that will be fairly easy to read sometime soon. The others will definitely take more time to get to, though it does depend on how much patience you have re: ambiguity and looking things up regularly!


Hey mate! Thanks for the suggestions and also for linking this website, it looks awesome and I will check it for next reads :ok_hand:

I was expecting something like that, guess it’ll have to wait :joy:

Also should’v expected this, after all is historical

About konosuba, it looks like this is what I was referring to, damn, this too is at a high level :flushed:

I’m missing a part here, I’m not practical of the subject - what difference is there between mangas and light novels?

Good news. I loved the anime!!

This will be a nice progression in the future then :raised_hands:

I’m willing to put the work in, go slowly and understand it at my best, but I definitely can’t stand ambiguity… I guess this won’t be much of an issue with the support of book clubs tho :joy::crossed_fingers:


Manga is what we might call a comic in English. Every scene is illustrated, and generally the only written words are dialogue/character thoughts (though sometimes, there are narration boxes for more complicated settings).

A light novel is what we would call a novella in English, and it’s pretty much what it says on the tin. A novel that is relatively short (so, light) in comparison to a full novel. Often, there are illustration inserts, but they are usually just for flavor, not really being necessary to the story.

Sample page from a manga (五等分の花嫁1)

Sample page from a light novel (夜カフェ)

Konosuba is at a high level for a couple reasons I’d guess:

  • Set in a fantasy world, meaning that there will be tons of franchise-specific vocabulary, and some odd speech patterns
  • Being a comedy, some jokes are going to be harder to understand if you don’t have a pretty good grasp of Japanese
  • There isn’t always furigana (or at least, in the previews I’ve found)
  • It’s a light novel, though I do think there is a manga version that would probably be easier.

It’s definitely in my “I’d love to understand this soon, but I know if I try it now, I’ll not enjoy it as much as I want to” column. :laughing:


Oh ok, I got it. How many pages are them on average? Just to make an idea.

Being able to read light novels is a nice long term goal for now.
Here’s a stupid question, is Japanese reading material (manga, novels and books) written from right to left? Any other things I should know? (Top bottom or bottom top?)

I see… at least in that list there isn’t heavy use of keigo :joy:

On a side note - my order from japan is getting delivered today, god bless DHL. My family and friends won’t see me for a week. On the contrary, people on this forum will hear from me a lot :wink:


Yep. If it’s written vertically, read top to bottom and then right to left.

Occasionally you’ll find text written horizontally - that’s read left to right, top to bottom, same as European languages.


Ok, thanks for the insight :ok_hand:

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I am not sure if 夜カフェ can also be classified as a light novel, as in Bookwalker, it is classified as Fiction. But I also still don’t understand differences between both.


I’m not crying, you’re crying!

The last time I had a comic in my hands is when I was 13 years old, mickey mouse comics. After 12 year feels soooo good!
Where would you guys suggest me to start? I bought the level 0 readers too, would you suggest me to start there?


Well, since I use digital books more than physical, that’s sort of a difficult question. I would say no more than like… 200 pages, with most probably averaging half that. But that’s a guess. It’s a bit nebulous I think.

Haha. I wouldn’t doubt if like, the guild staff use keigo. Honestly, I think I’d be more concerned about Megumin’s chuuni tendencies resulting in some weird, archaic language than I would keigo. :sweat_smile:

The graded readers will be easier, since it’s targeted at learners. Takagi-san will be harder, but will be more natural language (the book club folks will make this less difficult, though). If you have the time, I’d suggest reading both. If you don’t have the time, it’s probably best to ease yourself in with the graded readers to get used to reading first, and then starting Takagi-san after.

I think that is a quirk of Bookwalker that it differentiates between the two… Fiction isn’t a format, more of an overarching genre (which could range from mystery to sci-fi to slice-of-life). The only thing that fiction means is the author made it up.

Light novels are a format, and not necessarily a genre. I also don’t know if you can have a nonfiction light novel, to be honest. I’ve never seen one, but I suppose it’s theoretically possible. Either way, they are similar to novellas in English, which are pretty much always fiction, and under a certain page count. Trying to sort fiction and light novels separately is an odd decision, since most light novels, if not all, are going to be fiction by definition. 夜カフェ is fiction, after all. There are no signs that this is a biographical situation of any kind.

Where Bookwalker does class them both as separate genres, that means there are gonna be weird situations like this, where there is definite overlap between the two, but they forced themselves into one or the other.

Either way, my reasoning for 夜カフェ being a light novel: it’s short, has illustration inserts, and targeted for a younger audience (as light novels tend to be). It checks all the boxes. I wouldn’t class it as a full novel. While yeah, it’s also fiction, describing something as “fiction” doesn’t narrow the format much at all. Dune and Game of Thrones are fiction, but in their original formats, are definitely novels, for example. (Though there are Japanese light novel versions of both that reduce the stories to serialized, light reads which include illustration inserts, instead of massive novels.) My point being that you wouldn’t put 夜カフェ side-by-side with them in most cases…except that they are all fiction. That’s the only thing they would have in common.


Exciting, isn’t it!? Also, wow, after getting a good look at the first chapter art style, the shift through the series is fairly gradual, so I barely noticed at the time, but it actually has changed quite a bit. :laughing:


How about starting with the ones you feel you understand despite some vocabulary lookup. I think it’s more of grammar and sentence breaking down, and less of vocabularies.

I would recommend ones with Furigana readings, as it is still possible to guess the reading wrong, yet can still understand.

Fantasy isn’t exactly out of the questions, as long as it has Furigana.

Some will still have problems of Kana shift, or stretching / changing, making it harder to lookup, though.

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I decided to go this way: will read the sub level 1 of graded reader first (it’s very short stories, won’t take long) and then will do both as long as I will have time - otherwise I’ll go with the graded readers first because they are very short actually :ok_hand:
I read the tofugu article about graded readers and also the indications on tadoku and now I wonder something.
There articles suggest a quick extensive reading approach over a calm, thorough, check-every-vocab one, but I’m not sure would be the best if someone has patience. What I did with english was checking every single vocab I didn’t know. Now I could not be able to give the definition of something but I understand 100% of what I read in 9 cases out of 10. Wouldn’t this be best for Japanese too (as long as I have patience oc)?

Yes indeed, so much. Now I’m curious to see how the series will change :nerd_face:


About this, I need to account two things: grammar and vocabs.
Grammar isn’t a concern at the moment, since I pushed a lot on this face of the coin, but I’m a bit concerned about vocabs, since I realized that I know less that I thought. I say concern but I’m not really worried because first, kanji has furigana, and second, I have the patience to look up everything

Could you motivate?

If you mean contractions and other beautiful things like this, yes I’m a bit concerned about that :joy:
I remember that @ChristopherFritz had made a list but I lost that link and can’t find it anymore, can anyone link it pls? Also, where can I find the vocab list of Takagi vol.1?

Edit: don’t disturb linking the contraction link, found them :slight_smile:
And, i found the vocabs too👌


I tend to do a mix. The overall consensus is that quantity is better, because extensive reading exposes you to more of the language in the long-run, but I also don’t like ambiguity very much sometimes, so I understand wanting to take the deeper reading approach. Early on, I definitely checked almost everything. It’s slow and time-consuming, but the fact that when you first read, it’s more deciphering and not actually reading, means that it felt necessary to me, to get any sort of understanding.

Now my strategy is I tend to read an entire chapter once, without looking anything up unless I absolutely have zero clue what’s happening. I bookmark/highlight anything that I had to guess from context, or that I feel merits a closer look, and then do a second pass of the chapter, looking up the things I was unsure about it. Obviously, this only works if you have the time to dedicate to it, though, and it isn’t what you should do when you first start.

The vocabulary sheet is in the Volume 1 home thread. That does remind me that I should add Volume 1 properly to the offshoot thread. I just linked to it without adding all of the other stuff (since it was made after the first volume was finished, I didn’t think about it at the time).