Attempting to read よつばと has been a humbling experience

I’m nearly 54. You’re still a kid!! Lol


Whippersnappers these days with their “on fleek” and “no cap”…


One thing I find is that Japanese (at least in comics) tends to be written how it’s spoken, and for English you don’t see that as much.

For example, if a phone is ringing and one character says to another, “Would you get that for me?”, when actually spoken it might sound like “Wudju git that fr me?”

I imagine learning English as a second language would be a lot harder if the material one was reading was written the way people actually sound when they talk!


Reading English like that is exhausting!

LOL I would have a conniption having to read it like that. Though I remember reading Brian Jacques’ Redwall series as a kid and the moles’ speech was written in what I have learned is a heavy Somerset English accent. I had little to no clue what they were saying or how it was being pronounced, so I mostly skipped over those parts.


FYI, a good way to do this is to flag the topic as “something else” and ask them to reopen it there. I just did that (before I saw your post). Generally, the book club topics are set to close after 10 years instead of 1 year to avoid issues like this, but sometimes an older topic is still set to 1 year by mistake.


I haven’t read Yotsubato specifically, but judging from my own early experiences of reading manga (I started with Takagi-san), it was mostly the casual contractions that tripped me up. The good news is that after encountering them a number of times they become second nature. The other good news is that there are lists of such contractions you can consult. One is even here on this forum:

And never hesitate to ask, either in the relevant thread, or the grammar thread, or by making a new thread of your own. Having something personally explained to you sometimes helps more than reading lists of grammar points. And be reassured, whatever someone’s level when they start reading native content, their experience will always be similar to yours. Mine certainly was. :slight_smile:


よつばと!was also the first full manga I read! (and just a few months ago, at this point).

As people have mentioned, reading in a language is kind of its own skill, separate from raw kanji/vocab/grammar knowledge. Everything is all mixed together and used in strange new ways, and you get slang and the shorthand forms of a lot of words, characters expressing incomplete thoughts where you’re supposed to be able to understand the omissions through context, jokes and cultural references that are just gonna go way over your head, all that fun stuff!

And unfortunately, the best way to get better at that is just to do it more! but fortunately, it does start to get better really quickly if you stick with it!

My experience with よつばと!was that by the time I made it through the full series (it took a little under 2 months, I think), I went back to look at some chapters that I remembered being really hard for me at the beginning of my first reading, and my understanding of them was significantly better even after that relatively short amount of time.

Of the stuff I’ve tried reading, I’d say that からかい上手の高木さん and ハピネス are definitely a little bit easier on average:
からかい上手の高木さん has short chapters that usually focus on one thing, and the way they play out starts to feel familiar very quickly so it gets easy to intuit what’s happening even if you don’t entirely consciously grasp it.
ハピネス just has super low text density. Still some slang, but it’s just more spread out.

But, echoing what other people have said, if you make it through the first chapter (around page 25, I just looked this up for someone in the reading challenge thread), よつばと! does get significantly easier to read for quite a while (any time ジャンボ comes back and all the adults are talking it does get a little bit harder, but most chapters focus on the kids). So if you are enjoying it I’d say go for it! It quickly became one of my favorite series of all time, even needing to really struggle through it at points.


I’ve bought the first 12 volumes or so in print, so I’m definitely going to read through all of them!


aight no cap you buggin’ out fr, you gotta chill with that

I’ve never actually read yotsubato, just checked out some of the 1st chapter, and I found some things you might have had difficulty with? Like すげぇ and うす ?
I’d recommend learning this type of casual speech through some listening, personally, I know these because I have always been a big anime fan. A recent thing I learnt was actually うす and ちーす. There was an anime I watched like 6 months back where a girl who was kind of a troublemaker, rulebreaker would always meet up with her friends and say something along these lines as a greeting. That’s how I figured that out.

Basically, if you watch anime with these types of characters, you’re more likely to hear some of this casual talk.
And you can kind of pick it up naturally, I don’t actively try and learn from anime, but I did learn a lot, even before I learned Japanese. Though I assume actually trying would be much better.


Auto-locked threads aside, I’ve still got all the threads on Tracked, so if you post, I’ll see.

I’m aaaaaalways watching.


I’m not so sure that Yotsubato is really a good recommendation for a first manga or Japanese reading experience. There’s a lot of slang and casual Japanese, as well as a lot of よつば語。I remember trying volume one when I thought I was ready and having a similar experience as the OP. Of course, part of it may have been that my vocabulary wasn’t yet up to speed.

Instead, I think people should start manga with しろくまカフェ or さめず, although さめず might be too easy. I also think the 5秒後に意外な結末 series is great for those wanting to start reading. It might be better than manga since it is often more of a prose style. The downside when compared with manga is that there are no illustrations to help reinforce context.

I’ve since read the entire Yotsubato series, and enjoyed it a lot. I’ve been meaning to reread it, but have to many other unread Japanese books to get to.


Oh no, I have to hard disagree. The specific vocabulary and the language/culture jokes in shirokuma are brutally hard for a beginner. Sure, you can look at animals doing lazy stuff, but honestly you are missing out on 50% of what makes that manga what it is.


The book club thread has been re-opened :slight_smile:


I agree with this disagree; Shirokuma Cafe was one of my first manga read in Japanese, and it was a dreadful experience encountering so many uncommon words, many of which I’ve never encountered again in 250+ volumes of manga.

But I do agree that Yotsuba isn’t the easiest “first manga” either, especially when read in isolation. This is why the book clubs here are great, as (although the organization is bad for using as a reference) they provide a lot of useful information that one can use to supplement their first-manga reading experience.


I think what’s also important in choosing something to read is that it’s something that interests you. Don’t feel forced to read a manga because someone told you to, or that you feel you must read it because it matches your reading level. That could lead to unnecessary stress and giving up on reading because you think you can’t read something basic.


Yeah, the want-to-read-this factor is probably the most important. I think Yotsuba gets recommended a lot because it hits multiple points at once:

  • relatively not too difficult language-wise
  • it’s something a fairly wide range of people like (in particular, it’s not an aimed-at-young-kids text)
  • the humour/interest is not heavily dependent on understanding all the details of the text, so you can still enjoy it even at less-than-100%-comprehension
  • doesn’t have strong continuity, so if one chapter completely befuddled you it doesn’t mean you’re missing vital information for understanding the next chapter

So as a “knowing nothing about the other person” default recommendation it’s pretty good; but it isn’t going to be for everybody and it’s not the only thing in the category.


This ^

Also, it’s not a beginner book at all. For instance, it’s graded lvl 22 on learnatively, which is about begining N3 lvl or so (though I must mention their grading system is only an estimation, as disclaimed in the FAQ).

Of course, everyone’s different and some people will find it easy but def not a beginner book. If you want totally beginners book, then go with the graded readers series. Even so-called beginner friendly mangas are not always that easy, as the full of slang Yotsuba series shown.

Also, unlike other languages like English, you can’t really pick up any japanese book and casually look for vocabulary while reading because there are gazillions of grammar rules that hinder your reading comprehension. And unless you get to a point where you know most grammar points/forms, you can’t really read anything and will just resort to making sense of some of the sentences, which can be very frustrating for some people.


For anyone that likes martial arts, I found “After School Sword Club” to be enjoyable and an easier read than expected. Not too technical, but uses common kendo/ martial arts terms.

Definitely a recommended read.

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I had a similar experience with よつばと! vol 1 earlier in november/october. I think the approach of looking things up is very good until you get to the point where you can kinda understand through context. After that I think it’s best to just read a lot and try to understand the more casual and slang speak through repeated exposure and different contexts. Good luck! :slight_smile: