Beginner Japanese Book Club // Currently Reading: Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun

Is 放浪息子 one of the ones that doesn’t have furigana? The anime’s actually been on my watch-list for awhile, and it’s definitely something I’d be interested in, but I don’t know if I’d be able to follow along well enough without furigana. Maybe I will feel different after spending some time with ARIA and have gotten more comfortable with reading, though? This will be my first real native literature I’ll be reading, so I don’t really know what to expect, and it’s possible that I’ll abandon it and my opinion on the next one won’t matter anyway. :stuck_out_tongue:

Also, I’ve now added School-Live! to my watch list, and I was very careful not to read any of the descriptions so I have no idea what this twist is everyone’s going on about, but you’ve definitely got me curious! I have a pretty long to-watch list though, so it might be awhile before I actually get to it…

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I’m totally ready, are we making threads for each chapter? or is it going to all be discussed in here?

I’ll create the first chapter thread tonight.

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Unfortunately, 放浪息子 has no furigana. When I post the nomination, just try to read the sample pages and vote in the difficulty poll. The reason we added the difficulty polls was so everyone can get a sense of the average difficulty of each book before voting on what book to read next. We want to avoid a repeat of Kiki, where most people stopped reading because it was too difficult. If you find the time, try reading the sample pages from all the nominations over the next few weeks.

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That makes sense, I will try to do that!

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OK, another suggestion for future reading.

トラちゃん

猫とネズミと金魚と小鳥と犬の話
by 群ようこ (Yoko Mure)

Summary

A book of 11 essays (short stories), average length 20 pages, about the different pets the author has kept or known. The back cover of mine has a blurb which says (my translation, could be dodgy): Humorous essays in which the behaviours and expressions of living creatures are captured vividly, woven together with family ties and tender love.

Availability


It gets a 4.8/5.0 rating.
I haven’t found a link to an ebook - can anyone help?

Personal Opinion

I picked this book up second hand and have read half of the first chapter. I’m finding it a gentle stretch (not too easy, not too hard) and quite enjoyable to read. There are furigana on the less common kanji.

Pros and Cons for the Book Club

Pros

  • Accessible topic material (family life with pets) but with a Japanese context and cultural background (e.g. acquiring goldfish via 金魚すくい)
  • Each chapter is a separate essay, so if you miss one it won’t impact on the rest of the book.

Cons

  • No pictures
  • Not a novel
  • Not a recent publication (and possibly no e-book)

Pictures

First Three Pages of Chapter One



Additional Pages


Difficulty Poll

How much effort would you need to read this book?

  • No effort at all
  • Minimal effort
  • Just right
  • Challenging
  • Impossible, even with everyone’s help
  • I don’t know (please click this if you’re not voting seriously)

0 voters

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This one?

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The kindle link says “not currently available” for me (so presumably for some other people also?).
In any case, it’s on ebookjapan as well ^^

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しろくまカフェ
by ヒガ アロハ (Higa Aloha)

Summary
A slice-of-life story about a bunch of anthropomorphic animals who regularly meet in a cafe run by a polar bear. The series focuses on the interactions between these regulars, but frequently follows them to their respective jobs, which includes things like taking up part-time work at the local zoo.

Availability

Appears to have been reissued following its anime adaptation, but someone should independently verify this:

The original release (larger than a typical manga), which I have, appears to be out of print. It’s linked below anyway for reference.

The new edition is available digitally:

Personal Opinion
The setting and characters didn’t have the comedic feel or depth I was hoping for, so I haven’t read past the end of the first volume. That being said, it exudes Japaneseness and catching a pun to understand a joke is satisfying.

If the premise sounds like your kind of thing, you’ll probably like it a lot; if it sounds too surreal for you, as it did to me, at the very least, it’s excellent beginner reading practice.

Pros and Cons for the Book Club
Pros

  • In many ways, this is an easier read than Yotsuba, provided the reader’s vocab isn’t much broader than what WaniKani teaches
  • Stories are generally predictable, assuming familiarity with the animals involved, so the writing isn’t regularly throwing non sequiturs at readers
  • Visuals and dialogue tend to be in very strong agreement
  • Chapters are short
  • Full furigana, except for asides and recipe pages (see first additional image)

Cons

  • Most of the difficulty comes from the wordplay; every chapter includes a scene where a word or phrase is misinterpreted (with a visual aide) four times, and a lot of the jokes may fall flat if you don’t catch the puns
  • The humour is very hit-or-miss, depending on the reader

Pictures
The size of the manga made a few corners a bit fuzzy. You may need to download the files and zoom in.

First Three Pages of Chapter One



Additional Pages

The first one is too big for Discourse, hence the link.
https://photos.app.goo.gl/tpsnZtdyaK9EUV2r6

Difficulty Poll
How much effort would you need to read this book?

  • No effort at all
  • Minimal effort
  • Just right
  • Challenging
  • Impossible, even with everyone’s help
  • I don’t know (please choose this if you’re not voting seriously)

0 voters

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It seems harder than Kiki, but doable.

Unfortunately this also means you can’t build context from chapter to chapter. So other than getting used to the author’s writing style, you’re starting from scratch each chapter.

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I still see this as an advantage. It is the same family, just different pets.
With Kiki, the first three chapters were really essential to build background, and then some characters came back, but a lot of it was quite random. In one chapter you’re on a boat, talking about knitwear, another chapter you’re figuring out how to fix a broken clock.

But I agree it’s at the upper end of beginner, or low intermediate, as Kiki was.

Oh if it’s the same family there could still be quite a bit of overlap. Might not be too bad.

I think I’ll delete the old list of proposed books within the next couple weeks. So if anyone wants to renominate any of those books (before they forget what’s there), do it soon! (Not that you couldn’t go check the post history if you wanted…)

I do plan on renominating 時をかける少女, even if only so we can compare the average difficulty from its poll to the other nominations. But I think I’m going to intentionally hold off until after the next book is selected.

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It actually looks fairly easy. It’s one of the lowest word count on floflo, and this analysis that @jprspereira posted before also shows that kanji usage isn’t too crazy, plus 98% furigana coverage. (Which strikes me as strange, since the sample I have seen didn’t seem to have that much… maybe it’s because of different editions, floflo referes to that one as the “children’s book” edition or something similar)

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The version I have (角川つばさ文庫) is loaded with furigana.

Reading it has been challenging, but more because it takes time for me to establish context to interpret what’s happening than to parse sentences or recall meanings.

I’d put it more lower-intermediate than beginner, but it might still be worth nominating to see how everyone else feels. The first five pages are pretty representative of difficulty, but there’s an extra challenge when the writing jumps between scenes and you need to figure out what the context is now from some clues that don’t exactly match what you’ve read before.

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Yes, that’s the one they were talking about too.

The analysis website puts it as easiest, while (for comparison) Kiki is easy. YMMV

It’s supposed to be easy, but so was 魔女の宅急便 and best I can tell four people finished that book (one of which was LucasDesu). 時をかける少女 is likely a step between the beginner and intermediate book clubs, which is unfortunate. But if it gets nominated and people vote for it, then so be it. Especially since all votes going forward will at least be somewhat informed from the difficulty polls.

I believe this version has furigana next to all kanji.

放浪息子 (Wandering Son)

Summary

The story depicts a young student named Shuichi Nitori, described by the author as a transgender girl, and Shuichi’s friend Yoshino Takatsuki, described as a transgender boy. The series deals with issues such as being transgender, gender identity, and the beginning of puberty.

I was having trouble finding a good summary to put, but I settled on this one from Wikipedia

Availability

Amazon JP
eBookJapan

Personal Opinion

I watched the anime adaption, and found it to be really interesting and mature. It had some of the most realistic characters I had seen in an anime.

Pros and Cons for the Book Club

Pros

  • Unique story.
  • Strong character development.

Cons

  • Long series, so we’ll only get a taste of the overall story.
  • No furigana (though it doesn’t look like the kanji is that bad).
  • The premise could be a little niche.

Pictures

See pictures below or check out the 試し読み on the ebook page.

First Four Pages of Chapter One

Additional Pages

Difficulty Poll

How much effort would you need to read this book?

  • No effort at all
  • Minimal effort
  • Just right
  • Challenging
  • Impossible, even with everyone’s help
  • I don’t know (please click this if you’re not voting seriously)

0 voters

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CC @fl0rm @Radish8 @windupbird @Asterlea for my nomination of 放浪息子 right above this, since each of you expressed some interest in it.

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I’m already looking at the sample pages :grin: but thanks for the tag.