Beginner Japanese Book Club // Now Reading: 神さまがまちガえる

thank you!

Thanks for this Sean. It feels weird to see something so much easier than Kiki, but it does make sense for the Beginner Bookclub to actually cater to beginners! :joy:
I think we will always have a trade off between material written for younger readers (often less kanji, can actually make it harder to read) and material written for teens/adults (won’t necessarily have furigana).

I just had a look at this now, and I would say definitely NOT Beginner material.

I agree. The kanji in ご注文はうさぎですか is actually more difficult than in Kiki! But overall it would definitely be much easier.

Based on the difficulty, I could definitely somewhat read it on my own, but I’d really love to figure out some of the harder parts with people in the book club. Some members with more kanji knowledge could always try to create a list of words and add furigana to help out the other members.

Yeah, seemed that way. Oh well…

So I’ve now read the first 6 chapters of ご注文はうさぎですか. I think it’s a good challenge overall. Looking up words when I don’t know the kanji is a bit annoying, but not the end of the world. I tried using Google Translate’s camera feature to look up the kanji, and that’s worked relatively well. I think using the camera feature, reading it could even be feasible for people who don’t know many kanji.

Now for my next suggestion.

ARIA 完全版


Aria 完全版 is a sci-fi / slice of life manga. This edition is actually a republishing of Aqua and Aria in double volume format.

From MyAnimeList (Aqua)

After 150 years of Terraforming, Aqua, the planet formerly known as Mars, now has more than 90 percent of its surface covered in water. A young girl named Akari Mizunashi arrives at the city of Neo-Venezia, an exact replica of the old Italian city of Venice, hoping to become an Undine, the most coveted job on Aqua.

From MyAnimeList (Aria)

In the distant future, humanity has terraformed Mars into an oceanic planet to suit their needs. Now known as Aqua, the planet serves as a new home for people discontent with living on Manhome—the planet formerly known as Earth. Being a perfect imitation of Manhome’s Venice, the town of Neo-Venezia has inherited all of the rustic charms of the original. Gondolas weave their way through the waterways of the dreamy town while nostalgic alleys await those who travel on foot.

Akari Mizunashi, a young Manhome native, has recently made Neo-Venezia her new home. To pursue her dream of becoming a gondolier tour guide—or Undine—Akari joins the Aria Company, one of the most renowned water guide companies in town. As she basks in a simple lifestyle unavailable on Manhome, Akari cheerily ambles through her daily life in Neo-Venezia: the town where magic and miracles abound.



My Personal Opinion

The anime was very laid back, so I imagine the manga would be similar. The difficulty of the manga seems reasonable, but I haven’t tried reading it much.

Pros and Cons for the Book Club


  • Relaxing slice of life story, but with a purpose and overall story.
  • Interesting sci-fi setting.
  • All kanji have furigana, so easier for beginners.
  • The 完全版 version comes in double volume sets, so while it’s a little more expensive, it comes with twice the content. In fact, the first volume contains the entire original Aqua manga.


  • The price is a bit higher than other manga since it’s really two volumes in one.


The pictures are from online since I haven’t bought the manga yet.

Pages 5-7 (First Three Pages of Chapter One)

Pages 14-15

Pages 64-65

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Just leaving a message here for future use. I will join in on the fun with the next book. Till then I will hopefully know some more vocabs and grammar

I’d love to join the beginners book club!!!

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I’ve got Aqua and Aria on hand (in both Japanese and what was released in English by Tokyopop) and haven’t started reading either (unlike Yotsuba), so I’d be up for getting started.

I can also answer questions about the books themselves if anyone needs to know anything to help make a decision.

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Do you have the original version (2 volumes of Aqua and 12 volumes of Aria) or the republished 完全版 version (7 double size volumes)?

The original, individual volumes. I wasn’t aware of the republished version until seeing your post.

Here’s a description of the 完全版 version on reddit:

And some images linked to in that reddit post (click for more):

How does it seem to compare based on the description and images?

The paper stock in the originals isn’t bad at all. It’s not quite as high-quality as what we get in English at the top end (but better than most), but it’s a significant step above most manga paper, thicker and brighter, with minimal see-through to the backside of a page when under a bright lightsource (though my copies weren’t yellowed at all prior to shipping, so other used copies may differ).

Having not read it (though I have seen all of the anime), I don’t know where all of the two-page spreads fall and I don’t want to search through all books for fear of spoilers, though of those I’ve found, a few do suffer from an assumption that they’re on a flat canvas, putting the subject into the middle not in such a way that it gets divided across both pages, but where it’s really deep into the valley with the spine and doesn’t get the lighting and focus intended. The contrast and detailing otherwise seems fine. It looks like it was drawn for the page-size at which it was printed.

I’m kinda tempted to pick up the Masterpiece versions myself now, since I love the art in the series, but the originals are already in a larger size (like Yotsuba, rather than the smaller shonen format). Having something bigger and heavier seems like it would be inconvenient for reading at a beginner’s speed, potentially speeding fatigue and shortening sessions.

Gotcha, thanks for the information. The content between the two versions should theoretically be the same, so people could probably get either version and any vocab list we make would just have two page numbers for the vocab. It’s a slight inconvenience with Kiki, but not a big deal. With that said, if this manga was selected I’d like to encourage people to get the masterpiece version so we have an excuse to read both volumes of Aqua together.

One last question. The last image in the link I posted shows the front cover not being fully glued, which I’ve seen in other Japanese books. Does your copy have that problem too?

Nope, the construction quality seems pretty solid across all volumes to me. Though, related to that, I forgot to mention that the originals only have one two-sided coloured page per book. So the Masterpiece edition seems like it would double that.

Also, every page is numbered (except for titlecards and cases where the art goes for a cinematic shot), unlike Yotsuba where there were sometimes only five page-numbers in an entire chapter.

And the furi and general font are also very clear at the original size. Having them be a bit bigger would no doubt help with deconstructing things into radicals, but I have zero complaints about readability.

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Does anyone have any other suggestions for the next book? I’m wondering if we should start the poll soon so that people have enough time to buy whatever we pick.


I did actually try and find something else to suggest. I wen to the Cultural Centre and borrowed a copy of the first ChibiMarukochan book to introduce. However I really like the sound of the Aria/Aqua books you’ve mentioned, so maybe I’ll leave Chibi for another time.

I also borrowed some graded readers, but they seem a little bit worthy (ie potentially dull)
I might try and scan a few pages of them in a separate thread just for the benefit of anyone considering that sort of resource but wanting to see what they will get before they order.

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I think there has been enough time for suggestions. What hasn’t been suggested yet can wait till next time =)
It’s better to start the poll and get a final vote ahead of time so we all get a chance to find a copy in time =^_^=


Yes please, I want to join this next round

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So should we just make a poll with all the past nominees (other than Yotsubato and Kiki), plus the new suggestions?

Here were my two suggestions:

Gochuumon wa Usagi desu ka

Aria The Masterpiece (first volume is really both volumes of Aqua)