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

Doesn’t mean it can’t be a manga, just needs to be more challenging than Yotsuba. I’m thinking about suggesting the manga Aria, but I don’t actually have a copy right now, so I can’t speak to its difficulty. When it gets closer I’ll make a formal pitch.

OK cool, I have pretty much zero knowledge of manga so happy to take recommendations!
I will see if my local Japanese cultural centre has Aria (and/or any other suggestions).

The version that I think is still for sale is called Aria the Masterpiece or ARIA 完全版. I watched the anime adaption a couple years ago and it was a really nice, relaxing story.

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Or you could join us in the よつばと!reading group!
We are currently on vol 3. It would be great to see you there!

I agree it is a good idea to start doing suggestions now =)
We don’t have to vote just yet, but should do it ahead of time so everyone has a chance to get their copy in time.

I saw this series suggested several places here on WaniKani and on list as a good “beginner book”:
絶叫学級 (Scary Lessons) Amazon Link

It has furigana on everything, so it is easier for those on lower levels who haven’t learned as many Kanji yet (those who want to practice reading without it, well, that usually means the book is harder anyway so probably not the best choice for Beginner)
And though I’ve only read the first few pages, I understand it SO much better than Kiki! So it feels much easier to me.

Maybe if someone has read more, tell us what you think about difficulty?

I will fetch my book and grab a photo or two =)

*or three I guess :wink:


So is this horror? Sure sounds like it by the title, but I wanted to check.

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From comments I’ve seen, they are like the R.L.Stine’s Goosebumps books, and some of them are quite scary indeed.

As far as I understand, and how the book looks, they are quite like the Gosebumps series with each book seeming to be a separate story. So if we do another one later, people who didn’t join for the first can still join.
But I need someone familiar with the books to confirm if this is correct.
They just look like they are based on the covers and how they were described once on an old comment somewhere. Anyone know?

Anyone want to give a second opinion on the difficulty of 魔法少女育成計画 (Magical Girl Raising Project)? There is a preview on Amazon JP. It has the entire prologue and the first two pages of the first chapter.

I thought the prologue was challenging, but slightly easier than Kiki. But then the first page of chapter 1 really seemed to ramp up the difficulty. It makes me wonder if the prologue was just easier because it was the inner monologue of a middle-schooler. Based on this, I’m leaning against recommending it for the next book because I think it’ll probably be too hard, but I wanted to get a second opinion before deciding for sure.

Making my first proposal for the next book (more to come).

ご注文はうさぎですか?(Is the Order a Rabbit?)


ご注文はうさぎですか is a 4-koma manga, which means that all the panels are uniform in size (read top to bottom in the right column, then top to bottom in the left column, just like a book).

From MyAnimeList:

Cocoa arrives at the cafe Rabbit House one day, excited for rabbits. She actually all but lives in that cafe. She meets lots of different girls there, including a tiny and cool girl named Chino, a tough and soldier-esque girl named Rize, a spacey and quintessentially Japanese girl named Chiyo, and the ordinary but dignified Sharo.

Additional Information

It’s a random slice of life comedy like よつばと!, but that’s pretty much where the similarities end. It’s basically about five girls who work at various cafes, hang out, and do random things together.



My Personal Opinion

I’ve watched the anime adaption, and I would say it’s probably my favorite random slice of life comedy. I like all of the characters (which is rare in this kind of genre for me) and it’s pretty funny. Plus it’s super cute. :blush:

I read the first four chapters this week to get a sense of the difficulty. I would say it’s significantly easier than Kiki and slightly harder than Yotsuba. Some aspects are actually easier than Yotsuba (a lot less slang), and the hardest part is the kanji. There is a lot of kanji and very little furigana. With some use of a dictionary, I’d say I understood 80% or more of the first three chapters, but maybe only 50-60% of the fourth chapter.

Pros and Cons for the Book Club


  • Straightforward story with fun characters
  • Good kanji practice (very little furigana)
  • Short chapters (generally 8 pages) so it should be easy to read 1-2 chapters per week
  • Good art
  • The anime adaption seems to follow the manga fairly closely, so people could watch it to get an idea of what they didn’t understand.


  • The genre might not be for everyone
  • Could be difficult to read for low level WaniKani users (very little furigana)


First Three Pages of Chapter One


Two Random Pages to Show Off the Art

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Umm… how do i add myself to this book club? When people say they can’t ‘edit’ yet what does that mean?

There’s a list of book club members in the first post - I think that since you’re member level on the forums, you might have the power to edit it yourself (with the green edit button down in the right corner of the post), but people who haven’t gotten “member” status don’t have the power to edit yet, so someone who does just adds them to the list. And that’s how you join ^^

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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