Beginner Japanese Book Club // Now Reading: 耳をすませば

Interesting. On Kobo, it’s the whole first volume.

How about this one on BookWalker?

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1 Like

Actually I just looked, and I think I did get the full volume free - there are two versions. I’m too tired to be certain tonight…

1 Like

Hehe, yeah, so on Bookwalker you can get two kinds of restricted “free” volumes. This is the second variation :wink:
You can identify it by the addition 期間限定無料 (free for a limited time period). Unfortunately that does not only mean free to buy but also free to read :expressionless:
To the right, you can see the 閲覧期限 (time limit for reading): It is until May 15th (so you better get cracking :rofl: - or - of course - if you apply your usual magic you should do that before that date).

Key takeaway: If there are any additions to the title, that is not a full version that is free to buy and keep forever.

4 Likes

My first time making a proposal so I’m also not so sure about the difficulty, let me know if this one seems too hard for here and I’ll move it.

Deep Sea Aquarium MagMell

Summary

Japanese

東京湾の水深200メートルに水族館がオープン!!

「マグメル深海水族館」は、野生の深海生物の姿を間近で観察することができる世界唯一の水族館。
清掃員のアルバイトとして働くことになった天城航太郎は、深海生物が大好きで、少し引っ込み思案な青年。ある日、館長の大瀬崎湊人と出会ったことで、彼の人生に変化が訪れる―――。

深海に憧れ、生き物を愛する青年の成長に胸が熱くなる、海洋ロマン開幕!!

English

(No official one so my rough translation)
An aquarium opens 200 meters deep in the Tokyo Bay!!
“Deep Sea Aquarium MagMell” is the world’s only aquarium where you can observe wild deep- sea creatures from a close proximity. Tenjo Kotaro, who works part-time there as a cleaner, is a bit of an introverted young man who loves deep-sea creatures. One day, through meeting the aquarium director Osezaki Minato, a change arrives in his life—

Availability

Physical: CDJapan | AmazonJP
Digital: Kobo | Bookwalker | Kindle

Personal Opinion

I think the setting of an aquarium in the deep sea where you can directly see creatures that are usually impossible to see is really interesting. So far from my reading it’s a nice slice of life where we get to see the life and growth of the protagonist and the people around him as they interact with creatures from the deep sea. I also don’t think the language itself is too hard aside from the occasional explanation about the creatures, and the lack of furigana.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Some amount of conclusion for each chapter so can enjoy even if people want to just read one volume
  • 8 volumes and some underlying story lines so potential for offshoot
  • Slice of life with an interesting setting
  • Learn about lots of interesting deep-sea creatures

Cons

  • No Furigana
  • Some aquarium/marine life specific vocab
  • Sea creature names all long strings of katakana (a pro if you want to practice katakana reading)

Pictures

First Three Pages of Chapter One



Additional Pages




Difficulty Poll

How much effort would you need to read this book?

  • 1 - No effort at all

  • 2 - Minimal effort

  • 3 - Moderate effort

  • 4 - Substantial effort

  • 5 - So much effort my head might explode :exploding_head:

  • I don’t know

0 voters

10 Likes

I updated the nominations and added a Natively link and the current level!

The next Beginner Club poll will be in about a month, but the Intermediate Club is currently holding its poll. If you want to test your skills have a look here:

7 Likes

The next poll will start on May 30th, if you have any nominations you want to bring forward, now is the time!

12 Likes

Not sure whether you‘re a Regular (and too lazy to check :sweat_smile:) so I changed the OP title. If you don’t like this, just shake your fist at me and I‘ll remove it again :grin:

9 Likes

耳をすませば

Summary

Shizuku Tsukishima is a middle school girl who loves to read. One day, she notices the name Seiji Amasawa on the library card in her favorite book. As it turns out, he’s already checked out and read every library book Shizuku is reading. What kind of person is he?

Availability

Physical: AmazonJP | AmazonJP | CDJapan
Digital: Amazon | Book Walker | Kobo | Rakuten

This manga has had a few releases over the years.

Images of covers of various releases
Year Format Cover
1990 Paperback image
2005 Paperback
2014 Digital
Warning: There are other releases that are not this manga!

Physical release of the animated adaptation as manga:
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Digital release of the animated adaptation as manga:
image

Book about the animated adaptation:
image

Book about the animated adaptation:
image

Personal Opinion

This story is well-known due to Studio Ghibli’s animated adaptation, released in the west under the title Whisper of the Heart. If you’ve seen the adaptation, this gives an opportunity to see the source material.

Even if you haven’t seen the adaptation, it’s an opportunity to take a step into manga of the late 1980s.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Short story, spanning a single volume.
  • Furigana is used only on more difficult kanji. Readers who’ve avoided no-furigana material can transition more easily into reading kanji rather than furigana.
  • Ebook pages are a decent resolution (1075x1536).
  • Art style holds up well (unlike many comics from the 90s).
  • Lacks all the modern anime/manga tropes.
  • Has an animated adaptation.
  • Occasionally, cats.

Cons

  • Not all kanji have furigana. Readers who are first starting to learn kanji might prefer a pick with full furigana use.
  • Many readers will have no idea what a library card is.
  • Difficult for me to think of cons for =(

Pictures

First Three Pages of Chapter One



Additional Pages

Difficulty Poll

How much effort would you need to read this book?

  • 1 - No effort at all
  • 2 - Minimal effort
  • 3 - Moderate effort
  • 4 - Substantial effort
  • 5 - So much effort my head might explode :exploding_head:
  • I don’t know

0 voters

15 Likes

Another plus! We can check out her library books for more potential reading material! (And they’ll likely be either good, or classics, or both haha.)

The amount of furigana looks just right for me! The kanji that don’t have it are more or less effortless at this point, so that feels very very cool. And I love the art. This will probably become my number one pick for the next round of voting. :blush:

10 Likes

シャドーハウス

Summary

[from Amazon]
貴族の真似事をする、顔のない一族「シャドー」。その“顔”として仕える世話係の「生き人形」。来客のない奇妙な館には、今日も煤と黄色い声が、舞う――。

[From AniList]
Faceless shadow nobles living in a vast mansion, attended by living dolls who spend much of their time cleaning up the soot endlessly emitted by their mysterious masters.

Follow the story of Emilico, a young and cheerful living doll, as she learns her duties serving as the attendant for Kate Shadow-sama. What dangers and dark secrets will she and Kate encounter, as they become more deeply involved in the inner workings of the shadows’ society?

Availability

Physical: Amazon | CD Japan
Digital: Amazon | Amazon Color Version | Bookwalker | Bookwalker Color Version

Personal Opinion

I’ll quote my review of the series overall from Natively:

Shadows House is a really interesting series. It starts off almost as a slice of life comedy about a servant and her master, with a little mystery and intrigue thrown in. However, as the series progresses the comedy is toned down and the mystery elements become the focus. There’s a lot to love about this series, but the story and characters are really where it shines.

For the book club in particular, it doesn’t have much furigana, but the language overall is relatively simple (especially in the first volume), so it might be a good opportunity to practice without furigana. Also, if you happened to see my gradings on Natively, know that those gradings are for the overall series, since some content in later volumes is a little more complicated. The first volume is easier overall.

As a side note, I don’t plan on rereading the first volume if it wins with the book club (and would prefer someone else run the club as well). I just wanted to nominate the book to try to share what I consider a great series. I will of course follow along with the book club threads and help answer questions that pop up.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Short chapters (about 12 pages each)
  • Relatively simple language
  • Good practice for reading with minimal furigana
  • The first volume is a good introduction to a more complex world and story, easing the reader in and not overwhelming them.
  • Full color digital version!

Cons

  • Some might see the lack of furigana as a bad thing
  • Some might find the first volume a bit slow since it only teases the bigger world and story (though personally I found it very entertaining)

Pictures

I’d recommend checking out both the black and white and full color previews from the Amazon links above to compare the two versions.

First Four Pages of Chapter One

(Full chapter 1 is available on the Amazon preview)

Additional pages

(From chapter 6)

Difficulty Poll

How much effort would you need to read this book?

  • 1 - No effort at all
  • 2 - Minimal effort
  • 3 - Moderate effort
  • 4 - Substantial effort
  • 5 - So much effort my head might explode :exploding_head:
  • I don’t know

0 voters

14 Likes

Anyone interested in me nominating ひとりぼっちの〇〇生活? It’s a 4-koma manga that also lacks furigana, but it’s pretty sparse on text and is one of the easiest 4-koma manga I’ve read. I don’t want to go too heavy on the no-furigana nominations in the beginner book club unless there’s interest though, so I figured I’d check first this time.

8 Likes

Although I’ve read volume one, I wouldn’t mind a return to it and the potential for an offshoot for subsequent volumes. I definitely felt it was a bit on the light side for a 4koma.

That said, I have already read it the first volume, so my input should count a lot less than others’ =P

2 Likes

Judging purely from the Natively score of 20 and the preview I don’t think the missing furigana will be an issue

3 Likes

How interesting that we both had a “partial furigana” recommendation today =D

Missing from the Cons section:

  • Full color digital version! You’ll spend hours trying to decide which version you want to buy!

(Or maybe that’s just me…)

I’ve seen this series come up, either mentioned here on WaniKani or on Kobo, so I may have to check into it, especially if it gets picked.

Edit: It looks like the colorized version releases alongside the black and white version. That suggests to me that they’re likely to keep the colored version going (rather than stopping after a few volumes like I’ve seen with some other series), and anyone who opts for colorized wouldn’t have to worry about falling behind an offshoot club.

7 Likes

Yep, all 11 volumes so far have color versions, so it’s likely to continue!


One downside I realized for both シャドーハウス and ひとりぼっちの〇〇生活 is how many chapters there are. The former has 12 and the latter has 14 in their first volume. How many weeks do the beginner book club picks tend to go? Because these would go for about three months if reading one chapter per week.

3 Likes

Bocchi is only 112 pages of actual content, although being 4koma that makes make it a bit denser than typical manga read here.

I think the 4koma format lends itself to doing a set number of pages per week rather than going by chapter. Done that way, it could easily fit somewhere between eight weeks (like Death Note) and 15 weeks (Night Cafe). 8 weeks = 14 pages per week. 14 weeks = 8 pages per week.

Aside thought edit: I’m surprised the book clubs (at least ABBC and BBC) don’t more closely overlap the start of the next club with the end of the prior club. Considering how many people don’t make it to the end of any given club, there’s probably room for some clubs to run a little a bit longer (such as Night Cafe) without everyone not participating having to wait a whole four months (plus gap time between clubs) for the next book club.

3 Likes

I don’t know, I read a lot of 4-koma and I feel like they are better read as whole chapters. Yes, there tends to be some kind of punch line at the end of each set of four panels, but there’s usually some common location/event/theme/etc. for any given chapter, which lends itself to reading the whole chapter at once.

3 Likes

Granted, I haven’t yet read a 4koma where I’m typically getting in more than one to three pages in a day…

2 Likes

It’s certainly possible that what I’m saying (even if reasonable in general) shouldn’t be applied to the beginner book club since many people would likely read a chapter in multiple sittings anyway.

3 Likes

Hmmm, that’s an interesting thought. On the other hand, wouldn’t that actually punish those who stick through the whole book? Because if the next pick already starts while the previous pick is still ongoing, that would put a lot of stress on those who are able to follow along with the previous pick but cannot do more.

12 Likes