Beginner Japanese Book Club // Reading: 霧のむこうのふしぎな町

Currently reading: 霧のむこうのふしぎな町 ・ Mysterious Town Beyond the Mist

Sample pages available in the Nomination Post
Amazon JP | CDJapan | BookWalker | Kobo

Welcome to our book club!

In this club we choose a Japanese book together and read it following a weekly schedule. We help each other with grammar, compile a vocabulary sheet together and discuss the story.

We hope that eventually you’ll be able to take the jump to the Intermediate Book Club :rocket:

If you’re interested, just grab a copy of the upcoming book (we vote 5-6 weeks before finishing the current pick) and join in! You are always welcome to ask new questions in the threads of any of our previous picks as well :slightly_smiling_face:

Previous Picks

Book 01 | よつばと! ***
Book 02 | 魔女の宅急便 ・ Kiki’s Delivery Service)
Book 03 | Aria; Masterpiece Edition ***
Book 04 | のんのんびより
Book 05 | 夏目友人帳 ・ Natsume’s Book of Friends)
Book 06 | 時をかける少女 ・ The Girl Who Leapt Through Time)
Book 07 | 少女終末旅行 ・ Girls’ Last Tour) ***
Book 08 | 銭天堂 ・ The Mysterious Sweet Shop
Book 09 | 一週間フレンズ ・ One Week Friends
Book 10 | ふらいんぐうぃっち ・ Flying Witch ***

*** continuing in their own book clubs

Which Book Club?

This club is for those beginning to read native books and manga, not beginners to Japanese. We suggest a solid understanding of N5 grammar and at least some of N4.

Our picks vary in difficulty, roughly from relatively easy manga for teens to (older) children’s books. The best way to judge is to look at the sample pages for a particular pick. Remember that it will be easier with everyone’s help though!

The Absolute Beginners’ Club usually tackles material aimed at younger children.
The Intermediate Book Club usually tackles books and reads faster.

Proposed Books

Feel free to nominate something you’d like to read using the template below! Suggestions must be appropriate though; please read the guidelines.

Guidelines for Proposing Books
  • Nominate something you are ready to read

    • This is a big cooperative group, but there’s always a minority keeping things active. If your pick wins, there’ll be some expectation that you contribute.
    • If you can’t mostly read your own sample pages you may not be able to judge the difficulty effectively, and won’t be able to help others much.
  • Books must not be longer than 200 pages

    • Our reading pace means this is the longest we could tackle within a reasonable timeframe (ideally no more than 16 weeks), but if the book is dense it will need to be even shorter.
  • Do not nominate anything clearly NSFW

    • This can be hard to judge without reading the book, but if you’d associate the work with fanservice or gore please don’t suggest it for this group as we try to maintain a wide appeal.
  • Furigana does not imply something is easy (or vice versa)

    • It’s useful to note the presence or absence of furigana in your nomination, but don’t equate it directly with difficulty: it’s a factor.
  • It must be readily available to purchase

    • Please don’t nominate anything which people will have difficulty finding.
    • Ideally there should be an eBook version available as well as physical.
  • Try to pick something reasonably well-known

    • This will increase the reader pool as more people will be interested / already have a copy, and some might be more willing to take part if they can easily sell the book on after reading.
    • The overall premise is probably widely understood and some may have read (or watched) it before, making it easier for readers to understand the content from context and to help each other out.
  • Slice-of-life and drama is safer than fantasy

    • Slice-of-life and drama tend to focus on human interaction in a real-life setting, providing both a low barrier to entry and high returns on time invested.
    • Fantasy and sci-fi often feature info-dumps and long monologues, which are difficult and off-putting for beginners, as well as niche, esoteric and even unique vocabulary.
    • There are of course always exceptions, both ways.

Proposal Template

Copy this template into a new post when proposing a book/manga.

For page samples, you can either take photos of your own copy (try to make the three additional pages ‘representative’ if possible), grab photos from the internet, or use previews from e.g. Amazon, BookWalker, eBookJapan. Make sure the text is legible!

# Insert Title Here

## Summary
Insert summary from Amazon/Wikipedia/MyAnimeList/wherever here.

## Availability
Insert link to book on here.
Insert link(s) to ebook here, or mention if an ebook is not available.

## Personal Opinion
Insert why you think this book would be good to read, personally and for the book club here.

### Pros and Cons for the Book Club
#### Pros
* Insert pros here.
#### Cons
* Insert cons here.

## Pictures

[details=“First Three Pages of Chapter One”]
Insert images here (can be photos from you or the internet, or from ebook previews).

[details=“Additional Pages”]
Insert a few more images here - try to make them representative.

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

[poll type=regular public=true]
* 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)

List of Removed Nominations

Current Proposals

See the linked nomination posts for more information, including sample pages.

The difficulty scores come from club members voting in the nomination post; you should vote too!
Last updated: 2019-08-31

Manga - Nordic Girl Åsa Discovers the Mysteries of Japan


Nomination Post

Convenience store onigiri are way too handy! Why is it that Japanese girls can call just about anything “cute?” The guys at host bars are so hot, they’re like real-life anime characters! These are only some of the mysteries Swedish manga artist Åsa Ekström discovers in this journal comic about her journey from Scandinavia to Japan, which is jam-packed with surprises and laughs!

Amazon JP | CDJapan | BookWalker | eBook Japan
English Version | Author’s Blog

Difficulty: 2.40 [15 votes]

Manga - Ao's Island and a Cat


Nomination Post

The freshly graduated teacher Souta escapes the capital’s buzz and moves to a small island in the inland sea where he wants to start his first job. He is planning to live at his senpai’s place whom he knew from long ago, but when he gets there he discovers that senpai is not there; only his daughter and a cat. So he moves in with the two…

Amazon JP | CDJapan | BookWalker | eBook Japan

Difficulty: 2.79 [19 votes]

Manga - Laid-Back Camp


Nomination Post

Rin likes to go camping by herself along the lakes that provide a scenic view of Mt. Fuji. Nadeshiko is determined to see Mt. Fuji after just moving to the area. After they meet, Rin and Nadeshiko take camping trips, eat cup ramen together, and enjoy the scenery.

Amazon JP | CDJapan | BookWalker | eBook Japan

Difficulty: 2.83 [23 votes]

Manga - Fukaboku: Love Me For Who I Am


Nomination Post

Mogumo, a student who goes to school wearing a girl’s uniform, is invited to work part time at a cafe one day. At first, Mogumo is happy about getting to work while wearing a cute uniform, but after learning the that the cafe is an “otoko no ko ” cafe…

Amazon JP | CDJapan | BookWalker | eBook Japan

Difficulty: 2.29 [17 votes]

Manga - Fruits Basket


Nomination Post

After a family tragedy leaves Tooru Honda all alone and forces her to live in a tent, she encounters the esteemed Souma family, who’s estate she is unwittingly pitched on. Things start to look up after they discover her secret, as she is invited to live with the family, but she soon discovers that the Souma family have a secret all of their own…

This nomination is for the Collector’s Edition; those reading eBooks would need to purchase the first two ‘normal’ volumes.

Amazon JP | CDJapan

Amazon Kindle | eBook Japan | BookLive

Difficulty: 2.89 [18 votes]

Manga - Skip Beat!


Nomination Post

Kyoko Mogami discovers that her childhood friend and romantic goal, Sho Fuwa, only keeps her around to act as a maid and to earn his living expenses, while he works his way to become the top pop idol in Japan. Furious and heartbroken, she vows revenge by beating him in show business.

Amazon JP | CDJapan | BookWalker | eBook Japan | BookLive

Difficulty: 2.50 [12 votes]

Manga - Neighbourhood Story


Nomination Post

Koda Mikako is a first year student in the Clothing Design department of the Yazawa Art Academy. She is working hard to accomplish her dream of becoming a designer and creating her own brand. This story depicts the relations of the friends and acquaintances who surround her, as well as her romance with Yamaguchi Tsutomu, who lives in the same building as her.

Amazon JP | BookWalker | eBook Japan

Difficulty: 2.57 [14 votes]

Manga - Haikyuu!!


Nomination Post

Junior HS student Shōyō Hinata gains a sudden love of volleyball after seeing a national championship match on TV. Although short in height, he becomes determined to follow in the footsteps of the “Little Giant”. However, his dreams are destroyed in his first official match, where his team suffers a crushing defeat against the championship favourites, including so-called “King of the Court” Tobio Kageyama. Hinata vows to defeat Kageyama, only for the two to wind up as unlikely team mates.

Amazon JP | CDJapan | BookWalker | eBook Japan

Difficulty: 2.63 [8 votes]

Manga - Great Detective Conan


Nomination Post

Shinichi Kudou, a great mystery expert at only seventeen, gets into trouble after witnessing some disturbing illegal activity. Dosed with an experimental drug and left to die, he is astonished to live and wake up in the body of a seven-year-old. Hiding his identity, he takes on the alias of Conan Edogawa…

Amazon JP | CDJapan | BookWalker | eBook Japan

Difficulty: 3.35 [17 votes]

Book - Scary Lessons


Nomination Post

A girl, Yomi - a creature without legs - leads us through a world of horror, which slumbers in the midst of everyday life and lies in wait to pounce on the unsuspecting. Terrible things will happen to anyone foolish enough to tangle with it!

Amazon | eBook Japan

Difficulty: 3.24 [21 votes]

Where to Purchase Books

This section explains where to buy Japanese books in general; see the nominations above for links to purchase specific books.

Purchasing Japanese Books

Physical books:

Note that you need a separate account for each ‘instance’ of Amazon, so you won’t be able to use Amazon JP with e.g. your French Amazon account. Amazon adds an estimated customs charge to your bill which will be refunded if you don’t have to pay customs (or pay less) - bear this in mind when comparing prices.

CDJapan has economy shipping options which take longer to arrive but cost less, and a reward points system.

If you can’t find an online store that will ship to you, you can use a forwarding service like Tenso or White Rabbit Express. If you live in the right place, you may also be able to find the book at a local Japanese book store such as Kinokuniya; just Google your area.


If purchasing eBooks from Amazon JP gives you trouble, check out sirvorn’s wonderful guide on purchasing eBooks from Amazon JP.

Historic Polls

"Next Book" Polls

Winner links go to the original nominations.

Other Polls

What level can I start reading books?
Genki Study Buddies - 「皆さんはGenkiを勉強しています」
Intermediate Japanese Book Club (Now Reading: 氷菓)
魔女の宅急便 (Kiki's Delivery Service) Discussion Thread: Chapter 1
魔女の宅急便 (Kiki’s Delivery Service) Discussion Thread: Chapter 7
魔女の宅急便 (Kiki’s Delivery Service) Discussion Thread: Chapter 10
Trying to Get Fluent In Japanese?
魔女の宅急便 (Kiki’s Delivery Service) Discussion Thread: Chapter 11 [Final Chapter!]
Looking for some recommendations
夏目友人帳 - Natsume’s Book of Friends: Chapter 1 Discussion
少女終末旅行: Chapter 1 Discussion
Example Sentence Breakdown
時をかける少女: Week 13 Discussion (Chapters 22 and 23 [END])
時をかける少女: Week 12 Discussion (Chapters 20 and 21)
時をかける少女: Week 11 Discussion (Chapters 18 and 19)
Suggested reading? - I made it to level 10!
When and how?
魔女の宅急便 (Kiki's Delivery Service) Home Thread - Beginner's Book Club
時をかける少女: Week 10 Discussion (Chapters 16 and 17)
夏目友人帳 - Natsume's Book of Friends Home Thread (Beginner Book Club)
少女終末旅行: Chapter 5 Discussion
少女終末旅行: Chapter 6 Discussion
少女終末旅行: Chapter 7 Discussion
少女終末旅行: Chapter 8 Discussion [end of volume 1]
よつばと!Vol 1 Discussion Thread (Beginner's Book Club)
のんのんびより Home Thread (Beginner Book Club)
少女終末旅行: Chapter 9 Discussion [start of volume 2]
少女終末旅行: Chapter 10 Discussion
少女終末旅行: Chapter 11 Discussion
少女終末旅行: Chapter 12 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 27.5 (Special Navigation) Discussion
時をかける少女: Week 9 Discussion (Chapters 14 and 15)
Absolute Beginner Book Club (Now reading: Kitty Detectives and 10分で読める物語 二年生)
銭天堂 Home Thread ・ Zenitendou, The Mysterious Sweet Shop! (Beginner Book Club)
少女終末旅行: Chapter 13 Discussion
時をかける少女: Week 1 Discussion (Chapter 1)
時をかける少女: Week 2 Discussion (Chapter 2)
時をかける少女: Week 3 Discussion (Chapter 3)
時をかける少女: Week 4 Discussion (Chapters 4 and 5)
少女終末旅行: Chapter 14 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 27 Discussion
時をかける少女: Week 8 Discussion (Chapters 12 and 13)
Wanikani Confessions
少女終末旅行: Chapter 15 Discussion
Master List of Book Clubs
What to do when you want to add some inconsistent studying to your routine?
[2020 is up] 多読/extensive reading challenge
少女終末旅行: Volume 3 Discussion
少女終末旅行: Volume 4 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 26 Discussion
時をかける少女: Week 7 Discussion (Chapters 10 and 11)
少女終末旅行: Volume 5 Discussion
時をかける少女: Week 5 Discussion (Chapters 6 and 7)
時をかける少女: Week 6 Discussion (Chapters 8 and 9)
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 25 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 24 Discussion
My Journey of 368 days (+ The Ultimate Guide for WK :open_book: )
時をかける少女 Home Thread (Beginner Book Club)
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 23 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 22 Discussion
少女終末旅行: Volume 6 Discussion [Final Volume]
少女終末旅行: Chapter 16 Discussion (End of Volume 2)
Comparison of Book Club Picks
一週間フレンズ | Week 1 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 21 Discussion
夏目友人帳 - Natsume’s Book of Friends: Chapter 4 Discussion
夏目友人帳 - Natsume’s Book of Friends: Chapter 3 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 20 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 19 Discussion
夏目友人帳 - Natsume’s Book of Friends: Chapter 2 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 18 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 17 Discussion (+ Special Navigation: 社長の日常)
Starting Volume Two on 15 February!・ふらいんぐうぃっち・Flying Witch Home Thread (Beginner Book Club) :broom:
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 16 Discussion
のんのんびより: おまけ (volume 1)
のんのんびより: ユメのユメ (volume 1)
のんのんびより: Chapter 9 Discussion
のんのんびより: Chapter 8 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 15 Discussion
のんのんびより: Chapter 7 Discussion
のんのんびより: Chapter 6 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 14 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 13 Discussion
のんのんびより: Chapter 5 Discussion
のんのんびより: Chapter 4 Discussion
のんのんびより: Chapter 3 Discussion
のんのんびより: Chapter 2 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 12 Discussion
のんのんびより: Chapter 1 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 11 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 10 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 9 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 8 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 7 Discussion
Resources for Starting to Read Japanese Content
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 6 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 5 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 4 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 3 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 2 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 1 Discussion
霧のむこうのふしぎな町 ・ Mysterious Town Beyond the Mist (Beginner Book Club) :wind_face: :houses:
(Recoding will be done around 1/15) - A WK-friendly website for reading
Intermediate Japanese Book Club (Now Reading: 氷菓)
Trial Period Graduation
魔女の宅急便 (Kiki’s Delivery Service) Discussion Thread: Chapter 9
魔女の宅急便 (Kiki’s Delivery Service) Discussion Thread: Chapter 8
Feeling Unmotived
魔女の宅急便 (Kiki’s Delivery Service) Discussion Thread: Chapter 6
魔女の宅急便 (Kiki’s Delivery Service) Discussion Thread: Chapter 4
Aria the Masterpiece Home Thread (Beginner Book Club / Aria Book Club)
一週間フレンズ | Week 2 Discussion
一週間フレンズ | Week 3 Discussion
魔女の宅急便 (Kiki’s Delivery Service) Discussion Thread: Chapter 2
魔女の宅急便 (Kiki’s Delivery Service) Discussion Thread: Chapter 3
魔女の宅急便 (Kiki’s Delivery Service) Discussion Thread: Chapter 5
一週間フレンズ | Week 4 Discussion
一週間フレンズ | Week 5 Discussion
一週間フレンズ | Week 6 Discussion
一週間フレンズ | Week 7 Discussion
When did WaniKani start to get easier?
一週間フレンズ | Week 8 Discussion
一週間フレンズ | Week 9 Discussion
一週間フレンズ One Week Friends Home Thread (Beginner Book Club)
Absolute Beginner Book Club (Now reading: Kitty Detectives and 10分で読める物語 二年生)
少女終末旅行: Chapter 2 Discussion
少女終末旅行: Chapter 3 Discussion
少女終末旅行: Chapter 4 Discussion
少女終末旅行 Home Thread (Beginner Book Club)

A list of quick suggestions of books/manga for the first pool:

Please, if you have any suggestions, do say so. I made this list based on what I’ve seen considered as “easiest to read” around the Internet/Japanese learning community. I think it’s better to hear some suggestions from everyone before creating the pool that will decide the first book. I’ve heard that sports related stuff are also beginner friendly (Baby steps & Haikyuu!). Doraemon seems also to be a good option…

Also, feel free to let me know if there’s something that you don’t agree with :slight_smile:


Since I just ordered “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time,” but am also already committed to 秋の牢獄 for the next round of the other club, I guess I’ll just pop in and say hi now, and hope that “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time” doesn’t get picked right away. I may be nuts, but I’m pretty sure I can’t handle two book clubs at once.

I’m excited to see this starting, and I hope those who don’t feel ready for the original club will find a place here!


I have recently orderer yotsuba& and found it pretty entertaining and easily readable. I would be totally in for that one :slight_smile:


Since I just bough the whole series for 絶叫学級 I’m hoping it might be picked :wink:
It seems like a very good beginner book, with easy language and furigana (which is good only while on lower levels, which many of us still are)

I have been considering Yotsuba too though, as I’ve seen it on so many lists for beginners =)

Bought Yotsuba. Whether or not we pick it doesn’t mater, I have been thinking of buying it for so long anyway =) Found complete set at bargain price on eBay, free shipping!
時をかける少女 too, hey, if it is good for beginners, just as well grab it =) Got it of eBay for a fair price.
しろくまカフェ as well, I’ve seen it on more than one list of recommended mangas, founda set for a decent and low price on eBay.

4/5 (current suggestions) bought =) None in possession, though one bought before list :wink:
Himouto! I’m skipping on for now, and won’t have my vote as first book. Might be doable later when higher level due to not using furigana much.


I’ve seen the other book club, and always thought it looked like fun. I’m still super beginner, but if we were reading something easy I would love to do my best. I think I have a lot to learn before I can read without looking up words and grammar all the time, but even if I have to look up every other word, I still think want to give it a try! I think it would be good for my learning and very motivating for me to have something to read in Japanese laying around.

I’ll add myself to the members list for now.

I’m interested in Yotsuba because I’ve heard it’s one of the easier books, but I’ll try to read anything.

By the way, where do you think is the best place to order books for me living in Sweden? Is it possible to order stuff from and have them shipped overseas?

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I’m able to buy from there, and I’m from Norway. I can’t seem to get free shipping anymore (always over 100Nok in shipping =/ )
I got Yotsuba of eBay instead, full series for 500Nok, free shipping.

I would like to recommend Chi’s Sweet home. It too, like Yotsuba, has easy language and a child as main character (the child is a cat, but still a child :wink: There’s an actual child too =P ) It has an easy yet fun plot that makes you feel for the characters, and the story is quite interesting. I have seen it on lists for beginners, and of my reading material it is one of the less strained readings I have without meaning to be (as in, it has natural language, yet is easy to follow) The language is about things happening around the house and family.

I would not, however, recommend Doraemon. I bought it cause it was made to be bilingual, and though made for Japanese people it could work the other way… No, not really. The Japanese text is very small and little to no furigana as it was meant for adults. I’m not able to read the Japanese part of those. The small Japanese text is set outside the frames while the English is in the text bubbles. I haven’t even gotten around to reading the English part of it yet. Much better to buy both versions of some other manga and read side by side.

Personally I love trying to read Naruto in Japanese. It feels t me just the same as Chi, cause I already know the lingo :wink:
For those not used to the series it would be much harder. They keep a lot of the Japanese parts in the scanlations of the mangas and in the subtitles of the anime, as well as being repeated so much that you end up knowing a lot of the phrases and specific ninja words they use in Japanese.


A good resource we could use to find something good might be, as it provides you with sample sentences of the work that you check so it tells you how hard it might end up being.

I wouldn’t be upset if we went with Yotsuba. I love manga and I hear Yotsuba is incredibly cute. Since I already love manga (I read a lot of manga but I’ve only read english translations so far), I think it’d be cool if my first book I read in Japanese (from cover to cover, anyway) is a manga. Plus, since everyone says Yotsuba is so simple, I would probably be able to have time to participate while still studying Genki like I want to. So if we go with Yotsuba as the first book, I’ll start participating now instead of waiting until next year. :slight_smile:

Though, I do also want to read “actual” books so I would want to go with something other than manga for our second book.

Whatever we decide to go with, I hope someone will post some links of good places to purchase from?

I checked out Himouto!, found photos of the actual pages. Since it doesn’t use much furigana it will be good for high levels but bad for lower levels. Didn’t buy it for now.

I do hope we try actual books as well, though I wouldn’t mind going with a manga as the first one and book as second =)


よつばと! is a very entertaining book. The grammar and the vocabulary are fine but it should be said that there’re some informal particles or sentence structures which should be discussed. Also, keep in mind that Yotsuba pronounces the words long so don’t be confused when you see strokes in words =)

Oh yeah, I know a website which ships for free (over 39 bucks). But keep in mind that the prizes for individual books are more expensive.

Sure! This isn’t supposed to be a manga club. The problem is that what we associate as children books in the West, 日本人 associate with manga. That’s also why it’s important that everyone shares any extra book suggestions they might have :slight_smile:

From what I researched on google/forums, seems to be the place to go to order books in Japanese. That’s why I linked only from Amazon in the suggestions that I gave. Not sure if there’s better places out there though.

Kiki’s Delivery Service (魔女の宅急便)might be nice!

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I sometimes grab the same book through for a better price on shipping (doesn’t always work, but sometimes)
And eBay is always a good place to check. Not as easily linked as most will be one of, sold and gone. But do have a search there when looking =)

I’d be up for either よつばと or The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. Although I’m hesitantly skeptical about how easy TGWLTT will be to read for beginners, based on my hazy memory of the movie.

I voted for that one in the previous vote on the original Book club! =D
Just cause I know the story, which is a good bonus (Ghibli Movie)
I should grab it too, to check it out =)

Edit: bought the set just as well. Found it at decent price on Amazon jp

Only a small amount of items can be shipped internationally. But it is possible to get it shipped for an extra fee by choosing a seller for used books and mailing them for a international shipping request.

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Really? Every book I’ve tried and bought (four so far) was easy to get through JP Amazon.

Omg, I’m sorry, I’m so dumb. I didn’t realize you already had provided those links in the other post… I read the titles but for some reason it didn’t click in my head that they were links to purchase them. xD

So, thank you, you already did what I was asking. xD My bad!

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From what I remember reading the book (in Swedish) the movie and the book(s) are quite different. Ghibli (Miyazaki) usually deviates quite a bit from the source material when they do an interpretation. Nothing bad with that, just putting it out there.

I like both versions though, might have give the book a read in Japanese!