Brute Forcing My Way Through Web Novels

My Japanese level is around N4, and I’m currently 1,400 vocabulary into Core 2k (and know about 2,000 words total). I know the meanings of 400-500 kanji, and I can read vocabulary using a hundred or so more. I figured it was time to start reading, since I’ve done very little of that since I started learning Japanese, and I’m quickly heading into intermediate Japanese.

What I tried starting with was web novels, though I’ve heard that they’re generally recommended for N3 learners.

This was the one I tried reading:

I ended up with 80 words I didn’t know by the end of it. What I want to ask is if it’s a good idea to go through a chapter every day (3,000-4,000 characters) and end up with 80 foreign words added to my vocabulary list. Is that too much, or is that closer to the best I’m gonna get?

Of course, after the few chapters, I’m sure the unknown vocabulary words will quiet down, because generally, there are typically only a few thousand unique vocabulary words in every novel, assuming we’re not talking about Ulysses or Lolita (which are around 20,000-30,000 words).

Manga would probably be easier to read because it’s mostly dialogue (hence greatly lacking descriptive words), but I’m interested in reading this web novel because I quite like it. I’m just wondering if it’ll be good for improving my reading ability, because of all the words I’ll have to look up.


Depends on how much free time you have. I used to do around 50 words a day and its maintainable if you have a lot of free time, but I cant really say for 80. 80 seems like a bit much, but just because I cant do it doesnt mean someone else cant.

There are really two options. You can ram your head against the wall and try and tackle something that is much above your level, or you can read stuff that is only slightly above your level. If you enjoy reading the web novel, then I would recommend sticking with it. So long as you are actually studying some of the words outside of reading and making sure that you retain them, you’ll be expanding your vocabulary wonderfully. Make sure to give plenty of attention to vocab as well. Personally, I am in the same boat as you with taking the first option. I opted to not read easy manga just because I found I enjoyed the harder stuff more. I am very happy with my progress, so I dont see why you would be any different.

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80 vocabulary a day would mean about 560 words a week or about 5.6 levels of WaniKani. That’s … too much, especially as old reviews start to snowball. Even the fast levelers complain how difficult going two levels a week is, let alone two times that.

If you want to read more difficult literature, just try and read it in a way that you can look up words quickly and continue with a routine like WaniKani or Core deck on the side. Eventually the most common words the writers use sticks and reading that work becomes much easier. That’s what I did and after three routes I am now able to read that target novel and similar works by the same development team quite easily.

Also, core 2k uses a list based off newspapers. Not a bad list, but if you want to read literature, I would recommend the Core V2k.

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I do 50 core 2k words a day pretty easily. Only because going slower doesn’t help my acquisition any more, and going faster ensures I don’t retain much at all. It’s about the right speed. I’d probably be able to do a few more if it weren’t for kanji I don’t know appearing in new vocabulary, which is the real bottleneck here.

It’s not like I have to do one chapter a day, anyway. Spreading it out over 2 or 3 days would be fine, and speeding it up as I get through Core/WK and acquire more vocabulary words. Personally, NHK Easy just isn’t doing it for me. I really wanted to read ヒロインな妹、悪役令嬢な私 - 1 but I had to look up 25 words in the first 8 paragraphs…

I actually purchased a (rather expensive) copy of Aiyoku no Eustia, which is often recommended to beginners, so I was thinking of trying that instead, soon. Preferably around April, when I’ll be done with Core 2k and have closer to 1,000 kanji (more like 700-800 at best) under my belt. And after I’ve done a decent amount of Tobira.

Oh. Guess I’m delaying reading again. SIgh.

Thanks for the advice!

Aiyoku no Eustia, from what I’ve heard, has a fair amount of vocab pretty specific to that genre and setting. However after that initial hurdle, it becomes much easier to read. I’ve read a few sentences here and there and it look actually surprisingly simple once you understand those setting exclusive. It would likely be a good example of just reading and absorbing vocabulary as you progress rather than adding it to an SRS.

I was thinking of giving Aiyoku no Eustia a go soon, maybe in 2 or 3 week’s time. So if I come across a word I don’t know, rather than adding it to anki (which is frankly an annoying amount of effort, and I hate anki), just look it up and continue on? Sounds like something I can get behind.

Had a look at CoreV2K. Looks great! Thanks for recommending it to me! It’s something I’ve seen before but forgot about a few months ago right after I took a break from Japanese.

It has words from Aiyoku no Eustia too, so that’s pretty helpful.

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Yeah, I’d rather absorb it, since already using WaniKani and iKnow’s Core2k is a massive pain. Good news is that I’ve finally managed to figure out how to get VNs to work on my PC. Hopefully I can get ITH working as well.

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Yup, at your level completionism should not be your goal. When I was about 3500 words in, I was basically reading visual novels much ahead of my level just to get an idea of what was going on. This strategy works best at around your level because common words that show up a lot in writing are still unknown to you, so you will eventually learn them by just reading and continuing with WaniKani. Words like 卑怯, 叩く, 静か, etc. The only time you should be adding words to Anki or Houhou (the latter I use much more), is for rare words that you should only worry about at about my level, at around 7100 or so words. Words like 侍従 (chamberlain), 涅槃 (Nirvana), and 地でいく (to do for real).

Ask @Vanilla. I think that he has a method with a better dictionary than the one I use.

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