English and Japanese manga

Hi everyone, it’s my first post here.

I was wondering if anyone had tried the following: reading a chapter of manga in English and then in Japanese. The goal: to start understanding Japanese sentence forming and expression faster even without knowing the words.

I’m only fifth level on wanikani but it frustrates me a bit that I can only catch a word or two in every other sentence and not get a good idea about what the anime characters are saying (and yes I know I shouldn’t be expected to understand much this early in the process)

Or if anyone has any other tricks they would like to share,I’m all ears!

P.S. if there is another post same as this one please let me know! Thanks!

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What can I say? You don’t understand enough words, that’s it :smiley: Building a vocabulary is hard work and takes time.


Unless you enjoy (or alright with) translating every. Single. Word. You encounter i wouldn’t recommend you start reading very early on. I think in that matter grammer might be the biggest obstacle . Since there is easy mangas out there.
As for tricks i guess maybe try not translate every single thing. It is ok sometimes to not get everything especially in the beginning.

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Yes vocabulary is hard…I was just wondering if you know I can supplement it with something so it’s not so dry all the time :sweat_smile::sweat_smile:

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Your idea is pretty good. You will notice some words appear again and again.

Easier than Manga are graded readers, maybe check out this site:

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My thing was not really translate every single word but more like find patterns of sentences that appear again and again so I kind of remember them. I don’t know if it makes sense :sweat_smile:


Thank you for the resource I will definitely check if out!

(I might have misunderstood what you were going for when you said English then Japanese.
I thought you meant in order to use the translation to cover for the fact that you can’t understand the Japanese yet, but directly.)

Translation is not word for word.

Sometimes even complete phrases get changed in favor of better sounding or more natural expressions.

Even more so in manga, sentences get cut off at weird points, characters have speech quirks to establish personality, and polite language is usually out of the question.

I would recommend learning grammar before attempting to read Japanese manga if you want to get more out of it than just some vocab per chapter.

Watching series/anime does help; it gets you listening and connecting phrases to certain actions and, thus, giving them meaning without having to understand everything, besides learning basic vocabulary just by immersion. This is the power of context.

You don’t get that much context if you can’t follow what’s going on in a conversation in a manga, which brings me to my next point: Reading manga in Japanese is harder than you might think.
Harder than listening to anime and thinking, “Oh, I got what they said.”

You need to know kanji, or look up every word in a dictionary (if it even has furigana, which some do, to be fair), you need to know the vocabulary, and you need to know the grammar (the level of difficulty for this varies depending on how good you are at understanding the context).

I wouldn’t say I have or haven’t tried what you suggest, but I would say that you’d be better off waiting a bit more before trying to read manga.

Why not start with short stories, scripted conversations, or just listening practice?


I can second everything Kazzeon said here as Im currently trying to read my first manga in japanese as well. I read before that it is recommended to have at least basic knowledge in grammar on jlpt lvl 5 and 4. While learning the sample sentences (via Genki and bunpro) I automatically noticed how my reading improved. Also the sentences were perfect for my reading level.

If you still want to start the manga right away, why don’t you try to read the japanese panel first and if you don’t understand whats going on read the english panel right after? That’s the approach im taking right now since I would be cheating myself if I knew the english version beforehand. Like: yep, exactly how I would have translated that sentence. Lets move on…

Edit: this might help you build fundamental vocab knowledge for your series: Koohi

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Thank you for all the insightful input, I appreciate It!

I watch anime but should I use Japanese subs or should I continue using English ?

I will definitely look up the resources you mentioned! Very new to the forum and still finding me way around…:grimacing:

Good advice! I will consider doing this.

I will have to push myself to learn some more words and then give grammar a try.

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What worked/works for me is using Genki to build a small foundation for each grammar point (there are also vocab lists for each chapter) and then adding these points into Bunpro to memorize them longterm. Bunpro also adds/removes furigana on the kanji based on your Wanikani progress (if you set the option for it and you add your API key). :slight_smile:

There are countless ressources though and some work better for others. This thread might help: The Ultimate Additional Japanese Resources List!


I am also thinking of getting genki as first textbook, I’ll see how it turns out.
I might just steal your approach :ok_hand:t3::sweat_smile:

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When watching anime use Japanese subs or no subs. The brain likes to be as efficient as possible, and the most efficient way to understand what’s happening in a language you only partially understand is to read the English translation. If you leave that shortcut open your brain will always try to take it and this doesn’t help you learn Japanese. The only time you should be checking the English subs is if you have no idea what just happened in a scene and you need to know for context. Just make sure to turn them back off afterwards.

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There is a book called “Japanese the Manga Way: An Illustrated Guide to Grammar and Structure” that might help if you really love manga and find it an interesting way to learn Japanese. I’ve only read some of it, but it seems like a pretty good grammar guide for manga lovers. I got my copy off Amazon.


Very good point, hadn’t thought of it that way! Thank you :pray:

I will have a look for it! Appreciate you sharing !

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Extremely valid suggestion.



I disagree.

Maybe it doesn’t help you learn Japanese as quickly, or as immersively, or as effectively, or as optimally as possible, but anything you do with Japanese helps you learn Japanese.

Might it be just memorizing phrases, looking up vocabulary you don’t know, and learning how things are pronounced? Perhaps.

But that’s a pretty good base for when you start studying grammar, and I don’t think saying that something doesn’t help you learn Japanese is fair.

Plus, everyone learns in different ways, and not everyone needs full immersion.



So I gave these books a try an I have to say THANK YOU! When I get bored from learning vocabulary I read a book or two from these and I get re-motivated because my brain probably subconsciously justifies putting in all this effort. It really helped🙏

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Hey, nice to hear that.

I love the concept of Graded Readers, they’re a great confidence boost and allow you to get eased in and not be overwhelmed.