First manga reading attempt

I highly recommend よつばと!as a beginner manga. It might not be the most interesting content for you, but it’ll help you get a foothold in reading. It has much less slang and more everyday expressions. It was still incredibly difficult in the beginning. I’d spend 20 minutes looking at one phrase trying to figure out what the heck it meant.

I’d recommend trying to skim through a few pages or the first chapter trying to get the gist of what’s happening before going back and looking up words that you don’t know. After that, try not to look up words unless you see them come up more than once or you really can’t understand what’s happening (or if you’ve seen it on wanikani but can’t remember the reading).


I’ll try slowly with ようばとas so many of you recommend it and I’ll maybe add a comment on my own experience :smiley:


The manga is sooo much better though. Specifically, the animation in the anime is kind of mediocre, whereas the art in the manga is beautiful.

This is such a great thread!

I started reading 君の名は today. I’ve never read manga before - I’m level 12 WK and have studied grammar before, previously finishing books one and two of みんなの日本語. I’ve never tried JLPT.

This book was on some online list I found too as being a good one for beginners. I knew it was a movie as well (which I haven’t seen), but it seemed interesting… and I think that’s important to try to have something you want to read rather than push through a book for a book’s sake.

So far, I can read… it’s the understanding what I have read that seems to be the issue. Lol. I have been looking up lots of vocab along the way, and that seems to have got me a general understanding of what’s going on. I have been using “yomiwa” to look up and make note of the new words I’ve encountered so I can later go back and look at my list to learn the new vocab I have read.

I don’t have high expectations of myself in this and am treating it as a learning experience. I expect it to be hard, and at times to possibly even hate doing it… but I also expect this will improve over time.

I’m excited to have discovered that WK has a book club??!! I’m totally going to look that one up!


If we’re offering resources for unknown phrases (I say phrases, and often times vobulary, rather than foundational grammar, which you might be better off learning formally from books or learner-oriented sites), and aren’t equipped to dive headlong into native-oriented language resources or want to check translation precedent, you can’t do better than Weblio is a Japanese-native-oriented two-way English-Japanese dictionary that–and this is by far its best feature–aggregates example sentences from real translations. In my own translation practice, that’s been an extremely useful tool. No machine algorithms; just a bunch of examples of how real people have handled certain phrases in pubished examples. The only drawback is that it might require a better handle on Japanese so you can actually parse what’s happening between the original and translation. As such, I’m not exactly sure how truly beginner-friendly it is. Still, I think it should be able to help you get more a practical gist of new phrases. (That said, there’ll be times, especially in more colloquial manga, where only searching for explanations in Japanese aimed at natives will do.)

If I’m just looking up an individual unkonwn word that pops up while reading manga or prose, I just use an En<->Jp phone app or Jisho, though, definitely. If I’m translating something, I’ll check weblio and native language resources to makes sure I have a stronger handle on it.

I add new words to decks on Quizlet (substitute with Anki or the digital/physical flashcard system of your choice), but that isn’t something I would have bothered doing for every single look-up prior to passing N2. For one, it would have been too time-consuming, and for another, it wouldn’t have been a good use of time as I continued through foundational/test-specific vocab lists.


There are a whole bunch of book clubs. :slight_smile:


I personally think that a lot of the easy manga suggestions are not really helpful to me. Maybe it makes sense to someone further along in grammar and vocabulary, but for me, Dragon Ball was not easy to start. Titles like: Yostuba!, Chi’s sweet home were, but still they can be a bit much here and there, I honestly found more help doing some extensive reading with picture books starting from another forum post here: えほんのチャレンジ:0歳 "Picture Book Challenge: Age 0" .

When I search for titles, I usually will search in Japanese for recommendations based on age grounds/school years.一年生小学 (first year elementary school), and マンガ, or Something like 小学1-2年の男の子マンガ (elementary school, 1-2 Year, boy’s book). Or with 女の子. Or other young gender terms just to see if it suggests different titles. Here is an example of what can be pulled up by those search terms:

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Maybe I should have mentioned that I didn’t start by reading manga, I used the graded readers as a stepping stone before I was able to read actual native materials.


I think the problem, at least in my opinion, is that while it is true that Yotsubato may use simple language it is the fact that it is pitched as “easy” when it’s really not. In a relative sense, of course, it is “easier” than reading an adult newspaper, but for a language beginner it is not easy to read. It’s especially bad when lists like the one I called out above is titled Easy To Read Manga For Japanese Beginners. Lists like that set you up thinking you’re going to have an easy go of reading this stuff, but for many it ends up just being the opposite so you end up more frustrated than anything else. It really kills any enjoyment you should be getting from reading and instead you just end up demotivated. You feel like you’re an idiot that you can’t get something that is clearly pitched by many people as a great “easy” title for a beginner.

Unfortunately many of those “easy to read” lists seem to be written by people who have been studying Japanese for years and are already at an intermediate or advanced level. So they are looking at these titles through a different set of lenses than someone just starting out.


I find that having a kanji dictionary (whether an actual book or app doesn’t matter) available and a dedicated amount of time to go through each panel really helps me in my understanding. I don’t remember the first time I tried to read a manga in Japanese because I’ve been studying for over 10 years now. But I do remember after my 300 level classes in university, feeling on top of the world as I began to be able to read more “adult” (read: not kindergarten level) Japanese texts. Keep up the dedication! And best of luck to you!

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I don’t think any native material - at all - could be called easy for beginners. I think that’s why the Beginner’s Book Club specifies that it means beginners at reading native material and not beginners in Japanese, for example.


Yup, that sounds about right.

It’d be nice if all these highly recommended beginner manga had reading guides written to help beginners through the first few chapters, at least. Not just vocabulary lists, but discussion on the grammar involved. By three chapters in, the beginning reader should have an idea of what level of grammar and vocabulary they need to know, should have at least a basic grasp on the grammar used in those first chapters, and have an idea of what kind of knowledge they need to learn on their own for the rest of the volume.

I’m not saying these lists should include reading guides, though. It’s a lot of work doing something like this for even one page, let alone three chapters. But it’d be nice if there was a list that did.

Now I wonder how much notoriety I could get by writing up a nice long blog post titled “Easy to Read Manga for Beginners Lists Considered Harmful”.

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I used the same list and it was hard to be so excited and then realise I was no way near the level of reading it yet. It took me about a year or two to be able to get to the level to try again.

WaniKani is a huge help in terms of being able to read, but then piecing together the grammar is important, otherwise you get what THINGS are in the story, but not what the things are DOING.

Going through the Genki books (I and II) helped to get grammar knowledge, but I still read next to my grammar dictionary while I’m reading now. It really, really helps, especially when I’m reading light novels and can’t guess what’s happening from pictures like in manga.


I’m not talking about anyone here, but links like the one I referenced above that myself and the OP both read that told us that Dragon Ball was an easy title as beginners without any such qualifier.

It’s why I mostly still read graded readers and dabble a bit at reading Patlabor. Trying to read Dragon Ball was just demotivating even though I’m a huge fan.

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One thing that I learned the hard way, before being somewhat more comfortable while reading manga, is that there is no such thing as manga for beginners (namely for N5 and N4). At this level you’ll still have a really hard time reading native material. Only when you’re well underway N3 level you’ll start feeling less and less frustrated while reading.


I started a thread about my entry into manga, which is Initial D.

Surprisingly, it’s going well. I use bunpro, so,when I encounter a grammar point that I am ready to absorb, I find it in bunpro, study the crap out of it, and enjoy my story more.

Some days, I read a ton, other days, I get one page in. Whatever. I am loving reading. It is opening a door to a new world for me.

I also do graded readers and NHK Easy, which are their own challenges. Today was a panda. Woohoo!


My first attempt at manga was Yagate - Kimi Ni Naru, the shoujo-ai manga Blooming into You.
I remember sitting at the beach for hours, looking up every other word because I just couldn’t read the damn thing. It was so frustrating, even with the furigana there, because it was incredibly time consuming.
I got super de-motivated to read manga, and for the next year and a half ignored it on my shelf - I don’t think I even finished the first chapter.

Fast forward to last month, where on a whim I picked it up for an hour before I left to catch a flight.
I read 3/4 of the whole book in that hour. Kanji goals! Thank you WaniKani


I really want to read One Punch Man but my friend in Japan told me the language in it wasn’t really beginner-friendly (so maybe similar to your case with Dragon Ball). I then started to read Nichijou instead!


Maybe that’s because I love doing investigative stuff, but I haven’t found my reading experience that much frustating. I started reading ときめき図書館, so a light novel aimed at children, and obviously since I’m at an early level of proficiency I have to look almost everything up (grammar- and vocab-wise). I guess it depends on the goal, but I think it’s all the more rewarding of an experience to see that the more you read the less vocab/grammar you have to check and the faster you read (I can already see strong improvements with only 1-2 chapters read). You just have to decrypt the first chapter and then it gets easier :thinking:


I used to have to do this a lot more when I started with graded readers, too, and that’s fine because I could actually fairly easily look up words, phrases, and the grammar points. So I kept being motivated because I could on my own usually figure out most of what was being said and the pictures would help in attempting to decipher what was occasionally more ambiguous.

But something like Dragon Ball uses lots of language that you can’t always just easily look up in a dictionary if you don’t know that it’s slang, or a contracted form of something else, etc. It also uses a lot of onomatopoeia which are also not always easy to look up as well. So when I tried to read it, I had to try to carefully word a Google search in hopes of finding an English language result that happened to be asking about the exact same sentence I was confused on (and often there wasn’t). So in contrast to a graded reader, the inability to decipher many things ended up being a hindrance to wanting to continue rather than a challenge that paid off with dividends in understanding.

On the other hand, I’ve been slowly working my way through Patlabor and I still am often having to look up lots of things, but it’s much easier to decipher the language it uses because the people actually speak in more easily decipherable language being that the main cast of characters are police officers and adults.