Introducing Natively - A free community book sharing site with over 9800 popular books graded by difficulty

It’s been a while since I read much of the forums, so I just got around to this.

Is this the solution you ended up settling on? If so, I suggested at least one book for the wrong category.

Since you said you plan on adding prize winners, do you plan on adding that information (i.e. which prize a book got) as a searchable tag?

Love the new design. Great color choice, very simple and nice. :ok_hand:


Yep - there’s now a ‘short story’ book type which is for short stories and anthologies of short stories. I haven’t formalized exactly what it means…as some books contain a few novellas or short stories with a connected narrative count. Generally, I’ve been thinking ‘short story’ is only for stories < 50 pgs and if it’s an anthology, they must be isolated stories.

If you want to change some books, let me know via the ‘have some feedback?’ button on the book page :slight_smile:

Yes! I’m currently adding the prize & prize year into the database, I’m just not surfacing or allowing searches yet. Will have in the future.

Makes me super happy to hear, I’m very excited about it :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:


I love seeing how many pages I’ve read and of what :slight_smile:

A suggestion: clicking on them could take you to the relevant library. (IE if you click on “Children’s Book” you get taken to the library page with “Children’s book” selected.)

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Interesting thought. Of course it won’t be perfect (I don’t have library filter currently that would exactly lead to the books which generate this data), but agreed, a simple filtered library link would be nice.

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On the topic of short stories again - can I ask you add them to the drop down menu?

this one


I’ve been going to the novels page and then changing the side filter over to short stories but that’s not ideal. :sweat_smile:

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Fixed! I don’t know why those were hardcoded, but now it surfaces all book types. Thanks for catching.


The one I was thinking of has 3 stories of about 60 pages each, so it doesn’t quite qualify for your <50 pages criteria. :wink: They are isolated stories though, so I guess it’s up to you.


The site is getting better and better.

Now we just need visual novels added and the site is perfect imo.

If you worry about more interesting scenes in vn you could just add Playstation or Nintendo versions of visual novels. I would love to have visual novels added because they are usually harder than books and it would be much easier for me to track, which visual novels I actually own.


Yeah, I think i’ll keep it as a novel for now. It is a bit gray though :slight_smile:

Woohoo! I know it takes a while to get to a website where it’s not a compromise to use. Hopefully, it’s not too far away from just equivalent to surpassing bookmeter in every area.

Ugh I know! I do think it’ll still come after anime / audiovisual which means it’d be awhile. However, I’m not too familiar with visual novels and perhaps they are more a ‘drop in like a book type’ than I think. If you (or anyone familiar with VNs) don’t mind answering these questions it’d really help!

  • Are VNs almost always available through (like >90%?)?
  • Are there multiple editions of the same visual novel? (like a furigana edition or rerelease)?
  • Is there always audio associated with the text? Is there always text associated with the audio?
  • Are they usually one game or a series? Are there long story lines that span multiple ‘volumes’ like light novel series?
  • Would it make sense to compare difficulty with a novel?
  • Are there any good reference sites for VNs like AniList / MAL for manga / anime? Figuring out relations between things can be tough.

Edit: I know there’s the adult content aspect as well, but I’m already going to need to handle that with the manga / LNs i’m encountering :slight_smile:


Others can add on in case they know more than me –

I’m not super knowledgeable about buying VNs in Japanese because I’ve played them in English up to this point (about to start trying in Japanese), but I’d think probably not that many. Certainly some exist there. With them being a bit niche I get the impression digital is the easier way to go in so many cases, which is more easily accessible from various online shops specifically for VNs.

I can’t recall ever hearing of furigana editions, but there are certainly rereleases of some games to add content. I wouldn’t really consider it the norm, but it absolutely happens. Especially with the ones that get closer to mainstream there are also rereleases to cover more platforms, maybe touch up graphics and resolutions, but those are generally the same game.

A lot of visual novels have voice acting, but not ALL of them. Usually the ones that do still don’t voice narration, and many don’t voice the main character, either. In the other direction, there is close to always text with audio. It’s hard to say anything ALWAYS happens, but I’d consider it more of a VN’s individual quirk if it has segments with voice and no text.

Often individual, enough so that I wouldn’t really say visual novels are expected to come as groups, but there are enough that have sequels that it’s not quite an either/or thing. For what it’s worth, I’d say a lot of the sequel instances are semi self-contained, but there’s a broad spectrum to that.

Perhaps? Despite the presence of images and voice acting to give a little guidance, they are essentially just pieces of writing. Though they do often lean heavy on the direct dialog side that makes me think almost like manga, but they’re still more novel than manga.


I don’t know if most are available on but I could find all the ones I own and searched for on the site. Especially the Playstation and Switch versions should be available.

There is usually a Limited Edition for people who preorder with physical bonus items.

Series are rather rare, I only know of a few series like Grisaia, Steins,Gate, Nine and Shuffle. Some popular games may get a prequel and sequel but it doesn’t happen that often. Many visual novels have so much text to read you won’t even want another part.

Of course. They are much harder than manga or the average videogame. For some reason they often include lots of N1 grammar points and expressions I never saw used in manga. There are people on the internet who claim to have passed N1 JLPT just by playing visual novels, and I believe them.


Just occurred to me I should add if you’re going to consider this: the line between “visual novel” and “videogame” is annoyingly vague. Honestly, for the purposes of this site, I doubt there’s much need to think about this, because the whole point of Natively is just reading Japanese, and if people want something on the site that they’ve read in Japanese and conceivably think of as a visual novel, it’s hard to see that as particularly problematic. You aren’t trying to make some definitive resource on categories. Just, there are absolutely visual novels that include some gameplay elements, and where to draw that line has been a ridiculous controversial topic for sites like VNDB in the past, heh. So it’s just worth knowing that there’s a fuzzy line and to some small degree it inches towards opening the floodgates to videogames generally… not that I think that should be a big problem or deter you; I’d love to see visual novels included on the site.


Definition of RPG: “Visual novel with battles and walking around”


I mean, even joking aside, there are visual novels, somehow totally uncontroversially included in that category, that “also include” many hours of turn based RPG gameplay. I think many of those get to join because they’re made by visual novel creators and/or because many have especially high amounts of adult content that makes mainstream gaming push them out.

I kinda see visual novel and videogame as two unique categories that are necessary to draw SOME distinction from, but it’s like a venn diagram where several things just fall squarely into both. I mean, it’d be absurd to claim Danganronpa isn’t a videogame, but everyone seems comfortable saying it’s indeed a visual novel, too. But if someone asks for a videogame and you give them a piece of writing that doesn’t even have choices where they advance text for 100 hours, they’re probably not going to talk to you about videogames ever again.


@Daisoujou @Natsuha Thank you so much for all those answers and context! Really helps a lot.

Perhaps then I could add it as an additional ‘book type’, I’ll think on it. I’d probably be inclined to group in the same sphere as video games if I had them, but it doesn’t matter too much.

The major issues for adding a new media type are primarily around sourcing information & if it fits into the difficulty system. Sourcing seems like it could be ok. The difficulty system seems like it could be ok too if it really is reading with a little audio. The major concern there is I shouldn’t be comparing ‘audio only’ content with text only, which this doesn’t seem to be. Comparing text with audio (like VN) to text only (novel) is a bit blurry, but i’m not sure if it’s much blurrier than text with images to text only.

If it does end up being a drop in, then I’ll think about adding it the sprint after next. I’ll keep you updated. And to anyone in the future - please, if you have strong opinions on this let me know!

Edit: I know @seanblue has expressed concern in the past with comparing text with audio to text only. It IS introducing more fuzziness to the system, so it’s worth pondering for a little while before coming to a decision. I would always prioritize comparisons between VNs before VN to other categories.

Edit 2:



I don’t remember the exact context of the conversation, but I think I raised concerns about anime because some people might watch without subtitles, some with Japanese subtitles, and some with English subtitles. In theory, the last group shouldn’t be adding it to Natively and rating it at all, but you never know what people will do. And it’s hard to say if comparing ratings from no sub people and Japanese sub people is even a reasonable thing to do.


+1, people watching with English subs would be equivalent to people reading manga in English (likely worse than reading it in Japanese with an English translation to compare to).

Naively I think Japanese-sub and no-sub are closer +/- things like pronunciation clarify and dialogue speed (maybe a new rating category?).
Having subtitles to me feels like a shortcut, where the alternative would be rewatching the scene repeatedly to pick up that piece I missed, but maybe that is just my low level of Japanese speaking.


We did have that conversation, but this was a different one I think :slight_smile: From what I recall, it was around reading novels with a supplementary audiobook and comparing those to novels you simply read. Maybe you weren’t concerned about it… not sure

I don’t feel particularly against allowing VN to novel comparisons as a deprioritized option (i.e. after comparing to other VNs)… so I am thinking I’ll allow it, but I do want to let it simmer.

Right. Yeah English subs don’t count and I’m not terribly worried about it. I’m going to need you to select if you watched with subs or not anyway and I can just not allow you to grade (or even add it to your library). We’ll see.

And totally agreed that anime w subs & w/o seem too different. Always been my plan to not compare those two. Audiovisual w/o subs is purely audio, which should have it’s own ranking system. Audiovisual w subs probably has it’s own system too, separate from the current one. We’ll see… haven’t fully mapped it out. Of course, VNs / novels w audiobooks could fall into that third category too somewhat, which makes life complicated, but I do feel that movies / anime / tv series just seem different than those VNs… perhaps it’s just how fast paced and non-text heavy they are.

Regardless, this all doesn’t need to be figured out now as that’s a somewhat separate (but interesting) conversation :slight_smile:

Edit: You’re right that the audio only rating system & the audiovisual w sub ratings could be very similar. At the very least though, you’re right that subbed vs no subbed could not be directly compared.


I had been considering asking this.
Similarly with listening to an audiobook in isolation vs comparing it to an ebook version, and maybe likewise with games those that let you advance the dialogue at your own pace vs auto advance.

Wow, books really are much easier to grade in isolation huh.

EDIT: FWIW my interest in this so far is mostly academic, so please don’t interpret me as adding pressure to support this.
I think I find video games easier to assess externally than manga as I can search on YouTube for the Japanese games name and watch people playing (seeing if it’s voiced, if text auto advances, if there is furigana, how much of the games dialogue I can pass, etc.).


I don’t recall, but reading a book and listening to an audiobook definitely test different aspects of one’s Japanese knowledge, so I could see them being rated separately.

Reading a VN sounds more similar to watching an anime with Japanese subtitles. But since they can be text heavy and there are parts without audio, it can overlap with reading novels as well I suppose.

Yep, I definitely think you have time. There’s still plenty left to do with just reading before you get to this. :slight_smile: