Manga recommendations for practicing Japanese

I started reading manga around your level too.

I made sure my first manga had furigana still, since my kanji level was low. It helped a lot and places like ebookjapan and others you can preview the manga to see how they read.

Chihayafuru is really awesome, but from the tachiyomi I’ve tried I think it would be too difficult for a first time reader.

Have you read 青い花? I really enjoyed the anime, but I haven’t tried the manga yet.

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I have not, but you can bet your ass it’s on my plan to read list! :slight_smile:

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@Dwarsen in regards to the light read version of 君の名は, would you recommend that for someone who is just starting to exploring reading in Japanese? I picked up Yotsubato a few days back which feels like a real challenge.

If Yotsubato is a big challenge, then any light novel would probably feel almost impossible. It should be noted though that in contrast to manga, novels have way less dialogue, so parsing them doesn’t necessarily get that much easier by churning through manga either.

I’d recommend you reading a few pages yourself: Just press the blue 立ち読み button and you can flip through the first part right in your browser.

Another one I like recommending is 時をかける少女. Check that one out here: It’s a very enjoyable book that I was able to read without huge amounts of trouble after like 1,5 years of study.

Both are, I would say, “easy” for being light novels. You should be able to judge whether you can get the gist by the first few pages.

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How far did you get with Yotsuba? There’s at least one really quite tricky passage right near the beginning. I seem to remember the first chapter being the hardest by far. Perhaps try skipping ahead a bit? It also becomes much easier to read anything once you kind of get into the specific style, and understand what the character’s names are and so on.

Also don’t forget that this was read in the book club, so that thread might have answers to a lot of questions you have (plus there is a vocabulary list).


It IS a real challenge. The people who call it “easy” are people who who can already read beyond that level of Japanese!

I have read vols 1, 2, and most of 3, but could only do it with the aid of the vocab lists and the threads here on the WK community.

There is no vocab list for vol 4 and no plans by the good people here to create one, so the level of difficulty is about to sky-rocket for me now!

But reading those first three volumes was an amazing and helpful experience and I really recommend it!


I agree. You don’t have to understand everything, just read what makes you excited!

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I bought all available Shirokuma volumes and I’m planning on reading them one day but it is still a bit above my level and I would have to look up so much that it doesn’t seem like fun. But there is furigana, the stories are short and simple and there is less slang than in Yotsuba so I would recommend checking them out.

For now, I’m going through the Graded Readers and recently ordered a couple of volumns of 10分で読める物語 and なぜ?どうして? which seem promising and more beginner-friendly. But I’ll know more next week when they arrive.

I started with the Studio Ghibli manga adaptations and found them to be not too difficult, since they’re a simplified script of the movies I already knew with matching images from the movies.

From there I moved on to shoujo manga, because the vocab in it was more likely to relate to things I actually knew. Shounen was hard because I didn’t actually talk or learn about ninjas or pirates terribly often and therefore had to look up a lot of words, which I find frustrating. But make sure it’s something you’re interested in, like others have said, otherwise it’s just painful and you might as well read the artificial stuff for learners. If you like ninjas and pirates, just go for it. Skip the intro of one piece though. That was enough to make me give up and cry.

For actual title recommendations, I found 花ざかりの君たちへ (Hana Kimi) to be pretty easy to follow. There’s a few characters with weird dialects, but most are fairly standard. 俺様ティーチャー is hilarious and not difficult per se, but the characters are mostly delinquents so they have a lot of non standard dialogue. Saint Young Men has some uncommon for beginner level religious terminology, but once you get that figured out, it’s pretty straightforward. I also like よつばと!I first read it by the time it was easy for me, but I think it’s one of the best manga for beginners. She’s not only a child, but she’s also foreign, so she’s learning about a lot of new things, and the adult characters explain them well, which I think leads to a deeper understanding than just looking stuff up in a dictionary.

One recommendation I would have is to read a chapter of whatever you choose without looking anything up first and try to figure out as much as you can without a dictionary. Then go back and read it again while looking up vocab and grammar as needed. It will help in the long run for speed reading and contextual guessing, both of which are necessary for the jlpt. And for training your brain to guess instead of always relying on a dictionary when you don’t know something.


… and it is more fun.

One mistake I made when I started Shirokuma Café was that I looked up everything, I added it to Anki, tried to translate the whole thing perfectly and it was not fun at all and I stopped soon after.

In the Graded Readers that I’m using now they specifically tell you not to look things up in a dictionary (at least that’s what I think they said in the intro…). While this is of course not comparable to realistic content since they are meant to be easy to understand it makes the whole process so much more enjoyable. Just me and a book. Not me, a book, my laptop, Anki, a dictionary app on my phone.


Way more fun without looking stuff up as you go! Turning to your dictionary constantly breaks up the flow of the story and makes it a lot harder to get into. It’s hard at first, but you get used to filling in the blanks, especially with the pictures to help with context. If you’re understanding absolutely nothing as you go, you’ve got something too hard, and using a dictionary won’t help.

When I was a kid and our librarian was helping us pick books at our level to read, she told us to open one to a random page and read it. If we understood all the words, it was too easy, if we didn’t know between one and five, that was a good challenge, if it was more than five, it was too hard. Obviously some leeway is needed with a second language, but you want to have a challenge without frustrating yourself.


黒執事(くろしつじ)is awesome for practicing keigo! The butler character, Sebastian, speaks almost exclusively in keigo and is really interesting if you like demons and stuff. It’s not the easiest read but worth a shot.

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My first one was 名探偵コナン aka Detective Conan aka Case Closed :slight_smile: I found it to be an approachable challenge. I did Inuyasha after that, but I don’t recommend it, lots of informalities and archaic language.

While I haven’t yet read Aqua/Aria, I do second the recommendation, just because it should be a lot more fun and much easier with a group :slight_smile:

Like half of what I’ve learned about Japanese has come from translating Mitsudomoe and Kanamemo, so I can recommend those two from experience. Even so, I’m sure that any episodic comedy manga would be just as good as another. Mitsudomoe is easier and it has furigana, but Kanamemo is a yonkoma so it’s not as easy to get hopelessly lost if you don’t understand the context of something, which is a problem I still have now and then. I started reading Mitsudomoe from a position of basically no knowledge (I think I had only just learned kana), so I don’t think it’s hard at all.

Death Note was my first one. The story is really exciting but the language is easy to understand. Get ready to see しぬ a lot.


How is Nichijou manga? As in is it apt for learning as a beginner ? The anime is hilarious so I thought the manga would be fun too

I enjoy reading something shounen-ish since they usually have furigana so it makes it easier. I’m reading World Trigger. It also helps that i really like the anime and have read the eng version of the manga.

I would recommend romance mangas too lmao the vocab used are pretty basic and i think are useful in daily life conversations :wink:

So traaaaash. わかった。


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