I definitely wasn’t, haha, when I started with 大海原と大海原 volume one in fall 2021 . I realized pretty quickly that I wasn’t really learning a whole lot from my reading because there were just too many unknowns per sentence. My grammar was below N5 (I was not even halfway through MNN book one, haha) and I didn’t have much vocab, either.
But, I was still enjoying the manga even so. I ended up sort of shifting mindsets and just read it to experience the series rather than trying to get anything out of it as a learning tool. By the time I started volume 3, I’d about finished MNN volume 1 and had way better grammar (plus had gotten about halfway through WK), and even though volume 3 had a steep difficulty jump (it’s aimed at an older audience and there is no furigana ), I actually had a way easier time reading it. Since it has taken me so long to finish, it’s even easier (and more enjoyable) for me to read it now!
I’ve learned that I honestly don’t really like using manga as a learning tool because lookups are substantially harder, and I don’t really have a good workflow for adding new words to Anki from manga, since my normal process is to automate that with Yomichan. Even if I type out the word manually, I like to pull the context sentence with it as well, so typing that out adds extra work.
However, I do like reading manga just for fun! But it gets more fun the better my Japanese is, so I have for the most part been holding off on truly diving into manga, because I’ve found that it has just gotten more and more rewarding and useful for me over time.
If you feel like you’re not quite ready, it is totally fine to wait until your Japanese is better! Manga is harder than other types of reading for several reasons, and you might find that you have better luck starting with other mediums.
I tried adding new words from manga to Anki when I first started reading 大海原と大海原, but it quickly became way too overwhelming, because the sheer amount of vocab that I didn’t know was way too high. Plus, as mentioned above, it took extra work because I had to retype the entire context sentence to go along with the word if I wanted it.
My current process is to just not bother with SRS-ing anything from manga. Some words I naturally pick up from repetition, but I just let the rest go. This might change as my vocab improves and I come across fewer unknowns, but for now, it’s just way too much work.
For non-print media, though, it’s a totally different story! I’ve had a lot of success mining words from pro wrestling recaps and transcripts and tweets and such. I use Yomichan and Anki in combination to create cards from digital text at the click of a button, including pulling the context sentence for each word.
However, it’s still very easy to overwhelm yourself! For me, it has really worked out to 1) limit myself to one domain, and 2) only add words that contain kanji I already know.
My domain is a bit of a unique one, haha, because most people start with like slice of life type of vocab, but I started with pro wrestling ! But I started mining words when I started translating wrestling and had a huge incentive to improve quickly, plus I knew that pro wrestling vocab would continue to pay off for me, since it was my main reason for learning the language.
And yeah, it has paid off to an incredible extent! I’ve started to pick up a lot just from listening now that my vocab is better, and I can extensively read a lot of wrestling stuff and get fairly high comprehension without doing lookups just because my vocab is better. When I try reading non-wrestling stuff, it’s a much more humbling experience, haha.
I think most people would probably benefit by limiting the words you SRS by frequency, which is something that I have chosen not to do. It’s hard to determine that with wrestling, for one thing, because lots of words that are very common in wrestling are uncommon outside of that setting, so frequency decks aren’t super helpful. But also I just like learning interesting words, haha, which sometimes includes rare ones! It’s not the most efficient use of my time, but it keeps my Anki time interesting to me.
I also skip kana-only words, for the most part. I only SRS those rarely. Why? Because I thought focusing on vocab with kanji while I was doing WK would be the best way to reinforce the kanji that I’m learning here (and I think this has proven true), and it also helps limit the amount of words that are “eligible” for SRS-ing so that I don’t get overwhelmed.
I use my WK level to cap that as well, though obviously it’s a pretty high level cap, at this point . When I come across words with non-WK kanji (I have an addon installed on Yomichan that tells me the WK level of a word/kanji), sometimes I will add the kanji and the word to Anki. I’m planning on ramping this up once I reach level 60.
Ideally, I’ll reach a point where the number of unknowns per sentence is so low, I’ll be able to add every unknown word/kanji to Anki. But I’m pretty far from that point still, though the rate of new pro wrestling words has slowed down quite a lot since I’ve mined over 1,000 words already.
Sorry for the long response! I guess to sum it up: I use Anki, yes, but limit myself to one domain, don’t add words from manga/print media, use Yomichan to speed up the card creation process (including pulling the context sentence that I found the word in), focus on vocab with kanji, and use my WK level to gate the words that I add.