Sure, it is. I learned to read and write in English at university level just by reading and watching movies. (I had severe social anxiety and couldn’t talk to anyone.)
When I went to study in Ireland, I realized how much trouble I had to actually say stuff out loud, however, because my mouth just wasn’t used to making the sounds required. If you also want to learn to talk, maybe try reading out loud.
That being said, you can learn much quicker if you have someone who you can ask questions, but it’s not a requirement. You can learn pretty much anything from books and YouTube if you’re willing to put in the work.
It’s already been said, but I concur that this is definitely possible. “fluency” be damned; if your goal is reading, the just concentrate on the elements you need the most for this, which are primarily grammar, kanji and vocabulary.
My motivation for learning japanese is basically the same as yours. I’d really like to able to read japanese. I couldn’t care less about speaking (I mean, I am just a cat. All I can pronounce is にゃあ anyway) or writing. I believe having a more focused goal than “fluency” is actually a good advantage; you can discard a lot of things you don’t care about.
I don’t practice kanji stroke order, because I don’t care about writing. I don’t worry about pronunciation and pitch accent… because I am not interested in speaking. I don’t have to deal with yet-another-SRS like KameSame or KaniWani because I don’t really need to “produce” japanese, I just need to understand it.
I mean, sure, having a pen-pal you can practice japanese with would surely help cement grammar concepts and stuff; but if you want to read, well reading is actually a way more efficient way to get closer to the goal.
I started trying to read when I was level 20 in WaniKani. It’s been difficult, many times I’ve felt extremely frustrated trying to look up grammar and vocabulary and kanji that I didn’t understand. But I have definitely managed to finish reading children books and simple manga, with a good level of comprehension. I am still so, so far away from feeling I can read smoothly, but it is definitely possible!
Thissss, this is what I want to hear! Thank you so much!
And same, I don’t really plan to be able to converse nor write in Japanese, so speaking and writing be damned, haha.
I have started reading some children’s books, and I do read at least 2 NHK news easy articles everyday. It has furigana (I set my level not to show furigana lower than N4) but it helps in reading comprehension.
I am planning to start on reading raw manga, hopefully I can find free resources of those in the net (too tight budget to buy ) haha.