Bookmarks are so handy! So - I followed the read every day and extensive reading threads, but not everyone participates and those and I’m sure I missed or forgot some gems. What are your best reads of the year? Novels, light novels, essays, manga, nonfiction, articles, whatever.
硝子の塔の殺人 | L33
A love song to mystery novels. If you like mysteries and especially if you like mystery tropes, this is your book. My only regret is that I read it before reading 十角館の殺人
64 | L39
Gorgeous writing, murder, and dangerous secrets?! This was a hard read but 100% worth the effort.
おやすみ、夢なき子 | L30
Absolute trash and I loved it. Family secrets, murder, police on the run. BYO-Popcorn
I’m cheating a bit here because I’m almost done with this (and I’m listening to the audiobook rather than reading it), but unless the ending absolutely sucks it belongs in my top 5. Fantasy, books are the plot, and a talking cat?! A great light-hearted counterpoint book to my usual fare
悪妻論 | L35
Most entertaining essay I’ve ever read in Japanese. 「悲しみ、苦しみは人生の花だ。」
Really fun sci-fi / romance novel. Look out for my nomination to the intermediate book club very soon.
Volumes 13-15 of 本好きの下剋上
I think most people have heard of this series by now, so all I’ll say is that volume 13 is the start of a new arc and it starts strong!.
Volumes 6-12 of シャドーハウス.
A great series that I started mid-2021, but volume 6 was the first I read in 2022 and coincidentally is when I went from liking the series to loving it. Great if you like fantasy and mystery. One of my favorite manga series.
Volume 1-3 of ぼっち・ざ・ろっく!
Really funny 4-koma manga and now one of my favorite manga series. The comedy really lands for me and the main character quickly became one of my favorite characters of all time.
Volume 3-7 of うらら迷路帖. I had trouble picking a 5th “best thing of 2022”, but I think this series is worth calling out. I read volumes 1 and 2 in 2020, but struggled with the difficulty and thought they were just okay. I decided to read volume 3 to give it another chance and to my surprise and delight I really enjoyed it! I don’t know how much of this was the series legitimately getting better versus my improved Japanese simply allowing me to enjoy it more, but I’m really glad I came back to the series.
I only started reading in Japanese this year and it wasn’t much, so I can only mention the 3 that I read, in order of which I read first.
タコピーの原罪 | L26
2 volume series, was interested in reading it because of the cover, so I gave it a shot and I actually really liked it. Pretty dark, but that’s what I like.
恋愛ラボ | L28??
Loved the anime, just had to read it, 15 main volumes and 1 epilogue volume. Great 4 koma romcom, starts with the focus on the main characters, and introduces love interests later on which I thought was a great move. Really allowed me to be attached to every character. Silly comedy that always lands for me. This is the series my profile picture comes from, definitely one of my favorite series in general.
Introduced to it by the just finished airing anime. Another 4 koma, not done reading it, but it is great, as expected, purchased all 5 volumes and this one also has to be one of my favorites as well. I find it hilarious and also very endearing when it’s time for that.
I’ve been reading Manga Time Kirara manga since ご注文はうさぎですか (which I did get introduced to via the anime adaption), but I’ve long since just browsed Amazon for new Kirara series to try out since there are so many that haven’t gotten anime adaptions yet. ぼっちざろっく happened to be one of them, but since the anime has gotten great reviews as well I do plan to watch the adaption sometime in January.
You know, I never thought about reading this series, but maybe I should. I enjoyed the anime well enough, and I’m always in the market for a 4-koma series.
Is it actually fully 4-koma though? The price is very low for a Kirara 4-koma series.
The only other thing I read from the magazine is がっこうぐらし! Well I didn’t know Japanese at the time so it was in English… Also one of my favorites though
Apparently the adaptation is a passion project so it was done excellently. Also who can pass up on some banger music? I still haven’t read enough to compare extensively but I’ve heard it was an improvement on the source, I could believe it.
Yeah it is, not really too knowledgeable on 4 koma so I didn’t know there were price differences, matter of fact this was my first 4 koma. The exception is volume 9, which kind of has some backstories and side stories, has some really good chapters in there, but that volume isn’t in 4 koma style. Anyway, definitely recommend reading it!
From the same author of 少女終末旅行, this surreal comedy / philosphy has a special place in my heart as something truly unique and interesting. From a learners perspective though, there were parts where I didn’t know if I failed to understand what was going on because my japanese failed me, or because the events were just too surreal
From the same author of シャドーハウス, while certainly not as polished, it follows a very similar world-building storytelling style that gets more and more interesting the further one gets into it. Despite the lack of furigana, I’d say this is one of the easiest manga I’ve read this year - the story telling relies very little on long expositions (except for a few places), instead building the curiosity of the reader with the weird events that start happening.
I feel this manga does a decent job of portraying the mindset of an adult suffering from depression. I liked how mostly the manga keeps a very neutral position - only showing how the main character perceives the world and how her interactions with other people play like, without judging or trying to make it look like her situation has a simple solution.
The author, 犬井あゆ, is very refreshing to read as one of the few that draws yuri manga that involves adults instead of the usual high-schoolers. This manga tells a series of real anecdotes of the author’s life with her girlfriend, and it’s really fun to see their dynamics as a yuri couple.
Your mileage may vary (most reviews I find of this seem to hate it), but this is the most hilarious manga I read this year. Sadly, it’s kinda explicitly aimed at people that (A) know the usual shoujo manga clichés and (B) like yuri a lot, so unless someone fulfills both conditions, they would probably not like it much.
Where did you hear that it was a passion project? I believe it given the ratings, but I’d be curious to read about that. And yeah, I’ve avoided listening to most of the music from the anime so I can enjoy it for the first time when I watch it, but I’ve listened to the OP and it’s excellent. It really would be something if it’s an improvement on the source given how good the manga is.
Ha, well that explains it! I randomly picked a later volume to see if the art quality improved over the first volume, and I happened to pick volume 9.
It’s not a price thing about 4-koma in general. It’s just that a typical 4-koma Manga Time Kirara volume is 792 yen for digital and the price for a physical copy is a bit higher and recently rising. Yet 恋愛ラボ is only 597 yen for digital, which is more in line with their non-4-koma pricing.
I see there’s a special edition with better text/scan quality and some color pages to match the original publication! That seems worth getting for sure!
I starting learning Japanese this year so I don’t have much to choose from but here’s mine (unordered) -
地縛少年 花子くん (manga)
SoL/Fantasy series with fun characters and a captivating artstyle.
月姫 (visual novel)
Chuuni VN that’s given me a lot of headaches but I genuinely enjoy the atmosphere and story. Good introduction to Type-Moon.
ノットフィクション！ (visual novel)
Not exactly sure why I like this, it’s just a fluffy romance VN but it’s really calming to read.
余命一年と宣告された僕が、余命半年の君と出会った話 (light novel)
Even if it is utterly heart wrenching it tells a beautiful story. Kinda wrote it off as the dime a dozen crybait you see everywhere in the beginning but it genuinely is a well written novel.
夏ノ終熄 (visual novel)
Short and sweet romance. It’s good, but I would’ve liked it more if I didn’t hit 4 bad ends in a row which forced me to use a guide to get the good ends.
…but speaking of color pages, they are currently releasing a premium edition of ご注文はうさぎですか called ご注文はうさぎですか Complete Blend. If you think those color pages from 恋愛ロボ are good, the ones from Complete Blend will blow you away. I don’t know how many color pages there are in 恋愛ロボ (as it depends on how it’s printed in the original magazine which itself depends on the popularity of a series), but since ご注文はうさぎですか is among Kirara’s most popular series, nearly every chapter starts with two full color pages.
I have the print versions and they are really beautiful, but I’m sure the digital version is nice too if that’s your preference.
Triangle Strategy for the Nintendo Switch - a little wordy, but I liked it ¯\(ツ)/¯
My fiance’s Zojirushi water bottle - the label on the bottom only has like 15-20 words, and won’t be winning the Akutagawa prize anytime soon - but it stands out as possibly the first complete thing I’ve read where I understood absolutely 100% of the Japanese. Meanings, readings, grammar, everything.
I have trouble ranking things so this won’t necessarily be in order, but:
The 2.43 清陰高校男子バレー部 light novel series by 壁井ユカコ. Considering it’s one of my special interests and periodic hyperfixation, yeah, it definitely gets the top spot. It’s a volleyball sports drama and one of our protagonists is autistic and the other is ADHD, so it’s pretty much right up my alley. (The only thing that would make it more so, probably, is if it were queer-queer and not just your usual sportsani-brand of queer subtext.) I love it so much, and the novels are so much better than the anime.
僕らの食卓, a single-volume BL manga by 三田 織. I absolutely love the warm, soft vibes that this has. It feels like a bowl of freshly cooked rice, which is fitting, because the two main characters were brought together over an onigiri! The naming theme also fits (and contributes to) the feeling. It’s similar to that brand of BL where a guy falls for a single father, except in this case, instead of a guy with his young kid, it’s a guy with his kid brother.
クールドジ男子, a manga series by 那多ここね. It’s just so freaking funny. They’re all idiots and I love them. It’s also in full color, which is nice, and both the coloring and art style are so pretty. It’s one of the few series I’m collecting in both English and Japanese. Five volumes are out so far, but I still haven’t read the fifth yet.
晴れのち四季部, a (mostly 4-koma) BL manga series by ひのた. It’s three volumes so far, and I kind of think of it as a gayer 月刊少女野崎くん. Instead of chapter 1 starting with a confession that gets mistaken for wanting to join his after-school activities (making manga), it ends with a declaration of wanting to join his after-school activities (the four seasons club) that gets mistaken for also being a confession. Everyone’s also idiot4idiot and it is very adorable and very funny. Also in beautiful full color. The transitions between the wide 4-koma format that most of it is written in and the regular manga format are very well done, too.
ボーイミーツマリア by PEYO. It’s a single-volume BL manga that also deals wonderfully with gender issues, the deuteragonist likely being some flavor of genderqueer but not knowing what, not helped by his past trauma, being amab but having been forced to grow up as a girl by his mother and having his interests dictated by her, and being sexually assaulted by one of his teachers in elementary school. In turns funny and heartrending, it’s a beautiful and respectfully done manga, but definitely not one for everyone. I read it in English first and probably would not have given it a chance had I known what happens in Arima’s backstory chapter, but I’m glad I did read it, and it’s among my favorite manga.
I believe all of these books have been part of the WK book club. Since I only seriously started reading this year, I am so glad that I chose these and will continue to rave about them until I find better ones to count as my “favorites”:
1.かがみの孤城 | L28
I teared up a few times and audibly laughed more than I would have liked while reading it in public. It’s a fairy tale inspired by fairy tales and works through delicate subjects like mental health, social anxiety, bullying, and family problems.
I had difficulty putting this book down because I was just charmed by the plot and the way it was written. It is thoughtful and moving with a well-deserved uplifting end.
3.キッチン | L31
Places focus on loss, grief, the ensuing loneliness, and what gets you through. Beautiful, sad, and comforting at the same time.
A collection of heartwarming and interconnected short stories told from the perspective of different ordinary yet relatable characters. Think of it as a series of short films, with each episode building on each other for a cheesy yet feel-good finale.
A postman dying from a brain tumor deals with the devil to erase things from the world to prolong his life a day at a time. The writing style is straightforward and will make you feel like a reader.
Participants of the Read Every Day Challenge will probably recognize these But I will never miss a chance to promote my cute manga
夜の名前を呼んで Vol 1 and 2 - I freaking love this manga so much. The premise of the story is that there’s this little girl, Mira, who turns everything into night when she gets anxious. She’s been sent away to live with a magician doctor, Rei, who is trying to help her with this condition. It gets a bit dark and serious at some points, but there are plenty of cute, light chapters too. The art is beautiful, and the main characters are lovely I literally cannot put into words how much I love Rei, he’s the sweetest, most adorable gentleman and his relationship with Mira is so precious >< There are currently 3 volumes published (I still need to read the third volume).
クマとカラス - I CRIED A very sweet but melancholic manga about a friendship between a bear and a crow. I picked it up because the art was cute and I got a whole bunch of emotions that I didn’t sign up for A single-volume story.
異刻メモワール Vol 1 - This manga is sort of “slice-of-life meets the spirit world.” The premise of the story is that a boy named Tomo runs into this…boy-shaped being named Ritsu on his way home from school. Ritsu accidentally takes Tomo back “home” with him to the spirit world, and they can’t figure out how to get him back, so Tomo’s pretty much just hanging out with Ritsu in this weird spirit realm xD I really loved the vibe and art style of this manga - it’s weird and lovely and mystical and beautiful. I’ve only read the first volume so far, but a second volume recently came out
おでかけ子ザメ Vol 1 - smol shark goes on smol adventures Literally the cutest shark manga you will ever find, and there isn’t a lot of text so it’s a quick, fluffy, light-hearted read. I’ve only read the first volume, but a second volume was recently published.
猫のようなナニカ Vol 1 - boy meets adorable yet mildly terrifying cat-creature and takes it home to be his friend xD This is a fun, light-hearted manga and the language isn’t too complex so it’s a pretty easy read. Highly recommend if you have an interest in soft void kitties. Two volumes currently published (I still need to read the second volume).
Honorable mention: 猫には猫の猫ごはん - sweetheart of a man finds a tiny kitten in the snow and brings it home. The guy has zero cat ownership experience, but watching him earnestly try and learn how to care for this cat is very sweet and endearing. I’ve only read the first volume, but there are 6 (soon to be 7) volumes published.
Well, I’m currently reading a 21 (?) volume long light novel series, so that’s what I’m reading! XD So for best reading in Japanese in 2022, it’s Flesh & Blood! (I’m currently on volume 7! woot)
It’s a roller-coaster type of story, with light-heartedness and bro- and romance, mixed with frightening seriousness. Lots of historical realism and real personas, but these books manage to avoid getting too bogged down by it. Natsuki Matsuoka paves her own path with these ingredients, creating a compelling historical drama, with a big focus on political intrigue and the big conflict between Christian faiths in Europe at this time, protestantism/catholicism - with a side serving of life on the sea! XD
Well that thread there, aside from that, the jokes that they use are very telling, i wont spoil any, and i also often saw tweets after an episode where the staff would talk about certain gags and the process. It was clear they were really enjoying their work on it.