When to start manga?

Heya guys! I wanna diversify my learning and start focusing on expanding my vocab, a friend recommended to read よつばと in japanese and doing vocab look ups. I am still super new to japanese and worry that I’m gonna just be lost.

What’s everyones experience on starting manga, or any new vocab source for that matter! If you guys had a really neat vocab source u think I should know, pls share!!!

Thanks guys!!!


When to start manga? NOW


First of all, you might find this thread interesting:

As for experience with manga – the first one I’ve managed to read was the first volume of はたらく細胞 on Bookwalker.
Speaking of bookwalker, if you have a smartphone, I highly recommend installing a free app for Bookwalker and reading Bookwalker books using it, becaue it’s far more comfortable than using their web interface.

Also, as you are new to manga, you might be interested in this book:

Anyway, best of luck to you – may you read a lot of interesting manga!


Most definitely start now. I haven’t checked out よつばと but pretty much everyone recommends that, I read my first manga at level 20, it was around a N3 level manga, it was too hard for me at the time, but I wanted to read it so I did. I’m pretty sure よつばと is a beginner friendly one so it should be good for you.

I highly recommend getting your grammar studies in too! It will make your life so much easier in reading


Best time to plant a tree was 10 years ago. Second best time is now. That applies with reading, too. (Basically, as early as it’s possible for you to read is the best time to start reading.)

You will almost certainly be lost at first, and that’s okay! Reading is a completely different beast than regular studying, whether that’s textbooks, SRS, apps, or whatever else, and it requires different skills, ones which you can only get through reading. Once you get started, it does get easier. And picking stories you like will make reading easier too, even if the content isn’t necessarily the easiest. For that matter, a lot of people find よつばと to be easy because of the relatively simple grammar and often not much goes on, so it is rather beginner-friendly, but others find it difficult because of the lack of kanji and even because it’s a slice of life and not much goes on.

I actually started out with reading a novel (a short story collection, to be more exact, of side stories to the light novel series my favorite anime is adapted from; and I started reading it 2 months before I started properly studying, though I did have some scattered prior knowledge. It’s been a year and both reading and studying have definitely gotten easier since then), and I found some manga I was interested in, but for some reason there was this mental block around starting it… and I also ended up starting with よつばと too lol. Though less because of everyone recommending it and more because I loved the series in English. And it was definitely nice when I could understand what Yotsuba was saying even with it all in kana, but there were definitely also times I needed to input it into the JP>ENG dictionary I was using to figure it out, and then like half the time it turned out I did actually know the word already lol

The next one I picked up was 舞台に咲け, and it was definitely above my level (much like that LN series…), and it didn’t help either that I wasn’t exactly used to the manga format while reading in Japanese, despite having read a few volumes of よつばと—they’re not exactly the same level. But I got through it after several days—I could never read more than a couple chapters of manga a day at most when I was starting out—even though I did get lost sometimes, yeah. Frequently, more like. Heck, I still get lost, a year and like 80 volumes of manga on, but I usually don’t get quite as lost, and it happens less often.

trunklayer linked the よつばと book club, and the book clubs on here are definitely a great place for vocab! They have vocab sheets put together by the participants, ordered by the order you’ll come across them and complete with definitions relevant to the context the words are used in in that instance. You can also ask questions and get an answer even in the old threads so you can be less lost than if you tried to read the book on your own. (Though if you did want to read a book there’s no club for on here, you can still ask questions on the forum and get answers. And/or suggest the book for the club you think it’s best suited for, and it might get picked!)

For vocab, aside from reading, I used to use Drops (I got frustrated with them putting out new topics that had few to no images, which are integral to how they teach vocab, but the vast majority of items do have an image and it is a good app. I probably will use it for other languages, just not for Japanese at this point), and I’ll periodically add vocab on KameSame, both that I’ve come across while reading and from one of their word lists. Many swear by Anki, and if it works for you, they’ve got many decks to choose from as well as the ability to make your own.


I personally found it too frustrating starting any reading, regardless of how ‘easy’ and ‘beginner friendly’ it was, in the lower levels.

I first read my first (“easy”) manga at around level 18, and I never regretted it


I would probably start with satori reader. Once you feel comfortable with that, move onto manga.


Reading can be good to start from an early level, because even if you don’t understand everything that’s being said, it can increase your reading speed.

I read the 1st and 17th volumes of Dragon Ball at level 3, just for practice. While I didn’t understand everything being said 100%, and looked up a few words with a dictionary, I was amazed at how much I did understand, and reading it helped increase my Japanese reading speed.

Plus, it’s very motivating to be able to see yourself put the knowledge to use on something you enjoy. Even if it’s not perfect, it’s still uplifting to see your progress.


I would start reading manga ideally after you finish lower intermediate Japanese textbooks like the first volume of Quartet or half-way of Tobira with Level 30 on WaniKani as most of the popular stuff are best understood with lower and upper intermediate level Japanese knowledge. At that level, you should understand most shoujo and shounen manga to your liking and probably some Seinen series, primarily moe school girl series like those found in Manga Time Kirara, a good amount I saw anime adaptations of. They are still easy despite having no furigana wuth some Hyougai kanji thrown in sometimes. It’s probably a good idea to read some manga without Furigana as they are a clutch and not all media has them.

With only beginner Japanese, you can probably read only children’s manga at that level as shounen and shoujo manga are usually made for teenagers. As an adult, the idea of being stuck with children’s manga is unappealing.

t took me a long time to finish manga when I started WaniKani. Now, I can probably finish a chapter on a train commute back home, although it will get faster when I do less lookups. Immersion is important to the learning process, but it shouldn’t replace textbooks until you know all the grammar.

I read manga on an iPad on Bookwalker, which is convenient than carrying around a physical volume and worry it will get damage.


I agree with everyone saying you should pick something that interests you! I started reading ふらいんぐうぃっち (Flying Witch) around level 20. I had heard about よつばと and also しろくまカフェ as good beginner series, but neither one seemed like a good fit for me, content-wise. I was looking for something with teenage or older characters, chill vibes without too many wacky gags, and eventual conflict/character growth. I definitely got the first two (and have hopes that the third will come as I continue reading) with FW, and I didn’t find the first volume too challenging. I’ve heard that the difficulty ramps up a little bit in later volumes, so I’m hoping that my skills will grow as I progress. But more than that, I’m motivated to read more, because I like Makoto and am curious about the world she inhabits!

As for vocab, it looks like in the first volume, I added about 150 new/unknown words to my jpdb deck, and that number seems to be pretty typical so far. So it’s a good source for new words, but it’s not causing too huge of an expansion in my vocabulary review time, which I appreciate. Plus it is teaching me some words I didn’t really expect to encounter at this point in my Japanese learning, like 方向音痴 (ほうこうおんち - poor sense of direction), 石灰 (せっかい - quicklime), and 土地勘 (とちかん - familiarity with the land/terrain).


Gotta agree with latepatate here… start now. Like legit right this moment. My first experience was with からかい上手の高木さん. I recommend it because it’s easy, and there’s a book club thread for it which is how I discovered it. Japanese dictionary and spaced repetition system – jpdb this is a neat resource that I use a lot, you can find vocab from novels/anime and stuff and study it from here.


Reading is a new skill and you will suck at it at first no matter when you start. Start now; you’ll probably struggle through a page a day, and still not really understand very much. Then, in six months when you feel like you’ve stopped progressing go back and read the first 漫画 you ever read and breeze through it. At some point in the not too distant future, you’ll sight read your first word, which is a great feeling when you realize. Then, you’ll sight read your first sentence, which is even better.

Some little bits of advice:

  1. read something with furigana, otherwise lookups are a pain.
  2. read something you’re interested in, if you watch anime, read the manga of something you’ve watched, it helps with understanding.
  3. re-read. So, start with Vol. 1, then Vol. 2, then go back to 1, then 2, then 3. Aim for variety and repetition.
  4. read in Japanese, i.e. make the sounds of the words in your head (or out loud…) as much as possible, don’t just go by the meaning. This helps a lot for understanding spoken Japanese. Use a text to speech dictionary like Takaboto to get the pronunciation if you’re not sure.

A single series will tend to use consistent language, the same handful of uncommon words, etc., which is helpful when you start. However it can be a bit of a come down to be confident reading one thing, then be completely stuck when you try something different.

Even children can use complex grammar, so don’t be surprised that even though you know all the words, the meaning is still unclear.



Where you can find a list of every manga/book read in a book club on WK. (It won’t list all the later volumes of series read as part of a book club/off-shoot club.) The ones most likely to have a lot of vocabulary and grammar help is books read in the Absolute Beginner Book Club and the Beginner Book Club.

It should hopefully be possible to find a manga you’d like to read on the list. Yotsubato is fun, I’ve heard Flying Witch is about similar, Aria too except for the first few pages that happen to be SF heavy, but after that it is slice of life/every day vocabulary. I could name more, but almost anything on the list of ABBC and BBC should be fairly easy if you have N4 grammar ability. Anything below that makes it a lot more of a struggle, but not impossible, especially if you use the book clubs. As mentioned, even the finished ones will usually have people come back to answer questions of new readers. :slight_smile:


Manga was hard with me to start, and browsing the book clubs didn’t work great for me. The problem with jumping on at Yotsubato was very little of the text was in kanji (which I was great at thanks to WK). The breakthrough for me was drilling a vocab deck for the volume and then reading. It was still a challenge to process the grammar and word usage but was much more manageable.


I highly recommend the Crystal Hunters a manga that teaches you Japanese. each book has a guide so make sure to read that first. They have Japanese and Natural Japanese (the harder version). The Japanese version for the guide will have all of the vocabulary and grammar that is used in the manga. The harder version will have a vocabulary list only in the guide. There are currently 5 volumes out right now with the 6th one coming out in a few weeks. It’s definitely worth checking out. :paw_prints:


In terms of comfort, I started by stepping up Tadoku readers. (0 => 3, I think)

In terms of better understanding, Satori Reader and NHK Easy News, are of much help. Nonetheless, grammar studies will be needed beyond superficial.

And yeah, parallel audio helps with understanding.


I’d recommend Refold-style 3-channel reading (video + audio + subtitles). In this regard anime and TV-series with cohesive plot are a good candidate.
Of course you won’t be able to read as much text as in case of manga, but additional visual/audio context will improve your comprehension. Besides hearing audio while reading will reinforce the connection between characters and sounds and will surely prevent mistakes caused by memorizing wrong pronunciation and/or pitch accent patterns.
And later on you can gradually add pure reading immersion to the list of your daily activities.


The best time is now! (If you were level 1 or something I would have said after finishing Genki or something) but in all sincerity the best time to start reading is whenever you are comfortable with basic grammer, hiragana, katakana, and willing to learn kanji. I recommend starting easy with コロコロコミックス like Doraemon and work your way up to Shonen Jump which has a wide range of difficulty but has furigana, and when you are ready to get rid of the furigana training wheels, stuff aimed at 青年. Hope this helped!


Can you share a link to your preferred one? I go to the App Store and there’s so much stuff in there under Bookwalker I can’t help but think a some of these are scams.

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Well, the one I used is called BOOK WALKER - 電子書籍アプリ

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