Japanese Recommendation Exchange – February 2016 — 35 Comments

  1. Reading: ノーゲームノーライフ / No Game No Life (Light Novel) / 4 Stars

    I started with the anime and really enjoyed it, but there’s only one season and I wanted to see the rest of the story, so I ran off and ordered the LN. It revolves around a pair of reclusive, genius sibling gamers whose very existence is doubted because of their unbeatable track record in every game they play. Even cheaters can’t seem to overcome them.

    One day they receive an email with a question – “Did you ever think you were born into the wrong world?” – and the following series of events finds them transported to another world where war and violence are outlawed and everything is decided with games. The presentation and depth of each game is fantastic – like a version of Shiritori that takes place in virtual space, and whatever word you say will either cause that thing to materialize (if it doesn’t already exist), or dematerialize (if it does).

    The only thing I’d caution is that it’s a bit fanservice-y, so if that’s a turn-off for you it might hurt your enjoyment. But the story is really, really interesting.

    Playing: 艦これ改 / Kancolle Kai / 4 Stars

    This is the PSVita version of Japan’s wildly popular browser game, Kantai Collection, and was just released a few days ago. The original Kancolle is IP restricted to mainland Japan, so for those not wanting to deal with a VPN this is your chance to check it out.

    It’s essentially a very complex WW2 era warship management simulator game, except that all of the warships are personified as anime girls. They’re based off actual historical vessels and there are lots of cool history tidbits scattered around the encyclopedia and the characters’ own dialogue lines. Specialized naval vocab features heavily, but you’ll pick it up quickly through exposure if you’re otherwise comfortable with the context. I can’t stress enough how crazy addictive this game is – beware of possible interruptions to other endeavors, like reading novels, watching shows, eating, sleeping…ahem.

    • Does the light novel finish where the anime left off? And is there more than one out right now? In stores I thought I only saw the first one.

      • As I understand it, the anime is an adaptation of the LN. Each volume of the LN roughly aligns with 4 episodes of the anime, so if you read the first 3 volumes it’s mostly the same as watching Season 1, story-wise.

        There are 8 volumes right now, and it’s still ongoing. I may or may not have bought all of them. The story in the LN is a lot more detailed, and I’m actually enjoying it even more than the show =)

    • For Kancolle Kai, how’s the battle system? I like the franchise but stopped playing the browser game (too RNG/countdown timer heavy for my tastes).

      • Battles still rely a lot on randomness, but you have significantly more control from what I understand. You can pick formations going into battle (that affect various offense and defense parameters), and then choose the series of commands that will be executed during the battle (which you’ll want to customize based on the makeup of your fleet and in response to your enemies).

        I’m still figuring a lot of the specifics out, but that’s actually been part of the fun for me so far.

        • A bit sorry for the barrage (heh) of questions, but how does the new expedition system work? I’m also under the impression that the game is turn based and repairs/construction take game turn time instead of real-time, is that correct?

          Basically, does the game play like an RPG or a strategy game?

          • Lol, no worries.

            Yes, the game is turn-based and all time-based actions require turns, and turns can be advanced at will. Though I usually use buckets for repairs longer than 1-2 turns.

            Since I haven’t played the browser version, I’m unsure what the “old” expedition system was like, but there are several actions your fleets can take-

            演習: Practice drills of various types to gain XP and raise combat parameters.
            遠征: Send a fleet on a multi-turn support mission, with rewards if they succeed.
            出撃: Send a fleet on a combat mission (which you oversee directly) in an attempt to take control of an area.

            For 出撃, the ocean map is broken up into hexes and each hex has 4 sub-areas. Clearing a sub-area unlocks a new sub-area, and clearing all 4 secures that region (as well as usually opening up a new one). Early on this is simple, but later they mix it up by restricting the type of ships you can use in an area, requiring a minimum 索敵 stat to locate the Boss, etc. Your ultimate goal to “clear” the game is to secure all of the hexes on the map.

            • Does moving a fleet from one hex to another cost game-time? How many hexes are there? (In the browser game, there were only six areas, and from what you say, one area=one hex). How many fleets can you create? (In the browser game, you start with one fleet and can unlock the ability to create up to four).

              I hear there are some sort of ‘supply ships’ in the expedition (遠征) system – generic ships with no name and no CG. How do they work?

              What I’m hoping is that this game plays more like Europa Universalis or Nobunaga’s Ambition than Pokemon – resource management and strategic planning over leveling and battles.

            • You can unlock up to 8 fleets (I only have 3 currently, so I have a ways to go), and each fleet can take one action per turn. Actions include 演習、出撃、移動 (moving to another hex), etc. You can move to an adjacent hex once per turn. The move happens immediately, but that fleet can’t do anything else until next turn.

              I’ve only unlocked 6 or 7 hexes currently, but it seems there are 21 in total.
              (More info here –

              Supply ships(輸送船) are sometimes used for expeditions, but their main use is actually being assigned(配備) to areas(海域) you have unlocked, in order to generate resources every turn. You can also assign ships not used in your fleets to guard them, increasing resource yield and warding off enemy attacks. This is your primary source of income for all four resource types, so controlling the map is a critical part of expanding and strengthening your forces.

              I’d say it’s a hybrid between the two game styles. Leveling and battles are very important, but territory and resource management, and the many decisions that go with it are equally important. I really enjoy both types of game, so this one’s a big win for me =)

            • Ooh, only one Practice/Sortie per fleet per day? Interesting development. So if you fail to clear an area, you have to spend time moving your fleet back to the docks, then repair, then move them back. How does reassigning ships between fleets work?

              Thanks. Might give it a try with an Axis and Allies meets Fire Emblem mentality if I ever get a Vita. (Persona 4: Golden, or my wallet…)

            • If you remove a ship from a fleet in your starting hex (home base), you can immediately move it to another fleet. If you do so in another hex, it’ll start sailing home and may take several turns to do so. Once it finishes traveling, you can immediately re-assign it to another fleet (including distant fleets, interestingly enough).

  2. Watching:
    Japanese let’s players, basically. I leave them on while I do other stuff, and I also watch them actively when I have the time. Some of them have been a lot of fun like MOTTV and ゼルダのセナさん(sena7329). I focus on the ones who play nintendo among their stuff because I only own nintendo systems. Sena is particularly funny while playing ゼルダの伝説風のタクトHD (The Legend of Zelda: the wind waker HD), he dies in the most stupid ways. I don’t know how to rate them, there’s a lot I don’t understand and it changes from channel to channel.

    I just got my set of 僕だけがいない街 from amazon after I saw recommendations here and even though it’s been a bit complicated now (I just started the first volume and had to look up lots of words on, it’s been very interesting. I guess 2-3 stars.
    I also finished reading ゼルダの伝説4つの剣 (The Legend of Zelda: Four swords)this month and it was a lot of fun, even if it’s above my level. 3 stars I’d say. Gotta get the other Zelda mangas now haha.

    Pokémon Y. I really don’t know how to rate this, because you can choose to play either in hiragana only or with kanji. I’m playing with kanji and there’s A LOT I don’t understand. Since I’ve played Pokémon X in english before, I’m not lost or anything, but sometimes I can’t understand a single bit of what a few of the characters are saying. With that said, the battles and items are fairly easy to navigate, and there’s even an anki shared deck for the pokémon moves which I’m using for search in order to NOT screw up and end teaching useless things to my pokémon.

    Some of my favorite bands like SCANDAL, FLiP and MUCC. I’d recommend them to anyone who’s not fiercely attached to just one style of music, they’re amazing.

  3. Playing: ソフィーのアトリエ / Atelier Sophie for PS3, PS4, PS Vita
    Difficulty: ***
    This is a JRPG built around an elaborate crafting system, with lots of conversation. The seventeenth and latest of the Atelier series.

  4. Watching: Normal Japanese TV! I bought a monthly subscription for Japanese TV and I get about 30 channels to pick from. I can’t recommend it enough – Japannettv

    Reading: My new Shadowing book: Let’s Speak Japanese. It’s a bunch of dialogues aimed toward listening/speaking practice.

    Playing: As usual in the spring I get hooked on Harvest Moon. It helps me learn more everyday dialogue and item/food names. I may also buy Pokémon Blue/Red/Yellow now that they have been released on DS.

    • POKEMON SUN AND MOON ANNOUNCED! HYPE! Available in Japanese without needing a Japanese 3DS, long term goal for sure. Get to pokemon comprehension level by November~December 2016.

      • I am extremely excited about Pokémon Sun/Moon!

        Where did you hear you don’t need a Japanese 3DS?? Clearly I need to do more research!!

        • Starting with Pokemon X and Y, at the start of the game you can pick from any of the languages it has been created in, despite what country version’s game/console. Though, the game and console still need to match the same region as region locking is still a thing for the 3ds unfortunately.

          • So what you are saying is that I can buy a European 3DS and Pokemon X and Y version, and then choose Japanese as my language at startup? :o That sounds great!

        • Not only Pokemon X&Y but:
          Bravely Default
          Bravely Second
          Resident Evil Revelations
          …also contain Japanese language.

  5. Watching

    Netflix Japan. The English content on here is pretty substandard or I have already seen it so it’s been a marathon of Japanese movies and dramas since I got it. Most of the worthwhile movies have already been reviewed at JALUP but the dramas all haven’t. Everything here is currently available on Netflix Japan.

    Terrace House (***): The Japanese take on The Real World you put a bunch of young people in one house and see what happens. It’s clearly partially scripted and everyone on the show wants to be famous but the language use is real and modern. It’s a really good litmus test of Japanese comprehension because the dialog is about everyday life situations.

    Good Morning Call (**): A nothing special drama about high school and falling in love. It comes with full Japanese subtitles though and the fact that it’s slice of life makes it worth mentioning. (It’s not done yet and I am behind so it’s hard to give it an actual review.)

    Underwear (***): A girl fresh out of university gets a job working for an eccentric lingerie designer. The first few episodes were hilariously good and it is fairly watchable even if you glaze over some of the deeper work dialogue. In the end it has 桐谷美玲 in it which is enough to make it worth watching.


    チーズスイートホーム (*): A story about a kitten who gets separated from his family. The kitten’s dialog may be a bit tough for new learners because it speaks like a child, but everyone should try this manga. I found it much easier to read than most manga recommended for beginners and I found the story more interesting than よつばと.

    • I’d recommend 勇者ヨシヒコ. Pretty great …parody… kind of thing if you are into RPGs (particularly Dragon Quest). Watch the first episode and you’ll get what I mean.

  6. Playing:

    Code: Realize ~創生の姫君~ (***): it’s an otome game that takes place in steampunk Victorian England. The protagonist is considered a “monster”, as her body produces a highly corrosive poison, so her skin melts everything it touches. It has humour, it has drama, it has alchemy and airship races, some political intrigue, fighting scenes and beautiful illustrations, in short – it’s a lot of fun. Besides a few odd kanji here and there and some technical explanations, the language isn’t difficult at all.

    Pokemon Black 2 (**): do I really need to introduce anyone to the series? :p


    この世でいちばん大事な「カネ」の話: by Adam’s recommendation. Despite the two stars rating, there were parts of the book I had real trouble with. It’s a bit sad, but it just means I have to read more <3

  7. Reading: assorted stuff on This website is my new favorite thing. It’s basically a weekly webcomic website, where artists will publish amateur serial digital comics and you can like and track them. There’s lots of great content, and it’s all free (to the extent of my knowledge). The difficulty level really varies from comic to comic, so it’s hard to judge, but I’d say maybe 3 stars overall. I haven’t seen a comic that has furigana yet.

    Listening: assorted Jrock bands that I like: cinema staff (**), hello sleepwalkers (***), the oral cigarettes (**), spyair (**), amazarashi (***).

  8. Reading: Just finished the second book in the こそあどの森の物語 series, まよなかの魔女の秘密. Enjoyed it a lot. This is a series of children’s novels about a group of elf/fairy people who live in the woods and have interesting things happen to them. I’d probably rate it around 1 star in terms of difficulty. .

    A couple chapters into volume 1 of Fairy Tail. I have six volumes of this, and I will probably focus on reading those next, and probably somewhere in the middle decide whether I want to order more of them or read some of the other stuff I have first. Enjoying it so far. Has full furigana, and most of the vocab is pretty easy.

    Listening: LAST desire ( Audio drama, currently up to episode 4. I’ve been looping this for about a week and really enjoying it. Story so far: Gaming company releases a device called a Medical Core that can create a an immersive experience in a virtual space. The protagonist is asked to be a beta tester for this device and the new game LAST desire by his brother-in-law, who is the head of the company that created the device. It’s a fighting game, and he’s teamed with a partner. So far it’s enjoyable, though pretty light in tone and very “anime” in terms of characters and story. Hard to say the difficulty, but I’m somewhere around level 30, and listening to it all day (mostly passively) for a week, I understand most of the over-all story, but there’s backstory stuff and technical conversations that still go totally over my head.

    Watching: the j-dub of Friends on This is basically like mental comfort food for me, as getting through the winter months leaves me feeling kind down and lethargic. A lot of the humor doesn’t translate, but the drama does, and of course if you’ve watched the show in English as much as I have, you remember most of the humorous stuff and laugh anyways. In general, is amazing. Being able to watch Jessica Jones, Daredevil, etc, which I’d kind of felt like I was missing out on (I’m moderately serious about the AJATT thing) has been awesome. Recently, I’ve heard they are blocking some VPN’s though, so maybe do some research before choosing one.

  9. Watching:

    Nihongonomori: Tons of videos in Japanese for learning grammar, vocabulary etc graded by JLTP level. An example

    Begiragons: A bunch of guys go out and do wacky/hilarious things, with a with a bit of ばつゲーム to spice things up. One of their best is the LA hambuger challenge:

    South park :D Seasons 1-7 are dubbed to Japanese (which is awesome!), while 8 and on are subbed.

  10. I have been mostly adding cards since the end of my school semester.
    But basically:

    podcasts – まりもえお-道産女子校正-Khatz recommended this, great for some vacant time during commuting.
    NHK news,たまむすび,爆笑問題
    bands like いきものがかり and more..

    Reading: mainly short articles from, lifehacker (the jp ver) ,FNN news.
    1948 by george orwell -that’s a tough one to read, gets my motivation out.
    GTO manga.

    Speaking – Hello talk app in my smartphone -an amazing thing, you should totally review it.

  11. アニメ (Anime)
    ** ワンパンマン (One Punch Man)
    A man copes with actually becoming the strongest hero. Affectionate parody of fighting shows.
    ** ソラノヲト (Sound of the Sky)
    A vaguely-military, slightly sweet/slightly sour slice of life show.

    オーディオドラマ (Audio Drama)
    ** 痛みのオルゴヲル (The Music Box of Pain)

    本 (Books)
    *** 学問のすすめ 現代語訳 (An Encouragement of Learning – Modern Translation)
    A call for liberalism and practical learning by the man on the 10,000 yen note.
    **** 人間失格 (No Longer Human)

  12. manga
    karakai jouzu takagi-san (からかい上手高木さん) 1 stars
    love comedy about middle schoolers,the girl likes to tease the boy

    mushoku tensei (無職転生) 3 stars
    the story about otaku+neet 34 years dude that got kicked out from the house coz he didnt go to his parents’ funeral,and died 3 hours later trying to protect some high schoolers,he then woke up in child’s body and the fantasy world that has magic + monsters.

    visual novel
    ikusa megami zero (戦女神ZERO) 4 stars
    this one is a vn with game-play,the beginning of ikusa megami series,this will tell u how celica gets the body of the god through god-slaying,u play the role of the god of storm’s follower and fight monsters to protect people,

  13. Reading: 青の炎 by Yusuke Kishi. I would say it’s at least *** stars. In my case, I’m mostly skimming it for reading practice. Just read the script book for the movie based on it to, which is also a *** story, though it’s a little bit easier because it’s almost all dialog.

    Listening: All things ARASHI. Always. Forever. But also BAYSTORM, which is Nino’s private radio show. I can’t rate Arashi objectively, but BAYSTORM falls somewhere between * – ***** depending on the show, but it’s usually a **.

    Watching: Arashi programs. VS ARASHI is usually a * – **, depending on the guest, but Arashi ni Shiyagare, is usally ** – ***. Nino-san depends on the topic, but is also usually a ** – ***.

  14. Watching: still watching Cardfight ヴァンガード G ギアースクライシス編 its’ about *-** I guess.

    Reading: 魔法の宅急便 if you can find an addition with furigana this would be * but mine’s pure kanji so **. Plot & grammar are simple enough.

    Playing: Starry Sky in Spring. My first ever otoge and I’m loving it. 羊君 is the best. .<

    Listening: animenfo radio which is all over the place. And Exist Trace. Lots of Exist Trace <3

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

HTML tags allowed in your comment: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>