How to Start Reading Manga when you Hate Yotsuba — 24 Comments

  1. I am experimenting watching anime with *Japenese* subtitles. I first did it with Stains;gate in VLC and actually went through the all thing actually enjoying the anime. However, the progress was somewhat slow, as I would often have to look up words on Jisho (it became easier when I just copied them from the subtitle file instead of looking up the kanji on SLJ FAQ).

    Since then, I have written a some Javascript to display subtitles in the web browser above the video (*not* as actual subtitles). This lets me use something like Rikaichan to quickly look up words. This is a similar to Animelon (which is almost what I want, but the forced spacing in the Japanese subtitles is often wrong and break the dictionary look-up; also probably not that good to practice reading), maybe to AnimeLab (which I cannot access since not in Oceania) and quite different from Anime Planet (which does not show word translation). My source for Japanese subtitles is [1].


    I have just started watching Death Note again with this, and I feel that this is working very well. I add new vocabulary to an Anki deck created for this purpose.

    So, did other people experiment with watching anime with Japanese subtitles? How did it go?

    • This is an interesting approach. Thanks for sharing. Though reading Japanese subtitles or reading Japanese manga still presents the same difficulties in choosing what to begin when you are a beginner.

    • Could you share that Javascript? I think it could be in fact a brilliant way of minimizing obstacles for watching videos with Japanese subtitles.

    • If you have access to a smartphone, I recommend using a dictionary on there with e.g. Google Handwriting Input to look up kanji. It’s a great halfway house between rikaichan and formal dictionaries.

      My go-to learning manga is Hikaru no Go, btw – talk about specialist vocab. I don’t even play go….

    • Japanese subtitles is my jam and definitely eases you into lots of tv watching. I just use Kitsunenekko subs and Penguin Subtitle Player, and watch any show with the subtitles running on top.

      If you can use it, Netflix Japan also has subtitles on a lot of stuff so that makes this process even easier.

      However I don’t look up anything when I watch so I don’t mind the inability to quickly check something. If it’s mentioned a couple times and I can’t guess then I go look it up and check.

  2. Fortunately for me, I fell in love with Yotsubato at first read. I’m going to try to read the Harry Potter series next, and then dive into material that is closer to my interests like philosophy and science.

    • If you are interested in philosophy and science, you might want to check out the manga Dr. Stone. It has a lot of both, and since it is a manga make things easier to understand.

  3. I had no idea that there was a “holy trinity” of beginner manga, I always only hear Yotsuba! I love dragon ball & loved watching the anime of 俺物語 so these will definitely be my next purchase once I receive Yotsuba!

    • Yes there is a holy trinity :) Though Yotsuba always seems to be the dominating face.

      If you liked the anime of 俺物語, you’ll definitely enjoy the manga!

    • One Piece is a very fun manga. So if that’s what someone has wanted to read and is a major motivator, a little extra difficulty should not stop anyone from going right into that long, long, long journey.

  4. One little question that I have: when you start reading something low level like these; should I be looking up words that I don’t know? Considering I wont be adding them to SRS or anything since I’m still doing the JALUP cards… just look up to know what it means and go on? or not look up and just skip them

    • If you are going through the Jalup decks, I would read for fun and cementing what you’ve learned in a native scenario. While occasionally looking up a word you feel you need to know is fine, you do not need to add cards, or look up every word.

  5. When I first moved to Japan and my Japanese was still at an elementary level, I spent about 16 hours reading my first volume of manga in Japanese.

    The manga was Tenkensai (aka Tenken), still to this day one of my favorites, and I have no regrets.

    So where there’s a will there’s a way.

    However, whether this method will work for you will vary from person to person depending on how much you’re willing to persevere with something above your ability level without getting so frustrated that it becomes a disagreeable chore (and, because you hate it, not an effective study method). For people who don’t mind textbooks, it’s not necessarily a bad thing to stick with textbooks until you get to a point where you find some Japanese media you can enjoy at the level that you’re at. For people who do hate textbooks and conventional study methods, it might be worth a shot to try persevering with some media you actually enjoy. Also, like Adam mentioned, things you have already experienced are good, and video games also work really well for this especially if, for example, you’ve already played through Chrono Trigger in English multiple times to see all the different endings.

    I’m sorry it’s a bit off topic for the subject of manga, but along the lines of learning that is appropriate to a person’s level, why not just get out there and talk to some real, live Japanese people? Human beings are in most cases incredibly good at using simple language and slowing down their speaking speed to help you understand if they know that you are just learning their language.

    With websites like italki making it easy and free to find a language exchange partner, location is no longer an excuse.

    Conversation is about 50% listening and 50% speaking, so it will help with the problems like listening skills outpacing speaking skills, or reading/writing skills outpacing listening/speaking skills, that people sometimes have if they don’t practice speaking a language.

    Everyone’s learning style is different, and what motivates you will probably vary from person to person, but humans are social mammals and there are probably a lot of people out there who, like me, will find their retention of and motivation towards Japanese skyrocket when they have real opportunities to talk with real people.

    Manga is awesome, too. But I just thought I’d put this out there, since human beings are awesome and intelligent language learning resources that automatically adapt themselves to your current level.

    • Thanks for sharing your input! Sounds like you worked really hard on that first manga and it paid off for you in the long run.

      Of course talking with Japanese people is great. That also has its own set of challenges to overcome as well :)

  6. So I’ve read through Yotsubato which I knew I would enjoy as I had already read through it in the past haha and I understood a lot more than I expected! Of course it was rare that I’d understand a full sentence but when I did, it was an amazing feeling! And there’s so many times that I’d see a kanji that while I haven’t learned the word in the Jalup decks yet, I HAVE seen the kanji in Kanji Kingdom and thus knew what it meant (and made sense in context)! I am so glad I have done this!

    Now I just started reading Ore Monogatari (I’m reading this before dragon ball because I dont intend on buying this series whereas I do want to own dragon ball so I have to wait until I can afford it haha) and again thankfully already know what happens (I watched the anime a while ago!) and once more I am surprised at how simple the text is! There was a somewhat long sentence that I only needed to look up a single word and suddenly it all made sense! It was great! I also have been putting your recommendation of “dont look up too much and just enjoy the ride to cement what you are learning” to use and man it is awesome haha

    • Reading this, it is almost like the me from 4 years ago wrote it. Thanks for helping me remember the joy I had studying. ^^
      I felt the exact same excitement you just wrote about. これから更に楽しくなると思いますので、これからも頑張って楽しく勉強してくださいね!

    • That’s awesome. You’ve worked your ass off for this, so you deserve all the rewards that are now on the way.

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>