Reading Japanese Manga in 5 Easy Steps

Coincidentally, as I tried to improve my Japanese through reading manga, I found this helpful link in Twitter by a fellow writer named “Rainbowhill” on how to read manga for fun and for education. For anyone who’s tried to read Japanese manga, and isn’t a native speaker, or even fluent, you may find the task both entertaining and daunting, so Rainbowhill’s advice is very sound, and I encourage folks to take a look. The Google slides rock, too. :)

Personally I don’t recommend reading manga for anyone until they can comfortably pass at least the N4/JLPT3 certification test because I feel the learning curve is too steep, unless you’re really patient and dedicated. Knowing even a couple hundred kanji will help a lot too as the basic kanji are so frequently used in so many word compounds. For people who haven’t reached this level yet, there are many excellent sources for non-Japanese natives to learn to read Japanese until they can do so comfortably. For me, I found the Graded Reader Series by White Rabbit Press very useful. While living in Ireland, I started with the easiest level (currently level 0, though level 1 at the time), breezed through the books until level 3, which was harder for me and the stories were more engaging by then too. After some effort, and re-reading some stories more than once, I eventually got comfortable enough to read level 4 which is roughly grade-school level. Once that became too easy, it was time to move to real literature, I decided.

Even with that much progress, there is still quite a bit to learn. Even grade-school level manga is still a struggle to read, so Rainbowhill’s advice is excellent, and I encourage people to keep trying. This is all just my opinion, by the way, so you have to reflect upon your own strengths and experience as well and not be afraid to break out of your comfort zone.

Good luck and happy reading!


4 Comments on “Reading Japanese Manga in 5 Easy Steps”

  1. Brett says:

    Hi Doug, thanks for the plug. I think it’s true what you say about re-reading. As you re-read you grow in confidence and everything starts to flow. Sometimes you catch subtlties that you would have before with only one or two reads.

    Glad you enjoyed the slides :)

  2. Doug says:

    Well, you did a great job, and for fellow Japanese students like myself, the efforts are appreciated. I definitely appreciate the fruits of hard work and study now as reading it getting progressively easier. :D

  3. Kendall says:

    Related to manga (or at least children’s books), a few years back I found a site for Japanese children’s books that includes the Japanese and English translation for the story. It’s mostly in hiragana, but includes some basic level kanji too, which is helpful for novices. They’re written by someone who was learning Japanese so they may not be as accurate as someone who is more fluent, but are helpful for novices like myself.

  4. Doug says:

    I have a ton of children’s books at home for “Baby”, and I admit to reading them myself from time to time. :-p


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