Easy to read manga for Japanese beginners – Vol. 01

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I’ve been trying to learn Japanese for about one and a half years now. I had my ups and downs and even took a break from studying for a couple of months last year. It became just too frustrating and was more like an everyday burden than fun. But this all changed when I booked my flight to Toyko last October (2012). Now I had a good reason to start learning again and knew that even the slightest knowledge of the language would come in very handy on my visit in February 2013. That was motivation enough to keep me studying on a daily basis. I even took some private Japanese classes but that wasn’t really that helpful. I soon realised that there is a reason why Japanese people sometimes say that they wouldn’t properly understand (grammatically!) their own language themselves. And because Japanese people do love manga, they made a great comic out of it:日本人の知らない日本語 (Japanese people take Japanese for granted).

Many people obviously want to learn a new language for the primary reason to speak it in its specific country. That wasn’t quite the case for me when I started to learn Japanese. I always loved Japanese films and the Japanese culture itself but I wanted to be able to read Japanese books and maybe play a video game in Japanese. That was the reason why I started in the first place. I already read some manga back then (only by Noaki Urasawa) but I was more into western comics. It was within the last year when I discovered my love for Japanese comics and naturally it became my goal to read manga in their orginal language: Japanese.

I once learned English through watching movies with (English) subtitles, so I thought “why shouldn’t the reading-route work with Japanese too.” On my trip to Tokyo I bought a big bunch of books and manga. So many that my girlfriend complained that she couldn’t buy as much for herself as she wanted to because my books already were too heavy and maxed out our allowed weight. I usually prefer more mature stories and thus mangaka like Naoki Urasawa, Osamu Tezuka and Jiro Taniguchi. Unfortunately the books by these authors lack “furigana” small Japanese figures which are placed above all Kanji and give the reading of it. This makes looking up an unknown word so much more easy. Especially when you’re still working on a basic vocabulary like me, these are existencial. But now let’s talk about some good manga to begin with or easy to read manga for Japanese beginners.

So here we go, my list of easy to read manga for Japanese beginners. (This is only part one, so you know what that could mean.)

Regarding the links: (If you buy the books through my links, I’ll get a small referral fee which will be used to buy even more awesome books for review.) If you don’t know where and how to buy Japanese manga, visit my guide on Where to buy Japanese manga

If you’re in search for some transparent book covers to wrap your manga, just click on the link!

1. よつばと!(Yotsuba!)

The obvious choice and highly recommended when it comes to manga for Japanese beginners. Rather simple language and because of the setting of a young child experiencing everyday problems, the vocabulary will be of great use for every beginner. The stories are very popular in Japan (even abroad) and are read by nearly everyone. So you sure can have fun following Yotsuba discovering the world. Even if you are a 26 year old youngster like me.

Buy the manga: Yotsuba&

And if you’re like me you may want to order the English edition as well. That’s how I managed my way through Dragon Ball the first time around. And believe me between all the Japanese and slang it’s great to read a good translation from time to time to make sure that you really follow the story.

yotsubato japanese manga for beginners

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2. ドラゴンボール 完全版 (Dragonball – The complete edition)

I have never watched Dragonball as a kid and usually really don’t like all these Jump comics with endless fights and dramatic gestures. I tried One Piece, Bleach and Naruto but its’s just not my cup of tea. So I always thought that Dragonball was more or less the same. Big mistake.

simple japanese manga

When I was in Tokyo I picked up the first volume of the manga at a Book Off. (A big Japanese store chain which sells used books, videogames, cds & dvds.) I really liked the drawings and the kinda “mysterious” setting somewhere between sci-fi and mystery. And there is actually not that much fighting going on. At least not in the first two volumes. I just started reading Dragonball last week and also bought the German version of the manga as a little helper when I’m stuck or not quite sure if I got the story right. So far its quite fun, not too difficult and a very nice read. Even for a Japanese beginner like me. But what makes it extra great for us is the big format the “complete edition” or 完全版 is printed in. Glorious color pages at the beginning and a very clean print throughout the book on good paper. Just tried to read some Hunter x Hunter which is printed in the usual super small format all Jump manga are done in and was really struggling to read some of the Furigana. Dragonball spoiled me.

Buy the manga: ドラゴンボール 01 完全版

Side note: I recently bought a “new” version of Dragon Ball which tells the whole story again but very much boils the whole epic story down to just a couple of volumes. The drawings are in Chibi style, the manga is in full color and the Japanese is quite simple (more easy than the original). It’s called Dragon Ball SD and is a great one to pick up as well.

EASY TO READ MANGA FOR JAPANESE BEGINNERS The first fifty or so pages of the manga are in glorious color. 20130510-DSC_0087

3. しろくまカフェ (Shirokuma Café)

I watched the anime together with my girlfriend and we quite enjoyed it. Or maybe we just really wanted to like it because honestly, it’s a little dull. The story is about a lazy Panda who is a regular customer at an organic food & drinks joint which is operated by an Ice Bear. Sounds like fun right?

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Shirokuma-kun even tries to explain very alike sounding Japanese words to the Panda which is not exactly a bad thing for us Japanese beginners. The manga is printed in the same big format like the Dragonball complete edition and is thus very comfortable to read. And if I should pick a manga in Japanese to begin with it would probably be this one. The stories are short, the vocabulary is quite easy and slang is nearly nonexistent. There are a total of four volumes which look really nice together on the bookshelf. Each of is named after a differentfruit-flavour. Nice idea, I like that and now you even have another reason to pick up these books.

Buy the manga: しろくまカフェ (Shirokuma Café)

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4. チーズスイートホーム (Chi’s Sweet Home)

This is another one of these mangas with short & cute stories. A little bit like Shirokuma Café. Like I already mentioned I’m usually not into these kind of comics, but the stories about a little cat exploring a new home are really cute. And it really hurts me to describe something as cute but there is no way around this word when you want to describe Chi’s Sweet Home. It’s a super sweet story about a little kitten even your mother would like. Good for us: The vocab and story are really easy to grasp. The pictures are nearly always self-explanatory and hands down there is not that much going on story-wise. But for everyone who is just starting to read something in Japanese this is a good one to begin with. Trust me you don’t want to start with something overly complicated. It’s just too frustrating and when you begin reading Japanese it should be a rewarding experience.

Buy the manga: チーズスイートホーム

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For me it’s very important that I don’t have to read those super tiny fonts especially when the text is written in Japanese. And it really doesn’t make sense to print manga in these super tiny formats which Jump normally uses when it’s actually all about the pictures. To give you a hint how these manga compare in size I made another picture for you. Hope this helps. The smallest Yotsubato and Chi’s Sweet Home are “one size” bigger than he average Jump manga and quite comfortable to read. So you don’t have to worry about these.

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I hope you like the post. Please drop me a line in the comments and if you’re kind enough I’ll soon post the second part with even more awesome and easy to read manga for Japanese beginners.


Update: You were kind enough and that’s why I made a couple more posts with easy to read manga goodness in Japanese.

Continue reading:

Vol. 02Vol. 03Vol. 04, Vol 05

Maybe you’re still looking for some good ways to learn Japanese or improve on your grammar and speaking/listening skills. Check out my post about how I’m learning Japanese and what Amélie has written about playful ways to get more immersed in the language.

Thanks a lot for all your constant support and kind words. Let’s read some great manga together! If you have any manga tips for beginners please share them in the comments.

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  • タン トラン

    Thanks for the tips. I’ve been to a lot of Japanese bookstores, but I’ve never seen the titles: Chi’s Sweet Home nor Shirokuma Cafe. I will check out your suggested titles actually! Did you get all these books at Book Off?

    Recently I’ve been blogging about learning Japanese and wrote an entry as well: http://lostteacherinjapan.weebly.com/1/post/2013/05/choosing-japanese-books-and-manga-based-on-your-reading-level.html

    I think I’ll also write some suggestions for good beginner titles as well. I also sell books and you can request specific Japanese titles, if you’re ever interested, drop by my site and look at my stores. Thanks!

    • Thanks for your commet タントラン. I actually bought Chi’s sweet Home and Shirokuma Café at Mandarake but I’ve seen them at some Book Offs as well. Just ask for the titles, they are somewhat a bit hard to find in the book stores. At least that was the case when I was looking for them in Tokyo. Always hidden in a corner :)
      Just checked your blog and your small store for Japanese manga. Nice, Bookmarkd’ of course :)

  • Nana

    Thanks for this!

    • Thanks for reading! The second part is already nearly done :)

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  • Christian

    Shirokuma Café seems like an interesting title, I want to look into that. You take some beautiful pictures, I appreciate that you also take pictures of the spines. The spine of a book is almost just as important as the front cover, I think. It seems you like manga in editions that has been colored after the initial print of the series, you have for instance Dragonball in a version that’s colored, and it seems Dr. Slump from your vol. 3 post is colored afterwards as well. Is it a coincidence, or do you prefer colored manga when you have a choice?

    • Thank you so much for your kind words Christian. It’s really appreciated. Shirokuma Café is indeed a great beginner friendly manga to watch out for. I’m quite sure that the first pages of Dragonball and Dr. Slump have been colored in their original version. Quite a few manga have some colored pages at the beginning. Like Billy Bat or Slam Dunk. The same is the case with the two manga by Toriyama. The first couple of pages are colored and then it’s plain b/w. I probably should have taken some more pictures to show that :)

      To answer your question: I personally really like colored manga. There is a new edition of Dragonball available which is fully colored and looks gorgeous. I only own it digitally but I bet the printed version is just as beautiful.

      What do you prefer?

  • Soul

    What is wrong with you? You didn’t like one piece, naruto or bleach? Bleach is like the best anime and manga ever. Okay I like dragonball to but bleach is the best and my overall favorite. I realize this is my opinion, but I still have a right to express it… Just sayin

    • Great comment!

      • Soul

        I still think all the information displayed on this blog was spectacular, it is great information, it’s just I have a serious bleach problem and get kind of…

        • Can you read Bleach in Japanese? I found it to be a really, really tough one and that’s a good reason not to include it in a post with easy manga recommendations for Japanese beginners.

          • Soul

            No I don’t read it in japanease because there are tons of sights where you can read it in English and it’s still the same you just get it a little later than you would if it were in japanease, so it doesn’t really make a difference to me

  • ionlyeatdesserts

    Haha this reminds me of myself but you were more practical. During my exchange in Osaka I went crazy at Bookoff – 100 -300 yen per vol, madness I say! This resulted in me buying 60+ vols of one piece and a lot of shojo magazine XD

    • And I still can’t stop myself buying even more Japanese manga and books even if my backlog is huge :)
      Can totally relate to your feelings when entering Book Off for the first time. It was just great. Heard there is a Book Off with Japanese stuff in Paris. Maybe I will make a short trip within the next weeks :)

  • erly

    Holy smokes, I have all of those but Dragonball. Yotsuba is by far my favorite, and I opted for Sailor Moon as well… because childhood.

    • My girl loves Sailor Moon as well but I heard it’s rather difficult in Japanese. Have you read it?

      • erly

        I’ve read bits of it. Some of the grammar is still a bit above my current level, but there is furigana.

        • Maybe I’ll just throw a volume of Sailor Moon in my next honto order. For old times sake.
          Thanks for sharing!

  • Okanehira

    This is great, i’ll be buying all these in the new year with your links sir. Cheers.

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  • Awww, that brings back memories! :)
    And Chi is so cute. ^^

    • Chi is awesome right :) and was actually the first Japanese manga I bought.

  • derhoques

    Hmm, I thought about buying the Dragon Ball volume with the site you suggested. Is there anything I need to know if I want it to ship to Germany? Import fees, extra shipping cost, etc.? I have never imported anything so I am not sure what I need to consider. Can you tell me something about it?

    • There are no extra charges. The shipping costs (at cdjapan) are determined at checkout and that the sum you have to pay for the whole shipment. Don’t worry about getting hit by customs. Mwst is only 7% on books in Germany which means that you can order books with a total value of ruffly a hundred Euro without having to pay taxes. Never had any problems with books though, even with bigger packages. Once shipped with SAL you should have your books within 2 weeks :)

  • Ana

    Hiya! I just ordered everything (except dragonball) from Kinokuniya this week, so hopefully they should be here soon! I’m with you about the jump comics… I started with naruto because I absolutely LOVELOVELOVE the story! however, I needed a microscope to read the furigana and it was extremely frustrating. ._.! Thank you so much for these suggestions! I’m excited to start reading!! =^_^=

    • Thanks for your kind words :) Never really tried to get into Naruto because I found the drawings a little dull. But I just skipped through the first volume in a manga store. And yeah, the kanzenban size is the perfect manga size for me as well. Makes reading Japanese so much more comfortable.

      Have fun with your new books (which probably arrived by the time of my very late reply, sorry). Just a curious question, you ever read Dragon Ball or why didn’t you pick it up?

  • Michelle Seo

    I will definately get the Chi manga! thank you for this post!

    • Thanks for reading :) Chi is awesome and great first manga to pick up in Japanese.

  • Brennero Pardo Centanaro

    Thank you!! I’ve always wanted to buy beginners manga. The Yobatsuto looks funny, I think doraemon is for beginners too. I bought somes mangas but don’t know if they are for beginners. Thanks for your input. Will take in considerations when I get more mangas to practice

    • Thanks for your comment. Just do yourself a favor and get the first couple of Yotsuba books :) They are really fun and it’s always a good idea to get into reading “real” Japanese as soon as possible even if it’s a little frustrating in the beginning. I found Doraemon a little more difficult overall but included it in my second part of eas beginner manga:
      http://japanesetease.net/easy-to-read-manga-for-japanese-beginners-vol-02/

      • コーデです(^_^)v

        I have been studying Japanese for a little over a year and a half and I just started reading Doraemon. I also found it very difficult because there were many phrases that I haven’t come across and were difficult finding translations. I found myself using Google Translate far too often.

        Thank you for this post, I will definitely try しろくま and よつば. At this stage, I have found it difficult finding manga that is just right for beginners like me who do not have as high a vocabulary or experience as to read Dragonball or Doraemon, or Death Note etc.

        • Oh yeah, Death Note is super difficult. The vocab in there is definitely not beginner friendly. Or Japanese learner friendly in general. Have you already tried Yotsuba or Shirokuma Café?

          • コーデです(^_^)v

            I bought Chi’s Sweet Homr and Yotsuba vol 1. I am almost finished
            reading Chi’s and I am glad I decided to read it because it is a confidence booster hehe. I think its a perfect beginner book. I will buy Shirokuma once I am finished with these two. Btw, thanks for the reply!

          • Og course. Cody. Thanks a lot for sharing your experiences. Shirokuma Cafe will definitely be a great choice. Can’t wait to hear how you liked it. It’s probably a god idea to start with Chi as the very first manga even if it got some “baby chi dialect” in it. Apart from that there is little text and you get the great feeing that you can finally put your learned Japanese to proper use.

            Don’t be discouraged when reading Yotsuba. I found the first volume a little more difficult than the following ones. Let me know how things go :)

          • コーデです(^_^)v

            I will definitely let you know Yotsuba is :) BTW, CD Japan is a great site that has lots of variety. It is sometimes difficult to find manga in Japanese on Amazon.com haha

          • コーデです(^_^)v

            I finished Yotsuba and thought it was a cute story about everyday life for the girl and her dad, and her neighbors. There were sections that were fairly difficult, but much of the material was about the same difficulty as Chi’s Sweet Home.

            I tried reading Shirokuma Cafe, but I didn’t like the skit format to well because I couldn’t identify with the characters that much. I will try reading it again when I have gained more skill.

            For now, I am going to stick with Yotsuba and Chi’s Sweet Home :) Thanks for all of your input

  • tashiasoen

    Thanks for the recommendations! I’ve already heard of Shirokuma Cafe and Yotsuba so when I saw them, I was so excited:) Of course I have also heard of DB but unfortunately I did not order them this time around. By the way, thanks for recommending a cdjapan as well! It was excellent. I also ordered Dangerous Ji San which was recommended to me by a youtuber. He said its suppose to be quite humorous with a ton of potty jokes and furigana! So glad I found your blog. It has been very helpful!

    • Really glad you liked the manga I picked and enjoyed ordering through cdjapan. I’ll watch out for Dangerous Ji San. Never heard of it before (shame on me) but the premise sounds really interesting. Thanks for your support and let me know how you enjoy your new manga.

  • Mapahastaelpasadizo

    Thank you for the recommendations. Always is good to find that kind of material list.

    I know about よつばと, I some time ago bought in my language, but it’s bored. May be I’ll try シロクマコヒ for read in Japanese.

    I need to say (please, please forgive me) that I think what you say about the color of new Dragon Ball… well, I’m in shock reading what you said. I think that color it’s a bit horrible. If that’s glorious, how to call the color of Guarnido’s “Blacksad”, Homs’s “The Secrets: L’Angélus” Frezzato’s “Keepers of Maser” or other european comics?
    But not offense, please, I’m saying only my opinion. :)

    And speaking of non-Japanese comics, I can ask you something? may be you can help me: How is said in Japanese “european comics”? There is some secret special way to say that? There are many novels and other books translated into Japanese, but I don’t find anywhere european comics translated, except the Peyo’s “The Smurfs” children serie. Do they not translate anything graphic?

    Thanks

    • Yeah, you’re definitely right the the small color parts in Dragon Ball are not exactly what one would call gorgeous in comparison to some hand colored European comics. I used it more rhetorically to say “hey, it’s awesome that there are even some color pages in there”.

      Unfortunately I have no idea how Japanese refer to Western comics. Never seen any on my trip to Japan (except the Peanuts) but this would be something I#d be interested as well. Maybe it’s justコミック which they even borrowed for their 漫画.

      I you found Yotsuba boring I would suggest not picking up シロクマカフェ next and rather something like ヒカルの碁. Great title with fantastic art and a great story. Just have a look here: http://japanesetease.net/easy-read-manga-vol-04-mixed-bag/

      • Mike

        I haven’t found a term that covers all western comics, but there is a term for European comics, namely ユーロ・コミックス, as well as one for American comics, アメコミ.

  • GreenTeaLeaf

    Jakob,

    I am very grateful for your Japanese language studying recommendations. I passed JLPT N4 and studying Minna No Nihongo & Genki, but still found myself being intimidated by manga and even children’s book (I tried, but struggled to read and understand even one page).
    This post gave me inspiration to try よつばと! and チーズスイートホーム (the cat is so cute!).

    Thank you so much for this blog! It is very interesting to read!

  • Silver Sycle

    This list you made is really nice, thanks.
    If you don´t mind me asking:
    Did the manga you bought already come with the clear protection-covers, or did you get them separately?

    • Thanks a lot. Hope you found the post about the transparent wrapping sheets for the manga: http://japanesetease.net/a-good-way-to-protect-your-manga-book-kun/

      • Silver Sycle

        Yes I did (and made the bad beginner misstake of not searching properly before asking^^).
        As you know the selection here in Germany isn´t that great and at least you can be sure those wrapping sheets will fit the manga you import.

  • Hadashi

    I’m just back from a trip to the used bookshop with 10 fairly random volume 1’s. Hopefully
    one of them will fit the bill. Yotsuba is a great choice. The local Book Off has used copies for about 350 yen.

    • How is miss BookOff… I’m sure you picked up some great titles :) What did you buy exactly? If you got Yotsuba you will be covered :)

      • Hadashi

        In less than 6 months I have accumulated cartons literally – too many to name them all!

  • GreenTeaLeaf

    Jakob,

    I am very grateful for your Japanese language studying recommendations. I passed JLPT N4 and studying Minna No Nihongo & Genki, but still found myself being intimidated by manga and even children’s book (I tried, but struggled to read and understand even one page).
    This post gave me inspiration to try よつばと! and チーズスイートホーム (the cat is so cute!).

    Thank you so much for this blog! It is very interesting to read!

    • Meghan Gerken

      Don’t be afraid of the manga! I’ll be ordering some to translate myself to help me with my Japanese. It’s something I think might help me in both remembering the hiragana and learning some more grammar! Just think of it as a positive way to learn! Stick to one page at a time and just slowly go through it. I haven’t taken any of the JLPT yet so we’ll see how things go! I wish you luck in your studies!

  • Rosalind Broadnax

    I am so glad I found this site. I have been studying Japanese. Kana pretty well memorized, and some Kanji so far. I really enjoyed your comments and especially the suggestions. I am going to try and find some of them. Thank you so much for sharing!

    • Thanks Rosalind. Really great you like my tips and suggestions :) If you have any more questions just ask :)

  • Juan

    I’m still learning Hiragana and Katakana. I’m reluctant to start on Kanji until i memorize and am able to swiftly read and write these characters. I know Kanji is a bigger beast altogether. I hope to bet some of these books so that I may advance in my studies. Thank you.

    • Hey Juan, thanks for sharing. It’s a old move on your part that you’re wiring with the Kanji until you can properly handle Hiragana + Katakana. Have you already tried out the Dr. Moku Apps? They helped me a great deal.

      • Juan

        I actually never heard of Dr. Moku. I’m gonna look it up. You’re a real help! :D Thank you so much!

        • I always thought that I included the Dr. Moku Apps for learning Hiragana and Katakana in the article. Just noticed that I haven’t actually done that :)

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  • ファビオロドリゲス

    Hey! マラゴさん、Thank you for these suggestions! I Bought the entire box of 12 books of Yotsuba&! It’s really helping me out with my reading! I saw you have some plastics to protect the cover, where can I find it?

  • Xeramon

    Thank you very much for this post! I think I am going to buy Dragonbal!

  • FunkyMonkey TV

    I haven’t even started learning japanese yet, I really want to start though. Where can i find a good beginners guide to japanese? It would be great if i could buy it in book format too. Is Shirokuma Cafe a good manga to start out with? Also isn’t there 5 volumes to shirokuma cafe?

  • Franco Forgiarini

    Awesome job!! Thank you very much! I have been looking for some easy manga to read and these are perfect. <)

    • Thanks a lot Franco. Let me know which ones you picked. Maybe the colored Dragon Ball SD manga are something for you as well. http://japanesetease.net/closer-look-dragon-ball-sd-manga/

      • Franco Forgiarini

        Yay! I haven’t dediced yet but I wanted to ask you, Do you recommend the CDJapan website? Isn’t there any other US based website that you would recommend? I recently went to Kinokuniya NYC and bought some cool children’s books to start practicing and they are great. I also bought a Death Note manga with furigana that I will read after I’m done with the easy ones :)

        • Definitely recommend cdjapan. Great service , all the books look perfect when they arrive and they’re always perfectly wrapped (two things I can’t say about ordering from amazon). Don’t have any experience with Kinokuniya myself but you can’t beat the original price when ordering directly from Japan. Would always try to cut out the middle-men if possible.

          http://japanesetease.net/guide-where-to-buy-japanese-manga-and-books/

  • Hello guys!
    I am a Japanese learner who love to read manga LIKE YOU! I of course know how interesting it would be to pick up a real physical book, however, that’ll be so expensive to get physical manga books, due to the cost itself and the shipping fee – especially when you’re living somewhere far from ASIA.
    Thanks to the hard work of Apple, we are now able to purchase a lot of manga in the iBook Store with as low as only 400yen (app. 3.40 USD), and thanks to the new FAMILY sharing availability, we are now able to share the price together to get it as low as 1/6 the full price.

    Therefore, I want to invite whomever of you to form a “family” group with me to share the prices of our favorite manga. Of course our interests might vary but I do believe that we should have something in common such as the Dragon Ball series or, the series I love even more below – Dragon Quest! Taking this series as an example, if we can form a group of 6, all of us will be able to purchase the full of 22 volumes with only 11.000yen/6 = 1833yen/person! And we can buy other series at that cheap too, as long as we have the same interests in those books!

    Here’s the link: https://itun.es/jp/F3spK.l. Contact me at triet.tang@gmail.com! Looking forward!

    • You know that everyone you share the content with has access on your payment details, right.
      Anyway, nice idea. But under the wrong post. Will move it to the one which is dedicated to digital Japanese manga.

  • Guest

    @JapaneseTease :disqus Is Tokyo Ghoul easy to read? Does it have the hiragana next to the kanjis’?

  • Tomas Rodriguez

    @Kowski86:disqus Do you consider Tokyo Ghoul easy to read? Does it have the hiragana next to the kanjis’?

    • Never read it but judging from the couple episodes I’ve watched I guess it will be a rather tough one not only because of the ghoul bla bla vocab. But if you like the show just pick up a copy and see for yourself. Always nice to have something you can come back to and suddenly understand it.

    • Selpiere

      I’m not great at Japanese at all but Tokyo Ghoul is definitely one of the more intermediate books, furigana only appears on some of the Kanji’s.

  • Anj Rodriguez

    I am trying to purchase in cdjapan site but it’s not giving me an option to ship within Japan. Am I doing something wrong?

    • I’m sorry Anj but I have absolutely no experience with shopping from cdjapan if you’re inside Japan. It’s probably best if you drop their customer service a mail. Very strange that there is no option available.

      But if you’re in Japan why don’t you just go to a small comic store nearby? Always more fun to buy in person, at least for me.

      • Anj Rodriguez

        I was interested in dragon ball manga but this is no longer available in most bookstores. Out of frustration i settled for Doraemon in Tsutaya cd and bookshop.

        Thank you for the response though. :)

    • Just drop in a Book Off. I’m sure they have the whole 完全版 collection on hand.

  • Mychy Moraes

    What about online versions?

    • Gabriela

      Can’t find a digital copy of よつばと!=( Already tried amazon.jp and Honto.

      • There is none :) You have to go with the physical version (which is a really nice one in Yotsuba’s case)

  • Mike

    Thanks so much for making this list; it was quite excellent of you. I’m thinking of picking some of these up for my local library in hopes that it might contribute to more international thinking in my area.

    On the subject of Chi’s Sweet Home, I liked it because it was adorable, and I agree that the flow of the comic is easy to follow with the pictures, but as a beginner I also found it frustrating that both the cat and the kid mess up their pronunciation. I had to say their lines to myself several times and try to think of normal Japanese that matches. It’s good to be able to figure this sort of thing out later on, but as a beginner I think sticking to standard Japanese or at least adult slang is more practical. It is cute though.

    • Nice thought to give some to your local library. I get your feelings towards Chi though. It’s a little tiresome sometimes if you’re still struggling with relatively easy sentences. What basically everybody is who is interested in manga from this post. A couple of months ago I discovered Sweets Penguin which is really easy as well (with a bit more text though) and none of these childish abbreviations. Very great manga for beginners actually. You may want to check it out

      http://japanesetease.net/easy-to-read-manga-for-japanese-beginners-vol-05/

      • Cheyenne Zachow

        Hello, Sorry to bother you..but I was wondering. Do you remember if in Chi’s sweet home there were many instances that Chi or Yohei mess up their pronunciations..or just a few? And are they somewhat easy to realize?
        Chi’s sweet home would keep me very interested. It is adorable..Thank you. : )

        • It’s been quite some time since I read these (and don’t have the manga nearby) but it was definitely very manageable. Even for me as a super beginner back then. The stories are pretty much self explanatory through the pictures. Don’t know how much baby talk there actually was by Chi tbh but I didn’t remember it negatively. Hope that helped a little.

  • Maylin DiRienzo

    Soooo helpful!! ありがとございます!!

  • SoapFX

    Really helpful! Thank you! I wanna buy me some other Manga from cdJapan, but where i can read wheter the Kanjis are written with Furigana or not ?

    • Unfortunately there is not much option but nearly everything that’s a JUMP manga will have Furigana. the same goes for all Shojo titles. Maybe I can help you just let me know if you’re unsure with a title.

      • SoapFX

        can you commend me a manga which is written with furigana and with very basic vocabulary (maybe a kind of JUMP Manga or anything else)

        • Just check all the Easy to read manga posts. But definitely make sure to get Yotsuba

  • mai

    I’m looking for a website which have japanese manga with english translation. I figure that would help me a lot in learning.

  • oska cook

    hi guys if your looking to read on manga books with translation then go to this website

    • No links to websites who don’t support the publisher, please. Apart from that, we’re interested in the Japanese originals on this site.

  • 島風

    Any body please: I am trying to help transfer learn Japanese for grade, but can not be there to explain not understanding kanji from manga like this, do you know of an electronic dictionary that he can use and input kanji with touch? Thank you.

    • Most of the iOS or Android dictionary Apps have that feature. Just check Midori or Japanese (both great dictionaries as well) both have this hand writing input feature you want.

  • Halim Chambers

    Awesome! I just ordered issues 1-42 of Dragon ball. I’ve been looking for a way to practice outside of class, so I’m really looking forward to reading them. (That doesn’t include studying for N4)

    • Let me know how you’re managing with reading Dragon Ball in Japanese. Love the manga.

  • Art

    Does it takes long to arrive? Once I bought a Chinese book and it took 3 months to arrive! I live literally on the other side of the world compared to Japan.

    • CDjapan usually takes around 2 weeks to arrive (Europe). Should be much different for the rest of the world. Sometimes packages even arrived after 10 days.

  • Cherif Khemmar

    Hi. Why “to” is silent in 「よつばと」? I am new :)

    • Poppie-Anderson

      The book in english would be Yotsuba “And”
      ‘To’ here isn’t apart of her name but similar to the naming system in the chapter.
      Yotsuba ‘to’ Ame (Yotsuba and Rain)
      よつば と 雨

      • Cherif Khemmar

        Thanks a million! make sense now.

  • Alec Thorne

    Just found this website and article and I’m boosted. Have been studying
    Japanese for about 4 years off and on and never breached intermediate…
    but now I’m 100 hours into iKnow with 3000 vocab words, and am
    listening and reading basic Japanese… Can’t wait to start reading
    these!! I’ll become fluent as quickly as possible :-) just my cup of
    tea, iKnow is the best thing to happen to Japanese. I study while
    driving on my Android headunit.. in stop in go I can study an hour a day
    while driving and even if i can’t do anything else I still keep my
    vocab, listening and reading up without issue!

    iKnow is my core
    studying, as I finished Genki 1 and 2.. and at that point it’s more
    about something you find fun then anything else.

    • Wow, you’re doing iKnow on your phone while driving if I understood you correctly? How exactly are you doing that, I’m intrigued :) And definitely congrats on your Japanese progress. A 100 hours into iKnow is definitely time well spent.

  • Nice list of manga to read! Too bad I didn’t buy the manga in the list when I was in Japan. ^^ Very nice blog btw. The articles seem very interesting and I will definitely check them out. I’ve been learning Japanese for 6 months and I need more learning material to progress. I’m happy to have found your website.

  • Ashley

    Nice. I just bought Yotsuba 2 and Dragonball 1 (in English and Japanese for £20) on Amazon. A lot of it is on Amazon now so that’s cool. I need to kick start my Japanese again, I’m getting lazy!

  • Hestia

    The pandaManga seems like the one I might try when I progress furter.

    • Definitely do so and let me know your thoughts. It’s a cool title to begin with. The bigger format is nice as well.

  • Morten Kölpin

    I just started to read your Blog and it´s absolutely perfect! I learn Japanese now about 1 year and (thx to your blog) I´m just reading Yotsubato!
    Its good for Japanese Beginner! (Ich bin auch Deutsch :)) 1 Question I have: Do you buy from CDJapan? I´d want to buy there soon! May u could give me any review?

  • Colutea

    I read you’re German, so I am writing in German xD
    Hey,
    danke für den hilfreichen Artikel. Ich habe vor einigen Monaten mit Japanisch angefangen und auch ne kurze Pause zwischendrin eingelegt. Hab wieder alles nachgelernt, zum Glück. Ich lerne mit Genki (I) und bin grad mitten in der vierten Lektion, also noch recht am Anfang. Natürlich macht man sich so hin und wieder einige Gedanken über das Lesen, deshalb würd ich dich gern fragen, ob du vllt. ne Einschätzung geben könntest, ab wann man sich so den ersten Manga bestellen kann. Ich hab jetzt so geschätzt ab dem Ende von Genki I könnte ich so allmählich anfangen, liege ich da richtig?
    Danke dir! :)

    • Morten Kölpin

      Hm… Ich denke es würde theoretisch gehen. Aber ich lerne nicht mit Genki. Wenn du den ersten Band von Genki durchhast wirst du aber sicher noch viele Vokabeln nicht wissen. Aber schaden kann es ja nie :D

      • Morten Kölpin

        Vlt. kann dir diese Website helfen : http://www.learnjapanesemanga.com/2016_04_01_archive.html

      • Colutea

        Danke dir! Ich mein auch gelesen zu haben, dass es Vokabellisten gerade für die Anfänger-Manga geben soll^^ Vllt. sollt ich die auch dazu verwenden. Haben wir ja in der Schule nicht anders mit den ersten englischen Büchern gemacht, damals ^-^

    • Ich würde mir einfach ein paar manga bestellen, auch wenn du sie noch nicht wirklich lesen kannst. Genki 1 und 2 solltest du auf jeden Fall durch haben, bevor es wirklich Spass macht einfache Sachen zu lesen. Aber es ist immer super, wenn man schon vorher ein bisschen blättern kann und die ein, oder andere Sprechblase entziffert.

  • Paul William Butcher

    Thanks for this great guide, i’m near enough a beginner Japanese learner, memorised hiragana and katakana and now working through Genki 1 and also using the Wanikani website. I’ve always been more of an anime fan than a manga fan but this will be a great practical way to put my learning to the test once i’ve got a bit more study done.

    • Sounds great Paul. I have always been a big Comic fan but didn’t really read many manga before studying Japanese. I was much more into classic Western series like Preacher, Fables and basically the whole Vertigo (DC) lineup. But I’m sure you’ll fall in love with manga as well :)

      Just started to watch Steins; Gate after playing the VN and struggling to get the true ending. Loved Ping Pong and Toradora. Any recommendation for someone who’s rarely watching any Anime?