Many people get interested in learning Japanese because they enjoy anime or manga and that’s great. I would much prefer more people interested in learning Japanese for whatever reason versus less people interested in the language for the “right reasons”. In addition, any exposure to the language is a good thing. However, one just has to be aware that the language you may find in anime or manga isn’t necessarily practical or common in real-life. So here are my suggestions if you’re learning Japanese via anime/manga.
- Do NOT ask for or do translations! Translating does not help you learn the language whatsoever, and is in fact detrimental to understanding Japanese. In addition, people (especially me) get annoyed when asked for free translations for lyrics or whatever.
- Learn and be aware of the various politeness levels as language in anime/manga can be highly colloquial or even offensive.
- If possible, pick a story set in a modern and fairly realistic setting. Vocabulary about magic, made up combat moves (eg rasengan), etc isn’t very useful in real life as you can imagine.
- Many (including myself) enjoy action or 青年 comics (primary from Jump). However, these stories with very short dialogs peppered with “I will not lose!” or “I will defeat you!”, while entertaining, will not give you much exposure to useful vocabulary and grammar.
Here are some comics I suggest for learning material ordered in difficulty with links to the first volume of each series:
- よつばと! – A good manga to start with about a cheerful and eccentric child though some of the child-like dialog is a bit casual. Bonus: Furigana included!
- あずまんが大王 – 四コマ or four box comic strips are short, easy to digest, and this one is cute and funny. It also has good cultural info mostly for high-school life.
- あたしンち – Finding humor in regular (in Japan) daily life.
- めぞん一刻 – Fans of Ranma 1/2 or Inuyasha may enjoy this older title, which is a romantic comedy of a tenant and his landlord.
- ちびまる子ちゃん – A classic title, started in 1987. Man, it’s got a lot of dialog to pile through.
Add any suggestions for titles you’ve enjoyed in the comments!