Who doesn’t like comics?

So my last blog post really paid off because I got contacted by a very talented artist who offered to draw up some comics for learning Japanese! He’s been going full steam and I’ve been barely managing to keep up with the lines. It’s really hard to come up with lines for an interesting comic when, for example, you can’t use any verbs.

Here’s the first one but the rest are (mostly) in Japanese. They are scattered throughout the complete guide. Make sure to check out the hover text too.

Roumaji comic

The further along it goes, the easier it is for me to write because I can use more grammar but probably harder for Japanese learners. Which is kind of the point. I hope you like them! Also, check out Martyn’s site. He’s really good!

11 thoughts on “Who doesn’t like comics?

  1. Are there people that actually teach people to use only ローマ字 and to ignore the かな?

    • Early on, almost all material for learning Japanese were in ローマ字. The situation has been improving but I think there’s still many people that _think_ they want to learn using only ローマ字 and teachers who want to accommodate them.

    • Actually if you search on google for “learn Japanese” almost all the top results use some if not all romaji. Of course, I think my site should be at the top of the list.

  2. It’s like saying: “I want to learn Japanese but I don’t want to spend even one weekend to learn at least kana. HURRDUR!”

  3. I like them comics. Thanks for the link and for doing this. However, I’m wondering if there’s going to be furigana for the kanji used? I don’t know a whole lot of kanji yet, but I’d like to be able to understand more of the comics. Or, do you have an opinion on the helpfulness of furigana for beginners? Or would they be detrimental?

  4. I think many people are confusing fluency and literacy. These can be 2 different things. There are many reasons why people would not want to learn Kana, at least at the beginning, and prefer Romaji.

    1. Some people are much more concerned with learning to speak Japanese and not with reading Kanji or Kana. They care far more about fluency, the ability to “hear” and understand Japanese, or to speak.

    2. Some people don’t have the time to dedicate for learning to read Kanji or Kana, and are in situations where speech is far more important. For example, tourists or temporary workers in Japan… They need materials in Romaji that are easy to understand and will help them learn to communicate faster.

    3. Fluency often comes before literacy. Remember when you were a child first learning to speak? You learned to speak first and established a significantly sized vocabulary, before learning to read and write. It can be that the person will learn to speak Japanese first, before they decide to master reading and writing.

    4. Some of the “backlash” against Romaji is cultural xenophobia by various Japanese and elitism by various foreign linguists. Romaji can be perceived as a kind of threat (and it shouldn’t be that way).

    For some paranoid Japanese, they may fear the popularity of Romaji and its ease of use will destroy their culture. Japanese will become too easy to learn and Kanji will be weakened. They can perceive things as “Kanji and Kana” are Japanese and must be protected, while “Romaji” is foreign and has to be destroyed. They are not realizing that both can co-exist together, and do. When Japanese use their mobile phones and computer keyboards, they are often using “Romaji”. If you visit Japan, you will see that the Japanese use Kanji, Kana, Romaji, and even English (since English is a worldwide business language) all over the place. It just depends on the context of the situation.

    For “elitist”, they may have an invested interest in protecting the use of Kanji and Kana because of how difficult it was for them to learn it or they are profiting off of teaching it. They may have the mistaken perception that the widespread use of Romaji makes Japanese easier to learn. They have the misguided fear that this will result in; less students, selling less materials, or they will have less importance as an authority on the subject. It’s like they are in an elite club and feel everyone must pay the price to get in. What they fail to understand is that increased ease in learning the Japanese language can actually mean more students and help popularize Japanese culture even more.

    5. Kana and Furigana are not Kanji.

    Japanese can (usually) read Kanji. Just only knowing how to read Kana, means you are still illiterate. Furthermore, Furigana is the Japanese version of Romaji. It serves similar purposes. If you can’t read Kanji, then it shows how to pronounce the word. Furigana, just like Romaji, are pronunciation aides. The difference is that Furigana is a Japanese pronunciation aide (as they didn’t know the roman alphabet long ago) and Romaji is for foreigners.

    6. Whether to learn Kanji and/or Kana, or to not learn it, should be a matter of choice.

    There is no need to be a Kana or Kanji Nazi. Options are good. That a person wants to focus on reading and writing Japanese; good for them. That another person only wants to focus on speaking Japanese, good for them too. They are both learning Japanese and we should be happy about that.

    • I don’t think anybody is confused about fluency and literacy.

      1. In order to speak or understand Japanese, you need to learn how to pronounce each sound correctly and the necessary vocabulary. Kana and Kanji are of tremendous help in that regard. It will be MUCH harder to reach fluency with only romaji if not impossible.

      2. Again, this thinking is misguided because by learning Kanji and kana, you are SAVING time even if you’re only interested in speech. Plus, it takes so little time to learn it compared to learning the rest of the language, you’re not saving much of anything.

      3. Are you a child? Adults and children learn in very different ways. It’s silly to learn like a child when adults have other more effective ways of learning that are more suitable. Plus, have you raised a child? They spend 5-10 years in a immersive environment before they can really speak the language. It’s not exactly efficient or realistic for SLA. Plus, us parents spend a LOT of time READING to our children to aid in their language development.

      4. I have never met anyone “afraid” of romaji. Japanese people really don’t think about it and people who have learned kana and kanji are so vehemently against about it because they experienced first-hand how much romaji hinders their progress. People only call others “elitist” to hide their feeling of inferiority.

      Plus, your theory of educators using kana and kanji to make more money is quite the reverse and frankly offensive. Companies trying to make money with large marketing budgets and by making false promises such as “learn Japanese in one month!” all use romaji as it makes Japanese seem more approachable and hence more marketable. Educators using kana and kanji are the ones with integrity and a desire to actually help people learn Japanese for real.

      5. Kana and Furigana are indeed not Kanji so even if you’re afraid to learn Kanji, you can at least learn Kana. Also Kana is NOT romaji, learning it will help you pronounce Japanese better.

      6. We all want more people to not only learn Japanese but to become good at it. That’s why we want more people to learn it in the most effective way. If someone learned how to type with two fingers, wouldn’t you want to teach them how to type properly? It’s not really a matter of choice. It’s not like there are any advantages of using romaji so why would you want others to choose the worst path?

      • Well, at my local Japanese centre, you can choose to take the normal Japanese class, which will cover everything from みんなの日本語 books before continuing on to JLPT levels.

        But there is also a “conversational class” for people who just want to speak because they are going to Japan in a hurry. There, studying kana is optional, although encouraged.

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