Learning Japanese is no easy task. For the average person, it will take a least 2 years before you even get close to feeling comfortable calling yourself "fluent" in the language.
However, by far, one of the most effective ways to supercharge your Japanese language abilities is to start reading in Japanese!
Not only does reading help you practice recalling the meaning of vocabulary, but the constant repetition of common grammar helps to cement grammar rules deep into your subconscious - if you are still translating from your native language to Japanese in your head while trying to speak, that is often a sign you need more exposure to Japanese grammar.
Here are 3 Manga we recommend you start reading to help you level-up your Japanese skills!
No "Japanese Manga for Leaners" list is complete until you mention Yotsubato! (よつばと!), so let's just start with it.
Highly recommend by Japanese learners as a great place to dip your toe into the world of Manga written in its native language, Yotsubato! offers a fun and easy-to-follow story for readers of all ages. The story focuses on a single father and the daily life of his daughter, Yotsuba, who gets herself into a whole host of hilarious situations due to her heartwarming innocence as she discovers the world around her.
Due to the slice-of-life setting of the manga, vocabulary is kept simple and is packed full of useful words and basic grammar for Japanese learners. Any new Kanji that appears in the book is accompanied by Furigana and Yotsuba 's dialog is almost exclusively in hiragana.
There are currently over 10 volumes of Yotsuba that have been published and you can find all of them here.
Slam Dunk (スラムダンク)
Argued by some to be the greatest sports manga of all time, “Slam Dunk” is an absolute classic! This basketball-themed manga, where a group of misfits wind-up joining their high school basketball team and aim to become Japan’s all-star team, will keep you turning the pages until the last chapter.
Slam Dunk contains furigana for all the kanji present, allowing those of you who are still not too comfortable with Japan's maze of a reading system to still enjoy this unforgettable manga. For those of you who are familiar with basketball terminology, you shouldn't have any problems enjoying this series.
Even if you know nothing about basketball, the manga is still easy to follow. You will learn everything you need to know about the sport along with the main characters who start-out completely clueless.
This manga is so beloved that it even has a Deluxe Version where the story is told in 24 volumes compared to the original 31.
You can find copies of Slam Dunk New and used Here.
Demon Slayer (鬼滅の刃/Kimetsu no Yaiba)
If you haven't heard of Demon Slayer, where have you been?
Thanks to its 2019 anime adaptation which bought a huge spotlight to the series, the manga has quickly become incredibly popular both overseas and domestically in Japan.
The story revolves around a young boy who returns home to find his family massacred by a monster. The lone survivor, his younger sister, turns into a demon but suppresses the urge to hurt others. The siblings set off together on a journey of revenge with the hope of finding a way to reverse the transformation and become human once again.
Now fair warning, this manga isn't the most beginner-friendly to start with if you are looking to get your first taste of reading manga in Japanese. Although furigana is present for kanji that you will come across, the fantasy elements throughout the story have characters referring to vocabulary that you will most likely be unfamiliar with.
With that being said, this is the perfect time to mention that there is nothing more powerful than "FUN" when it comes to your Japanese learning journey!
You are far better off trying to read something you are interested in, rather than something easy, that you have to force yourself to pick up and read. It may take you longer to get through the story as you might have to look up words more frequently, but if you are enjoying yourself, who cares!
The beautiful thing about reading manga in Japanese is that every time you finish a volume, the next volume always gets a little easier to read.
You can find copies of Demon Slayer New and Used Here.
If you don't feel you are quite ready to dive into the world of owning your first authentic Japanese manga, then head on over to our friends at ZenPop! You can their very own in-house online manga designed to help you get started with reading Japanese - Check Out "Full Moon Magic" Here!