How to Learn Kanji the Easy Way – A Review of Kanji in MangaLand

There are hard ways to learn Kanji, and (surprisingly) there are easy ways too. I came across a book called Kanji in MangaLand that uses mnemonics to learn new kanji initially, and then combines them with manga to help lock it into your long term memory.

If you want to learn kanji the easy way, then read this review of Kanji in MangaLand.

But first, a little background as to why this book was created in the first place…

It’s been said that learning Japanese is one of the hardest things to do for English speakers. Not only is the order of verbs and nouns reversed, but it uses an entirely different writing system!

As an English speaker you can pick up Spanish pretty quickly. And when you want to learn to read it, it’s fairly simple because Spanish uses the same alphabet as English, with only a few minor differences.

But when you learn how to read Japanese, you have to learn Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji… THREE DIFFERENT writing systems!

Hiragana and Katakana are not so bad. There are roughly 50 different kanas in each of those scripts and they each have a single pronunciation, with no attached meaning – similar to how our alphabet works.

But kanji is a totally different story. Did you know that there is OVER 50,000 different kanji?!

Wow, that is way too much. Fortunately the Japanese agree and have lowered the number of kanji that are considered “essential” to just 2,000.

Only 2,000, right?

Here’s where it gets worse:

The Japanese people (you know, the ones who created the language) take YEARS and YEARS to learn it themselves!

They start learning how to read and write when they enter grade school and don’t finish until the end of middle school!

I don’t know about you, but I don’t have that much time to devote to learning how to read Japanese.

And they learn primarily by seeing the new kanji and writing it down.

Over and over and over and over!

Talk about BORING! Am I right?!

But there’s good news

Did you know that there are two primary ways of learning? There’s a formal way and an informal way.

The formal way of learning is what you’ve experienced in school. It’s a lecture given by a teacher to dozens of people.

It uses text books that require self-study, and you often only get once chance to learn the material before you have to move on.

The informal way of learning is actually how you’ve learned most things in life already. It’s asking questions and getting answers one on one with a parent or friend when you encounter something new.

It’s trying the stuff out in your life immediately after you learn it and making small corrections as necessary.

And it’s sticking with one topic for as long or as little as you’d like to, allowing you to breeze through the easy material and stick it out with the tougher stuff.

Here’s the trick: even though Japanese people learn how to read and write formally, they actually learn mostly informally by reading manga and asking a friend for help when they need it.

So why not do the same thing?

Why not take it at your own pace?
Why not see how it’s used in the real world and in manga?
And why not get tricks and tips on how to remember the meaning of each word?

Well that is EXACTLY the method that’s used and taught in Kanji in MangaLand!

The main author of Kanji in MangaLand is Marc Bernabe. He is a Japanese translator and interpreter that specializes in manga and anime translations.

He’s the guy that did the five different Japanese in MangaLand books (which I highly recommend) and now he has created two books specifically for kanji.

He has also worked with James Heisig before, who is the author of the aptly named “Remembering the Kanji” books.

As for me, when I started learning Japanese it was with an old phrase book called Passport to Japanese.

It was great for someone with zero Japanese knowledge, but it didn’t teach how to read or write Japanese at all.

So I went out to find some material and I actually found two great books for learning how to read and write Hiragana and Katakana. They were the “Let’s Learn Hiragana” and “Let’s Lean Katakana” books.

Like I said earlier, Hiragana and Katakana only have about 50 symbols each and there is no meaning associated with them – only sounds.  So the simple method of writing and repetition worked well for those two.

But when I was ready to learn kanji, that same method of seeing it, writing it, and trying to remember it just didn’t work. I was frustrated with myself because kanji was so much harder and I just couldn’t seem to get things to stick.

Here’s why kanji is so much harder to learn than the two kana scripts:

  1. More complicated symbols.
  2. Multiple different sounds for each kanji.
  3. Multiple different meanings for each kanji.
  4. Huge number of different kanji to learn.

Needless to say, I ran into the exact same problems that so many others do and for a while it stopped me from learning.

I was overwhelmed by the sheer amount I had to learn. And I was also discouraged about the multiple meaning and pronunciations each one had.

But I never gave up.

I kept looking for a better way to learn and eventually I found one that worked for me.

Now, believe it or not, I actually ENJOY learning new kanji!

I now have a system that I use each and every time that I encounter a new Kanji. I simply apply the system that I’ve learned and then I’m able to lock a new kanji into my memory.

Later on when I encounter a kanji I’ve locked in, one of two things happen:

  1. Either I remember the kanji right away, or…
  2. I remember the system for that particular kanji and can recall it in seconds.

Using this method I can learn ten new kanji in about twenty minutes with a very high retention rate. I don’t know the exact numbers, but if I had to guess, I would say somewhere in the 90%-95% area.

I’ve learned a lot from using Kanji in MangaLand and I wanted to give a summary of all everything you can expect from it.

If you use it, you will:

>>Be taught a system that you can use to learn any kanji no matter what! And you can use that same system to learn a new kanji in lightning speed!

>>Get 21 lessons that use the system to learn hundreds of different Kanji that are used in manga and in Japan everyday – 240 kanji to be exact!

>>Get actual manga examples and specific exercises at the end of each chapter so that you can see and understand how these kanji are actually used and so that you personally can use them right away.

>>Get all of this in a beautiful Turtleback cover book that looks and feels great so that you get an authentic reading experience while you learn. And so that you can take it with you wherever you go!

But here’s the bad news: Information overload.

BAD THING #1: Are you a total beginner and worried that this may be too advanced for you starting out?

Well it’s true that this book focuses primarily on Kanji. If you don’t already have Hiragana and Katakana down, then you won’t be able to read the pronunciations for any of the kanji. That’s a real problem.

But don’t freak out! There is a special section at the very begging of the book devoted to both of the kana scripts that show how to write each one and their Romaji pronunciation. It’s very, VERY short. But it’s in there.

BAD THING #2: You may have tried to learn kanji before and had a hard time with it. The most common way people learn is to see a kanji, read the meaning, and then write it down a bunch of times and hope it sticks.

Here’s the other bad thing. Lots of writing exercises in this book. UGH!!!

But here’s my dirty secret: I RARELY write anything down!

Why? Because I’m lazy that’s why!

In all seriousness, writing things down can be a great way to learn information, but in my experience it is not necessary for this system that the book teaches.

If you like to write things down, that’s great! If you are sometimes a little, teensy-weensy bit lazy like myself, that’s also fine using this method.

So, I have a special offer for those you reading this now.

The reason I want to give you this special offer is because of my own personal mission, which is:

“To help people learn and understand Japanese in a way that is fun and fast!”

I’ve been where you’re at, struggling to learn new kanji in a consistent, reliable way. I remember it very well and it was not fun.

The special off is this: I am going to give you two bonuses FOR FREE!

I will tell you what they both are in a minute, but first let me tell you that there’s a catch and here it is:

You MUST take action to get any use out of the bonuses! You have to do your part and get a copy of Kanji in MangaLand and then I will do my part and get both of your bonuses to you.

You see, there is a paradox of sorts: Everybody wants free stuff, but people only value things that cost them something.

People feel that if something was free, then it probably wasn’t worth much to begin with.

They also reason that, “hey if I spent a lot of time or money to get this thing then I had better do what it takes to get my money’s worth out of it!”

So even though I’m going to give the two bonuses away, only those people who take action and purchase a copy of Japanese in MangaLand are going to get any use out of them.

Here’s the rub on the book though: there’s only a limited amount of books available.

Kanji in MangaLand is no longer in print, so once all the remaining copies are gone, that’s it. No more Kanji in MangaLand and no more bonuses.

So where can you go to invest in your education and pick up a copy?

Best place to get it:

Bonus #1

Okay, so I only mentioned the two bonuses earlier, but now I’d like to tell you more about them and how you can claim them for yourself.

The first bonus is a special mind map that I have created specifically for Kanji in MangaLand in order to provide guidance and increase the rate at which you learn.

Mind Maps (also called Learning Maps) are a one page visual representation of all the information contained in a book, a course, or a process.

It uses keywords that are logically linked together in order to trigger your stored memories on everything associated with that particular keyword. Think of them as Super Notes for the material you’re learning.

Used in conjunction with the primary material, Mind Maps help you to remember key points on different topics and they allow you to visually see the relationships between different ideas in order for you to gain a deeper understanding of it all.

Get it by clicking on it below:

Bonus #2

The second bonus is a special report that I’ve created that shows you ten different ways that you can improve your mind in order for you to learn faster and remember longer.

You see, there are certain things that you can do before you start learning Japanese that will then BOOST your brain power while learning!

Also, there’s a trick you can use while trying to remember a word that VASTLY IMPROVES your recall ability! It’s simple, yet profound and it’s something that no one teaches.

In Secrets of Learning Japanese: 10 Tricks to Dramatically Boost Your Japanese Skills you will be given non-conventional methods to use immediately that will greatly improve your brain power so you learn super fast!

You don’t even have to use all 10 of the methods. Just 1 or 2 of them will make a positive difference in your abilities.

Get it by clicking on it below:

So, in order for you to claim your bonuses, all you have to do is click on them and save to your computer. But you’ll still want to pick up a copy of Kanji in MangaLand in order to put the bonuses to work.

Another reason that I recommend going through Amazon is because of their 30 Day Money Back Guarantee.

If you get Kanji in MangaLand and you don’t like it for any reason, maybe you don’t like how it teaches, or maybe you just don’t like the colors (anything at all), just send it back and you will get a full refund.

However, I would like you to keep the Mind Map and Special Report bonuses as my personal gift to you. If you were willing to take action and check it out, then I want to recognize you for that action and let you keep those bonuses even if you end up returning the book.

It’s not a very well known book, so it only has about a dozen reviews, but it’s got 4.2 out of 5 starts, so that’s pretty good!

Here’s all that’s included:

  • A proven, easy to use and repeatable system for learning kanji.
  • 21-lessons covering 240 different kanji.
  • A special section for Hiragana and Katakana for total beginners.
  • A Mind Map bonus specifically for Kanji in MangaLand.
  • A Special Report with 10 tricks to accelerate your learning.



Well that’s everything! Leave me a comment below if you have any questions or if you’d like to tell others about your experience with Kanji in MangaLand. Thanks!


  • Kim

    It’s pretty cool that the book shows several different fonts for the kanji. That’s one of the hardest things for me, reading kanji that is “stylized” so it looks cool. How many kanji are in the second book of this series?

    • Nick Hoyt

      The second book goes over 400 kanji, which is almost twice as many as the first book that teaches 240.

      The original plan that the authors had was to release three books that would comprise the 1,006 教育漢字 (Education Kanji) that Japanese children learn during their six years in elementary school.

      Unfortunately, only the first two books were ever released. I don’t know what ever happened to the third book, but my guess is that it was cancelled due to poor sales.

      The second book was published in 2009, so almost ten years ago. Oh well, I suppose that we can use them for the kanji they cover, and then do the rest on our own. しょうがないなぁ

  • Daniel

    Yeah I’ve learned hiragana and katakana without too much trouble using Memrise. They do a pretty good job of making it fun to learn Japanese. But kanji still gives me some trouble. My biggest problem is when there are several kanji that all look similar, but have only a slight difference. I don’t know, is that normal to struggle with kanji that look almost identical?

    • Nick Hoyt

      I think it’s a pretty common thing. I certainly have done that in English, where I’ll just glance at a word without fully reading it and I’ll say it wrong out loud. Same thing with kanji, if you don’t pay attention to all the radicals while you are learning them, you tend to get confused later on when you encounter similar ones.

  • Billy

    Learning Kanji is really difficult. It is hard to pronounce, hard to write and hard to recite the word. Therefore, I am finding ways to make the learning process easier and more interesting. I find your suggestion useful. We can learn Kanji by reading comics. Thank you for your great review!

    • Nick Hoyt

      Hey Billy, my pleasure! I agree, kanji is probably the hardest thing to learn when it comes to Japanese. I’m glad I could help! ^_^

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *