Reviews

The #1 Recommended Japanese Manga for Beginners

A lot of people who are learning how to read Japanese want to get a copy of a good manga to practice on that’s not too difficult to understand, but still has an interesting story.

A very common recommendation is for them to pick up some children’s books that are easy to read, but unfortunately they’re also kind of boring.

But don’t worry! There are actually a few manga that are particularly good for both ease and enjoyment.

By far the #1 recommended Japanese manga for beginners that I see everyone suggest is Yotsuba-to.

And I have to say, I agree!

I won’t give away any story related spoilers, but let me tell you a little about it (in order to whet your appetite) and some of the reasons why this manga in particular is a great choice for reading Japanese when you are at a beginner or intermediate level of Japanese.

The Story

The story is about a young girl (think grade school) named よつば (Yotsuba). If you’re familiar with the Japanese particle と (to), then you know it means “and” in English.

So the title よつばと means “Yotsuba and …”  where the “…” is her adventure of each chapter.

So the first chapter is called よつばとひっこし (yotsuba to hikkoshi) which means “Yotsuba and moving” since she is moving to a new town.

And yeah, it starts off with her moving to a new town and the fascination that any young kid would experience during something that big.

Do any of you guys remember what it was like to move to a new place when you were still a kid?

Each chapter focuses on a new adventure, and it’s really interesting to see the word again through the eyes of a child.

Things and events that you might take for granted as an adult, are quite different when you’re back in first grade.

If I had to sum it up, I’d say that it’s a really nice and refreshing story that makes every day affairs seem like something exciting and fun.

And even though I’m not typically into these kinds of stories, it is seriously funny. Yotsuba gets into the same kinds of trouble that any young kid would, but since this is a manga, the other people’s reactions to her are flippin’ hilarious!

You will most definitely get a laugh out of it!

5 Reasons Why it’s Great for Beginners

The face you make when you realize “Stranger Danger”

1) – The manga has furigana that shows the pronunciation of all the kanji that are used. This will allow you to continue reading Japanese, even if you’re not sure what the kanji means. It will also make the whole process of looking up new kanji in a dictionary much faster.

2) – The use of pictures really helps you to understand the context of situations so that you can follow along in the conversation without much trouble, even when certain parts of speech are omitted (pretty common for Japanese).

3) – The dialog is normal day to day stuff that a child would use, or that adults would use when talking to a child.

And since the story takes place in modern day Japan, you’re not going to have to learn any obscure words that would only be found in a mecha manga or anything of that nature.

That means you’re guaranteed to learn words and phrases that are really common in Japanese. This is great since focusing on learning the most common words in Japanese is a smart way reduce the time it takes to reach fluency.

4) – This manga is a very successful series and the same core set of words and expressions will occur again with regularity throughout it. What this means is that you only have to learn things once, and then they will be reinforced as they are repeated later on.

It’s much easier than changing manga every time. Mainly because when you do go to a new manga, you heave to learn all the new core words for it.

5) – And finally, it’s family friendly. It’s something that can be shared with all people and all ages. I’m sure you know that sometimes manga can get a little ecchi and you can’t freely read it in front of family 😉

BONUS) – And I just HAD to mention that it has incredibly positive feedback from others who have read it. Check out by Clicking Here.

Where You Can Find it

It’s actually pretty easy to get a hold of a Japanese copy of the manga since it’s a very successful series. I got my copy off of Amazon.com and you can get one there as well if you like.

A lot of the copies ship out of Japan, so you might have to wait an extra week to get it in, but generally speaking it won’t cost any extra or anything like that.

So if this classic manga is something that you’re interested in checking out for yourself, you can do so by clicking on the button below.

 

 

Do you have any questions about it? Are there any other good manga for beginners that you would recommend?

Let me know down below!

6 Comments

  • Austin

    This is really cool. I have never heard of these books before. Is this something that is just in Japanese or do other languages have books like these. I have always been interested in Asian languages and would love to learn Japanese. Do you have a good place to start?

    • Nick Hoyt

      Yeah the manga series Yotsuba-to is actually really, really popular so it has been translated into many different languages. And even though it was originally written in Japanese, you could potentially learn any language by reading the manga of it, as long as you can get your hands on a good copy.

      As for starting to learn Japanese, a good place to start would be This Post I Wrote For Beginners that explains the sounds of the language, and some of the other essential basics. 

      In addition to that, there is a link at the bottom of the article that gives you a free 7-day course that uses software to learn Japanese on your computer or phone. It’s pretty good for anyone who is completely new to Japanese, or still at a beginner level.

      I hope that helps! 

  • Excelle

    I think learning Japanese is a lot easier with Manga like this one for beginners.

    I enjoyed the your take on how the stories have illustrations that help with understanding Japanese, things like the scenes and body language etc.

    It is definitely a book for both adults and kids so it is family friendly and I’m looking forward to my own copy.

    • Nick Hoyt

      Yeah, you know I’ve read quite a bit of Japanese manga, but the average one is really too advanced for the majority of English speaking people who are learning Japanese themselves. It just takes too long to look up all the new words and kanji.

      Yotsuba on the other hand, is kind of like the “Green Eggs and Ham of Japanese” since the words are pretty short, simple, and fairly easy to understand. It’s aimed at kids, but still manages to be entertaining for adults (at least it was for me!)

      Since it’s not a very “deep” book in terms of its message, it’s easy to follow along in the story. I highly recommend it to people if their end goal is to be able to read Japanese manga. 

  • Dave

    Hey Nick,

    I have had so many japanses buddies recommend this book to me but I thought it was just plainly boring.

    After reading your short description I sure am going to get it. It seems very interesting and it sounds like something which will keep me hooked all the while learning this “Greek” lol.

    Thanks a lot.

    • Nick Hoyt

      Yeah, I know what you mean. I actually had this copy myself, but didn’t open it up for several months! The impression from the cover makes you think it’s for kids, and there’s probably some truth to that, but anyone who enjoys a good laugh will appreciate this manga. 

      It’s actually really easy to learn new vocabulary in this manga just from reading it. Since Yotsuba is a little girl, she tends to repeat words a lot and point at the thing too. I ran into a few words that I had never seen before, but understood them perfectly just from the context.

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