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Textbook for understanding/reading Anime, Manga?

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Textbook for understanding/reading Anime, Manga?

Postby Duality » Wed 06.18.2008 1:05 am

Hi all, I'm almost reluctant to ask about this because of the poor opinions many people online have about anime fans and so on, but I'm not really that fussed if people think I suck or something so it seems worthwhile.

I'm somewhat dissatisfied with my current textbook, it's this one - http://www.amazon.com/Yookoso-Invitatio ... 0072938099 and it is a relic of when I tried to learn at uni. It seems lacking in direction and explanations for true beginners.

Anyway, I was wondering if somebody could reccomend a textbook, or books that would help me out with understanding anime and/or reading manga in its native form. Why? Well becuase many people have told me I need more motivation if I'm to learn alone and I absolutely love the stuff, I have since I was a kid. As mentioned a lot of people look down on it, or learning *just* to understand it, but if that's what motivates me then why not? If anything it'll give me a base to jump from if/when i want to learn language for real life use.

Any thoughts? 8)
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Re: Textbook for understanding/reading Anime, Manga?

Postby monkeykoder » Wed 06.18.2008 1:10 am

Just as long as that isn't your only motivation and you're have the will to go with it I see no reason not to.
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Re: Textbook for understanding/reading Anime, Manga?

Postby Duality » Wed 06.18.2008 1:29 am

monkeykoder wrote:Just as long as that isn't your only motivation and you're have the will to go with it I see no reason not to.


Well, it isn't my only reason of course. I'd like to be able to speak it 'for the sake of it', I'd love to go there and will as soon as I can afford to etc, potentially to stay if it's possible. Yada yada.

Thats all a bit nebulous and vague though. It's sort of like saying "I'm studying in grade 1 at school so I can be a millionaire one day!", it's just too far off to be a motivating goal for me (particularly financially! Ouch...). Being able to read manga, understand anime without subs (to read magazines that interest me even) and so forth would just be so incredible for me motivation-wise. It'd be a perfect starting goal that I could build up to.

So does anybody know what textbooks could help me out there? I'm essentially going from scratch. I know hiragana, but I'm slow. I know most of katakana but I need to review them, that's about it.
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Re: Textbook for understanding/reading Anime, Manga?

Postby Wakannai » Wed 06.18.2008 1:30 am

Well, we don't mind people that like anime or manga. Just don't act like it is "An important part of Japanese culture" or act like what you see in manga or anime is real and you won't have to worry about ridicule.

The most important question you should ask yourself right now is how far along are you with Youkoso? I've learned the hard way that once you past a certain point, it's best to stick it out with your current textbook rather than looking for something better? When you use the word relic, does that mean you haven't used it in a while? If that is so, then it probably won't hurt so much to switch, but if you completed book one recently, it's probably better to move on to book two of the same series.

Something you need to accept now, is that reading manga is a LONG term goal, you will probably be reading short stories and newspaper articles well before you can effectively read Manga due to the nature of the speech involved. Manga is highly idiomatic and there is also lots of broken speech that you can't begin to decipher if you can't guess what the missing words are.

However, if reading is your main goal with Japanese and you are not interested in speaking Japanese, then I am very partial to an Introduction to Modern Japanese by Bowring and Laurie. Get books one and two. This is by far the best textbook for specifically learning to read and write. Good alternates are Japanese for Everyone (revised) and Japanese Demystified.
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Re: Textbook for understanding/reading Anime, Manga?

Postby Duality » Wed 06.18.2008 1:50 am

Thanks for the input Wakannai. You're right in assuming that by relic I mean it hasn't been used. We jumped through it loosely at uni for the semester I tried Japanese, but we never stuck to it heavily and I personally haven't opened it in a long time. It seems like a fairly illogical book. It has good points but the ordering of the topics is strange and the explanations seem to be lacking.

I've got no problem with reading small things before manga. I'll be happy to just be making progress, but that's what I was trying to get at in my 2nd post. It's too far off for me to say "I want to fluently read/speak Japanese!" so manga is a good mid-goal. Before that another small goal might be to read a short novel, before that kids books and so on. :D I'm just trying to find what I'm comfortable with, particularly since I'm fairly 'shy' I guess and I find things like skype study friends intimidating.

I just think reading/writing/listening would be great for me. Thanks for the book links, I appreciate it a lot and I'll check them out now. I think the Japanese Demystified book is available locally for me which is great. I'll take your advice and investigate the Modern Japanese book first though. :)

One question - Is the textbook "Minna no Nihongo" the same as "Japanese for Everybody"? Because AFAIK that's what it translates to but people refer to it as a seperate book? *Baffled*
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Re: Textbook for understanding/reading Anime, Manga?

Postby furrykef » Wed 06.18.2008 1:54 am

One thing you have to be careful about is that anime and manga can teach bad habits. I remember once reading a thread here -- I think it was here -- where a newbie addressed another as "omae". When people pointed out that this was impolite, the person in question said "It's OK, I call everybody 'omae'" and got in very deep trouble at that point. Some anime/manga characters do call everybody 'omae'... real Japanese people don't. At least, not any that make any kind of good role model.

Of course, I doubt you'll make a mistake that obvious, but you should be aware that people speak differently in anime and manga than they do in real life. There are some resources to help with studying manga -- http://www.mangajin.com has some, including back issues of their magazine -- and the same guys made "Learning Japanese Through Comics" (in two volumes) and "Japanese the Manga Way". However, these aren't very textbook-like and you'll probably get a much more solid foundation with a more basic textbook before diving into these. That may seem boring, but the trick to learning anything difficult, no matter if it's baseball, drawing, or learning a language, is to master the basics. The rest will naturally follow.

- Kef
Founder of Learning Languages Through Video Games.
Also see my lang-8 journal, where you can help me practice Japanese (and Spanish, and Italian!)
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Re: Textbook for understanding/reading Anime, Manga?

Postby Sairana » Wed 06.18.2008 2:31 am

Duality wrote:It's too far off for me to say "I want to fluently read/speak Japanese!" so manga is a good mid-goal.

That's a dangerous way to think about these things, for your own sanity. Manga is no easier to read than other "real Japanese". There's no bar to be set that you can say, "I need only a 2000 word vocabulary and 300 kanji and I will be able to read Manga/listen to anime/play video games" or any variation thereof.

Manga, because of the reasons listed by Wakannai, is going to come -after- most of your other studies. "For Children" does not mean easier (To paraphrase a quote from Yudan Taiteki in another thread).

One question - Is the textbook "Minna no Nihongo" the same as "Japanese for Everybody"? Because AFAIK that's what it translates to but people refer to it as a seperate book? *Baffled*

They are not the same series.
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Re: Textbook for understanding/reading Anime, Manga?

Postby monkeykoder » Wed 06.18.2008 2:59 am

I need only a 2000 word vocabulary and 300 kanji and I will be able to read Manga/listen to anime/play video games" or any variation thereof.


Well isn't the only real problem with that statement the fact that that may only be a good starting point to start picking up vocabulary from manga and the like.
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Re: Textbook for understanding/reading Anime, Manga?

Postby yukamina » Thu 06.19.2008 1:56 pm

Well, manga IS easier to read than novels or newspapers, and it's easier to read at a high level than to speak at a high level.

Here's some good news: Watching lots of anime is good for your Japanese, when coupled with study. It'll help with reading dialogue(say, in manga, or any fiction) too, since you'll be absorbing slang patterns and what not without even thinking about it. Just as long as you know not to use the slang yourself ^_^
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