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how long would it take to read manga in japanese?

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how long would it take to read manga in japanese?

Postby myles1260 » Mon 08.25.2008 11:37 pm

hey guys, i'm new here, and i think this is the right place for this topic, sorry if it's not... basically, i'd just like to know how long it would take to start reading manga in japanese, because i already have all the volumes of my favorite series that are out right now in english... however everyone knows it's better in japanese, so i'd want to buy them in japanese too and read them some day when i'm good enough to. i just want to get an idea of how long it would take for me to get good enough to read them and approximately how many kanji i'd have to know (reading at normal pace doesn't really matter to me, even if it takes me 4 times normal speed that's fine, it's still reading it). i might even start buying them in a short while, with my long term goal being to read them some day.

i've mastered pronunciation, hiragana, and katakana, i don't know any kanji and i only know a few simple grammar points. i'm going to also start genki in the next month or so. so can someone please give me an estimate as to how long it would take for me to be able to read an average shounen manga (like naruto, which i happen to love... that's what i've been talking about when i say 'my favorite series') and about how many kanji i'd have to know?

thanks so much in advace.
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Re: how long would it take to read manga in japanese?

Postby clay » Mon 08.25.2008 11:59 pm

just want to get an idea of how long it would take for me to get good enough to read them and approximately how many kanji i'd have to know (reading at normal pace doesn't really matter to me, even if it takes me 4 times normal speed that's fine, it's still reading it).


Manga can vary in complexity just as any other medium. But you can probably start reading simple manga with hiragana and a basic vocabulary (and a dictionary). It would be painful, but doable as long as it has furigana. I've never read or seen Naruto so I don't know what it is like.

There are probably better ways to learn vocabulary and practice reading comprehension and speed. There are several excellent readers made specifically for people learning Japanese (for example: http://thejapanshop.com/home.php?cat=344)

However, reading material you are already familiar with (in English) is very good. And something even better is reading material you are interested in.

however everyone knows it's better in japanese,

Not necessarily--especially for those who do not read Japanese :)
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Re: how long would it take to read manga in japanese?

Postby Sairana » Tue 08.26.2008 12:07 am

There's no "Manga baseline" that can be referenced for this kind of question.

A language isn't parceled out like this:
0-800 words: children's books
801-2500 words: manga/comics
2500-6000 words: anime/cartoons
6000-10,000 words: dramas
10,000-30,000 words: newspapers

It'd be neat if it was, but... it just can't work that way. Language isn't that cut and dry. You'll probably need a good couple of years using a standard textbook before you can start getting into native material. Of course, that's a highly subjective number, considering I have no clue what your capabilities are, such as how easily you pick up languages.

I'm afraid there is no answer to your original question.
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Re: how long would it take to read manga in japanese?

Postby clay » Tue 08.26.2008 12:39 am

I'm afraid there is no answer to your original question.


This is quite true. But I can give you my experience. I studied about a year, knew hiragana pretty well and was familiar with about 200 kanji before I picked up a manga. I read/studied Crayon Shinchan and really enjoyed it. The stories were short and the artwork conveyed a lot of the meaning by itself. However, that particular manga uses spoken Japanese and slang which made it hard to look up in a dictionary as a beginner (and Shinchan often mixes up words as a child would). At first it took an hour to go through one story (three pages of mostly pictures).

I still have a few of those manga. I scribbled every word I didn't know (pretty much all the words on the page!) with the English definition at top. I think that was a good use of my time. I learned a lot, but it was hard work.
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Re: how long would it take to read manga in japanese?

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Tue 08.26.2008 12:43 am

I would say depending on the series it might take anywhere from 2-5 years to actually have a chance of reading an entire manga volume, even with a dictionary.
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Re: how long would it take to read manga in japanese?

Postby becki_kanou » Tue 08.26.2008 12:50 am

After about 2 years of university Japanese and 3 months homestay in Japan with a monolingual family, I could read manga with furigana (which makes it much easier to look up unknown vocab) with a dictionary at a fairly decent speed. I also started with Crayon Shin-chan and the first few issues of Inuyasha.
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Re: how long would it take to read manga in japanese?

Postby Harisenbon » Tue 08.26.2008 12:53 am

Yudan Taiteki wrote:I would say depending on the series it might take anywhere from 2-5 years to actually have a chance of reading an entire manga volume, even with a dictionary.


It took me about 4 years of HS Japanese before I was able to read One Piece (pretty similar in style in Naruto, as they're both JUMP), and even that took me about 3 months to get through one issue. But then again, I didn't have the internet, Jim Breen or even an electronic dictionary at that point.

The best thing about reading manga now is that there are many english translations available to "check" yourself. While many phrases will be changed to seem more natural in English, the core of the story is still there to help through stumbling blocks.
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Re: how long would it take to read manga in japanese?

Postby myles1260 » Tue 08.26.2008 10:21 am

wow, thanks a lot for your help everyone. your answers make much sense and i'm glad you replied.

i'm not sure how long this would take but you all do make very good points. i can give a brief overview of my capabilities and intelligence level, i guess... i just turned 14 years old and will be entering ninth grade soon, learned hiragana and katakana in two days each and have been practicing until now (about two or three weeks later). i would say i have mastered them both because i can identify and write any combination. i have two japanese friends my age (well actually they're both half japanese and half american. they both know japanese, one of them being about a sixth grade level and i think the other one is fluent. they both go to japan pretty much every year and the fluent one is taking me next year). i would say i have a very advanced memory and a high intelligence level. i rank as a genius on an IQ test, and i think that i am able to learn at a fast rate. i know a few grammar points and i have mastered pronunciation (even before i made the decision to learn japanese, because i'm sort of a manga freak, so i read them a lot and pick up things from there). i can say some sentences, and understand some. my friend who is fluent says i'm about the level of a first semester first grader in japanese (because i haven't started kanji). that may seem kind of dumb, but considering that i've only been learning for about 3 weeks, and that during one of them i was on vacation with no internet access and could only practice kana, i think that's pretty alright. sorry if i sounded braggy, i just wanted to give a good idea.
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Re: how long would it take to read manga in japanese?

Postby myles1260 » Tue 08.26.2008 10:25 am

oh yes, and sorry for double posting, but clay, when you said 'only to japanese people it's better' or something like that, well i will respectfully disagree with that. i think that movies and things like that are better in their original language, and manga, being a part of japanese culture, seems like it would be more enjoyable read in japanese. that's how it's originally read, so that's what i think. this is kind of a bonus, but it actually looks better too, because the kana fit better with the drawings as opposed to english lettering, in my opinion. same goes for sound effects.
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Re: how long would it take to read manga in japanese?

Postby richvh » Tue 08.26.2008 10:40 am

When your friend says you're at a first semester first grad level, he's talking about writing ability, basically. A first grader would have a much deeper understanding of grammar than you do (well, not an understanding of the inner workings of the grammar, he probably wouldn't know the difference between a noun and a verb, but he knows how to use the grammar much better than any beginner student coming to Japanese from a different language (with possible exceptions for Koreans and others with languages with similar grammars.)

Since your target manga is shonen (aimed at middle school boys, essentially) you don't have to know any kanji - since the kanji (nearly) all have furigana, you can easily look them up. What you can't easily look up is the grammar - how the different verb endings etc. change the meaning. Fortunately, you can can get a good grounding in the grammar faster than you can learn all the kanji. Unfortunately, a lot of the grammar in manga is colloquial, and differs greatly from textbook Japanese.
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Re: how long would it take to read manga in japanese?

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Tue 08.26.2008 11:05 am

And what you have to remember is that "for children" or "for young people" is *not* the same as "good for beginners" -- grammar, in particular, does not have any concept of beginner or advanced in materials aimed at native speakers. Even children have basically mastered the entire grammar of Japanese and have huge vocabularies. So you can find complicated sentences with multiple relative clauses and such in children's manga, because native speaker children have no problem with them.

But if you already have some Japanese manga you can try it out yourself.
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Re: how long would it take to read manga in japanese?

Postby myles1260 » Tue 08.26.2008 5:35 pm

oh okay, thanks. i already know things like verb endings and such, but i agree that my vocabulary is nowhere near as big. but i ordered genki today and i have the CDs so i will start in a few days, whenever i get it. i'm going to try super extra hard to reach my goal and study as much as i possibly can, so i can reach it faster. thanks for the replies and help everyone.
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Re: how long would it take to read manga in japanese?

Postby Harisenbon » Tue 08.26.2008 8:24 pm

myles1260 wrote:oh yes, and sorry for double posting, but clay, when you said 'only to japanese people it's better'


Just a nitpick, but he wasn't referring to Japanese people, only people who can read Japanese. "Not necessarily--especially for those who do not read Japanese" --Clay

If you can't read Japanese, how would you enjoy the Japanese version of the book? :)
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Re: how long would it take to read manga in japanese?

Postby myles1260 » Wed 08.27.2008 12:14 am

oh okay, i see. i guess i misunderstood and was misunderstood. i guess even from my point of view, we are both right because he makes sense when saying only people who are capable of reading it are able to enjoy it in that language (well logically enjoy it, you could say looking at the illustrations is enjoyment but that's not what either of us mean). what i meant though, was that if you were able to read it in japanese, it would probably be more enjoyable than still reading it in your preferred language, because that is how it is originally. it is a part of japanese culture, so it makes sense. and yeah, the things with the kana blending in better with illustrations apply too. they just look better in combination and the sound effects look cooler, almost like artwork on their own, and do not sound as corny as they do in english, like 'boom' and 'bam' and what not... those sound really corny. also, the tankoubon have dust jackets, which are awesome ^_^

one more thing, and that thing is that you can get more of an idea, well actually you can get an exact idea of how it was meant to be read originally and how it was meant to be in it's original form.
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Re: how long would it take to read manga in japanese?

Postby Harisenbon » Wed 08.27.2008 12:46 am

myles1260 wrote: they just look better in combination and the sound effects look cooler, almost like artwork on their own, and do not sound as corny as they do in english, like 'boom' and 'bam' and what not... those sound really corny. also, the tankoubon have dust jackets, which are awesome ^_^


No offense, but the reason you think this is probably just that you are not that well acquainted with the Japanese language. I can promise you "datteba yo" and "bam" and "boom" are just as corny in Japanese as they are in english. As my coworker recently said to me, "wow, your website design looks great! of course, it's all english, so any design you made would probably look cool."
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