Japanese: The Manga Way

by Adam Arnold

You've been an anime fan for years now and you're finally at the point where your current fair of translated manga just isn't doing anything for you. You're at the point where you need your fix from the source. There's just one problem--you don't know Japanese.

You don't have time to take a class, and you definitely don't have the gall to move to Tokyo. So that leaves you only with one choice and that's to scour the store shelves and various Internet sites for books. One jumps out at you called Japanese: The Manga Way.

You stop to ponder, "Hmm, learning Japanese through manga...I can do that!" And guess what? You can do it... with a lot of practice.

First of all, the key to learning a second language is obviously dedication. No matter how good a book on the subject might be, its full potential will never be realized unless the reader can apply themselves to the subject matter. With thirty-two lessons, Wayne P. Lammers starts aspiring manga linguists off with the three basic sentence types --verbs, adjectives and nouns-- and slowly takes them through particles, sentence modifiers, commands and much more before winding down with words used to describe uncertain topics.

At 282 pages, any other book about Japanese grammar and sentence structure would seem horribly overwhelming. Yet Lammers' approach is like that of a skilled teacher taking your hand and guiding you through the assorted lessons. The book, as the preface describes, "[boils] all Japanese sentences down to three basic types, then, starting with the simplest single-word sentences of each type, gradually [expands] to more complex expressions". It does this in a fun way by accompanying each and every lesson with a series of panels from recognizable favorites such as What's Michael? and Crayon Shin-chan to an even larger variety of unlicensed titles.

What I found particularly nice about the book was that if all I wanted to do was go from page to page reading the manga, I could. Each lesson has a basic introduction to the topic at hand and then has a gray box that tells about the manga excerpt. Below that is a reproduction of the katakana, hiragana and kanji from the manga, followed by a romanji transcription, a literal word-for-word translation and then a coquille translation, all of which is layered directly below the other. For anyone that can learn by seeing, then it's a great way to pick up a few extra words.

It is also worth mentioning that ample and insightful translation notes are also included for the manga panels, which helps to show just how much depth that the Japanese language expresses through so little text. Some other nice touches are the book's inclusion of an appendix, covering resources for continuing your Japanese studies, using Japanese on your computer, and some basic information on all the manga shown throughout the book.

For anyone that found Mangajin's Basic Japanese Through Comics too daunting of a read, then take heart as Wayne P. Lammers' illustrated guide is definitely one for any up-and-coming Japanese linguist's bookshelf.

About This Item

  • Japanese: The Manga Way

  • Format:
    Book / 282 pgs.
  • Production:
    Stone Bridge Press / Wayne P. Lammers
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