How I got here, where I'm going: Anomaly's Language Log

I figured I’d try one of these as a study support. I’m at the point now where I can read several titles in my collection somewhat slowly, but comfortably…but the tradeoff for that is that I’ve been mostly neglecting active language study. So I’m using this to sort out what I’ve done so far, where I’m looking next, and keeping track of my progress. I’m not sure what sort of update schedule - maybe biweekly? I’ll probably figure it out as I go (or forget this exists entirely…I hope not).

My language journey has not been a straightforward one. Liberal use of the ‘hide details’ function here, because there is a lot.

How I got here, part 1:

Sometime around 2000 I got it in my head I wanted to learn Japanese on my own, specifically for reading. I bought several books, including the Compact Nelson’s dictionary and A Japanese Reader: Graded Lessons for Mastering the Written Language (Tuttle Language Library) | L20. I later bought several 2001 issues of 少年エース and, over the next few years, various volumes of manga. Conspicuously absent from this collection: any sort of proper textbook. (I got one of those little pocket grammar guides - Barron’s, I think - and no, it’s not an adequate substitute.)

This was, in sum, a terrible plan and is not recommended. I did somehow manage to brute force my way through あずまんが大王, to the point where I was reading entire pages without lookups by the final volume, and I also bought The Handbook of Japanese Verbs (Kodansha Dictionary) | L0 which addressed some of the grammar gaps. But it was a mess.

I then got married. My books moved with me, but I put my language study on hiatus for the most part, for roughly a decade and a half.

How I got here, part 2:

Jump to two years ago. Nearing the end of a school year of remote instruction for my kids, not doing a whole lot else. I needed something to do. I don’t even remember what precipitated the thought, but my brain went “why not pick up Japanese again?” My spouse supported this idea.

I started looking online for resources, and saw there was a lot more support for independent study than two decades ago. So I (re)started from the beginning. Found tools for practicing vocab, blitzed through the N5 stuff, slowed down somewhat for N4, was working on N3 vocab within 3 months or so (and being surprised that old-hat words like 友達 were considered N3, even knowing that these were unofficial best-guess word lists). Picked up a couple of my old manga volumes and started reading: very slow going at first, but slowly improved. Started sorting through reviews and opinions on apps, online guides, and reference books. I also started buying books again - a couple reference, mostly new media (including too many light novels. I am, two years later, about ready for LNs now, and it really depends on which LN). Brute forced through two LNs and stalled halfway through a third (which I do plan to return to at some point - I got distracted). Found Irodori (seriously underrated!) and used that as additional grammar review in anticipation of starting on Tobira | L22.

By summer of 2022 I started on Tobira, then got distracted by reading more and more native material (specifically, manga). By November I was beginning to switch to using a J-J dictionary (明鏡国語辞典; it didn’t go great) and averaging under 2 hours for 1 volume of manga. I also finished my first multi-volume manga read in roughly 20 years: 女の子が抱いちゃだめですか?, which was a major confidence boost. (It’s been hard finding things aimed at adults that are relatively easy to read and entertaining, but this one accomplished both!)

Now (April 2023):

Back at the start of the month, I finished the second volume of 勇者のひざには猫がいる in under two hours, with about five lookups total. My “comfortable” reading level on Natively seems to be around 24. I’ve self-described my reading level as an N3 kludge; that feels about right, considering. (I am, however, trying to make that N3 approximation less kludgey and more solid, and ultimately push beyond it.)

Now I use Bookmeter to check out samples of titles that interest me and read reviews, without relying (with obligatory grain of salt) on DeepL as a doublecheck or a quicksort for key things I want to avoid. I have a childrens’ dictionary now (三省堂例解小学国語辞典) that I can read comfortably and just enjoy skipping through the entries and reading the sidebars as its own thing. I’m getting a better grasp on my preferences for genre and fine-tuning my wishlists and purchases accordingly.

It feels like the end of the beginning, and a really great place to be. But it’s also the beginning of the next step, and I need to keep looking forward.

Current activities:


I started the Handbook of Japanese Verbs a week ago and am currently a bit more than halfway through (the last 50 pages are all answer keys/appendices/index). I skipped the first section’s exercises, opting to write out the conjugation charts in place of that, but am taking notes on and doing all the exercises for the second part. Some of the forms presented I also recognize from my short foray into Tobira, so the Handbook also covers at least some N3+ grammar. I’m finding this very useful so far!


This has fallen by the wayside somewhat, between recent family visits and focusing on the aforementioned grammar work. I am currently about 25% through reading 牧場物語 3つの里の大好きななかま (2 of 7 chapters complete). It’s fine, but I definitely prefer nonfiction when reading kids’ books for language practice. (I also have not played this particular game in the 牧場物語 series, so I don’t have that to rely on either.) I also have きまぐれロボット for low-energy days, since each story is self-contained and only 4 pages long.

I had started and read through the first chapter of 乙女ゲームの破滅フラグしかない悪役令嬢に転生してしまった, but have stopped for now. Undecided if I’ll continue; this 300 page LN was compressed into about 3 episodes in the anime, and I think I liked it better that way. Being able to read that far in with an average around 3 lookups per page is something I’m happy about, though.


I’m using Ringotan for practicing kanji stroke order: currently at 762 kanji practiced (5/69/173/422/93, categorized from newest to mastered). The Handbook of Japanese Verb exercises also give me a chance to practice writing, and my penmanship is…well, it exists, I guess. On the other hand, there are a couple of kanji that have shown up in exercises that I haven’t gotten to in Ringotan yet, but practicing in the app has given me an intuition to proper stroke order. (I double checked each new kanji’s order after to make sure.) The app has its issues with accurate stroke detection (it could also be that my tablet is getting old and slower, too), but in general it’s been useful.


I’m trying to get back into podcasts for boosting auditory comprehension. Unfortunately, I’ve bounced off most podcasts I’ve tried, either due to poor audio quality, annoying music (often poorly balanced, to boot), or simply too hard for my current skill level. The two survivors so far have been Nihongo con Teppei for Beginners and Japanese with Shun, and the latter has audio issues (the music volume, in particular, is very unbalanced).

(Teppei’s production quality, on the other hand, is very good, so if anyone is looking for a beginner-friendly podcast and audio clarity is a priority, Nihongo con Teppei for Beginners is your best bet.)

For video, on Youtube I use both Shun’s vlog series and Comprehensible Japanese (beginner videos I watch as-is, intermediate I turn on the JP captions). Anime I leave to watching with English subs while keeping an ear open, with the exceptions of Bananya (due to length, familiarity, and presumed simplicity, but it’s surprisingly tough going so far) and The Saint’s Magic Power is Omnipotent (because challenge mode, I guess).

Near-term goals:

I need to get back to Tobira again. I also need to work on more auditory input - even though my focus is on literacy, I don’t want to neglect that entirely.

Now that I know I can write (though not well), I want to start collecting vocabulary. Get a book solely to write new words into. This will probably be better for learning than my previous method of using Akebi on my tablet and saving word lists per book/series (I mostly stopped using Akebi around November of last year, when I started to use 明鏡).

I have several volumes of manga I want to finish before summer: some continuations, some new. I plan to finish 牧場物語 3つの里の大好きななかま as well; it’s readable enough that even if it’s not super interesting, I can finish it for the sake of practice. I think I also want to give 異世界に救世主として喚ばれましたが、アラサーには無理なので、ひっそりブックカフェ始めました。 | L30?? a try and see if that goes better than 乙女ゲームの破滅フラグ (it’s the difficulty factor I’m unsure of here; if it’s similar I can probably do it).

Longer term, I am still debating whether to try N3 this December, leaning toward no. Travel logistics are the biggest factor, but I don’t have much confidence in my auditory comprehension either.

Well, I think that’s it for now. Aiming for next update around the beginning of May.


Wow; despite (perhaps because of?) your initial lack of structured study, it sounds like you worked your butt off to get to this point. Single digit look-ups per page is the dream, haha. I’ll be rooting for you, and look forward to reading more of your study logs!

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Would you say forcing your way through LNs helped you, or was it a lot of wasted effort?

I was trying to transition to prose but even children’s books (or perhaps especially children’s books?) were extremely disspiriting. Graded readers are a much easier preposition but they don’t feel as ‘real’ somehow…

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I am under the impression that lots of romance manga a pretty easy, even if aimed at adults. And there are many adult josei romance manga. One that comes to my mind is ホンノウスイッチ (which I read because I thought the protagonist looks pretty).

I am currently about 25% through reading 牧場物語 3つの里の大好きななかま

I haven’t read many children books and fear I would find them boring (though I loved the first 魔女の宅急便 book). But I’m fascinated by those video game based books. It’s easy to imagine a story based on 牧場物語. But Kirby? Puyo puyo??

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Thanks for the kind words, everyone. I’m going to try and put my replies all in one post so it isn’t spammy:

I think that lack was much more hindrance than help. The main benefit it gave me was a retrospective on How Not to Learn a Language! :sweat_smile: Maybe the fifteen-year break also helped break any bad habits that I picked up back then? I don’t know.

But there are two additional factors that account for the progress in the last two years: 1) I am a stay-at-home parent, so I have more time than a lot of people my age, and 2) written language is a hyperfocus for me. Even then, for every (rare!) day that I could manage 7 hours of study/engagement, there was a week where I managed nothing. A lot of that rebooted first year was not just gathering resources, but figuring out how to learn, because most recommended strategies were unhelpful or downright counterproductive. (Without getting into details, there is a very high chance I have undiagnosed ADHD, and some of my study strategies were adapted from ADHD folks who have shared their own. Others I developed by trial and error.)

I guess it was a lot of work, but it really didn’t feel like it at times, in the bad “I’m not getting anything done what is wrong with me” kind of way. So I suppose another lesson from all this is - as trite as it may sound - to be kind to yourself. Sick days happen. Heck, life happens. Progress stalls. It’s okay to take a break. Beating up on yourself to try and “push” yourself forward will likely only make things worse. And it’s when you look back later, after you get past all that, you finally realize just how much you did get done, even if it didn’t look like it at the time.

I think it depends on the person, the LNs, and level - and that I lucked out. Because written language is a hyperfocus for me, I have a much higher tolerance for struggle with written text. I also suspect that the two books I read were on the easier end of the LN scale (and these were effectively blind picks, as far as difficulty goes - hence the luck factor).

To put that into perspective: I had around 1450 words saved to my list in Akebi for my first LN,, and the first 5 pages alone took something like 2-3 hours. But I sped up as I got further in, and vocabulary started repeating more and more; I finished the last 10% in a single day (and pushed myself too hard doing it - another lesson learned). At the same time, I was practicing N3 and (some) N2 vocabulary in an app called Obenkyo, which took some of the vocabulary pressure off. (I later switched to the similar Kakugo, because Obenkyo has been long abandoned by its maker.)

The second LN built on what I gained from the first, partly due to both being set in contemporary Japan with career-age female protagonists…but it also wasn’t very good, entertainment-wise. I dropped my third LN due to distraction halfway through, but in hindsight it was the right call. I’d hit diminishing returns for the point I was at, which probably fed the distraction factor. So I switched gears to focus on manga and elementary-age kids’ books (specifically nonfiction) for a while. I’ve learned to allow myself to step back at a certain frustration threshold - the book will still be there later.

TL;DR: for me, it was worth it, but I think I had some advantages going in, had supplemental activities that helped, and also stopped and reassessed at the right time. (This also falls under “learning how to learn” for me.)

So, I looked at childrens’ nonfiction specifically for two reasons: 1) it looked way more interesting than the fiction offerings, and 2) I figured the writing would be more straightforward (no literary embellishments, no odd made-up words, etc.). delivered on both counts, though the content was rough going at times. was markedly more difficult.

Note that both of these books are aimed at the same demographic (mid-elementary students), but the Natively grades don’t align. (I also think しあわせになった捨てるねこ might drop a bit lower, but it’s been a while since I read it.) “Children’s books” as a whole seems to cover a pretty wide range of difficulty, which makes things more difficult as a learner.

If you feel like saying, what books have you tried?

Yeah, I’ve settled on 女性向け (including josei) as one of my genres (in a very loose sense of genre). To that end, I’ve been making note of publisher imprints. For manga, 裏サンデー女子部 and Zero-Sum have worked well so far (I think both are josei imprints, though not 100% sure); my one foray into Kodansha Be Love - この恋、茶番につき!? - was a dud, but it might have just been the wrong book.

I looked up ほんおうスイッチ on Bookmeter and read about half the sample - not my thing, I think, but definitely easy to read. Thanks for mentioning it; it was worth taking a look!

Kirby I can imagine pretty easily - established characters + setting + cartoon antics + episodic source material? I can see a workable formula there. Puyo Puyo, though, I don’t know enough about to comment on…

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I know some of the games have a story mode, so it’s probably possible. :thinking: Not with the puyos themselves, granted, but with the “official” Puyo Puyo characters.

I am veeeery slowly reading though I find it hard to stick with this one, especially compared to manga. And I gave up on, just was too difficult and slow for me at my current level.


Ah. Yeah, I can see that. It looks like こぐまのクーク物語 is aimed at beginning elementary students (1 feather/小学初級から), so you get the double whammy of lots of kana-only vocab and potential boredom. And I didn’t realize 魔女の宅急便 didn’t have furigana - that would be rough as a first kids’ book.

Some thoughts (in case they are of use):

  • If kana and/or boredom is the issue with こぐまのクーク物語, maybe try something aimed a little older. 青い鳥, つばさ, and みらい all use a standardized system for indicating target demographic: books in the 小学中級から/2 star (or feathers, for つばさ) range seem to use most elementary school kanji, but still have full furigana so it might be a bit more accessible. Additionally, there might just be more interesting options for you at that tier.
  • If story length/reading stamina is the issue - maybe try a short story collection like きまぐれロボット (with furigana)?
  • If there is a LN series you really, really want to read, one that you can point at and say “I want to read this!!!” - it might be worth trying to force your way through the first volume. It depends on your frustration vs. enthusiasm threshold. (Alternately, if there’s a one-shot LN you really want to read, you can also try that - but you don’t get the boost of writing style and vocabulary consistency between books, as I found out.)
  • Graded readers are perfectly valid, though I get they aren’t as satisfying as reading content created for native readers. I read the free Tadoku readers up through their Lv. 2 selection before taking my first go at LN reading, and in hindsight I wish I’d tried getting through at least Lv. 3 first. I thought some of them were pretty fun, to boot!

Those are great ideas - I will look into them. I’m wondering if short story collections might help as well, definitely. But I might also just put prose on the backburner for a few months while I work my way through these manga that I can get through in an hour or so, which is a very pleasant experience.

Atm I’m finishing Tadoku lvl 2 collections and I have lvl 3 and 4 available to me, so I might slowly make my way through those as well. I can see on the library shelf there’s a few ‘normal’ books ranked at the lvl 3 that have actual kanji in them (a lot of the lvl2s are full hirigana/katakana only… ewww) so I might see if I can manage those once I’ve read the associated readers.

Thanks for the tips!

Not sure if these will be of any help or if you maybe already have them but there are two books called Read Real Japanese, one that give you short stories and one that gives you essays in natural Japanese with furigana the first time kanji show up. They also have a glossary of vocabulary at the back and grammar explanations alongside the Japanese text.

If you’re struggling, I’d recommend trying those out if you’re up for it. They’re like graded readers but with native level natural language.

I actually have the essay one, I bought it nearly 8 years ago lol. Struggled my way through the first essay then and fell off.

The natively ratings here is still sort of intimidating… but the only way to learn is to try, I suppose

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The fiction one I found to be more interesting but it’ll depend on your preferences. I started by reading through all the free tadoku books before trying to read through my language learning short story books (Olly richards sets are pretty good I felt, as are Lingo mastery short stories) but I think without progressing through the graded reader series, it’s a bit of a push to get to the point where you can read anything of native level, even childrens books.

Ambiguity is a must if you want to get to a higher level but there’s nothing wrong with reading something and only getting a few words from it. What study level are you at and what are you using to study?

Entry, 4/30: It’s only been about a week and a half, but I did say I’d aim for around the start of May, and here it is.

Uneven progress. I had a great day a week ago - roughly 4 hours total of study and reading. And then I was sick or taking care of sick family members for half a week after. I kept up on Ringotan and managed a couple of videos, but that was all. As I said - sick days happen. Thursday was slower than normal, too, but my tempo has returned to usual since then.

Activity summary:


Not much, but I did find a video that explained うちに in nice clear terms, in Japanese. The video subtitles were in both Japanese and English, however, so I don’t know how much I was unconsciously getting from the English. (It feels like it’s getting easier to focus on the Japanese text when bilingual subtitles are present, though.) I think I have a better understanding of how it’s used now, though - and had a chance to apply that when it showed up while reading a couple of days later.


Currently about 2/3 of the way through Did all of chapter 3 (23 pages) last Sunday, before getting sick. Read about 10 pages Thursday, 33 yesterday, and 20 today - now 6 pages into chapter 6. (edit - whoops, forgot there was 10 pages Friday too. Thank goodness for activity log here…) Reading speed is still about 3m/page. Estimating difficulty about Lv. 24 (mostly due to intermittent instances of dialect that throw me off slightly), but time and gradings will tell.

The book is improving. More on that in a bit.


Ringotan: 878 (6/96/134/401/241). I am using the Japanese school grade list setting for kanji order (there are 17 options, including things like textbooks, KKLC, and JLPT, among others) and am now starting on 6th grade kanji. I’ve also slowed my pace from “Normal” to “Few” as new kanji are getting more complex and less familiar. (I have restarted this app twice - first go-through was set to JLPT lists, second was KKLC, and each time I got to about 600 before restarting. This time, and learning order, feels better.)

It’s oddly satisfying to have a kanji introduced in the app, and then identify it in use a few days later. (In this case, 築, which showed up in 改築.)

Handbook of Japanese Verbs: Also took a big hit due to sickness. This was not helped by banging my head against ーれる/ーられる last week. I can comprehend when I read them (I think, anyway), but constructing sentences with proper syntax is a different matter. I felt uncomfortable enough with my work to check against the answer key - sure enough, it was wrong, which meant going back and rereading the section to understand why, then trying again. Now onto the causative-passive…


Tested a couple of the higher-level podcasts I’ve held onto - I can almost manage Sayuri Saying and the :bike: level of Nihongo Picnic. Noriko is still too hard, but I plan on using her Tobira episodes in tandem with the book when I get back to that. Dabbling in Nihongo con Teppei (standard) - the continuity of cadence and style from his beginner podcast probably helps there. (I have listened to over 400 episodes of the beginner series so far - about 28 hours’ worth. Which seems both a lot and very little, since it’s over a year and a half or so.)

Still continuing with Nihongo con Teppei for Beginners (as above) and Japanese with Shun (currently 118 episodes in, also started over a year ago). Gave up on Momoko to Nihongo; it’s been on hiatus for about 2 years, and not enough episodes at my current level either.

On the video front, discovered あかね的日本語教室 and Try! 中級の日本語. Try! was where I found the video explaining うちに, and the channel, though small, seems to focus on N3 grammar in particular. Akane has a lot more content, and a lot of her videos (from what I’ve seen) include Japanese subs by default, which is nice. More importantly, it seems to be at that “slightly challenging, but can follow” sweet spot.

Near-term goals:

牧場物語 3つの里の大好きななかま is…getting better, actually! As previously mentioned, I haven’t played this particular game, but it doesn’t seem like a barrier to entry. Story highlights so far (mildly spoilery): Lulu is a very good dog, and the experimental fruit works out in a way I didn’t expect but was fun to read. Hoping to finish this in the next few days, and I might look at getting the other 牧場物語 novel (same author, different game tie-in) at some point in the future.

In my manga TBR, I want to get at least コールドゲーム v. 2 read before June. If that’s as good as volume 1 was, I’ll be adding several volumes into my summer order. Most of the high-priority manga in my backlog are the kinds that ask to be savored rather than sped through, which will make for slower going.

JLPT thoughts:

I’m debating whether to go ahead and plan as if I’m going to take N3 this year, even if it turns out to be impossible. Registration isn’t until August, which is 3 months out; by then, I’ll probably know whether I can make the schedule work.

Right now, I see two main approaches: getting back into Tobira, and improving my listening. For the latter, I think I need more than just podcasts and videos. I have my eye on, mostly because of the review on Japanese Talk Online and the included audio. I can literally understand thousands (low thousands, but still) more words in writing than hearing, and I hope this can help close that gap. If anyone has any thoughts on that, I’d be happy to listen.

That’s a wrap for now. Next update: mid-May.


Entry, 5/19: Hit more slowdowns the past couple of weeks - some external (allergy season), some me. End result: reassess, recalibrate, resume.


Continuing work in Handbook of Japanese Verbs - up to て form, which is over half of the remaining pages (back matter excluded). Returned to Tobira and have advanced through Ch. 2, and this time making sure to use the worksheets and audio provided via website. That was definitely a failure on my part the first time around, being in too much of a rush to read.


Started on book 2 of コールドゲーム, but ended up stopping after one chapter (33%). A combination of switching lookup gears, increasing plot complications, and unexpected non-language reference lookups (to “Aschenputtel” and “The Red Shoes,” if I understood correctly - and I’m not sure I did) stalled me there. Will definitely return to at a later date; just overwhelming right now.

Switched gears to 異世界に救世主として喚ばれましたが、アラサーには無理なので、ひっそりブックカフェ始めました。Unsurprisingly, I’m enjoying this a lot more than 乙女ゲームの破滅フラグ, though it feels significantly more difficult. That, however, is on pause due to getting an interlibrary loan on, which is due back in a bit over a month. Already done with the first 3 stories, so that shouldn’t be a problem.


Crossed the 1K threshold in Ringotan (6/38/150/228/592). Not quite done with the Grade 6 kanji, but have added in some of the “Grade 8”/junior high ones I recognized either from seeing repeatedly or having practiced in prior iterations. Progress has slowed; I’m doing fewer kanji each day, and also missing or completely blanking on more - but almost all of these are new to me, unlike most of the previous ones.

I’m also using the kanji worksheets for Tobira to practice with pencil and paper, and for general writing practice still continuing the exercises in HoJV. (I write all exercise sentences out in full, even though most are fill-in-the-blank conjugation exercises.) No independent writing yet.


No changes to podcast material. Otherwise, focusing on the Tobira vocab audio in particular to try and help close the listening comprehension gap (at a quick glance, there are approximately 70-100 words per chapter, and 15 chapters total). I’m guessing this is redundant enough with the Speed Master N3 book that I’ll pass on buying that for now.

Near-term goals:

Finish Japanese Stories for Language Learners, first and foremost, since that has a set time limit. After that, resume 異世界に救世主として喚ばれましたが、アラサーには無理なので、ひっそりブックカフェ始めました (okay, I’m just grabbing the English title and shortening to Savior’s Book Cafe Story for sanity’s sake). Continue on Tobira and HoJV, the latter of which will probably wrap up in a few weeks.

Still haven’t gotten around to starting a vocab notebook yet. Should do that.

I just placed my summer book order this morning, with a range of some easier manga mixed in (such as the last two volumes of 勇者のひざには猫がいる - vol. 4 isn’t listed on Natively, for some reason), the other 牧場物語 kids’ novel, the other two Savior’s Book Cafe Story novels, and a few other titles. This has more easy stuff than my last order did…half of which is still in my backlog (not counting コールドゲーム, which was attempted and placed back in the queue). I’ll try and chip away at those in between the easier reads.

Next update: early June.


New volumes in series aren’t added automatically in Natively; you have to go to the series page and click the +add more volumes button.

(If the book is listed as a standalone and there’s no series page, you can just let brandon know via the feedback form and he’ll get the series set up.)

Out of curiosity, have you read the manga for this series? Do you know how much the manga cuts out? I’ve read the manga (in English) and thought it was cute, if barebones.

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Oh thanks - I didn’t realize that series didn’t automatically add in new volumes once they were added to the site. And since I’m pretty sure 勇者のひざには猫がいる was added before the final volume came out earlier this year, that makes sense.

Re: Savior’s Book Cafe Story - I haven’t read the manga, but I did take a peek at the digital sample for the Japanese edition to see how the early part mapped. The sample was the entire first (manga) chapter, which from peeking ahead in the novel looks like it covers the first two LN chapters, or about 50 prose pages. That seems a bit rapid. (On the other hand, that entire first LN chapter is Tsukina bartering with the otherworld deity about the terms of her involuntary recruitment to this whole savior thing, so a lot of dialogue and internal monologue and not much action.) I may have to check out the manga later to see - my guess is that 3 LNs squeezed into 5 manga volumes left a lot out, but that’s only a guess.

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Not-exactly-update: been dealing with the start of burnout (mostly resolved) and hectic life in general. Hope to have something up in a few days, but have to wait and see.

Got into Chapter 3 of Savior’s Book Cafe Story, which continues to be charming and comfy and (skill level) challenging. More later.


8/23: Summer dead zone.

Study and reading slid to almost a standstill. There were multiple factors I could point to - the spikes of air quality issues from wildfires, this summer’s household schedule, family visit back in June throwing tempo off - but I looked at my spreadsheet that I used before joining Natively, to see what last summer looked like for comparison…and it’s also very sporadic. This may just be how it goes, and everything else coincidental or at least not helping.

At any rate, it seems like I’m coming out the other side of these doldrums. Within the past week I reread 虚妄の女王 vol. 1, continued and finished vol. 2, and now am 2 chapters (~40%) into the final volume. I’m sure I’m missing at least some of the nuance of the political maneuverings, but not quite as into the deep end as I was with that second volume of コールドゲーム.

Also read during the summer: 女の子が抱いちゃダメですか? vol. 1 (reread), かわいすぎる男子がお家で待っています vol. 1 (dropped a bit more than halfway - will retry later in case of summer doldrums messing with enjoyment, but this might just be another dud), and a single-volume manga from Opal Comics (it was…something. Well, at least it kept me engaged through the whole thing, and the author’s note at the end was interesting to read, too).

Savior’s Book Cafe Story remains paused, but hoping to get back to that soon. Just been too exhausted for prose this summer.

I have to laugh at my speculations months ago about whether to take the JLPT. Definitely not happening this year - too much on the plate. It’s college search time for my eldest, and if I’m traveling anywhere in early December it’s going to be for that. Not to mention the negligible amount of language studying accomplished this summer. Oh well. 2024 will hopefully be calmer.

Next update…two weeks from now will be right around Labor Day…we’ll see whether I have the chance for a new entry then. Things are still going to be pretty busy through then.


9/8 entry:

It’s after Labor Day, the kids are back in school, and things have just about settled back to normal. Including, for the most part, my time spent on Japanese. Hooray!

Finished 虚妄の女王 (thoroughly enjoyed, though the end was a little abrupt even as the story was clearly winding down throughout the last volume) and eased back into prose reading with 気まぐれロボット and ねこ日本史でよくわかる ことわざ, since both books fit easily into shorter bursts. (The ことわざ book in particular is a mere 2 pages per topic!) Also started working again on Savior’s Book Cafe Story, though just a page or two here and there and still very much on the backburner.

The other 牧場物語 tie-in novel

A few days ago I switched over to 牧場物語 ほのぼの牧場へようこそ! I’ve been trying to aim for a chapter a day with that (roughly 25-30 pages), and since Chapter 2 have been succeeding. (Today is looking a bit iffy, but there are still over 9 hours left as I write this, and I’m past the 50% mark, so…we’ll see.) At 99 pages out of 200…I think the other novel was better, honestly. This one feels a lot more paint-by-numbers. (Having not played this particular game, I don’t know if that’s actually the case, but it sure feels like the protagonist is being shoved from one thing to another with arbitrary timeskips in between.) I recall 3つの里の大好きななかま took time to win me over, but I also think that started before the 50% mark. I’ve adjusted my expectations downward, but plan on finishing at least.

I’ve hit a problem with podcasts: my schedule has been completely disrupted since the end of May. I used to listen to them while driving, but now that my eldest is driving regularly, too, that time is a lot less reliable. I’m going to have to figure out something else to try and get a somewhat-regular schedule going again, but I’m not sure where to start. Anything with appreciable background noise is a problem (so e.g., laundry, dishwashing, most household chores actually when you think about it) because I either get distracted or the noise drowns it out. I prefer not using headphones/earbuds, but I might have to look into that.

Think that’s it for now. Aiming for late September for next update.