What Were Your First Novels and/or Alternatively Manga?

I recently began to dive into the world of Japanese reading with おじさまと猫 and I’m wondering what y’all started with. Everyone starts somewhere, so what did you start with?


I think I started with ニセコイ 1 | L24

I had been studying japanese for 6 months at that point and also had watched the ニセコイ anime previously so it wasn’t too hard.

My first light novel was 冴えない彼女の育てかた | L31.
I don’t really like reading pure text so I didn’t try until very recently. I really liked the writting style and it’s one of my favourite series so I will keep reading it.


First manga: 極主夫道 1 | L25

But even though I love this series and don’t regret starting with it, I actually don’t recommend it as a first book. There’s definitely easier things to start with. I do recommend it as an introduction to Kansai dialect though!

First novel (light novel? children’s book?? idk what this is classified as): 夜カフェ 1 | L23

I’ve been meaning to read that, how are you liking it?


I really struggled with finding things that I could read, I started off with some graded readers and these 3 manga series clicked with me and I was able to read the series below really easily (compared to most other manga which I wasn’t really able to read at all)

To LOVEる―とらぶる― (series) | L22
そらのおとしもの 1 | L24

I really struggled with reading actual books even after reading a ton of manga, and using ANKI CORE 6000, 10000 etc. for hundreds of hours. I read a lot of NHK news easy, so at school I was able to do pretty well in our “newspaper reading” class.

I randomly read one day online that someone said they thought the magical tree house books were easy to read. So I tried them and they clicked and I was able to read them pretty easily.

マジック・ツリーハウス 1 恐竜の谷の大冒険 | L19

I also have a lot of failures. There are many things I bought that I thought I would be able to read, but ultimately had to give up and eventually sold or got rid of them somehow. If this site was around 5 years ago, it would have saved me a lot of money and time. Oh well…


I like it as a break in between heavier textbook Japanese and other manga. It’s a very light and wholesome read with not much plot, but lots of fluff. As a cat owner and lover, myself, the relationship between the man and the cat was both relatable and adorable. I would definitely recommend it if this sounds like something you’d like


In the very beginning, I never really stuck with any one thing. Everything felt too hard and I didn’t have the patience to actually sit through looking up every other word, so it took me a bit before I actually finished a “real” book. I eventually got too frustrated and decided to read First Japanese Reader (Japanese Graded Readers) | L12??. I was actually able to finish it so I guess it was really easy compared to whatever else I was trying to read at the time. Eventually, I decided that I actually needed to finish something since I was spending a lot of time flipping between books without ever being able to say that I actually finished reading a book in Japanese. I wanted to be able to say that so I focused my energy on ポレポレ日記 いざ、流星学園へ! | L22 (Same author as 夜カフェ 1 | L23) and got it over with. It wasn’t very interesting (I don’t give a damn about competitive dancing) but it was basically the only thing I could actually read at a time when everything else drove me up the wall. I definitely would have read something else if I was on this site at the time but it was readable so I can’t complain that much. Now, I’m coming back to those same books that drove me up the wall, only to find that they are now light reads instead! (Though, I really haven’t read anything too hard yet)

I haven’t read any manga because I’m allergic to pictures or something?


First manga was good old よつばと!
Yotsuba has a good mix of easy Japanese with a little bit of a challenge for N4/N3 readers.

And my first novel (that I finished) was 魔女の宅急便
I read this when I was choose to N2 level and it really helped me not be as intimidated of Japanese books as I was. It took 2 months to read but now I’m able to read similar books in 2 weeks.

(Btw, the plural of manga is “manga”.)


I don’t know what came over me with the s on the end of manga. I’m cringing at myself, as I’ve earlier been annoyed by people writing “kanjis” instead of “kanji” in plural.

I tried to read 魔女の宅急便 (I’m not quite sure how you get the link), but the use of hiragana all over the place instead of kanji made it very difficult to read. My mind saw the text as just a big jumbled mess.


Copy the link from where ever, highlight the word you want to turn into a link, and ctrl+v. It will automatically make it a link for you. If you post a raw Natively URL it will format like you see in my below paragraph.

As for myself, my first book was Harry Potter, took me 3 months. My first book that was originally written in Japanese and had no translation came right after it, Dear Friends | L25. I hated it with a passion but read it out of a sense of pure determination. I hate-read a lot of books early on :sweat_smile: I finally started stopping books last year because I was no longer getting so much vocab and grammar out of every single book to make it feel so valuable. ドールハウスの人々 | L33 for example I thought was pretty terrible writing but the sheer amount of vocab I got from that book that I’ve used since was well worth it for me.

I’m not sure my first manga. フルーツバスケット (series) | L24 probably? I didn’t finish the series, though.


Haha, I’m glad I’m not the only one. While reading the thread earlier, I just couldn’t remember…

Thankfully, past @Naphthalene to the rescue! A quick search on the WK forum helped me find a post from 3 years ago where I talked of my first manga. I’m just going to copy that part of the post, since it feels relevant (edited with the Natively link)

Sooo, my first attempt was stupid suboptimal. I went with a manga called WORKING!! (series) | L21. It has no furigana and since I was between N5 and N4 at the time, you can imagine I had a hard time. It was nice to learn how to use the search by radical feature of the online kanji dictionary I was using at the time. Then I pretty much had to look up everything. It felt satisfying, though, so I didn’t feel compelled to give up. I do remember having to stop at times because of getting massive headaches from the mental strain, though.

My first novel attempt came much later. It was the first volume of the 青い鳥文庫 edition (so full furigana) of 獣の奏者 (series) | L32. I had passed the N2 at the time (barely) and I had a rough time (it took me around 3~6 months to go through it, I can’t remember exactly).


Here’s some firsts for me:

Book/Series Finish Date Achievement
よつばと! 1 | L18 2017-11-12 First manga volume read with a book club
魔女の宅急便 1 | L26 2018-05-30 First novel (children’s book) read with a book club
ご注文はうさぎですか? 1 | L26 2018-06-17 First manga volume read on my own
放浪息子 (series) | L28 2019-07-28 First complete manga series read on my own
魔法少女育成計画 | L35 2019-11-16 First novel read on my own

By the way, while I do like 魔法少女育成計画 and would recommend it to people who like darker stories, it was a terrible choice as a first novel to read on my own. The difficulty was insane at the time (had to read each chapter in English after reading it in Japanese to make sure I was following the story, though I was following it for the most part). I read the second volume last year (after 1.5 years and 13 more books read) and it was still a challenge, though in comparison to the first volume it was like night and day.


My first Manga was 少女終末旅行 | L21, and my first novel was kind of ミュウツーの逆襲 | L26, but I started reading that one with a group, so instead I actually finished 約束のネバーランド | L25 before it.
I still think 少女終末旅行 was the easiest manga Ive ever read, around the same level とっとこハム太郎 大ぼうけんでちゅ | L15, but 少女終末旅行 doesn’t have furigana so it’s ranked so high, lol. Like, if you study the vocab before hand with wanikani, your’re basically all set. It has like less then 25 new words per chapter, like common, you can put 25 kanji in to your short term memory in one sitting easy.


Thank you! I thought the link would be formatted as a whole URL if I did that, so nice to know

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First Japanese Novel I read was ミラーさん (red book 1). I tried it half way through MNN book one and found I could understand short sentences here and there or get the gist of full paragraphs, but there were several chapters I had no clue of.

Went to reading graded readers and some short stories with audio (Japanese short stories for beginners books 1&2).

Read it again after completing the first MNN book and found there was only a few bits I didn’t understand and most chapters I could read fully without looking up anything.

Then I started on Read Real Japanese: fiction and found I was back to square one, not understanding much :rofl:

I’ve not tried reading manga in Japanese yet but I have ドラゴンアイ full set so that’ll be my first once I feel ready.


I don’t remember what manga, but probably some shoujo fluff.

Books I know exactly, though:
First book I completed was ももこの21世紀日記〈N’01〉which was re-released as part of this collection ももこのよりぬき絵日記 1 | L27
next came:


First manga was からかい上手の高木さん 1 | L19.
After that I went straight to my first novel, コーヒーが冷めないうちに | L29
I read both with WK book clubs. I would have chosen none of these on my own, but both were good for my level at the time (challenging but not impossible), even if the content wasn’t exactly to my taste.


my first manga was やがて君になる which i decided to read because i’d loved the anime, and they started a WK bookclub for it. i was in way over my head, but i persevered, and by the time i finished the series i was sometimes reading multiple pages without having to look anything up :sweat_smile:

my first LN, about a year later, was the LN spin-off to やが君. it’s still a struggle, but i’m managing :smiley:


I was the same as @Wakaman, tried a bunch of things like よつばと! 1 | L18 and ふらいんぐうぃっち 1 | L18 but found them too difficult for my first native book and really struggled. However, magic tree house has really straightforward grammar, was a gamechanger for me :slight_smile:

Edit: I’ll also just say that my struggles with よつばと! 1 | L18 and the near universality of its recommendation as a first book was what lead me to start the site. We needed alternatives for different preferences!


Recently read the first volume of ハピネス. It’s the first manga I’ve ever read. I recommend it in terms of difficulty. In the past I’ve read graded readers, NHK easy news, etc. and honestly it’s about the same level as a graded reader. I recently purchased ぼくらの七日間戦争 which I’ll probably begin tackling this week. Skimming through it looks do-able but is very long. :joy:


Man, this is a really good question. I saw the topic and was like, “Of course it was…” and then realized I don’t remember all that well what my first books were. :thinking: As far as I can remember, likely the first full thing I ever read in Japanese was probably Learn Japanese with Stories Volume 1 (Hikoichi): The Easy Way to Read, Listen, and Learn from Japanese Folklore, Tales, and Stories | L16 (Oh, an aside: that took me way longer than I thought to find. My version of the book is titled differently and has a different cover; glad to see the series seems to have taken off.)

My first manga… I really have no clue, which is kind of bugging me now. I can tell you the first manga I started importing, but those were purely for collection purposes, not “I want to read this right now” purposes. I was thinking it was probably よつばと along with the rest of humanity, but scouring what old order histories I can find makes it seem like D.Gray-man 1 | L24?? is more likely? Interesting; I’m kind of amazed at how badly I’m blanking out here.

(Light-) novel-wise is a little easier. Again, most of my earlier purchases were for collection/“I’ll be able to read this someday” purposes, but since it took me a while to get to a point where I could reasonably try reading something, the memories are a little fresher. キノの旅 1 | L29 was likely the first/among the first books I tried (on the recommendation that it was good for beginners. I quickly gave up on this one, haha). キングダム ハーツ キー キミとキーブレードの物語 | L29?? I tried some time after that, and while I was in a much better place to actually finish it, 夜市 | L30 actually takes the award for my first finished book. (And that’s likely only due to me reading it with a book club; never would have finished it on my own at the time.)