When I started to read manga I was always looking for the ones which contain furigana to make picking up new vocab easier. On top of that, I was under the impression that manga with furigana support generally was a little more on the easy side with their content. Don’t ask me why I thought that because when young Japanese boys and girls still may have some problems with their Kanji reading skills, they, of course, are speaking Japanese perfectly.
There is no limitation in vocab or grammar and why should there be any. These kids are already going to high school. I was obviously thinking about manga which were aimed at kids, young kids.
Nevertheless, there actually are some manga out there that are easier than others and contain furigana, which really makes picking up new vocab much more comfortable. But now that we cleared that little misbelief we can continue with some great manga recommendations for Japanese learners.
If you haven’t read my previous manga recommendations:
And if you’re not sure how ordering manga from Japan works check my guide about how to order books from Japan.
This time content only, no furigana restrictions
I probably made my point clear why you shouldn’t give two cents about if a manga has furigana or not to judge about its difficulty. Especially if you already started with WaniKani. Read something without furigana and be amazed that you probably don’t recognize some Kanji you always seemed to ace at your daily WaniKani practice.
That’s why I’ll just have some recommendations in here which are not too challenging and all have one thing in common: They are good fun and worth your time (and money).
I’m a sucker for everything by Naoki Urasawa. he’s just the most brilliant contemporary mangaka. Pluto is a futuristic, philosophical masterpiece and his epic stories are yet to find a true challenge. The Yawara 完全版 (complete edition) was released at the beginning of 2014 end gets two new volumes every month.
I only bought the first two for now but will probably buy some more with my next honto order. Yawara is a manga about Judo and a young girl who is forced by her strict grandfather to keep on practicing. Just because she is so good at it.
I’m still at the very beginning but the manga has all the ingredients I like about Urasawa’s works in general. It’s mainly a comedy manga but always manages to be serious enough to introduce more mature themes without being off.
When I bought the first edition there was a DVD with some episodes of the anime attached. Unfortunately, this wasn’t for free and did cost 1000¥ on top.
2.) Hikaru no go
If it wasn’t for Great Teacher Onizuka this would probably be my favorite Jump manga. Forget about Bakuman and its ridiculous love story, this is definitely the best work by Takeshi Obata and a manga classic that you should definitely give a try. The 12-year-old Hikaru discovers an old go table in their attic and when he touches it, the soul of a Go teacher from the Edo period appears. But only he is able to see him. What’s following is the story of how Hikaru wants to become the GOAT Go player. The drawings are fantastic and the story has a unique vibe that just sucks you in. When I received the manga I made a couple of pictures and wrote some more about the series. Give it a look, because the Hikaru no go 完全版 really does look stunning.
The manga contains furigana and is relatively easy to understand. If you’re comfortable with Yotsuba you should give Hikaru a try. I found it the most approachable Jump Manga so far and story-wise it’s above everything I have read from Jump. Except for GTO, of course.
I discovered this one over at chringle and just thought I would give it a try. A boy from a gangster family is supposed to date a girl from a Yakuza family so that there will remain peace between the two families. Reads as ridiculous as it sounds. I read the first volume some time ago and even started with the Anime which recently began airing but suddenly lost interest while waiting for the next episode to arrive. Should really pick this one up again. It was actually the Yakuza element that got me interested in the title in the first place, unfortunately, it’s only a minor element, at least in the first chapters.
It’s a Jump manga, so it contains furigana but (like I wrote above) this is one of the more difficult ones and the partway yakuza setting doesn’t make it any more simple. But if you have a knack for these very Japanese love stories where the two lovers overthink everything and make a huge deal out of it, this is right up your alley.
4.) ハンツー x トラッシュ
This is one for the boys, who are into water ball. The story is about a first-year high school student who has to decide on a school club to join and because of his interests, he picks the water-ball club. Guess what his interests are. ハンツー x トラッシュ is actually much more decent then one would expect from the cover. The story is well written (with the essential dose of love story) and it’s highly entertaining (if you are into water ball – and girls).
It doesn’t contain furigana but is on the easy side. This one would actually one to recommend if you want to get rid of furigana and try yourself with an all Kanji manga for the first time. I’m currently reading the third volume. It’s the perfect stuff when you don’t want anything too difficult or complex in the story. Just a very straightforward manga with the right amount of ecchi.
5.) 聖☆おにいさん (Saint Oniisan)
Jesus and Buddha are roommates in modern Tokyo while taking some time off on earth. Each chapter shows the two living their daily lives as tourists with frequent puns on each other’s religion. Awesome idea and for this worth buying alone. I just got the first two volumes and it’s something of a long-time goal for me. One day I can read this comfortably in Japanese. At least I hope so.
I understand bits and pieces but when the two boys are talking about philosophical stuff, my Kanji reading ability is not on my side. Still, worth a look, even if it’s something you’ll tackle later on.
I just had to include this title here, because it’s the most awesome idea for a manga I’ve come across in a long time. There is also an Anime out there but I haven’t watched it yet. If it’s any good, please let me know.
6.) 東京旅さんぽ (Tokyo Tabi Sanpo)
Two girls are taking a trip to Tokyo because they can’t afford to go abroad. Each chapter takes place in a different area in Tokyo, with lots of realistic drawings and everyday story charm. If you’d like to discover Tokyo through manga, this is the one for you. There are only two books and I highly recommend buying both at once.
After finishing the first one you’d be angry if you couldn’t continue reading immediately. Not because these two girls were especially funny or interesting. It’s all about the city – and Tokyo is awesome. Nuff’ said.
There are no furigana but with basic skills, it’s really doable. Everyday stuff, nothing too fancy and actually quite good practice for your Japanese.
I’m probably done now with my easy to read manga recommendations. From now on I’ll have articles about Japanese manga again but probably not in the same manner.
More like, some recommendations with good stuff for you to read. The last one here was compiled with this in mind so there is some (hopefully) good stuff for everybody in it. At least I hope so.
We all knew it but I just had to do another entry in the series. Continue reading Vol.05.