Furigana are very comfortable when you have to look up unknown words but if you already have a decent Kanji and vocabulary knowledge, it can be a quite rewarding experience to try some simple manga that don’t have Kanji readings for every word. It’s a great feeling when you’re just starting out and quickly notice that you can read some “real” Japanese. Real, because you won’t encounter too many Furigana when you’re in Japan. Difficult, unusual Kanji will still have Furigana above because even Japanese people don’t know the correct reading for every Kanji.
If you’re just starting with reading manga in Japanese to practice your language skills and to pick up some vocabulary, you should start with the first two parts of my series.
If you don’t know where to pick up Japanese manga and books check my guide.
1.) あずまんが大王 (Azumanga Daioh)
The mangaka あずまきよひこ became once popular with this manga. Simple stories, each quickly told in just 4-panels. Now he is better known for his other hit manga よつばと but あずまんが大王 is still a very charming, funny manga.
There are no Furigana used here which was quite a bummer when I bought it a couple of months back. Today I’m really happy that it just relies on the Kanji itself and a good choice to start reading Japanese without any Furigana-help. But I still prefer ダリンは外国人when it comes to the difficulty of the manga.
2.) ドクター スランプ – 完全版 (Dr. Slump – The complete edition)
We all know Dr. Slump. It’s from the creator of Dragonball, equally funny and was released in an equally beautiful 完全版 in Japan. The Cover is sparkling which should be reason alone to pick this one up immediately. If you’re not into glitter and are more interested in the actual story, my recommendation is still the same.
But be warned: I think Dragonball is doable to read in Japanese even as a beginner. But like reader ai already mention in the first post with easy manga, the slang can be a bit much and the vocabulary used is a bit different from the one we usually use. Lots of ancient words and strange grammar. Dr. Slump is nearly the same but strangely without Furigana. I’m a bit confused about why that is the case. Both books should appeal to a younger audience if not the same.
Regardless: Dr. Slump is an all-time classic, hilarious, and one of my favorite manga series ever. And these beautiful 完全版 that JUMP Comics is putting out (Dragon Ball, Slam Dunk, Hikaru no Go) are always worth their money.
3.) ダーリンは外国人 (My darling is a foreigner)
This one is a big hit in Japan and spawned several sequels. The story is about a couple living in Tokyo where the woman is Japanese and her darling American. He is half-Hungarian half-Italien descent which is the base for several jokes in the book. There is also a Japanese film-adaption of the manga, yeah it’s so popular, but it’s rather bad.
At least that’s what I heard several times from informants who usually have good taste. This one should be the first for you to pick up if you want something without Furigana but won’t be too demanding Kanji-wise.
Each story is told in a couple of panels and centered around everyday situations where a 外人 like us would behave inappropriately in Japan. Apart from being incredibly funny, as a small bonus, it’s a nice manga to look at. And not because of the pictures, I’m talking about the presentation of the manga. Nice one!
4.) くるねこ (Kuruneko)
Yamato Kuruneko loves Sake and loves cats. She once drew these little cartoons, which are based on her own life, for her Blog. It became really popular in Japan and so Enterbrain picked her stories up and released them in the big 単行本 format. It’s funny because kuroneko means black cat in Japanese and the authors’ name sounds nearly the same. Even if the stories are only a couple of panels long, like あずまんが大王, they are still quite difficult. The handwriting is a bit of a problem for me and makes it sometimes pretty hard to read. But that shouldn’t discourage you from picking it up. It’s quite a big one and worth a look if my few “preview pictures” picked your interest.
5.) タマさん (Tama-san)
When I visited K-Books (Akiba) back in February, I picked this one up just because of its looks. There were only sealed copies available so I couldn’t get a quick sneak inside. It seemed to be a quite easy manga and because of the rather big format (like Shirokuma Café, not that it’s a real indicator), and just put it in my shopping bag. I bought way too much stuff there anyway (including lots and lots of protective covers for my manga), so these two didn’t make a difference.
Currently, I’m fully occupied with reading more よつばと and Dragonball so I didn’t start this one yet. But judging after quickly flipping through the books they are not too difficult on the Kanji side. If you can read よつばと without relying too much on the Furigana, this shouldn’t be a problem for you.
Note 27.02.2015: I read both volumes by now. It’s a funny one but there is quite a lot to read. The difficulty is ruffly on par with あずまんが大王.
Thanks for reading and all your support dear Japanese Tease visitors. I’ll be back with more easy reading material for Japanese beginners. Still not quite sure what I’ll present to you next time but I’ll find something for sure. Maybe you even want some more manga without Furigana?
On to the last one of the series without any Furigana restrictions.
If you want to tackle some 青年 manga, I wrote a small post about doing so and am talking about one of my favorite manga of all time, Billy Bat:
If you have any suggestions or wishes, please just leave me a comment. As always, it’s highly appreciated.