This page contains a list of Manga I have read that would be ideal for practice material for your Japanese studies.
If you just started your Japanese studies, I suggest that you wait until you finish Genki II. While it’s not necessarily required to complete Intermediate level Japanese, it would make it easier to understand most manga listed here.
Note on Furigana
Furigana is a reading guide that you will see in small print on top of Kanji or on the right hand side. They serve as a reading guide for those who don’t necessarily know that many Kanji, especially children.
While many people suggest that you read manga with Furigana, it’s probably not a good idea since you might start using them as a clutch. Most Japanese media do not provide Furigana and it’s better to struggle a little and learn how to look up Kanji through radicals. You will get used to Kanji in the long run and not have to rely on Furigana. Alternatively, you can using a smart phone app that can perform OCR from a picture taken with a camera. Yomiwa allows you to do this. This makes it easy to look up words 99% of the time. Also, this app works great with Gacha games.
What do I need to read Manga?
You should have the following:
- An Electronic Dictionary – You can use your smart phone or a tablet such as an iPad to accomplish this. By downloading a few dictionary apps, you can turn your phone or tablet into an electronic dictionary for not that much money. See a list of suggested apps below. There is no need to import a dedicated Japanese Electronic Dictionary, which in most cases runs for $250+. With the apps mentioned below, a good set of dictionaries will only cost you around $60. Don’t worry about the new editions as it most likely add a bunch of new words that you may not see in Manga or Light novels.
- A place to keep a list of words – You can create a list of words through your preferred dictionary app or a note taking program such as OneNote, EverNote or Notability.
- A Flash Card app – A flash card app that uses spaced repetition system can help you memorize vocabulary. Anki is commonly suggested, but there are others.
Recommended Apps (iOS only)
These are the apps I would recommend if you have an iOS device. In total, it will cost $62.97, which is a lot cheaper compared to a dedicated Denshi Jisho.
Imiwa – (Free) – Note that the definitions are not great in JMDict dictionaries included in free dictionary apps and I highly suggest getting a paid dictionary app in addition. However, there is a good Kanji lookup functionality in this app.
Dictionary – Monokakido recently merged all the dictionaries into one app. The dictionaries you want to obtain is the Wisdom English-Japanese/Japanese-English 3rd edition and Daijirin. If you have the standalone versions, you should be able to migrate to this new app and download the ones you already purchased dictionaries for free.
Recommended Dictionaries to Obtain:
Dijirin (大辞林) ($25.99) – Sometimes, you need a Japanese to Japanese dictionary to look up some words that are not found in the Japanese to English dictionary. Dijirin is usually suggested since it’s easier for non-native speakers to understand. Like Wisdom, this dictionary is built into iOS through the lookup function, but it’s a lot easier to look up words using the dedicated app and this one is more up to date.. As always, Dijirin is also available in EPWing format, if you can find it on CD, but it would be slightly out of date compared to the iOS version. This dictionary is also available on macOS.
Wisdom 3 ($29.99) – This is the same dictionary that is included in macOS, but in an accessible iOS App and is more up to date. While iOS has this dictionary built-in, it’s a lot easier to look up words from the dedicated app. Plus, Wisdom 3 is the latest version. If you own 2, it’s probably not worth it since it only added 2000 more headwords for Japanese to English.
Yomiwa ($6.99) – Camera app that uses OCR to recognize Kanji. It’s good for printed materials, digital manga (ebook), and Gacha games.
EBPocket Professional ($4.99) – Only if you have EPWing dictionaries.
Kenkyuusha New Japanese-English Dictionary 5th Edition – ($120) Only if you want better definitions than what Wisdom provides.
Where to get Manga?
Note: Do not pirate or read scanlations. This hurts the mangaka who create the series. There are some services that allow you to read manga for free or at a monthly cost (unlimited reading) legally. Some eBook services allow you to sample a few pages before buying.
Physical vs Digital/Ebook
You can obtain Manga and Light Novels in physical or ebook formats. If you prefer reading a physical book or have something on your shelf you show off your collection, physical is a way to go. However, buying Manga and Light Novels physically can become very expensive due to shipping and in some countries, they may charge duties on them. You should buy them in bulk (buying more than one book or item) so that the shipping cost won’t go to waste.
If you don’t have room to collect physical books, don’t want to carry them, or want to read them now, the digital or ebook route is more convenient. Ebook services usually have apps for iOS and Android, which allows you to read ebooks on your smartphone or tablet. If you don’t own a mobile device, you should still be able to read them in a web browser or using desktop software.
All services that sell Japanese eBooks legally will be registered on the Authorized Books of Japan list. Some sites will show this at the footer of the website.
Note: With the exception of CDJapan ebooks, which you can use Paypal, you need to have a credit/debit card that accepts foreign transactions. Some credit/debit cards may charge a foreign transaction fee, usually 3%. Travel credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred/Reserve or the American Express Green/Gold/Platinum cards do not charge a foreign transaction fee and is ideal. If you import a lot of stuff from Japan, I highly recommend one of these cards as you will save a lot of money from these fees to make back the annual fee.
If you don’t have a credit card that charges no foreign transaction fee, you can avoid this fee by using Privacy.com, which allows you to generate virtual debit cards that are funded through your bank account. It’s free and you only have to pay for the transactions based on the USD to Yen conversion rate. You can sign up here and receive $5 when you sign up (US only).
- CDJapan – CDJapan has an ebook service which allows you to buy and download Japanese manga and light novels and they also have some Japanese learning materials such as Nihongo Sou Matome series, which is a course used to prepare for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test. However, they don’t have everything. From my experience, they have all the Houbunsha/Manga Time Kirara series in the Japanese eBook shop. You can see what manga series have an ebook format when you search on the main site. They also have Windows/Android/iOS apps to read these ebooks as well.
- ebookJapan – ebookJapan is An ebook services owned by Yahoo Japan that some recommend on Japanese Language learning forums. EbookJapan will work with foreign credit cards and should have most of the manga and light novel series and some you can download for free. Note that the site is in Japanese and you need to sign up for a Yahoo Japan ID to use the service. Also, you need to download the app from the Japanese iTunes/Google Play store to read them. Otherwise, you can read them from your web browser. Tutorial on how to register and use ebookJapan can be seen here. (Adobe Reader required)
- Apple Books – Some manga and light novels are available on Apple Books. However, you need to use a Japanese iTunes account and purchase Japanese iTunes cards from sellers like JapanCodeSupply or Japan Codes.
Legal Manga Reading Services (Japanese language only)
Adapted from here
|ComicWalker||Japanese||Providing content from Kadokawa Publishing|
|Comic Days||Japanese||980JPY per month for every manga magazine from Kodansha, including Shonen Magazine, Dessert, Nakayoshi, Morning, and Afternoon|
|Comico||Japan||Web comic. Also providing comics from Korea, Indonesia, and Thailand.|
|Cycomics||Japanese||Providing content from Cygames Publication|
|Dengeki Twitter Magazine||Japanese|
|eBook Japan Initiative||Japanese||Provides free-to-read manga, consists of manga from various Japanese publisher|
|Ichijinsha||Japanese||Providing content from Ichijinsha’s publication such as Yuri-hime Comics, Comic Pool, and Zero Sum Comics|
|Comic Newtype||Japanese||Providing contents from Kadokawa’s Newtype|
|Mangabox||Japanese, Chinese, English|
|Manga Reborn||Japanese, English||Legal Third-party Translation|
|Pixiv Comic||Japanese||Providing content from various magazine (Shonen Sunday, Kitora!, Dengeki Maou, etc.)|
|Young Ace UP||Japanese||Free manga from Kadokawa’s Young Ace|
Misc Japanese Characters
- 〆（しめ）- Primarily used as an abbreviation for 締め and sometimes 閉め.
Master Manga List
Manga Time Kirara
Manga Time Kirara is a family of magazines published by Houbunsha. They focuses primarily on moe style 4 panel comics with Manga Time Kirara Forward being the exception. While most of the series punished in the Manga Time Kirara is primarily school-girl series, they can be ideal for Japanese practice material.
Since Manga Time Kirara focuses on the Seinen (young male) demographic, none of these series have Furigana. However, the subject matter will be easy to understand since it features mostly every-day conversations.
Some series that I read and can vouch for includes the following:
- Comic Girls – This story focuses on a girl named Moeta Kaoruko. She decides to stay at an all-girls mangaka dorm to improve her craft. The topic matter focuses mostly on high school girls creating manga. (Volume 1 Review)
- Slow Start – This is a school girl comedy series where a girl named Ichinose Hana. She starts high school after having a gap year from being unable to take her entrance exams due to an illness. The story should be fairly easy to understand since it focuses on four high school girls. (Volume 4 Review)
- Sakura Quest – This is a manga adaptation of PA Work’s Sakura Quest anime. It focuses on a woman named Koharu Yoshino who is struggling to find a job. She finally receives a call for a gig in Manoyama. She soon realizes that it’s not what she expected when she arrives there. If you watched the Sakura Quest anime, the subject matter should be easy to understand. (Volume 1 Review)
- Magia Record: Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica Gaiden
- Ochikobore Fruit Tart
The following can be a little tricky and recommend after completing Intermediate Level Japanese.
- New Game – May have some technical terms in regards to video game development, but still manageable at an Intermediate level. Also, most of the characters are young adults. (Volume 7 Review)
The following is unrated, since I haven’t finished one volume of these series:
- Mahou no Stella
- Machikado Mazoku
- Urara Meirochou
- Koisuru Shouwakusei (Astroid)
- Senpai ga Oyobi Desu
- Swap Swap
Manga Time Kirara Series that I watched in anime format, but do not own a single manga volume of:
- A Channel
- Anne Happy
- Anima Yell!
- Gochuumon wa Usagi desu ka?
- Harukana Receive
- Kiniro Mosaic
- Any Madoka Magica spinoff manga (e.g. Oriko, Tart, Kazumi, Suzune, Magia Record)
- GA Geijutsuka Art Design Class
Comic Yuri Hime
This magazine published by Ichijinsha focuses primarily series that contain romance between two girls. Some of these series target the Shoujo demographic and may have Furigana.
- Watashi ni Tenshi ga Maiorita! – A yuri comedy series that focuses primarily on a young woman named Hoshino Miyako whom just started college. Hinata, her younger sister brings home a friend named Shirosaki Hana, which Miyako becomes smitten towards after seeing her the first time. While the subject matter isn’t for everyone, since the dialog focuses primarily with fifth grade girls, there shouldn’t be much difficulty. Also, only few of the words have Furigana. (Volume 1 Review)
Comic Yuri Hime Series that I watched in anime format, but do not own a single manga volume of:
Mention me on Twitter if you have any suggestions. This list is updated periodically.