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4.4 out of 5 stars
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4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 31 October 2005
This is a great book, and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone learning, or interested in learning japanese, whether or not you're a fan of manga.
The book is a complete course in basic Japanese taking examples and illustrations from a range of manga (japanese graphic novels). It starts tamely, introducing words like 'ooh' and 'I'll go', but moves through to the end of the book with complete and quite complex blocks of text.
Where this book shines above the hundreds of other Japanese courses available in book form is that everything is linked to pictures, so if you are in the slightest bit visual, you'll associate words with images.
I would say that this book doesn't help you speak japanese without some other input. I've been learning with a conventional tutor to help conversation practice. But time and again the book has taught me stuff that has been very useful. Because manga reflects real japanese as it is spoken, its full of useful idioms and phrases that aren't in dictionaries or some other text-books (which tend to teach a starchy formal version of the language).
The best bit about the book is its frequent reference pages. There are reference blocks on dates, times, numbers and counters, kinship words, and many many more. These have proved more than the value of the book alone: I have quite a few Japanese references, but photocopies of these pages are permanently in the front of my notebook.
I simply can't recommend this book enough. If you look at my other reviews you'll see I rarely give 5 stars: this is very deserving of all 5 of them.
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on 28 February 2008
At first glance you may think that this book teaches only informal Japanese and would be short on grammar. However, this is not the case. There are copious grammar explanantions (but written in a lucid, accesssable style).

The great thing is that everything is linked to the manga. This convinces the learner that this is 'real' and useful Japanese, not just some make-believe version that is only found in textbooks.

What the book does lack is exercises to practice the language presented. It's full of such revelatory stuff, but it's easy to forget without having formalised practice of it. I don't yet know of any classes that use the book, but it would lend itself well to classroom use, with the teacher creating exercises around it that practice the target language.

Used in conjuction with a more regular Japanese textbook, such as the new editions of Japanese For Busy People, this book makes excellent on-the-side reading. What is so great about it is that, if you know a bit of Japanese, the kind of casual speech that you always hear but have never been taught how to use, falls into place - and this book teaches you how to use it properly, with, as I said, lucid explanaions of its grammatical function.

Wayne Lammers grew up in Japan, and I have also experienced his work when I came across his excellent 2003 translation of Taichi Yamada's novel, Strangers.
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on 18 March 2007
I love this book!

Firstly, a little about my background: I've been wanting to learn japanese for a good few years now, teaching myself and only getting so far.

I've been going to a night class now for about a year, however I always find it difficult to reconcile what I learn in class with what I hear spoken in movies and Anime. Standard speech is used so infrequently by natives in real life that i think if i wasn't so determined to learn I would have given up long ago.

THIS BOOK promises to introduce you to all basic structures as they appear in published manga. What's more it does it in a structured and easy to comprehend way.

In my first sitting I made it to chapter 6 and was amazed at just how much I had picked up that I could recall hearing about a hundred times in any given anime. What's more, I understood the vast majority of what I'd read, and the daunting task of moving from standard polite speech to REAL japanese as it's spoken was such a small, simple step, I'm annoyed with myself for not doing it sooner.

This book is as amazing as I'd hoped it would be. I can't wait to devour the whole thing. Even if I don't pick something up 100% the first time, there are full, structured translations the whole way through the book to help you get it right. It's also the most enjoyable japanese textbook i've ever read, and i've tried a few.

Since I'm not an absolute beginner, I can not give an accurate opinion on it's suitability for a beginner. However I will say that if you are considering learning japanese as it's spoken in the REAL world, this book is the one for you. HOWEVER, I would strongly reccommend you invest in a dedicated language textbook (japanese for busy people is an excellent choice here), or a part-time class at an adult learning centre.

Buy it! You won't regret it!
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on 28 April 2009
I wrote a review about the book on my blog and I got a couple of people , who obviously never even read this book,coming and telling me that learning Japanese through manga is totally rubbish. Well not through this book though. This book is great.

In this book you will learn and understand how the Japanese native speakers would speak the language. Which does not mean that you won't find examples of how to speak in a formal way. In fact you will find examples of ways one should speak to their superiors, family members, friends and young children. You will also find that there are differences in the language usage between male and female speakers and also a little bit about the normal daily Japanese culture.

The manga examples in the book, are simply used to illustrate how the language is used in everyday Japanese, which makes the book rather entertaining and a good learning source for Japanese language.

Another thing is the book is not for the total beginner. It has no exercise at the end of each chapter, no vocabulary list,etc. This book is great as a supplementary learning material.
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on 17 March 2015
I'm currently learning Japanese through Rosetta Stone, a great program but I find it lacks any explanation as to the finer points of grammar. Pondering as to why a particle was in a certain place, what it meant, how it changed the meaning ... all unanswered questions. So I went looking for something to help me understand grammar without - ideally something simple but informative. Having looked at the reviews of this book I felt it was worth a try. Well, it's been lightbulb moment after lightbulb moment! Suddenly, the reasons for why a sentence is structured in a certain way or how a particle changes the meaning ... just suddenly made perfect sense. The use of manga really helps to explain the grammar and is often quite amusing! More importantly the book addresses informal speech - RS covers very formal and polite phrases, but I have a number of manga in the original Japanese and the way the text is written is not stiff and formal but natural conversation, which can be very different. This book probably isn't suitable for a complete newcomer to the language, but perhaps once you're comfortable with reading and pronouncing kana and have some vocabulary behind you, this book will go a long way to helping you get your head around Japanese grammar. Highly recommended.
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on 18 September 2015
This is a good book. I love the detail in the explanations of the grammar; it's the kind of depth that most standard textbooks fear to include because it can seem like too much information, but for me it was very refreshing, and all in plain english too. The choice of manga panels is good and keeps things interesting- some of these manga I wouldn't mind reading actually, but most of them seem to be difficult to get hold of outside of Japan. It's a very accessible book, I think that both a beginner and someone who had been learning for a while would get some use out of it. My main criticism is that the book seems difficult to use for the purpose of reference. I've had trouble looking things up sometimes. However if you love Japanese it'll be a great read and has plenty of interesting examples and clarifications.
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on 25 July 2013
This book is a grammar primer for Japanese language learners. Panels taken from actual published manga are used to illustrate grammar and structure as a spoken language. It's not an introduction to Japanese and some one with no other experience of Japanese will struggle to get much out of this book on its own. It's also not a complete course, there is no focus on teaching vocabulary, useful phrases and no exercises. What you will get out of this book is clear explanation of grammar and structure which are made more memorable and even accessible by the manga panels.

No one book or even course of books alone can teach you a language. Learning a language requires consistant effort, dedication and enthusiasm. "Japanese The Manga Way" isn't a comprehensive resource for learning Japanese. Despite this it is an extremely effective supplement to another course of learning, such as independent learning with Genki 1 Second Edition: An Integrated Course in Elementary Japanese 1 with MP3 CD-ROM,Japanese for Busy People: Kana [With CD (Audio)]: 1,Japanese for Everyone: A Functional Approach to Daily Communication or taking classes. Despite essentially being a grammar book it covers spoken forms, including topics such as interjections and colloquial contractions better than I have seen else where.

So while it doesn't stand alone I have found this book extremely helpful in learning Japanese. As a supplement learners at all levels even those just starting will get a lot out as either a review or preliminary introduction to grammar.
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on 9 June 2016
This book currently lives on my self. Its not because the product is not good, but simply because I personally found it to be too easy. It's probably not a suitable choice for most serious intermediate learners. However, it seems like a great choice for beginners.
The images are engaging and the explanations seem clear. I just personally find it completely useless, as it doesn't offer anything challenging. But the book arrived in good condition, on time, and perhaps I would've benefitted from this book earlier on.

I just wish I didn't waste my money.
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on 27 August 2009
This book takes a very original approach to learning.

It's presentation is excellent but aims to cover a lot and hence covers each area very briefly. To this end, there are no excercises, word lists or anything here to reinforce learning. That onus falls on the reader. This is not a text book in the classic sense. It's a book that takes on the language and tries to explain it with real examples.

Each mini-lesson (of which there are hundreds) is presented with a frame from an actual published cartoon. The text from the frame is translated into Romaji and also a directly translated English from and a final translated English form (truer to what was implied by the original Japanese text). This has been done excellently.

However, it is not particularly suitable for beginners. I think it's best used as a primer for intermmediate level or as a reinforcer to be used alongside other texts. Vocabulary is presented haphazardly, as its dicated by the cartoon in question, not by the normal order a learner would expect. But this is no ordinary book.

The author explains things well in general (in a few places he gets tongue-twisted) but beware that he isn't afraid of grammar. So if you are unsure about indirect objects, active verbs and all the rest of it, this might scare you a bit and you might need a very quick swot up on such concepts in English first.

Another unsual approach was that he introduces "normal speaking form" alongside "polite speaking form" from the off. This is something that I haven't seen before and works really well. Most text books focus on the rather starchy sounding polite form, which is great to avoid bloopers but not so good when you suddenly realise "normal speaking form" is significantly different. This book would soften that blow.

Another plus point is that , since the author grew up in Japan, he gives useful insights in how things sound or why such-and-such is often used. You won't find that elswhere.

Overall excellent, but a little random in it's approach and you would need other books to learn the language. But this would be a great help to any learner. Especially good for visual learners.
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on 15 September 2008
I bought this on the strength of other amazon reviews, and I have to say that I was not in the least disappointed.

Although there aren't any exercises to consolidate what you've just learnt, I've found that watching Japanese TV is more than enough practice. Even after a few chapters, you could at least understand the structure of what's being said in a conversation, even if you didn't know all of the words themselves! The book also goes into great detail on particles and their usage in everyday conversation, and it really pays off. It's a great confidence booster - before I'd just been using Japanese for Busy People, and colloquial Japanese sounded like a completely different language - not so any more!

Each section of text is given first in kanji and kana (but no furigana), then in romaji, then in a word-for-word translation and finally in proper English. Personally, I don't like the omission of furigana, as although I can read the two kana alphabets I don't know many kanji. This means that you have to rely on the romaji translation, which is not as good for your learning as using kana.

The grammatical explanations (which are, for me, the main selling point) are second to none. After each piece of dialogue is a detailed analysis of each part of the sentence. This is especially useful further on in the book, when longer sentences with clauses and subclauses become confusing when you first come across them. Lammers clearly disects them, showing what parts could act as individual sentences, and then how they all fit back together.

I wouldn't recommend the book to anyone if they were just starting out in Japanese - the manga strips serve to illustrate grammatical points more than useful vocabulary, and, as said before, there are no exercises to practice. Japanese for Busy People is a great partner to this book however - although it teaches very formal Japanese, the sentence structure is the same whatever the register, and it provides plenty of useful vocabulary and exercises.

Lammers' book is perfect though for anyone who's got a good grounding in the language and who wants to learn *real* conversational Japanese, and there is nothing else to match it on the market. It should be a crime to study japanese and not have this book, so buy it now!
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