Top positive review
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Teaches the grammatical function of formal and informal Japanese through manga
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.