These are some updates and changes to the Broaden your view: Reading VNs in Japanese post. This post will add more information about difficulty of Japanese in VNs, some more learning/reading tips and recommendations.
How to determine how hard it will be for you to read the VN that piqued your interest? Determining what VN fits your learning stage is easier than you’d expect! But make sure you pick your VNs wisely.
Step 1: Read the description and tags thoroughly (vndb): you might be able to strikethrough VNs which are known to have difficult story topics
Step 2: Google a bit: maybe somebody wrote a little article or review about how difficult the language in this VN is. Also some writers are (in)famous for their unique or difficult writing styles, but you can always give it a try!
Step 3: Just install the VN: Read the prologue and if you feel you’re still doing ok, read atleast an hour in.
Step 4: Be strict! If you are still ok, go for it! But if you feel like you don’t follow the story too well, feel like the sentences are too long (you’ve already forgotten the beginning of the sentence when you arrived at the end) or feel like you just can’t have a somewhat comfortable read-through for any reason: leave it for another time and repeat these steps to look for an easier VN.
When I was still in an earlier stage of learning (I just started to read through Saya no Uta in Japanese to test what I could understand of it) I really wanted to try Kimi to Kanojo to Kanojo no Koi.. This was how those 4 steps went for me at the time:
Step 1: : I don’t see any weird or difficult looking tags, next!
Step 2: Google a bit: Couldn’t find specific things in difficulty for totono or Shimokura’s writing style (except some people hating on it for personal reasons), so I figured it should be ok!
Step 3: Installed the VN! Couldn’t get through the prologue without missing out on half of the sentences. Stubbornly tried to continue because “I finished my essential grammar, so I should be good enough to read atleast something like this!”
Step 4: Before I read even 1 hour in I lost motivation in this VN.. and for reading Japanese VNs in general for a while, good job me!
It’s really important to be strict: you are learning! you are not trying to show off your great prototype Japanese reading skills.
New reading experience
So the past months I’ve been trying some VNs. Note that for most of them I haven’t read through them completely yet. I wanted to determine the reading difficulty to have a nice list to pick a VN from depending on learning stage. I will be referring to the difficulty rating system in the Broaden your view: Reading VNs in Japanese post.
Ryuusei☆Kiseki -Shooting Probe ~2.5 hours in ~ Easy
This VN would be falling into the category Easy. Sentences are mostly short and a lot of words normally written in kanji are written in kana. Subjects are mostly about school or about astronomy topics (with a lot of terms written in katakana). Astronomy is the main character’s big hobby and also the club he attends at school. You don’t need (a lot) of reading experience for this, so try this out with your raw grammar knowledge and see how it goes!
Tokeijikake no Ley Line -Tasogaredoki no Kyoukaisen- ~5 hours in~ Medium
Medium, this VN isn’t that long, it’s not that hard, but you really do need some reading experience. Besides that this VN has a wide variety of speech patterns (from casual patterns to honorific speech), if you can’t read somewhat comfortably through average sentences, you will have a hard time understanding more topic related sentences and explainations. In this case the topics are often magic related. When a few of these magical terms are used in a normal sentence, your jparser and mecab will often fail to give you a complete hit on all words. You should at least be able to read sentences in, for example, this way: “She was able to retrieve [some word] from [some place] to defeat [some things] while the others were looking for the keys.”. You will be able to easily fill in the [vocabulary] after you looked them up, or maybe even guess them from the context if you know what kind of things they were referring to.
Himawari (Blank Note) ~2 hours in~ Easy – Motivational Medium
Himawari would still classify as relatively easy, but it fits more in the Motivational Medium difficulty. It’s similar to Ryuusei☆Kiseki, except it has more reading hours, they use a wider range of vocabulary (with normal use of kanji) and longer sentences. This VN is also about a main character with astronomy as hobby and he also attends an astronomy club at school. Don’t expect a comfortable read-through with just your raw grammar knowledge. It takes however only a little bit of reading experience to be able to understand everything.
Kimi to Kanojo to Kanojo no Koi. ~2 hours in~ Medium – Motivational Hard
Reading difficulty is Medium with the somewhat longer sentences with sub-sentences. Opposed to Gekkou no Carnevale, you don’t necessarily need the common vocabulary because of the story subject. But if you would have to look up/hover over every word in a somewhat long sentence, especially with sub-sentences, it will take you unnecessarily long to read. You probably already forgot the first few words when you’ve finished looking up the last words in the sentence. Also because this has a somewhat long read-through, it would be nice to have some common kanji knowledge.
This will be it for now! I started more VNs, but for some of them I want to read some more before I make a final judgement.
The Broaden your view: Reading VNs in Japanese post expanded quite a bit since the first time I published it. The reading experience will be on another page from now on, which you can access from the old post and the Visual Novels drop-down menu.
New VNs to read/try:
– Hana no No ni Saku Utakata no – Expecting Easy – Motivational Medium
– Ore-tachi ni Tsubasa wa Nai ~Prelude~ – Expecting Easy – Motivational Medium
– Boku no Hitori Sensou – Expecting Motivational Hard
– Baldr Bullet – ???
– Tiny Dungeon ~Black and White~ – Expecting Medium
– Sukimazakura to Uso no Machi – ???