I recently had the opportunity to visit the Kinokuniya store in central Sydney while I was visiting my sister. For my fellow Aussie bloggers in the area, it’s absolutely worth a visit for their huge collection of manga (and their books in general). I was specifically looking for something which I could read in Japanese as I’ve been working hard enough on my studies that I wanted something to try out in the Japanese language, as drills will only go so far. Kinokuniya has heaps of untranslated manga (and also plenty of Japanese books in general, ranging from children’s books to novels), their 日本語 collection is actually bigger than their English manga collection. You can of course order online, but I think that browsing a bookshop can be quite enjoyable and help you spot things you may not have otherwise looked at.
I got a few things, but the first which I’ve had a chance to try out is けものフレンズこっみこあんそろじーじゃぱりまん編 (Kemono Friends Comic Anthology: Japari Bun Collection). This is new enough that I don’t believe there is an English translation at present. It’s a series of short stories by different mangaka featuring Kaban and the other Friends seen in the Kemono Friends anime. I’ve always had a bit of trouble becoming invested in English manga, but this has been very engrossing and pleasurable to read!
As a beginning reader of Japanese texts, it was useful to have furigana included (small hiragana showing the reading of characters beside the kanji; they’re common in books marketed to children and young teens). I do have the tools and capacity to look up unknown characters, but it’s time-consuming and difficult. The stories were also on the whole pretty simple with reasonably familiar vocabulary, although the level of difficulty varied from chapter to chapter. I definitely think this is a learner-friendly book.
I felt that each story had a similar simple and light-hearted feeling to the anime. I especially liked the “Friends Tea Party” story (where the owls get everyone together for afternoon tea), and “Slump” (where Ibis isn’t sure what to sing about). None of the stories were above 10 pages, and some were very short indeed (like where Serval finds a tissue box as seen above). Kemono Friends appealed to me owing to its simplicity, and I think that each of the stories captures this simple fun to some extent. The manga does lack the overall sense of mystery and wonder that was present in the anime, as it has no overarching plot, but it was cute, relaxing to read, and kept me interested. I definitely think that this is something that other Kemono Friends fans would enjoy, and it would be worth looking at if it receives an English translation or if you can also read some Japanese.
I hadn’t really considered reviewing manga in general, and especially not Japanese texts when I’d started this blog, but if people are interested, I may do some more reviews in the future!