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Guide on the difficulty of reading manga and books in Japanese (Anglais)

Guía sobre la dificultad de leer manga y libros en japonés (inglés)

Guía sobre la dificultad de leer manga y libros en japonés (inglés)

Here is a guide that will allow you to understand the various aids put in place by GiantBooks to guide you in the best way possible on the choice of manga in Japanese.

As of August 1, you will find the concepts explained in this guide below the description of each manga. For each level (beginner, intermediate, confirmed) we will highlight the points that we consider the most important for a particular manga. For example, we can highlight the fact that this manga is particularly distinguished by these large boxes, or even by a very present use of furigana. Finally, you will find an equivalence with the different levels of the JLPT test.
This guide will be constantly updated and refined to always improve your reading experience.


  • Readability of the action: The panels are arranged in such a way as to facilitate reading. The transition from one panel to another is not disturbed by staging elements that can lead to confusion.
  • Furigana: Presence of hiraganas and katakanas which allow a better reading and understanding of the kanji encountered.
  • Visual storytelling: The scenes and the emotions of the characters can be understood easily through the images. Can also be accompanied by a reduced presence of a long dialogue phase.
  • Theme: A theme often related to everyday life or, at the very least, not requiring too much jargon or vocabulary.
  • Current world: The story takes place in contemporary times. It sometimes takes place in a single city located in Japan.
  • Few characters: A reduced number of main characters. The new characters to appear in the story are very lowered or have already been seen during the manga.
  • Large Panel: Large panels that allow a very comfortable reading of kanjis and furiganas. In addition, the size of the frame results in a very low number of frame per page, which makes it all the easier to read and reduces the risk of frustration during translation.
  • Kanji size: Bold kanji or kanji of a certain size will make it easier to read.
  • Short series: A short series allows the reader to know that he can finish it easily and that, by extension, the plot and the characters presented will often be present in the following volumes.
  • Short story set: The manga is made up of short stories, all linked by a script red thread.
  • Hiragana and Katakana only: In picture books especially, you will notice an absence of kanji.

Reading levels for the beginner grade:

Level 1 :
Level 2 :
Level 3:

JLPT equivalence: N5 and N4


  • Sub-theme: The manga has a sub-theme that provides a technical vocabulary and requires a better knowledge of kanji.
  • Readability problem: The action and the dynamism of the staging can confuse the reader in the procedure to follow to follow the dialogues.
  • Lack of furigana: Complete absence or very weak presence of Furigana.
  • Long séries: A long séries can be a difficult start for a beginning reader.
  • Power and Special Abilities: Characters have special abilities and skills that can lead to technical terms.
  • Fantasy world: A world with rules unknown to our world, different races and non-existent objects in our world.
  • Fantasy and/or science fiction: The characters will encounter fantastic elements and/or elements belonging to science fiction, which may cause the appearance of terms that are more difficult to grasp.
  • Many characters: New characters appear very often.
  • Numerous texts: Presence of explanatory text.
  • Calligraphy: Kanji, Hiragana and Katakana can be drawn differently from one panel to another.
  • Small Furigana: The size of the squares results in a reduced size of the Furigana.
  • Horizontal writing: The lines containing hiragana, katakana and Kanji are horizontal.

Reading levels for the intermediate grade:

Level 4:
Level 5:
Level 6:
Level 7:

JLPT equivalence: N3 and N2


  • Complex theme: The theme addressed by the manga requires an exemplary knowledge of a very large number of kanji and an ability to recognize technical terms.
  • Many dialogues: Very large presence of dialogue, which induces a relatively long time spent translating.
  • Many sub-themes: The manga can have different themes, each of which brings a specific jargon.
  • Necessary understanding of the consequences of each action: To understand the outcome of each situation, especially in the context of investigative manga, it is necessary to understand absolutely everything that is presented by the characters.
  • Presence of puns or riddles based on technical reference: A very wide variety of subjects can be addressed by the author, such as in the context of riddles for example.
  • Era: The era in which the action takes place can lead to expressions and terms that are not contemporary.
  • Small Kanji: The size of the boxes results in a reduced size of the furigana.

Reading levels for the confirmed grade:

Level 8:
Level 9:
Level 10:

JLPT equivalent: N1.

This indication indicates that the manga is perfect for starting to learn Japanese.

This indication show the presence of erotic content (character stripped but with concealed private parts).

 This indication will point the presence of visually violent content.


JLPT level


Level N5: This level is intended for beginners. This corresponds to a knowledge of the basic rules of grammar, the ability to understand common expressions and sentences written in phonetic alphabets (hiraganas and katakanas) as well as basic kanji. You manage to understand conversations on topics of everyday life. This level requires the knowledge of approximately 80 kanji, 600 vocabulary words and 150 hours of learning.

Level N4: This level corresponds to the ability to have a fluent conversation on everyday topics, to read and understand writing on everyday topics, written using basic vocabulary and kanji. This level requires the knowledge of approximately 230 kanji, 1250 vocabulary words and 300 hours of learning.

Level N3: This level is designed for intermediates. Its corresponds to the ability to understand written materials with specific content related to everyday life and the ability to understand conversations in everyday situations, at a rate close to Japanese people and to grasp the dynamics between people. involved in the discussion. This level requires the knowledge of approximately 600 kanji, 3,000 vocabulary words and 450 hours of learning.

Level N2: This level is designed for intermediates. It corresponds to a fairly advanced level of grammar, to a comprehension of conversation, reading and writing dealing with a large number of subjects, and therefore no longer only linked to daily life. You must also be able to follow the thread of a conversation enunciated with natural fluidity by Japanese people. Finally, you are able to follow the plot of a writing, to grasp the intentions of the author, and this among a wide range of subjects. This level requires the knowledge of approximately 1,000 kanji, 6,000 vocabulary words and 600 hours of learning.

Level N1: This level is intended for confirmed people. You have a perfect mastery of grammar which allows you to follow courses given in Japanese, or to read writings with complex logic or showing abstraction, grasping their structure and their content on a very large number of subjects. Ability to read complex logical and abstract writing on a broad level of topics, and grasp both their structure and content. Finally, ability to understand coherent conversations, news, seminars and lectures. This level requires the knowledge of approximately 2,000 kanji (almost all Joyo Kanji), 10,000 vocabulary words and 900 hours of learning.