[Recommendation Friday] Lost At The Sea, Heisig and Welcome To The N.H.K.

Welcome,

a German friend of mine, Henrik, started a video series last week called Empfehlungsfreitag. It literally translates to “Recommendation Friday” where they just recommends random things to their viewers. I’d like to join in and tell you about some nice stuff you might or might not know about yet.

Lost At Sea

Lost At Sea is a comic by Bryan Lee O’Malley who is commonly known for his comic series Scott Pilgrim. It’s a very short comic with only about 150 pages about a girl who lost their soul. She’s on a road trip with some strange guys. The reader has basically no idea what’s going on until the the end so I can’t tell you more without spoiling this masterwork to you.

I recommend it to everyone who has something like feelings. So just pick it up and read it already!

James W. Heisig

For something completely different, I’ve been seriously learning Japanese for about half a year now. I’m still a beginner but I’ve already picked up some very great learning methods, one of which is the Heisig method for remembering Kanji and Kana.

If you’d like to learn Japanese, first thing you do is learning the basic writing system. Actually there are three writing systems in Japanese: Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji. Hiragana and Katakana (for short: Kana) are quite similar to lower case and upper case letters, only that each symbol represents a mora and that there are 46 of each. If you want to learn Japanese you need to know Kana.

Kanji on the other hand are more complicated. Each Kanji has its own meaning and several readings. There are about 2200 basic Kanji. When you start learning Japanese you can leave them aside but you should definitely learn them eventually.

James W. Heisig wrote several books to make learning Kana and Kanji as easy as it gets. The first one, Remembering The Kana, promises to teach reading and writing Hiragana and Katakana within three hours each. What sounds like magic is a quite simple technique used by memory experts. You have a sound, for example ke which sounds like “cape”, associate it with a word that sounds alike and associate that word with some image. In case of ke the keyword is “cape and dagger” and that’s exactly what the Hiragana looks like: け.

It took me about 4 hours to learn both, Hiragana and Katakana, with this book.

For Kanji there are two books, the first one teaches how to write the Kanji associated with certain English keywords, the second one teaches how to read them. I haven’t started with volume two yet, since I haven’t finished the first one. But the technique for remembering the writing is the same as with Kana. Keyword -> Image -> Kanji. I started seriously learning Kanji with flashcards about one and a half month ago and I already know 395 out of 2200 Kanji.

With Heisig’s method learning the Japanese writing systems is quite fun. So go, do it!

Welcome To The N.H.K.

If you combine both, comics and Japanese, you get manga and that’s what this third recommendation is about. One of my favourite manga series is Welcome To The N.H.K.. It’s a story about a hikikomori called Sato, someone who lives their life avoiding to leave their house. It’s a serious problem in Japan and I can see a certain development toward it here in Germany as well.

One day a girl called Misaki steps into Sato’s life and tells Sato that they could resocialize Sato. Eventually they make a contract and work on their problem.

The manga series, consisting of 8 volumes, covers multiple pretty sad or hardcore moments. Each character has their own cage they sit in and their own personal problems. You experience them hurt each other and themselves and it all feels very real. My favourite moment is in volume 5, chapter 25. Read it and you will know what I mean.

There is also an anime adaptation which is great as well. But keep in mind that anime and manga are two different stories with quite a different tone. While the manga is more extreme and more serious the anime manages to speak to a wider audience.

Welcome To The N.H.K. is a great story about social and psychological problems. I recommend it to anyone who likes stories that feel real.

That’s all for today, thanks for reading and I hope there was something for you in this post as well.

Ki


03.04.2015 12:46:52 UTC

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