My kids and I love playing the game Splatoon 2, a quirky game with a lot of satire on Japanese society, but also some very creative backstory too. We love playing Ranked Battles, but I am consistently trying to keep up with my kids who are both B ranked, while I am still mostly C or C- rank.1 😅
Our love of Splatoon has extended into reading the manga too. My son is learning to read, and with remote learning and lockdown, it was hard to get the reading education he needed (we have great teachers, the issue was remote learning). Finding something that he wanted to read was the biggest challenge. We found the Splatoon manga, English translation, at a local bookstore, and my son instantly loved it. He kept asking me how to read this or that, and before long he was reading the issues by himself. The change in attitude and reading skill was frankly startling.
However, my kids also learn Japanese too since they are biracial. We’ve tried really hard to keep parity between both languages, and thanks to distance-learning services in Japan, we’ve been able to get the older sister to be pretty proficient in Japanese. Our son has struggled a bit more, so we decided to get the Japanese version of the Splatoon manga for him too by ordering online.
He enjoys reading them in both Japanese and English, while I have also grown to like reading them in Japanese too.
In the past, I have read other Japanese manga, my other favorite is Saint Young Men, but many of the manga that I have read are for adult audiences, and feature adult jokes and vocabulary. It’s easy to get lost, and give up. Reading kids manga is certainly easier, but the stories aren’t interesting, or it’s just a bit embarrassing to read something so elementary.
However, with the Splatoon manga, I found something that is relatively easy for me to read, while keeping my interest. I have tried not to invest too much time looking up every single word (most are kind of obvious in context anyway), so I can finish a Japanese-language version of the manga in reasonable time. It’s a nice thing to read, plus some of the gags just sound better in the original language.
Anyhow, admittedly, I’ve usually frowned upon anime and manga because they are so closely associated with diehard Japan nerds, while I am arguably a Japan nerd, it’s not something I like to advertise outside of the blogosphere. I had too many bad experiences with Japan nerds in college and beyond.
But seeing at how much my son enjoys manga in both English and Japanese, I can see that if you find a good series, it is a great medium to introduce kids (and language-learning adults) to a world of fun reading.
1 I feel a sense of irony in this. When I was a kid, and owned an NES system, I used to play Ice Hockey with my dad, who got floored every time we played. I didn’t really think about this until as a parent myself. I personally don’t mind if my kids exceed me, in fact I am kind of glad, but as a long-time gamer I also don’t plan on giving up so easily either. 😏