I recently was able to come accross this book, Mangajin’s Basic Japanese through comics, from a friend in my Japanese class. At first I was skeptical at how much use this book would be on learning practical Japanese, but I can honestly say I am/was impressed.
The book is broken up into 24 lessons (or chapters) that are all standalone lessons. you don’t know to read the previous one to understand the one you are on. They use a lot of practical examples, like actual manga panes. They show several the kanji, romaji, rough translation, and readable translation for all the text in each pane. Here is an example:
It also explains different parts of what you read so you can better understand.
I think the best part about the whole book is it explains a lot of cultural things and how culturally things are said over standard Japanese. I think the greatest thing I you can pick up is when you start listening to conversations after reading this book you will understand a lot more of what is being said as it goes over subtle nuances that usually aren’t explained in a textbook, but through experience.
After reading this book I would like to say a chapter is the best, but I really can’t. However, the most interesting one, that confirmed a few suspicions, is the the kanji section. It goes in more detail, but basically sometimes the furigana isn’t necessarily the actual reading. The kanji is there for you to know what “type” of something is taking place. The book gives a lot of examples.
If you are interested in reading untranslated manga, Mangajin’s Basic Japanese through comics, is a good bet on getting started since it is geared towards the gaijin. So go ahead and get it read it and let me know what you think.
Also there is a Mangajin’s Basic Japanese Through Comics (Part 2). I hope to get it sometime and i’ll let you know how it is too.