two piece teaser

If you’ve ever wanted to learn Japanese through horribly-drawn manga, then today’s your lucky day!

If you’re interested in Japan, then chances are at some point you’ve thought about learning Japanese. And that’s awesome… until it comes time to actually learn it.

Studying a new language can be a daunting task. But not anymore! Now, you have RocketNews24’s help.

▼ You didn’t choose this destiny, but it chose you.


Every Friday, I’ll be posting a new article where you can get a quick, fun look at a new part of the Japanese language. Each lesson builds upon the last, so if you keep reading then you’ll get better and better, eventually to the point where you’ll surprise yourself with your own Japanese skills.

And if you miss a few articles, it’s no big deal. They’re not going anywhere; just check them out whenever you want.

The first article begins today, but before we start, I’ll ask myself a few questions that you may have:

Q: What if I already know some Japanese?

Then great! You’ll be ahead of the game language-wise, but there will still be plenty for you enjoy.

Q: Why should I study Japanese?

If you’re on our humble website, then chances are you’re passionate about Japan. And there’s no better way to feed that passion and get a better appreciation for what you’re interested in than by learning Japanese.

Plus there’s basically no better feeling in the world than reading a manga of your choice, in Japanese, from cover to cover, understanding almost all of it.

Finished a manga
Sun rises on Mt. Fuji
Dawn of a new life

mt fuji haiku

Q. Why should I learn Japanese from you?

Excellent question! I’ve had a lot of experience in Japan and with the Japanese language. I majored in Japanese in college, studied abroad in Japan, had an internship in Tokyo, worked as an official translator/interpreter at a city hall in Japan, and have taught students of all ages Japanese for over six years as a private tutor.

There are certainly better Japanese teachers out there than me, but I don’t know how many of them having my amazing MS Paint drawing skills.

Q. Yeah, what’s up with these terrible pictures?

To make the series as fun as possible, I wanted to use scans from real manga. But since we can’t do that without publishers suing us into oblivion, I will be reproducing panels from manga as best I can with my amazing horrifying MS-Paint skills and altering them slightly to remain copyright-free.

Q: Wait. You mean you’re going to draw the manga examples in the lessons?

Yes. And it’s going to be awesome.

Q: I’m scared.

That’s not a question.

Q: What will you go over in these articles?

I’ll be focusing on teaching how to read Japanese, specifically how to read manga. Writing and speaking are also important, but it’s much harder to teach that via articles. So instead of just doing an okay job at trying to teach everything, we’ll focus on doing an awesome job on one thing: reading.

And today we learn the first five characters from one of the Japanese “alphabets,” hiragana. Again, we’re only focusing on reading them, not writing them.

So if you’re ready, then let’s get started!

1) The first hiragana: あ (a)
(Pronounced like the “a” in “father”)

little hiragana a

▼ This guy is easy to remember because there’s an actual “A” inside of it. It’s like those ancient Japanese scribes wanted to give us English speakers a break.

hiragana a

2) The second hiragana: い (i)
(Pronounced like the “i” in “Nintendo Wii“)

little hiragana i

▼ Just pretend there’s two little circles on top and you have what looks like the letter “i” twice.  That makes it twice as easy to remember, right?

hiragana i

3) The third hiragana: う (u)
(Pronounced like the “u” in “uber”)

little hiragana u

▼ There’s a “u” in this one, just chillin’ on its side.

hiragana u

4) The fourth hiragana: え (e)
(Pronounced like the “e” in “exit”)

little hiragana e

▼ Now we have to start getting a little creative. Imagine an arrow
pointing to an Exit. Just like the ancient scribes drew it up.

hiragana e

5) The last hiragana for today: お (o)
(Pronounced like the first “o” in Pokémon)

little hiragana o

▼ This one’s so easy! Just imagine a guy dropping his microphone
and being all like: “OH, I dropped it!”

hiragana o

Okay, quiz time! Can you read the five hiragana below? (Hint: they’re not in the same order we just did them.)

aiueo quiz

(Scroll down for answer.)











(Answer: i, a, u, o, e)

Did you get them right? If you don’t feel confident yet, then just scroll back up and let the beautiful mnemonics flow through your brain.

And if you’d like to go above and beyond, then I recommend downloading the flash card program Anki, so that every week you can put in what we’ve learned. Just make cards for the first five hiragana, do whatever Anki tells you to do each day, and you’re guaranteed to remember.

But now, it’s time for the main event. If you feel like you can read the first five hiragana no problem, then get ready to read your first entirely Japanese manga: an excerpt from the manga Two Piece written only using the first five hiragana:

Gorilla D. Ruffy has a dream… to become the Pilot King! After a tough fight where he and three-swordfish-wielding Zoru managed to get a ship, the Going Cherry, Ruffy explains that his dream isn’t to go to sea, but somewhere else….

(Read like a real Japanese manga: panels go from top right to left,
hiragana is read from left to right – like in English)

two piece manga

Zoru: Oi.

Zoru: Ii?

Ruffy: Iie.
Zoru: A?

Ruffy: Ue!

Zoru: Hey.

Zoru: (Is that) good?

Ruffy: No.
Zoru: Oh?

Ruffy: (We’re going) up!

All right! Did you read it yourself? If not, then feel free to go back and master those first five hiragana, then give it another crack.

Next week we’ll be taking a look at the next five hiragana, and we’ll also have another parody manga, so look forward be terrified of that.

In the meantime if you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or send me a message on Twitter. I can’t promise that I know everything, but I can promise at least an attempt at a witty response.

See you next week everyone, and remember to stay ridiculous!

(Click here for Episode 2)

“Extra Credit” Anki Input: (Front / Back)
おい / oi, hey
いい / ii, good
いいえ / iie, no
あ / a, oh
うえ / ue, up

Text/images: ©RocketNews24