a tick on titan top

“On that day, we ticks received a grim reminder. We lived in fear of the five-foot-tall humans.”

Hey there and welcome to to the third installment of Learn Japanese through Ridiculous Manga, where every Friday we study Japanese together in a quick, fun way!

New to the series? Check out the intro article which will help explain all this craziness. And if you missed last week’s article, be sure to take a gander at it here.

▼ There may or may not be a manga about
a disembodied toe called Naru-toe.

narutoe top

Today we’re going to look at the next five hiragana. As always, I highly recommend putting these five into Anki, a flashcard program, so that you can practice them between articles. As long as you just do whatever Anki tells you to do every day (which usually isn’t much), you’ll be a master in no time.

And good news! Today’s hiragana are the easiest yet; they look exactly like the hiragana from last week, except for one small difference: the voiced marking.

▼ The voiced marking is just two little lines in the upper right
that turn a hiragana from “unvoiced” to “voiced.”

voicing math

Basically all that means is the hiragana’s sound goes from “not vibrating your vocal cords when you say them” to “vibrating your vocal cords when you say them.”

Go ahead and try it out. Put your fingers on your throat and try to hold the “k” sound as long as you can (so you sound like static on a TV). You shouldn’t feel much of a vibration. Then try holding the “g” sound as long as you can (so you sound like a dying troll). Now you should feel a throat-earthquake. That’s the voicing.

So with all that out of the way, let’s take a look at ga, gi, gu, ge, go!

1) Today’s first hiragana: が (ga)
(Pronounced like “Lady Gaga”)

(Click the play button below to listen to our wonderful
native Japanese writer Meg pronounce this hiragana for you!)

little hiragana ga

▼ Remember the guy singing karaoke for “ka?”
What’s he singing? Lady Gaga, of course.

hiragana ga

2) Today’s next hiragana: ぎ (gi)
(Pronounced like “geek”)

little hiragana gi

▼ Remember key for “ki?” The key to being a great geek
is coming up with terrible hiragana mnemonics.

hiragana gi

3) Today’s next-next hiragana: ぐ (gu)
(Pronounced like “goopy”)

little hiragana gu

▼ Remember Paku-man for “ku?”
Now Pac-man is eating some goopy ghosts.

hiragana gu

4) Today’s penultimate hiragana: げ (ge)
(Pronounced like “game”)

little hiragana ge

▼ Remember two kebob sticks, for “ke?”
Well, if you want the one with meat, you have to win the game.

hiragana ge

5) Today’s final hiragana: ご (go)
(Pronounced like “The light’s green! Go already!”)

little hiragana go

▼ Remember coin for “ko?”
Maybe if you bribe them with a coin, they’ll go.

hiragana go

(Click below to hear Meg pronounce all five hiragana!)

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

gagigugego quiz

And if you’re already a pro at that try reading all fifteen hiragana we’ve learned so far:

cumu hiragana quiz 02











(1st Quiz Answer: gi, ga, gu, go, ge)
(2nd Quiz Answer: u, gu, ko, gi, ke // go, ka, ge, o, a // i, ga, ku, e, ki)

Did you get them right? If you don’t feel confident yet, just review them in Anki and try again until you can voice like a master.

And now, for today’s post-hiragana bonus, I’d like to introduce you to a new short section: Pronunciation Station.

▼ This train only makes on stop: Fluency-ville.

pronunciation station

In Pronunciation Station, we’ll go over some Japanese pronunciation tips. As we talked about in the first article, the focus here is reading not speaking, but it helps to read things out loud sometimes, and you don’t want people to giggle at you when you do…not too much anyway.

Today’s Pronunciation Station is about elongated sounds. In Japanese, sometimes hiragana can be “elongated,” meaning you hold the sound for longer than usual. The difference may seem small, but it can make all the difference.

For example:
obasan = aunt // obaasan = grandma (long “a”)
biru = building // biiru = beer (long “i”)

So unless you want to order a “building” at a bar and insult your aunt, it’s good to get your elongations down. Here’s how elongated sounds look in hiragana:

▼ Hiragana ending in an “a” sound (such as “ka”)
are elongated by using the hiragana あ (a).

ka plus a

▼ Hiragana ending in an “i” sound (such as “ki”)
are elongated by using the hiragana い (i).

ki plus i

▼ Are you noticing a pattern here? Hiragana ending in an “u” sound
(such as “ku”) are elongated by using the hiragana う (u).

ku plus u

▼ Uh oh, here comes an exception! Hiragana ending in an “e” sound
(such as “ke”) are elongated by using the hiragana い (i), NOT え (e).*

ke plus i* There are some exceptions to this, but generally it’s true.

▼ And another exception. Hiragana ending in an “o” sound
(such as “ko”) are elongated by using the hiragana う (u), NOT お (o).*

ko plus u* There are some exceptions to this, but generally it’s true.

Easy enough, right? Okay! Now let’s practice the hiragana you’ve learned along with some elongations in this excerpt from the manga A Tick on Titan.

“Eren Eager and Mikasa Ackerwoman are just normal ticks living in a horrifying world full of… five-foot tall monsters! The sleepy Colozzzuzzz Titan has arrived at their town wall; will they be able to defend it?”

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

a tick on titan manga 01

Mikasa: Oogui keikoku ka?
Eren: Ee, ikou!

Sound Effects: Guu guu….

Mikasa: Kougeki, koko ka?
Eren: Iie….

Eren: Ago!
Titan: Gaa!

Mikasa: (Is that the) big-eater warning?
Eren: Yeah, let’s go!

Sound Effects: (sound of sleeping)

Mikasa: (As for the) attack (is it) here?
Eren: No….

Eren: (It’s on the) chin!
Titan: Arg!

All right! Did you read it yourself? If not, just review Anki a bit and give it another crack.

And don’t worry about the meaning of the words right now. For now, we’re just concentrating on learning to read the hiragana. But don’t fret, we’ll get to those pesky meanings eventually!

Next week we’ll be taking a look at the next five hiragana, which will all be fresh new faces. And as always there will be a delightful manga as well, so get your parody pants ready for 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 guarantee at least an attempt at a witty response.

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

(Click here for Episode 4)

“Extra Credit” Anki Input: (Front / Back)
おおぐい / oogui, big-eater
けいこく / keikoku, warning
ぐうぐう / guuguu, (sound of sleeping)
こうげき  / kougeki, attack
こうげき ここ か / kougeki koko ka, (As for the) attack (is it) here?
あご / ago, chin
があ / gaa, arg!

Text/images: ©RocketNews24