fullmedal alchemist top

“You cannot gain a medal without sacrificing something else in return.”

Hey there and welcome to the fifth 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 peek at it here.

Dragon Bowl – it’s like Dragon Ball,
but with much less charging and much more sushi.

dragon bowl teaser

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 pretty easy; they look exactly like the hiragana from last week, except for one small difference: the voiced marking.

▼ If you’ve never head of “voicing,” then check out Episode #3.
(Don’t worry, we won’t go anywhere.)

voicing math

1) Today’s first hiragana: ざ (za)
(Pronounced like “bazaar”)

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

little hiragana za

▼ Remember how the hiragana for き (ki) got sawed off?
If you want those pieces back, you can buy them at the bazaar.

hiragana za

2) Today’s next hiragana: じ (ji)
(Pronounced like “jeep”)

little hiragana ji

▼ Remember the upside-down sheep-herder cane?
Turns out it’s easier to herd sheep in a jeep.

hiragana ji

3) Today’s next-next hiragana: ず (zu)
(Pronounced like “zumba”)

little hiragana zu

▼ Remember the cylindrical sushi?
Time to work that sushi off by doing some zumba dance!

hiragana zu

4) Today’s penultimate hiragana: ぜ (ze)
(Pronounced like “zen”)

little hiragana ze

▼ The sheep herder sets his upside-down can on the table,
and feels very zen after a day of hard work.

hiragana ze

5) Today’s final hiragana: ぞ (zo)
(Pronounced like “zone”)

little hiragana zo

▼ Remember soap on a rope? I bought it so I could get in the zone
in the shower and not have to worry about dropping anything.

hiragana zo

(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.)

zajizuzeozo quiz

And now try reading all twenty-five hiragana we’ve learned so far:

cumu hiragana quiz 04











(1st Quiz Answer: ze, zu, za, ji, zo)
(2nd Quiz Answer:
ko, so, ze, gi, ka,
zu, u, ku, se, ge,
ga, a, ke, za, gu,
i, zo, ki, o, su,
shi, e, sa, ji, go)

Did you get them right? If you don’t feel confident yet, just review them in Anki and try again until you show those twenty-five hiragana who’s boss.

But for now, it’s time for another installment of… Particle Party!

▼ These two have the same birthday today: ぞ (zo) and ぜ (ze).

particle party

Just like we saw last week, Japanese has lots of “particles,” which are basically “little” words that help the “more important” words in a sentence come together and make sense. They’re kind of like “at,” “of,” “the” etc. in English.

This week we’ll be looking at two new particles: ぞ (zo) and ぜ (ze).

What Do ぞ (zo) and ぜ (ze) Do?
They come at the end of the sentence to give a masculine or tough-sounding emphasis. It’s kind of like ending a sentence in “bro/bruh,” in English… but, uh, not quite.

Japan-glish Examples:
I’m gonna kill you ぞ = I’m gonna kill you, bruh!
(“Bruh” could also be “punk,” “jerk,” “scallywag,” etc.)

I do 100 pushups every morning ぜ = I do 100 pushups every morning, bruh.
(Do you even lift, bruh?)

For a more detailed look at ぜ (ze) and ざ (za), check out this awesome article.

Now let’s take a look at the particles ぞ (zo) and ぜ (ze) and the rest of the hiragana you’ve learned so far by reading excerpt from the manga Fullmedal Alchemist.

Edweird and Alphone Elric are master ‘alchemist’ brothers who tried to bring their dead mother back to life. But their attempt backfired, resulting in Edweird’s arm turning into gold, silver, and bronze medals, and his brother’s soul inhabiting a suit of armor… with a phone loincloth.

Now the two of them start on their journey to find the Philosoraptor Stone that will hopefully help them get their bodies back.

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

fullmedal alchemist 01

Edweird: Saa, iku zo.
Narration: Jikogo, aki.

Alphone: Ishi sagasu?
Edweird: Sou.

Edweird: A, kaze ga zaazaa. Kaza kaou ka?
(ga = last week’s particle, ka = lesson #2’s particle)
Alphone: Iie….

Alphone: Kao kasu ze!
Edweird: Sugoi zo!
Alphone: Uguu, zukizuki….

Edweird: Well then, let’s go, bro.
Narration: After the accident, autumn.

Alphone: (Were going to go) look for the stone?
Edweird: That’s right.

Edweird: Oh, the wind (and rain) is pouring. Should (we) buy an umbrella?
Alphone: No….

Alphone: (I’ll) lend you my face, bro!
Edweird: (This is) awesome, bro!
Alphone: Ughh, throbbing (headache)….

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

Next Friday we’ll be taking a look at the next five hiragana, which will all be brand spanking new. And as always there will be a magnificent manga as well, so mark your calendars with hearts and smiley-faces!

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!

“Extra Credit” Anki Input: (Front / Back)
さあ/ saa, well then
いく / iku, to go
じこ / jiko, accident
じこご / jikogo, after the accident
あき/ aki, autumn
いし / ishi, stone
さがす / sagasu, to search
かぜ / kaze, wind
ざあざあ / zaazaa, sound of rain and wind
かさ / kasa, umbrella
かお / kao, face
かす / kasu, to lend
すごい / sugoi, awesome
ずきずき / zukizuki, throbbing pain

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