Japanese Novel Review:5分で読書: きのう失恋した Yesterday’s Heartbreak in 5 Minutes by The カドカワ読書タイム Team

I found this book for free on yomeruba.com. I saw from a post on reddit that this website has been doing campaigns where they have a monthly selection of novels that can be read for free. I decided to read this novel to see if it would be a good choice for beginner students. This is my first time reading a Japanese novel online. I really prefer paper based novels as I love everything related to trees in general. But I really wanted to seek out more beginner reading materials and I am interested in find free materials online to help me with my budget. There are some more expensive hardcover books that I am interested in, but my current budget would only allow me one paperback book per week.

Ive heard of this book series before, but basically it is a collection of short stories with the same theme.  Each story is broken up into sections that would take a Junior High School level Japanese student around a few minutes to read. I think that this format would work well for language learners as well! It is nice that it basically tells the reader a good place to stop. While the description might make it seem like its the same thing as chapters in a normal novel, the timing of these breaks is more consistent.

The official price for the physical copy of this book is 1,100 yen and it is published by Kadokawa.  Bookwalker also has copies of the e-book for sale.

This book can be read for free on yomeruba.com for the full month of September 2020.  This month, there are 24 e-book that are free to read.  All of the books in this selection are aimed towards younger readers.  Since this book is free for only a limited time, I have decided to post this review earlier and will have two reviews for this week.  I really like writing reviews and hope that I will be able to post more then one a week regularly at some point.

Story Review:

This book has 6 short stories:あかりっちゃんの失恋」 思いのゆくえ」「失恋した昨日はバレンタイン。」「シトラスタイム」「ふんわり女とすっきり男」「春のゆうれい」。

In the first story, Akari’s Heart Break(あかりっちゃんの失恋), The narrator of this story is Yui, she is a second year high school student who starts out her day on a very strange foot. She has a habit of looking over the news paper every morning during breakfast and was really annoyed to see the June 6th edition waiting for her. That was yesterday! After asking around her family, they all told her that no… today is June 6th. She was left feeling lost and confused as she clearly remembers reading the same new paper articles the previous day.

She cautious left her house and starting making her way to school. She just knew that it was all a mistake that that today would go differently then yesterday. But that’s not what happened. She met the same friends, in the same place, at the same time that she did yesterday. Her friend asked her the SAME question about the SAME homework that was due yesterday. She felt like she was going crazy. She frantically looked around the classroom looking for anything at all that was different. She locked eyes with her beautiful classmate, Yamashita. She knew right away that Yamashita was going through the same thing. Even though she has never really talked to Yamashita before, she tried her best to catch Yamashita and discuss the time loop.

It was true, not only was Yamashita stuck in the same loop, but she has been in this loop for 7 days already. In her case, there was something weird that happened to her on June 5th. Her handsome, popular boyfriend that she was secretly dating dumped her. Yamashita became obsessed with the break up and knew her ex-boyfriend exact movements that day down to the minute. In an effort to change something about the loop, the two girls went to confront the cheating ex-boyfriend only to have Yamashita run away.  Is there anything Yui can do to break the loop?

In Wandering Thoughts思いのゆくえ」, Emi and Sho are very close friends who have been raised together from a young age.  Emi stops by Sho’s house everyday before practice or school to help make sure that he wakes up in the morning.  Emi plays basketball and Sho plays soccer and their sports keep them pretty busy. Sho has a crush on Emi’s best friend and is working up the courage to confess to her.  But what about Emi’s feelings?

In  Valentines Days: One-Sided Love Stories「失恋した昨日はバレンタイン。」you can read the story of collection of various peoples’ experience from valentines day.  Everyone in this story is filled with hope or fear as girls get ready to confess their feelings with gifts and letters.  Will any of their pair match up and have a happy ending?  Looking at the title… doesn’t seem likely.

In Citrus Time「シトラスタイム」the character that goes by the handle Moldy Orange moves around often do to their parent’s job.  There was once one friend, Sweet Summer, who they kept in contact with by playing online games together.  When Moldy Orange had to move again, turns out the two of them were going to attend the same high school!  This is the story of two friends talk about heart break while playing a video game and eating ice cream.  Is there any way that these two can become more then just friends?  Or are the feelings one-sided?

In The Soft Girl and the Sharp Guy「ふんわり女とすっきり男」Ami is a second year college student who spends her free time going to the local live house with her friend to see college bands play.  She developed a crush on one of the guys who also hangs out there, Kei.  But it seems like she has a rival.  Will she ever be able to confess her feelings?  Or is she happy just being about to see Kei a few times a month?

In  Summer’s Ghost「春のゆうれい」14 year old narrator and cousin Aoi take a train deep into the country side to visit a relatives house before it is knocked down to sell the land.  The house is known for being haunted and one can see lots of strange things if they decide to visit.  Why did the narrator want to go to a haunted house?  Because of a broken heart of course! Turns out the 24 year old guy that she was crushing on is getting married. Anyways, the rumors were true!  The house is haunted and the two girls hang out with their grandma while eating sweets.

My Reading experience

In the first story, one aspect of the story that I found interesting was how in the start of the story, while the book is written in first person perceptive, it seemed like the narrator was not the main character of the book. Since the narrator decided that nothing strange happened in the previous day that could possibly be the cause of the strange circumstances, she focuses her efforts on her classmate, Yamashita, who has been in the time loop for a few days longer. 

I normally do not read novels that were created for Junior High students, but I was able to find something about each story that interested me enough to keep reading. I did struggle a bit with the 4th story, シトラスタイム, as I am not really into video games.  But I did push myself through it and just thought of it as a reading challenge.  Since the grammar and vocabulary in this book was fairly simple and the fact that this was a few book, I was able use this novel as practice to increase my reading speed.

This novel came to me at the perfect time.  I have recently received a few novels from a Japanese professor that works at a university in my city.  All of the books that she gave me were from authors that I have been really interested in!  I am excited to read them, but a bit intimated by what I see as more literary style books such as Shion Miura’s 舟を編む.  I am hoping that I can use this website to find some easy reads to help me save energy to tackle more changeling books.

I did not really like the experience of reading this novel online. There are lots of benefits to using e-books for language learners such as the ease of being able to look up words and create SRS cards. For this novel, I was not able to highlight or copy and paste any of the vocabulary words. I did not have any technical issues while reading this book. I never had a page reload and make me lose my place or anything like that. The top of each page as the page number listed which does make it easy to keep track of where in the story the read last left off at. 

I have never read a full book through book walker before, so I am not sure what the experience is like if you buy a book.  But I do have experience reading through sample pages… and this was basically reading over 100 sample pages at once.  So it was a very low tech experience.

To be honest, I felt like I had to avoid texts with furigana. I thought that I would not be able to really learn the reading of new vocabulary if the answer was just given to me each time. I am still not sure which is the right way, but I was inspired by the words of Linguist Stephen Krashen to add more ‘easier’ texts to my reading line up.

Level Preface

Just to give some background to my current level. I have been using Japanese for a long time now, but just decided somewhat recently to be more serious about gaining fluent literacy. This year I have finished reviewing over JLPT N2 materials and have started on N1. I am planning on taking N1 in July 2020.

Vocabulary: N3-N2 student level

As with all book, there will be vocabulary from N1 and beyond.  But over all the word choice in this book is fairly simple.  There will be furigana with a lot of the kanji used, but not all. As some vocab is introduced, readings may be given the first time but will be written only using kanji for the rest of the book.

I think that I student that has a good grasp of N3 vocabulary will not have a difficult time and this book.  N2 students should find this book to be an easy read. Later on in this review will be an excerpt from this book to help you see if it is right for you.

The only specialized vocabulary that sticks out to me is the game rated terms in Citrus Time「シトラスタイム」. If this was a normal novel, I think I might have had a hard time getting through it, but thanks to the furigana it wasn’t that bad.

Grammar: N3-N2 student level

The writing style of this story is very straight forward and being friendly. While there are many times that N2 level grammar is used, I think that N3 level materials will not find grammar to be a barrier to understanding this story.  I think the focus on plot line and basic story lines will help N3 students to understand the story regardless of grammar points.

There are many pages that are mostly dialog, leaving lots of blank space.  All of the dialog is written in standard Japanese dialect and is mostly casual.

Cultural References

While this book will teach you about high school and dating culture in Japanese, you do not have to have a high level of understanding of Japanese culture to understand the plot.  There are no pop culture or historical references.  I don’t think that language learners would find any culture based issues as barriers to understanding the plot lines to these stories.

In the story Citrus Time「シトラスタイム」, the idea of モテ期 is brought up.  This is a popular concept in Japan.  The basic idea is that everyone has 3 times in their life when they are ‘romantically popular.’  This is a time when lots of love interests or love confession come at the same time.  I really like this concept as it seems kinda fun!  I feel like I have been モテキ 2 times in my life so far, so maybe I have one more time in my future?  I’ll let you guys know if it happens.

In  Valentines Days: One-Sided Love Stories「失恋した昨日はバレンタイン。」, you can read about how this holiday is commonly celebrated in Japan.  Valentines day is basically a day for girls giving chocolate out.  This usually involves giving it to a romantic partner or someone you are romantically interested in.  Of course people always buy some for friends or for everyone as well.  But for couples, this is usually a day for guys to enjoy.  There is also a day for women to enjoy as well and that is White day!  White day is one month later on March 14, this is when in couples men give gifts to their romantic partner.

Length: Short

This book is 162 pages long.  The formatting of this book is very beginner friendly.  I am not sure about the printed edition, but the e-book has large print with lots of space between texts. Here is an example page of the text.  This image has two pages included.

Who should read this book?

N3 level students who are interested in reading short failed romance stories in an easy to read format.

Related Media:
If you like the idea of this series, they have other books that cover different topics!  For the month of September 2020, there are two other 5分で読書 that are available to be read free online.


Author: Kuri

I love reading Japanese novels and have seen that many people want to read them but don't know where to start. I have decided to share my experiences to help people reach their literacy goals.

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