The list author says: "Anyone can go take a class in Japanese, or open a book and try to tackle it themselves, but too often students find themselves overwhelmed with the sheer size of the task ahead. Where do you even start? There's over 2,000 kanji you need to memorize, should you leave them to late classes or learn them up front? You need guidance in order to feel confident and passionate about your study, and that's where this list comes in."
"Kanji seems like the most daunting task to a new Japanese student- there's thousands of them, how do you remember them all? Heisig breaks characters into frequently-occuring parts, so you learn to recognize even the most complex kanji as a simple sum of its parts. Tackle the hardest part of the language first, and the rest seems simple."
"You're tackling 2,000 charaters like nothing, what's an extra forty or so? Kana Pict-o-Graphix provides a quick visual system that will have you remembering kana instantly. The first moment I learned 'mo' as "catch 'mo' fish with two worms", I was hooked. (Look up the character- corny as this sounds, you'll never forget this image)."
"Japanese the Manga Way introduces you to grammatical concepts using real manga, so you're reading real Japanese through the course. It's a great general course in Japanese grammar, and it even includes references in the back to where the panels come from. So if you grow fond of a certain comic during your lessons, you can look it up to purchase your own copy to practice on and get the full story."
"Genki adheres to a more rigid class structure than Japanese the Manga Way, with more textbook-style examples and problems to work, balanced with a little less fun factor considering the focus. If you need a "regular" and structured coursebook to get you through your studies, get Genki instead of ...Manga Way and its more freeform learning."
"Learning to correctly speak Japanese reinforces your study of the written word, and vice versa. Pimsleur's 'Basic' set is a good balance of content and price. Japanese has very standard pronunciation, so this is plenty of practice to tackle anything you'll come across, not to mention you learn plenty of good phrases for travel."
"Put it all to practice with Breaking Into Japanese Literature. This little book contains seven classic Japanese texts, and each page has the English translation on the opposite page, with a breakdown of kanji and phrases in the footnotes to keep you up to speed. Audio companion guides are available online, so you can listen as you read and reinforce your pronunciation."
"You've broken into the realm of real literacy, and now it's time to use it. Kodansha is a respected name in Japanese study materials, and their Furigana dictionary is amazing. Instead of breaking everything down into Romaji (english alphabet), this dictionary keeps the Japanese in Japanese (using kana to help you with kanji pronunciation) and the English translations in English."
"Maybe you've been building up to this all along, or maybe it's just time. Living Abroad in Japan is one of the better travel guides I've found to really experiencing Japan, instead of the more popular guides that seem to focus only on what shrines to whisk your family through in what order to call your trip a "vacation"."