Manga Recommendation: ダーリンは外国人 / My Darling is a Foreigner

Today’s manga recommendation post for Japanese learners actually contains pictures from one of the physical volumes of the manga (thanks to eBay!). I normally buy my manga digitally but do own some physical volumes, which I might cover in another post someday.

Quick facts

Author: Saori Oguri

Genre: Slice of life

No. of volumes: 6

Recommended for: JLPT N3

Furigana: Yes (mostly)

Anime/ drama/ film adaptations?: Yes, a live action film.

Note: There is also a volume of the manga in English

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Plot overview and my thoughts on the manga

This manga is about the author (who is a manga artist) and her husband, Tony. Tony is an American who came to Japan in the 1980s and is a bit of a language geek. The manga centers on their daily life and relationship, usually from Saori’s perspective. In some ways, Saori and Tony are very different to each other, and not just because of the language difference. Later volumes of the manga focus on how the couple adapts to having a baby and moving to Germany.

I was initially a bit apprehensive about reading this manga, as I thought that perhaps the manga would fall into the common trope of ‘a foreigner struggling to adapt to or understand Japanese culture’. However this is not the case – there is no dumbing down to explain things to Tony as he is fluent in the language (the target audience is Japanese after all). The general tone of the manga is lighthearted and whilst it does mention their cultural differences, it is never done in a way which implies a certain way of thinking is more superior than the other.

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As you will see from the photos, the art style is not typical of most popular manga. I think that this only adds to the charm of the manga. Both Saori and Tony as central characters are interesting to read about, as they have their own quirks and it is their interactions which make normal situations quite humorous. The manga reminds me of the Korean webtoon “Penguin loves Mev” which is also about the daily life of a Korean/British international couple.

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Language level

In terms of language level, I would put this at JLPT N3. There’s quite a lot of slang as it is mostly dialogue – having said that, the language used is usually everyday level. Whilst there is furigana, the manga has a mix of printed Japanese and handwritten Japanese (the handwritten Japanese parts usually reflect Saori’s thoughts as opposed to what she says out loud). The handwritten parts do not come with furigana and therefore may be trickier to understand.

There is also a live-action film starring Mao Inoue as Saori. I’m not really a fan of the film, having watched it sometime before I actually read the manga it was based on – I didn’t feel like the film was able to convey the couple’s personalities enough. You should be able to find the film on YouTube if you do wish to check it out.

As always, you can read a sample of the manga on the EbookJapan website.

Happy Reading!

If you do try reading any of the recommendations, please let me know how you get on the comments.

0 thoughts on “Manga Recommendation: ダーリンは外国人 / My Darling is a Foreigner”

  1. Hi Stephanie, Thank you for this blog and for sharing techniques acquired while learning Japanese. I am a retired German teacher who has developed a number of ways to explain its challenging grammar that a second-language learner encounters — concepts that I learned the hard way. Looking forward to following here, as someone with no knowledge of Japanese but curious about how it works 🙂

    1. Hi Bill, thank you for commenting! I’ve recently decided to start studying German as well so I will definitely be reading your blog to help me on my journey. Languages like German and Japanese can be tricky but so rewarding at the same time – I certainly don’t have any regrets choosing these languages so far 🙂

  2. Thanks for sharing this, once I advance from baby books into harder things I’ll definitely remember this one. Thanks so much for always sharing these good recommendations 💗

  3. Thanks for the recommendation. I am currently working my way through Orange, and I think it’s a great one for beginners. If you could review other manga that would be suitable for beginner learners like me, that would be much appreciated. Thanks in advance! 😊

    1. I’m glad you like these posts – I have recommended Orange as I really like it too! I enjoy doing posts about manga for beginners so stay tuned for more 🙂

      1. Thank you ☺️ will keep an eye out. In the meantime, I will keep working my way through Orange. Given my limited knowledge of Japanese, it’ll keep me occupied for a long time yet 😆

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