Love the stories!
This book set has very adorable art and easy to understand explanations. They provide an easy medium to get familiar with kanji and improve reading speeds with the added benefit of learning some cool mythology. I printed copies to write the furigana on new kanji introduced and make other notes as I read.
The stories are great! The definitions and grammar explanations are helpful and the audio at two speeds is also nice to have.
I've only made it through the kitsune tales so far, and my only complaint is that, as with the folk tales bundle, there is no consistency with kanji/hiragana within a story, which is frustrating. For example, in the nine-tailed fox story, on page 28 we learn にばけ can mean to shapeshift into. OK, great, just learned a new word. But then on the next page, it's written に化け, forcing me to stop and look up the kanji (because there's no furigana) only to find that it was a word I just learned on the previous page, but in hiragana. Likewise, いう and 言う seem to get used interchangeably - not a big deal, since it's a common kanji, but then...it's a simple, common kanji and the more exposure you get to kanji the more proficient you become, so why would it ever get written in hiragana in these texts? For the less-proficient in Japanese (which is the level this is aimed at) it's jarring to switch back and forth and have to guess/look up if they actually both mean the same thing - otherwise why is one written in kanji and the other in hiragana? I'm entirely willing to admit there might be some sort of subtlety of Japanese I'm missing and there is an actual reason, but in comparison to, for example, my textbooks, yes, a new word might originally be presented in hiragana, but once its kanji gets introduced, there's no more switching back and forth. The lack of consistency makes the whole story feel like it lacked a final editing and as this is an easy fix, I'm hoping it will be fixed in the future. Despite these issues, yes, I'd buy the bundle again, because as an adult independent learner, it's far more fun to learn Japanese by reading about Japanese culture than about メアリーさん's experiences as an exchange student in Genki. :)
Excellent learning materials, lovely company.
This series is a wonderful reading material and complements my Japanese language learning really well. Textbooks and kanji learning materials do not really give you any reading practice, so graded readers like this are good to have. The stories are interesting, so you get to practice reading with something fun instead of reading about Alice and Bob.
I found this series indirectly through a recommended materials list. The series that was actually recommended was the "Learn Japanese with Stories". The main reason I ultimately picked this one is because I read in the reviews below that this Youkai series does not have Romaji while the Stories series does have them. If you feel like Romaji does not help you and you can read hiragana and katakana, this Youkai series is the better pick.