Reviews by Ilya Farber
It's awfully dry and formal -- you certainly wouldn't want to curl up with it as you sipped your hot chocolate -- but it's tremendously handy for when you're trying to read or write something and you can't quite remember, say, what the difference is between soshite and sorekara, or which side of yori the greater thing goes on. It's in alpahabetical order, with decent indices, and give a few examples for each way a given particle or structure can be used.
This one has a lot of just-so stories in it, but is small, easy to read, and deals with only the most common and useful characters. It's good for keeping your morale up, since it gets you fairly quickly to the point where you'll be recognizing a character here or there in anything you read (and believe me, that's a good feeling!).
I'm now at the end of my first year of Japanese, and I've used all four of Heisig's books (Hiragana, Katakana, Kanji I & II) as well as many others, so I thought I'd share my impressions of them.
The kana books were wonderful, and I would highly recommend them to anybody interested in ... read more
This one is at the opposite end of the spectrum from Heisig; it's completely devoted to historically accurate accounts, even when they are of little or no use in remembering the meaning or reading of the character. I suspect the title was forced on the author to increase sales, since a more ... read more