Natively Blog

We want to keep you updated! Take a look at what we've been doing. For the most up-to-date announcements & conversation, please check out the Product Updates & Casual Natively Discussion thread.

1/19/24 - Natively Lists!

Browseable, shareable, customizable lists are now live on Natively! You can now create lists of books, movies and tv shows and share them with your friends.

keyboard_arrow_rightFinding Lists

You can find the lists via the 'Lists' link in the main site navigation. There you can browse lists, filter lists by difficulty and search lists by title, tag and user!

The lists contain your own custom created tags, ordered items and you can include notes.

Lists are also showcased on your profile page. You can find your liked lists here as well.

keyboard_arrow_rightCreating a list

Creating a list is pretty darn easy! You can specify your privacy level, create custom tags, order your items as you want and write notes on everything.

All text fields support the standard markdown syntax if you'd like to richly style

You can tag items however you want. We do have autocomplete while you type if you're looking to use more popular tags

If you're targeting a specific level range, use the standardized level tags. The list search is configured to look for these tags when a user filters by difficulty.

While we may also look at the item difficulty ratings in the future, right now we are simply looking at level tags. It is not required.

Add items from your books & videos library by a simple text search. If you'd like to add items that are not in your library, see the other addition process below.

You can order your items however you want, quickly and easily.

You can also write notes on everything. If you have a review and/or rating of the item, it will be auto included.

keyboard_arrow_rightAdding to a list from general search & item pages

Click the 'add to custom lists' option on the status widget and you will be able to add & remove that item from your lists

These items do *not* need to be in your library!

If you choose to create a list, that item will be auto included during the creation process.

keyboard_arrow_rightCustom Tags (formerly Custom Lists)

What formerly used to be known as 'Custom Lists' in your library are now called 'Custom Tags'

These tags can be selected multiple at a time now and you'll notice they are simply filters... they do not appear as lists on their own.

In case you forgot how to add a custom tag to an item, simply go to the 'additional options' popup, and you can add tags there.

I'm really hopeful that these lists become an awesome source of recommendations, especially in beta languages where the user content is more sparse.

Next, I will probably be focused on four things:

  • A few list tweaks (allowing series as a list item, csv backups).
  • Adding French.. maybe English
  • Improving Book & Series Page display
  • Adding Swimlanes (rows of bucketed content) to search pages as the default view. See Anilist browse/search as an example.

I must admit that my product roadmap is currently a bit in flux right now, so take these 'Next Up' proclamations as a bit uncertain. Growth has become a larger priority this year due to (a tiny bit) of competitive pressure, so the roadmap is liable to change faster than normal.

As always, if you have any feedback, please let us know in the Product Updates thread or, if it's about a language beta, in one of the beta threads - Korean, Spanish, German

Happy reading (and watching)!

12/31/23 - Natively Spanish & German, Amazon Auto Upload, End Of Year Wrap!

Wow, another year finished! Thank you all so much for your support this year, whether it be financial or just being a part of the community! I'm very happy with the progress we've made this year.. we've introduced a lot - Movie & TV shows, 3 new languages (Korean, German, Spanish), content tags, book provider search, data downloads, favorites, and more. Not to mention all the book clubs we've started. I'm excited to see what we can do in 2024!

And with that, I'd like to announce that Natively is now available in Spanish & German! Welcome Spanish & German learners :)

keyboard_arrow_rightNatively Spanish & German

All the functionality for the Spanish & German site is exactly the same as the Japanese site.

If you're already familiar with the site, great! If not, don't hesitate to send us a message about any questions in the in the General Discussion & Product Updates thread. We're happy to help :)

If it's a specific issue to your language, you can join us in the Spanish beta or German beta threads

Do note that while we are in beta, the grading system will still be very unsure. Any gradings or reviews you can provide are a great help!

keyboard_arrow_rightAmazon Auto-Upload, Series sync

Japanese, Spanish, and German, we now immediately upload a book to our database from an amazon URL. This means you can immediately add that book to your library, review it and even grade it.

If that book has a link to an amazon series on it's amazon page, we will automatically pull in the rest of the series within an hour of your submission... so don't upload all the volumes individually!

While books are uploaded upon your submission, we do not showcase those books in search until an admin has approved them. This almost always occurs within 24 hours.. very rarely to we not approve.

Disallowed books are almost always with regards to explicit nudity on the cover.

If you go to the series page, you will now notice that there is a 'sync' button. If there are volumes missing on Natively but appear on Amazon, simply hit the sync button and they will be uploaded within an hour.

For cases where there is a sync button, but the new volume is not on amazon, please submit feeback report via the 'Something Not Right' button

For the rare cases where there is no sync button, please use the '+ volumes' button to submit a manual request.

As always, if you have any feedback, please let us know in the Product Updates thread or, if it's about a language beta, in one of the beta threads - Korean, Spanish, German

Next, I'm either going to work on improving our book edition handling or attempting to roll out premium features. We'll see how I feel!

Again, thank you for all your support and see you all in 2024!


11/15/23 - Book Providers, Content Tags, Grading Updates, Data Downloads

It's been a while since i've written a formal product update, but I've still been busy at work! I'm excited to announce a few new features, including book provider search, content tags, data downloads and more.

keyboard_arrow_rightBook & Watch Providers

We now provide more detailed information when it comes to book providers, such as community-sourced descriptions and tags for different book providers.

You can see all these book providers on our providers page and even favorite your preferred providers

You can now filter all searches by book provider as well. Favorited providers are shown as an 'easy to click' checkbox option.

Similarly, we also have the same functionality for watch providers.

Lastly, if you'd like to help contribute to our provider descriptions or our provider lists, send us a message on our providers forum thread.

keyboard_arrow_rightContent Tags

We now have genre & content tags! You'll see these on all items now. Simply click on the tag to see a search based on that tag. Also, as you can see, there is a notion of spoiler tags as well.

Adding a tag to an item is straightforward. Click the '+' and search for your tag. If you cannot find your tag, feel free to add an entirely new tag.

All newly created tags will be approved by our tag moderators.

You can also vote on how relevant a tag is. Click the right side of the tag and you can specify how relevant you think it is.

The number you see next to the tag is an average of all user votes on a tag. 'Not Relevant' = 0, 'Minor' = 25, 'Moderate' = 50, 'Major' = 75, 'Main' = 100

This relevancy number impacts the ordering of the tags on the item and if it appears in our default tag search.

If there's an issue with an existing item tag - for instance if you think it should/shouldn't be a spoiler or there's some other issue - please submit a report by clicking the ! icon

You can filter all searches by tags. By default, we only consider tags greater than 25% relevancy that aren't spoilers. There are checkboxes to change this behavior.

Clicking again on the tag will make it a negative filter, considering all items without that tag. Clicking once more will remove the filter.

There is also a tags page where you can easily search through all the tags.

If you'd like to contribute to descriptions or discuss other tag-related things, please join us in our tags thread in the forums!

keyboard_arrow_rightGrading Updates

You may notice some changes in the things you're prompted to compare. Namely, 2 things:

  • You will now be prompted to compare movies to tv shows. This will only be prompted after finished grading all movie-to-movie & tv show-to-tv show comparisons.
  • You will now be prompted to compare temporary-to-temporary items. While we do not immediately assess this grading, we keep it in our database and will assess it if one of the items become non-temporary.

This 2nd change is especially important when adding new languages as there are many temporary gradings in that circumstance.

keyboard_arrow_rightData Downloads

You can now download all your own tracking data in a CSV format in your settings.

You can generate a new csv file every 48 hours. For more information on the fields, be sure to look at the 'Key File' csv linked next to each section header.

As always, if you have any feedback, please let us know in the Product Updates thread or, if it's about the Korean beta, the Korean beta thread

Next, I'm planning on improving our Japanese / Amazon upload process, in preparation for adding more languages. This is a part of our work to start including book edition information.


7/29/23 - Favorites! Progress on Korean Beta

There are a series of smaller features upcoming, so hopefully monthly updates such as this one will be more common.


You can now favorite any book, movie, tv season or associated series! Just click the heart icon :)

Once you've favorited an item, they will be bucketed into swimlanes and shown on your profile.

You can also filter for favorites in your library.

You can even order the favorites how you'd like on your profile.

Additionally, you can favorite series rather than individual items on the associated series page.

Note that once you favorite a series you cannot favorite any item in that series.. they're favorited by default.

I hope you enjoy it! It was one of the most requested features, glad I finally got around to implementing it :)

keyboard_arrow_rightKorean Beta Updates

I've gotten a lot of great feedback on the Korean beta. Huge shoutout to bibliothecary, who's put in a lot of work, along with a few others.

There are no particular features to mention, but we've ironed a lot of issues with the auto input system and have begun to build a good database of books, movies & tv series.

I've also gotten some good feedback around the importance of webnovels in the Korean learning sphere, which may prompt higher priority to adding that item type.

Community growth has been somewhat slow, but I'm not too worried - I've received favorable feedback, it'll just take persistent effort.

As always, if you have any feedback, please let us know in the Product Updates thread or, if it's about the Korean beta, the Korean beta thread

As for what's coming up, book provider search is next. I hope to have something out by the end of next week!


7/13/23 - Korean enters beta, Movies & TV shows leaves beta, Data Manager

I'm super happy to announce that Korean is now available on the site! As I live in Korea, it's especially exciting to me. Welcome new users! Please drop by the forums and say hello, perhaps in the what are you reading today? thread :)

In addition to Korean, we've been busy at work with a few other features. Here's a quick rundown:

keyboard_arrow_rightKorean Beta

As Korean has only just launched, any gradings, reviews, books you can add is an immense help! I'm trying to do a bit of outreach, but it may be slow going for a few months.

If you know anyone who might be interested, let them know!

And always, if you have any feedback, please let us know in the Korean beta thread

keyboard_arrow_rightLanguage Management & Forums

You can now edit which languages are your target languages in your account preferences. This will configure the languages on your profile and will also opt you into certain forum categories for notifications.

Your main language does need to be one of your target languages. You main language isn't terribly important right now, but is the default choice in a few places

Speaking of forums, you will now see a separate Japanese & Korean top level category. By default, people with only one target language will have the other category muted. You can, of course, change this default to get notifications for both.

General Natively topics will still be seen by everyone.

If you'd prefer to not see the top language toggle, feel free to hide it in your account preferences

keyboard_arrow_rightJapanese Movies & TV leaves beta

I've done a lot of work the past few months to get videos working well. Things like syncing ongoing seasons, stats, video providers... lots of stuff.

As such, I'm happy to announce that Japanese Movies & TV shows are now out of beta! We've gotten over 15,000 gradings and the levels are no longer all temporary :)

keyboard_arrow_rightData Manager

Since tracking TV show progress presented a lot of complications (episodes & tv watch sessions don't play nice) I've introduced a consolidated interface to manage all your reading & watching data, called the 'Data Manager'

How To Access:

  • 1. Go to a book or movie page and pop open the 'additional options' popup

  • 2. Toggle to datamanager

Here you can add and edit reading / watch sessions, change episode data and generally see why your stats are the way they are.

Oftentimes, if there are conflicts between the item dates & session dates, but we surface warnings on how we resolve those!

Overall, I hope this allows everyone to get insight and configurability into their stat keeping!

As always, if you have any feedback, please let us know in the Product Updates thread or, if it's about the Korean beta, the Korean beta thread

As for what's coming up, I think I'd like to add provider search and perhaps get started on content tags. I'll keep you updated!


3/06/23 - Movies & TV shows are now live!

We’re excited to announce that Movies & TV shows are finally here! You can now add movies and tv shows to your library, and we’ve added a bunch of movies and tv shows to the site already. We’re still working on adding more, but we’re excited to have this feature live!

Most of the features you’re used to from books are also available for movies and tv shows, including:

  • Adding to your library & custom lists
  • Marking your incremental progress and stats tracking
  • Writing personal reviews
  • Grading difficulty
  • Days Watched tracking
  • Activity feed

Things generally operate similarly to books, but there are a few differences which we'll describe below.

If you have any feedback or immediate bugs, please send a message in this thread or contact us

keyboard_arrow_rightWhere do I find Movies & TV Shows?

Simply to the video search page. You will also notice the global search now allows you to select a search for books or videos.

You will also notice that we have genres(!) for movies and tv shows, which, along with all our other video data, comes from The Movie Database.

keyboard_arrow_rightIncremental Progress Marking

You can mark your progress on movies and tv shows in the same way you do for books, through your dashboard or in the item popup in your library. Movies work exactly the same as books, except 'Current Page' is replaced with 'Current Minute'.

TV shows, on the other hand, are a bit different. Since TV shows are episodic, we have a few different ways you can mark your progress. If you're watching the episodes sequentially, you can mark your current minute and episode, which will auto mark all episode up until that point as finished.

If you are not watching the episodes sequentially, or you skipped an episode, then you can go to the tv season page and mark the episodes you've watched. You can even specify the minutes you watched in each episode.

We really strived to make the TV season progress marking to be flexible for those who want to input all progress information, but still easy for those who care less about that. We still aren't sure if we struck the right balance, so we'd love to hear your thoughts and feedback!

keyboard_arrow_rightRecording subtitle information

For all videos you're watching, finished or stopped, we request that you tell us if you watched with Japanese subtitles or not. This is important to us for a variety of reasons, but the primary impact you'll see is that you won't be prompted to grade things with similar subtitle information. In other words, movies you watched without subtitles are only compared with other movies you watched without audio. We think the best difficulty comparisons are between like media with a similar experience

We also ask that you do not mark videos watched with English subtitles or dubs as 'Watched'. Rather, we have a dedicated 'English subs' status which does not impact your stats or ask you to grade those videos.

We really want the videos you mark 'Watched' be videos where you engaged with Japanese.

In order to streamline subtitle information input, we allow you to set your 'default subs' settings in the quick add menu you see here.

These icons showcase subtitle informtion you've input. The loudspeaker icon is obviously audio only :)

keyboard_arrow_rightDifficulty Grading

As you might expect, the grading interface is exactly the same. A few notes:

  • You can only grade movies vs movies and tv vs tv
  • You can only compare items watched with similar subtitle settings (audio only vs audio only)
  • For the time being, you can grade video items up to 10 levels apart (standard is 5) and each item you can grade 10 times (standard is 6)

If you have any feedback on the difficulty grading (too few items?), let us know!

keyboard_arrow_rightRequesting New Videos

You can also request new videos. One of the amazing things is that you can search for video on TMDB right on Natively, request it and see it added immediately!

It may take an hour for all the episodes and seasons to be added for TV series, so please be somewhat patient. Also, please use responsibly :)

keyboard_arrow_rightFiltering out Video-related activities

Are you only a bookworm at heart? Well, if you don't want to see video-related activities in your feed you can filter them out with the 'books' filter.

You can also set a default for that filter in your user preferences

Thanks for reading! I'm super excited to be releasing this feature. As mentioned before, If you have any feedback or immediate bugs, please send a message in this thread or contact us.

As for what's coming up, I think I'd like to add an FAQs page, improve a few things about videos and maybe implement a configurable 'favorites' list. I'll keep you updated!


2/01/23 - Happy New Year, Update on Movies feature progress, What are we planning for 2023

You may have been wondering what I’ve been up to and I apologize I haven’t updated you all sooner! I’ve been working on adding movies to the site (which i’ll discuss later), but right now, I just want to give a big shoutout to a great 2022!

keyboard_arrow_rightWhat did we do in 2022?
  • Added Forums!
  • @cat started our first book club and @Megumin pioneered a product requests category
  • Added some awesome stats tracking, full with charts on days read, hours read, pages read and much more
  • Made progress on incorporating Movies / TV Shows
  • Overhauled the user profile, allowing photos and more comprehensive details
  • Business / Personal: Incorporated Natively in Seoul and moved there
keyboard_arrow_rightWhere is the site now?
  • 3,700+ book series listed on site, 36,000+ books
  • Fully graded 2,484 series comprising 16,702 unique books!
  • 45,000+ user difficulty gradings
  • 1,200+ written book reviews, 14,000+ book ratings
  • ~5,000 site users, 1,971 forum users
keyboard_arrow_rightWhere are we going in 2023?
  • Finishing movies / tv shows (very soon hopefully)
  • Adding a second language Korean
  • Content Tags, Book Descriptions, Book Provider Search, Favorite list… and working on the Trello backlog (tbd)
  • Book Club support (?, tbd)

After we finish movies & a second language, V1 of Natively will have been completed. I know there are LOTS of things still to improve, but I think we’d have demonstrated a V1 of the core vision, that being a general language learning platform focused on helping users track and find native content.

So, after that point, I think it warrants a brief break to focus on smaller, high priority platform improvements (Content Tags… etc) before moving on to more substantive changes. We also will just need to digest a bit on Korean & Movies/TV Show.

keyboard_arrow_rightWhat do I envision for V2? Some thoughts on the future roadmap.

I’d say there’s two different paths:

  • Path One: Expand breadth of languages, Outreach
  • Path Two: Dive Deeper into Significant New Product Features

To be frank, we’ll probably have a combination of both, so do one or two new languages and do one or two big new features… but those are the competing forces. A lot depends too on how difficult it is to add a new language. Honestly, I don’t imaging much difficulty from the product perspective… it’ll be more an issue of performing outreach, which I very well may hire for.

As for big new product features, what are my thoughts? First, I’d note that these are separate from the ‘medium size’ and below trello tickets. Those I don’t consider core initiatives but ones which I do hope to be more diligent in completing in a timely fashion. Big new features would be: Content Recommendation Engine and/or Book Club Support.

I think I’m more inclined to do the latter and I think there’s a lot of exciting things we could do around book clubs / movie clubs which fit nicely into growing the site. However, when we get here, I’ll be chatting with you before moving forward.

keyboard_arrow_rightWhat’s happening with Movies/TV Shows

It’s coming! Hopefully soon. See notes below. I was hoping to have it done by Feb 1, but it looks like Feb 8th is more realistic

Why has it taken so long?

Well, I won’t lie… my move to Korea and trying to learn Korean has been a bit of a distraction. It’s a lot to move to a new country and learn a new language as you all probably know!😆 I’ve really been focusing on Korean, but i’m feeling more comfortable now. Looking to focus more on Natively this year.

Secondly, this project also turned into a MUCH bigger project than I expected. I’ve essentially had to go through each interface on the site and re worked it to make sure it worked with both movies & books & potentially some more things down the line. That’s a lot of work and the more complicated the development, the exponentially more difficult it is to complete. But we’re close!

keyboard_arrow_rightSneak Peek into Movies

I won’t go through all of the changes, as movies will mostly work just like books do! However, there are two substantive changes to know:

Subtitle information

Subtitle information will be required for your watched/watching audiovisual items. This influences which things you’re prompted to compare when grading difficulty. However, making a clean UI that is intuitive for inputting this information was slightly tricky. My solution:

  • allow you to easily set a default subtitle setting, so that you can quickly watch a bunch of movies as ‘watched’ and ‘with JPN subs’
  • showcase this information via a little symbol (loudspeaker icon means audio only, text paragraph means subtitles)
  • can always specify the info in the big item popup form
Marking TV season progress

TV season progress will be based on num of episodes completed, not minutes watched. These particular episodes can be manually toggled as watched/watching/not watched or you can simply input a current episode number & current_minute and It’ll auto mark the episodes watched.

Auto Marking:

  • (book page - auto marked episodes)

Manual Marking:

  • (book page, manual marking)

There’s also one exciting thing we’ll be able to do with movies I’d like to mention. Our movie database (TMDB) has a partnership with 2 and they provide streaming information based on location! I’ve played around with it, and I’ll definitely be able to allow you to search for content based on your location and preferred provider (like Netflix). It’ll be a followup, but i think it could be a gamechanger!!

That’s all I have for right now! As always, let me know your feedback via email or the forums. Here’s to a great 2023! 🥳🙂


6/12/22 - Natively Forums(!), Email Verification

I'm very excited to introduce our very own Natively forums! I hope this will become a place to discuss all things Japanese media and Japanese learning :)

I've already started a variety of topics & categories, check them out!


There are four categories from which to choose from. Do note that you have to choose a category. In order to keep moderation requirements at a minimum, we are only allowing conversation in the categories below.

You'll notice only the 'Natively' category has topics right now, but please go ahead and start your own!

keyboard_arrow_rightInitial Topics

You'll notice only the 'Natively' category has topics right now, but please go ahead and start your own!

Before chatting away, please take a quick look at our welcome message with our guidelines. If you'd like to discuss the guidelines, please do so here.

keyboard_arrow_rightEmail Verification

You'll now notice that Natively asks you to confirm your email address. Technically, the only functionality which requires email verification is participation in the forums. However, I will continue to prompt you once every few days.

With all the discussions around bot abuse, email verification is a relatively easy mechanism to help prevent some bot abuse. For that reason, along with the forum software (discourse) email verification requirement, I've come around to requiring email verification.

If this is an issue for some reason, or you strongly disagree with this requirement, please let me know!


For this sprint, I'll be focusing on a first version of movies & tv shows! I'll be utilizing the wonderful database as a source for all the information on Movies & TV shows.

This sprint may take a while, but I'd like to get a basic version out as quickly as possible and iterate from there.

Any questions? Please email us or join the conversation!.


5/6/22 - Bug Fix - Improve Additional Options Popup

I’ve fixed the ‘additional options’ popup to handle marking books finished a bit better. Namely, when you change a books status to ‘finished’ I auto update the Current Page to the total pages with a warning.

All the other places where you can mark a book finished (‘update progress’ popup / simple status dropdown on book pages) should already auto update the current page count.

I will note too that for the 160 user books which were clearly affected by this poor interface (books that were marked finished with a current page of 0), I went ahead and updated them to the total page count. I may additionally update 19 more user books that I suspect were also affected, but you’ll receive an email if I do that update.

If you are concerned and would like to know if you were affected, shoot me an email… I’ve saved the information. It was only affecting people marking their books finished through that particular popup, which wasn’t the majority.


5/5/22 - Stats, Stats, Stats!

This sprint was all about surfacing your reading statistics in intuitive way. I think Natively does stats quite well now... better than other reading trackers in my opinion! :)

keyboard_arrow_rightA New 'stats' Tab On Your Profile!

You can now find in-depth metrics on your reading, allowing you to toggle between books vs pages and to split across different time segments. I encourage you to play around!

If you keep track of your days read or log your reading time when you update your progress, you'll find additional graphs.

keyboard_arrow_rightBook Page Stats

On book pages, we now have a new section 'My Stats' which surfaces more reading statistics for a particular book, such as reading speed over the entire book.

keyboard_arrow_rightAdd / Edit Reading Sessions Manually

On your activities related to reading sessions, you can now edit the reading session... such as changing the date or the pages read. If you want to quickly find your reading sessions, remember that you can filter your feed to only 'Reading Sessions'! Also, if you want activities for a particular book, you can always view that feed on that particular books activity feed.

You can now manually add reading sessions! You simply need to go to the book page, find the activity feed and click the '+'. Do note that you can only add from the book page, but you can edit reading sessions anywhere you see the activity.

keyboard_arrow_rightHidden activities

While you've always been able to remove certain activities from your feed, you'll now see you simply can hide activities from others. As we're beginning to use these activity items to surface editing capabilities (such as edit reading sessions), allowing you to remove the activity from the feed wouldn't work.


For this sprint, I'll be adding forums! I'm really not sure how long this will take, but hopefully it's easy. Afterwards, I'll get to movies.

  • Add Discorse forums

Any questions? Please email us or join the conversation!


3/15/22 - User Profile Photos, Profile Style updates

Again, this sprint took longer than anticipated, as I just moved to Korea, but very excited for the profile photo updates! I have had a good work rhythm the past few weeks, so hopefully that continues. :)

keyboard_arrow_rightUser Profile Style Updates

The user profile styling has been completely overhauled to match the rest of the site. You can also now add profile photos along with markdown on your 'about me'!

keyboard_arrow_rightSettings Form overhauled, Uploading user profiles

The user settings form has been overhauled too. It now allows you to build out your profile more fully. I will continue to add setting here as I see fit (like timezone preference)

Of course, you can now upload your profile & banner photos here. Do note the ideal dimensions as your photo will be automatically cropped to that ratio.

keyboard_arrow_rightImproved server infrastructure

While this isn't the sexiest update, I improved some redundancy to the servers which should make them more reliable. We had a brief outage last month (6 hours), which shouldn't ever happen again.


For this sprint, I'll be focusing on stats, hopefully coming soon!

  • Add some graphs for the stats page / better stats

Any questions? Please email us or join the conversation!


1/24/22 - Style Updates, Review Overhaul

This sprint ended up taking longer than anticipated.. it's hard to keep them short! But I'm excited about what's been updated :)

keyboard_arrow_rightStyle Updates

I'm sure you've already noticed this, but the site design and styles are in the process of being overhauled. I've been working with a designer the past few months and I think it looks a lot better!

So far, I've updated the homepage, dashboard, browse pages and book page. Next up - public profile page!

keyboard_arrow_rightNew Book Review Displays With Gradings & Full Page reviews

You can now view a user's gradings along with their book review! I think this is very interesting and informative context.

You can view a review as a solo page! This allows you to write really long reviews with no concern about taking up too much of the book page (I hide part of the review on the book page if it goes on too long).

You can quickly copy the review link so you can easily share your review.

keyboard_arrow_rightReviews now handle markdown!

You can now use markdown in your review... even hide spoilers! You'll also note that I now ask for an optional 'headline' for the review too.

Do note that while the markdown I use is standard markdown, I don't offer everything. You can't upload images or link. I may add more of those things in the future, not sure.

You'll also notice that the markdown parser likes to have new lines around things. So if you want to make a list for example, be sure to have an empty new line around it. Using the formatting buttons above the input should make these things work well.

keyboard_arrow_rightPersonal Update - Moving to Seoul!

For the past couple of years, it's been a dream of mine to move to another country and become fluent in a second language. After a trip a few years ago to Japan, I wanted that country to be Japan.

Of course, separate from moving to Japan, I love learning Japanese and it's what inspired me to start the site! Japanese is something I'll always keep and try to continue to improve.

However, due to Japan's strict border policy, I've finally given up being able to go to Japan. I've had an approved application since last May, but there's still no prospect of Japan opening up.

This lead me to changing my plans to Korea - I'm moving next month! I've also started learning Korean. Now, this won't have much impact on the site - I'll still be focusing on Japanese for the forseeable future. However, for those of you learning Korean, Korean WILL be the second language offered. Hopefully, I can add Korean later this year!

In any case, I'm very excited about all this and just wanted to share!


For this sprint, I'll be focusing on finishing off stat and overhauling the profile styles. I really do hope I get this done within a month!

  • Update styles on public profile page / my library
  • Add some graphs for the stats page / better stats
  • Add 'liking' to reviews, showcase 'likes' on profile

Any questions? Please email us or join the conversation!


12/14/21 - Library Update: Removal of Crystal Hunters

Unfortunately, today I have some sad news - I've removed the popular Crystal Hunters graded reader series from the site. I personally love this series and what the authors (Sean and Nate) are trying to do... which is to make an easy-to-read manga series that slowly grows in difficulty. I used them when I was an N5 and I highly recommend them. However, at Sean & Nate's request, I am removing them from the site.

keyboard_arrow_rightWhy is it being removed?

As you might surmise, Sean and Nate put a ton of effort into how they construct their stories and they pay close attention to the words and grammar that they use so that their stories are easy for beginners. Their easiest stories are intended to be read by someone with a very low level of Japanese (only 87 words in the first story) and they include grammatical explanations for everything as well. Thus, they were quite taken aback when they noticed Natively deemed their beginner stories lvl 10.

We've chatted a lot to try and find a compromise and a solution.. and they've offered a lot of very good feedback. One of the larger reasons I reorganized the JLPT levels a few months back was due to their feedback. Ultimately though, they decided that they still felt their representation on Natively was doing their book more harm than good. And I do understand their perspective - the difficulty levels are a simple measure and for something like Crystal Hunters which could certainly be attempted at a very low level, I can see why they think it's best not to be listed.

keyboard_arrow_rightWas the rating system flawed?

People did consistently rate Crystal Hunters (beginner) around lvl 9/10, but it's complicated. Difficulty is composed of a lot of components - a simple number doesn't fully capture it. One level 10 book that has simple grammar and a supplemental guide may be very approachable for a low level beginner whereas another level 10 book may be impossible. Generally, Natively relies on written reviews to help handle this discrepancy, but it wasn't succeeding in that here.

I won't go into a ton of detail, but simply put the Crystal Hunters team had reasonable complaints. Natively was showcasing their beginner stories as good high level N5 material whereas they intend it for lower N5.

keyboard_arrow_rightWill this happen again?

This removal is an extraordinary measure that I don't ever expect to take again. The main reason I'm doing this for Sean & Nate is simply because I love their project and want to support them however they see fit.

keyboard_arrow_rightWhat happens now?

You will no longer see Crystal Hunters on the site, along with any reviews or gradings you may have done for that book. I have saved all that data on a personal disk if you want me to send them to you, just let me know. I have reached out to some of you directly if you were in the process of reading it.

I know this will be a bummer for some of you and I'm bummed too, but it's for the best hopefully. It's given me things to think about too - how might Natively do better for items like Crystal Hunters?

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please email us or join the conversation!


11/20/21 - Progress Tracking & Activity Stats, Blocking users, Page counts, Library Index Update, Future Design Update

Ok this is a mega update! The highlight is that page counts & reading stats are finally here! Natively is starting to become a fully fledged book tracking site :)

keyboard_arrow_rightProgress Tracking

You can now update your current page on a particular book. If you've finished or stopped a book, you can do that as well.

You can also update the total page count for your particular book. I know people read different editions and this can be an issue.

You can create a timed reading session as well if you want to track your minutes per page.

keyboard_arrow_rightDays Read Tracking

You'll notice below the 'In Progress' section is a new 'Days Read' widget. Here you can keep track of your days read, simply by clicking the days. I've backfilled some days read by simply marking the 'date finished' for any of your books as a day read. If you'd prefer to not have this backfilled, please let us know.

FYI - we will not be auto-marking days read beyond the initial backfill. So if you update your progress on a book, you will also need to mark the day read. I thought about auto-marking today as read if you update a book, but wasn't sure. I would love feedback on that potential mechanism.

keyboard_arrow_rightProfile Activity Tab

There's now an activity tab on your profile! Here's where you can see all your (or someone else's) stats and personal feed.

On your own personal activity tab, you will be able to go back and mark days read in the past. You can even mark entire months read :)

Down below the calendar, you'll see bulk stats and any timed sessions here. Additionally, if you need to edit timed sessions, you can do that here.

This stats section is still very much a work in progress. There will be graphs coming soon...

keyboard_arrow_rightUpdated book edit popup

The 'Open additional options' popup which allows you to edit your book information has been overhauled a bit. You can now edit all your information in one consolidated place - date finished, status, current page... etc.

keyboard_arrow_rightBlocking Users

You can now block users by simply going to their profile page and clicking the gears icon. The 'stop following me' is a soft block - it only blocks them from following you. 'Block' is a global block - they won't be able to see your profile or activity in the global feed.

keyboard_arrow_rightPage Counts

As you might guess, as a part of getting the stats going, I added page counts to the books. Do note that Amazon doesn't have complete data here... we have > 90% coverage right now, but will be working to get more page counts.

keyboard_arrow_rightLibrary Index Update - Top 500 Manga & LNs, 本屋大賞 (in progress)

Just wanted to say - All the top 500 manga & LNs from AniList have been added to the index! Many are not graded, but they're there. We're now working on the 本屋大賞 prize winners, will be adding akutagawa & naoki prize winners soon.

keyboard_arrow_rightBIG SURPRISE - Designed a new homepage, will be slowly rebranding the entire site!

I decided we've reached a point where we needed to professionalize the design and so I've been working with a designer. I love this new direction! What does everyone think?

It will be a big task to change the styles and redesign things, so don't expect anything super quickly... but it's coming! :)


For this sprint, I'll be focusing on finishing off stats and moving into reviews:

  • Add some graphs for the stats page / better stats
  • Begin to build new homepage and incorporate styles into site
  • Begin to overhaul reviews - add markdown, 'liking' reviews, JLPT recommendation?, improve reviews ui

Any questions? Please email us or join the conversation!


10/20/21 - Remapping JLPT Estimates, Patreon & Kofi Support Pages, Bookwalker freebies

Taking a slight detour here! Due to feedback on JLPT estimates, I decided to prioritize that over the activity updates laid out in the previous update's 'upcoming'. Will be working on those initiatives in the upcoming sprint.

keyboard_arrow_rightRemapping JLPT Estimates

After chatting with some users, I've decided to implement new JLPT estimates. Don't worry - the levels didn't change, just the JLPT estimate. The only levels I had to change were textbooks as those books are benchmarked to JLPT.

As you can see, JLPT N5 has increased to a 13 level range (0-12), whereas the rest are only 7. My thoughts on how I came to these ranges:

  • Crystal Hunters - L10 should be N5 (the creators explicity build it with JLPT N5 in mind)
  • Japanese Short Stories for Beginners - L13 should be at the beginning of N4 (from personal experience and user reviews)
  • Generally, people seem to tackle their first manga after Genki II, which is why I've tried to keep the easier manga (lvl 19/20) at the start of N3
  • I've gotten feedback that the easier Light Novels should be in N2, not N3 (such as Kino's journey - L27)
  • I've also been told 天冥の標 - L36 would be too difficult for N2

Putting all this information together with my own experience and investigation, the new JLPT ranges seemed like the best fit.

These estimations are, of course, very approximate and I have become a less keen to emphasize the estimations rather than levels. For instance, I no longer have JLPT tags on the homepage and I more strongly guide on the Our Grading System page around the difficulties with JLPT estimation.

In the future, I may add a 'recommend a JLPT Grammar level' widget in the book review popup. Compiling these ratings could be a better way to gauge JLPT level separate from general difficulty.

If you have any thoughts on the current JLPT estimates, please let me know!

keyboard_arrow_rightPatreon & Kofi Support Pages

You can now support Natively on Patreon or Kofi!

While I do aim to offer a premium service at somepoint, the current website will always be free! As this is my full-time job, any support you can offer me really does help. Thank you!

keyboard_arrow_rightBookwalker freebies

You'll now notice a lot more free manga - that's because I now make sure to mark any freebies from BookWalker.


For this sprint, I'll be refocusing on on the 'upcoming' from my last announcement... as I got sidetracked:

  • Allowing users to mark book updates / page tracking. Ex: Read pgs 1 - 171
  • Adding activity tracking & streaks
  • Allowing users to block other users from following them

Any questions? Please email us or join the conversation!


10/07/21 - Activity feeds, following and improved public profiles

The first of the community features has landed! I'm very excited for this update to drop :)

keyboard_arrow_rightActivity feeds

This may be the most prominent change. As soon as you land in your dashboard, you'll notice a new 'activity' section. Here's where you can see what's going on at Natively and if anyone you're following has done something new.

You can filter to certain types of activity as well - gradings, reviews or book updates. If there's an activity you don't want shown, you can delete it via the 'x'.

keyboard_arrow_rightPrivacy settings

I'm sure not everyone will be thrilled to have their activity shown globally, so I've added an additional privacy setting 'semi-public' which excludes you from global feeds. People will still be able to follow you and view your profile.

While I do understand that some people are wary of showcasing their activity globally, I'd encourage you to do so! It will help the site, but more importantly, some learners really do get inspired by seeing others accomplish their goals. If you're worried about privacy, I encourage you to pick an anonymous username, but keep your privacy public.

If these privacy options aren't right for you, please let me know. Obviously, it'd be great to have full-fledged privacy features with friend requests and approvals, but I do need to balance where I spend my time.


You can now follow other users! Simply click the '+ follow' button on their profile.

Activity from users you're following will be put into your 'following' activity feed.

Following a user can also act like 'saving' their profile for quick viewing later - you can see all the people you're following on the 'social' tab of your profile.

keyboard_arrow_rightImproved Public Profiles - Reviews & Gradings tabs

You can now see a user's written reviews all in one consolidate place. You can also easily search for a review of a certain book. As I've mentioned before, review functionality will be improving soon, so you may see more changes coming here!

You can also see a user's gradings too, along with book search. I'm not entirely sure how to make the interface here more engaging (it's a lot of text, i know), but it's straightforward!

keyboard_arrow_rightImproved Romaji search

I've done a lot of work on romaji search for authors & titles and I'm feeling that it's in a great place now. You should be able to confidently use romaji now! All the autocompletes support romaji as well.

keyboard_arrow_rightGradings search

As you could see in the gradings tab, you can now search for gradings concerning a particular book. I've implemented that functionality on both the book page and your gradings admin.

This means that if you want to see comparisons between two particular books, it's easy now! Just go to the book page and search the book you want compared.

Ex: If you want to see comparisons between ARIA and よつばと!, go to よつばと! and type filter by 'ARIA'.


For this sprint, I'll be focusing on:

  • Allowing users to mark book updates / page tracking. Ex: Read pgs 1 - 171
  • Adding activity tracking & streaks
  • Adding a patreon page / kofi donation page

Originally, I was going to focus on reviews this sprint, but after viewing the activity feeds, I decided to prioritize allowing users to mark more of their activity.

Any questions? Please email us or join the conversation!


9/23/21 - More grading tweaks, contracted out book additions

A lot of grading updates this time - will be getting into more community features next sprint!

keyboard_arrow_rightContracted out book additions, proactively adding >70 unique series a week

You can now expect the book database to continue to increase at a steady rate. We've gone through the top 500 manga on AniList and we are now working through the top 500 light novels, which will take us a little while. I'm aiming for > 100 unique series a week, but we're only at 70 currently.

keyboard_arrow_rightImproved search - added romaji, kana and english to many titles, authors are clickable

Search is much better at handling non kanji searches. For most manga / light novels, there's a good chance I now will return the right result for non kanji searches. I'll be surfacing them shortly in the UI. As for non manga / LNs, I use an automatic kana converter for the titles, however the kana / romaji performance is less reliable. Something like "konbini ningen" works, but strangely for 君の名は it converts to 君 to kun... YMMV.

Author names are now clickable too!

keyboard_arrow_rightImproved temporary ratings again

I've put a lot more work into temporary ratings and have now moved to a completely custom system. The previous system simply used an elo system with a large K value, but that had the tendency of weighting the last grade way too much. The new system is a bit complicated to explain, but it's much more intelligent now. It first tries to make bounds around reasonable guesses and then utilizes a limited elo system (smaller k) starting from the middle of those bounds. Needless to say, I've gone back and recalculated some temporary ratings for some books and it produces much better results!

keyboard_arrow_rightPreliminary investigation into Bradley-Terry model

While I was improving the temporary rating system, I was inspired to take a look at the bradley terry model utilizing a prebuilt python package. I was able to replicate my current rankings quite easily, which leads me to believe I could implement it if I wanted to. It would still take a lot of work to fully analyze the results, create mappings that make sense with the current leveling schemes and grading processes... but it's promising.

The Bradley-Terry model can be thought of as a 'static' elo system, which would resolve the issue of recency with the current system. However, the larger problem of too large of influence from particular users would not be resolved, so the benefits may not be worth it until I figure that out.

keyboard_arrow_rightImproved Grading Interface (progress bar!), better comparison generation, 'Extra' gradings

The progress bar is backk!! You'll notice that if you're grading a book that is temporary, you may get some ~ because it can fluctuate how many gradings you have. You'll also notice that I prioritize comparing books of the same type first. So if you're grading a manga, I first surface other manga before going to other book types. I think that this will eliminate the need for custom comparisons.. but let me know!

You can now do 'extra' gradings on a book even if you've completed your six! You simply can go to that book and go to the grading section. If there are gradings available, you'll see a '+ grade extra'. The gradings will not impact the difficulty ratings currently (I will use them in the future though, when I figure out a better algorithm), but they will show on the book pages. I expect that I will have a general 'extra' grader soon, so you don't have to choose a particular book from a book page... but I think this works well for now!


I'm very excited for the next steps. As I've mentioned before, I'll be focusing on community for the next few sprints. Originally I thought I would start with public boards for lists, but I've decided to start with following and following activity and then move onto reviews. For this sprint, I'll be focusing on:

  • following mechanism, showcase followers on profile, simple follower activity feed
  • add follower privacy settings

This may be a bit shorter sprint, but I think my sprints have been going too long anyway!

Any questions? Please email us or join the conversation!


8/31/21 - Personal Library Improvements, Custom Lists and Scaling up book index

Apologies it's been so long since my past updates! I've been doing most of my updates in the WaniKani thread, but from this point, I'll try to do more updates here as well :)

Personal Library Improvements

I've once again overhauled the personal libraries - you can now do full fledged search on your own personal libraries and even link to particular results on your profile.

I've put a bit of work into the new interface design as well. Not only does it look much better, but it's much more useable.

Custom Lists

You can now create custom lists, such as first manga recommendations! This is the beginning of a series of community and sharing features I will be rolling out. Soon I'll be allowing you to order list items & display on your public profile.

Scaling up books database

The books database has been increased by over 30% in recent weeks - this rate will continue to increase! Please, if you have any books you want added, don't hesitate to let us know!

Ratings Reports On Hold

I'm no longer going to do ratings reports... they take a bit of time and my impression has been people don't care all that much about random rating changes... they'd only potentially be interested in changes on books in their library. I may at some point add that, but I'm not sure.

If you have any thoughts around this or if you really liked the ratings reports, please don't hesitate to let me know in the WaniKani thread or via the contact form.

Any questions? Please let us know!


6/11/21 - Better grading system, Better browse and a WaniKani invasion!

There's been a lot going on! Let's get into it.

Grading system overhaul

Due to some new power users (shoutout Naphthalene & bison!), I've had to address some scaling issues! This required me to completely overhaul the grading system so that we only generate, at a maximum, 6 comparisons per book.

Also, I've had to do quite a few 'My Resources' tweaks like collapsible series, otherwise their libraries were unusable!

Better browse

I've put a lot of work into the site navigation and into the search page in particular, so that you can find the books you need easily. The changes also allow recipients of search result links to clearly see any filter tags that have been applied, which is a much more intuitive experience.

WaniKani Invasion!

We've had a massive influx of new users coming in from WaniKani! I especially want to call out all the advanced power users who've added a lot of books, gradings and reviews to the platform. We now have over 3000 books across 400 series! It's so humbling to see how much the community has bought in!

This WaniKani thread has now become the go-to development thread, where people talk about the platform and discuss features. If you'd like to join the conversation, please come over! WaniKani accounts are free, I only use the forums for instance :)

Ratings Report

There have been an incredible number of ratings updates and there are many more than the ones shown below - only a few highlights are included.

The popular とらドラ!series has now been added and graded!
The most famous work from the recently-passed Kentaro Miura has also been added
Our first Murakami classic has been fully graded!
よつばと! continues to fall and is now all the way down to lvl 21!
While it didn't change a full level, レンタルおにいちゃん and チーズスイートホーム are vying closely for the reputation of easiest manga
Another very popular series has been added - Spice and Wolf. Be wary though, this light novel is pretty darn tough!

Any questions? Please let us know!


5/15/21 - Public Profiles, Improved Search, and More

It's been a little while since my last blog post, so I should update you all - things are going well! I have a few major additions that I'd like to highlight:

Public Profiles are now available

Public profiles are a great way to showcase your language journey, from things you've really enjoyed to books you're still hoping to read (See mine for an example). They can also be a great source of inspiration - read a review you really like? Go check out their profile for more recs. Everywhere you see a username, simply click it to go to their profile.

Public profiles will continue to see updates in the next few weeks - including tabs explicitly for reviews, your gradings and any books you've added to the platform.

Crowd sourcing book URLs, Furigana / Ebook tags

You can now add 'Where To Find' URLs on every book. Additionally, you can specify if that link goes to a furigana version of the book. This is super helpful for beginning learners (see here for an example).

Improved Search

General search has been improved a lot - you can now sort by popularity, review rating and level. You can also filter by WaniKani book club books. I've also added sorting and filters to 'My Resources' as well.

Ratings Report

There are many more rating updates than the ones shown below (106!) - only a few highlights are included.

Convenience Store Woman
We're a bit more confident in Convenience Store Woman, one of our most popular novels.
Our biggest changer was 名のないシシャ! It jumped all the way from 29 to 35, demonstrating the 'temporary' grading system can have a big effect.
Zenitendou, The Mysterious Sweet Shop! Vol. 1
'Zenitendou, The Mysterious Sweet Shop!' was another big changer.
Penguin Highway
Penguin Highway is another N2 addition that we're more confident in.
Princess Mononoke Vol 1
We finally got some Miyazaki with 'Princess Mononoke Vol 1'!
'世界から猫が消えたなら!' is another of our more popular advanced novels.
Other Updates

Below are the other major things i've been working on since the last update

  • Added WaniKani book club information (tagged each WaniKani book club book, added links to the book club homepage)
  • Added who's reading / read each book
  • Added an easy mechanism for requesting more books in a series to be added
  • Added over 200 books to the collection
  • Personally reviewed and compared many of the most popular books

Any questions? Please let us know!


3/22/21 - Books Are On The Move!

Wow! I was blown away by the response to Natively's introduction on reddit. We've received so many reviews, book requests, user gradings and feature suggestions - thank you!! It's really inspiring and has made working on the site very rewarding.

I've been hard at work trying to put your grades into action and I'm happy to announce the first updates to our difficulty ratings! There's still a long ways to go before we'll have confidence in the levels & the algorithm (we need many more grades), but I'm excited by the progress so far.

Ratings Report

There are many more rating updates than the ones shown below (66!) - only a few highlights are included.

ありますか? becomes our easiest book! The 'Tadoku - Free' series has been completely reshuffled due to all the grades we've received.
Perhaps level 24 was a bit too high for yotsubato, it's beginning to fall.
The biggest ratings fall! You can really see the effect of 'temporary' grades on this one.
Laid-Back Camp
One of our most popular manga series, we're starting to feel a little more confident in our grade of this one.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Harry Potter stayed put at it's level, but we're more confident now.
The Devotion of Suspect X
Perhaps we put this one too high? Cat mentioned she thought it should be 30.
Other Updates

Below are the major things i've been working on for the past few weeks

  • Reduced the number of grading comparisons asked of each user by eliminating less important comparisons.
  • Developed the notion of 'variant' book series - by default, we assume all books in a series are at the same level, unless many users grade sequential volumes as different difficulties. This approach allows us to reduce how many gradings we need from each user.
  • Improved browse on the search page. We now collapse book series into one item
  • Drastically improved site speed for non US users
  • Added over 300 books to the collection
  • Allow you to sort series by difficulty
  • Built analytics for the grading system going forward

Any questions? Please let us know!