After years of self-study, I've found that different Japanese media play different roles in helping me study. Visual novels are great starting practice (and great for more advanced Japanese, too, depending on the writer!) because they are generally voiced (which helps with readings and nuance) and provide visuals (which provide context that you might not pick up on otherwise). Manga is similar due to its visuals and generally easy-to-follow form of communication, not to mention the colloquial Japanese (and onomatopoeia!) frequently used, though it's perhaps a bit less useful in learning everyday Japanese. Once you've developed your Japanese enough, straight-up novels are HUGELY beneficial because they require you to put so much together in your head and the development of a large vocabulary base. Ironically, I've found anime and games to be only SIGNIFICANTLY helpful in my advanced stages, maybe because: Anime) Better listening and vocabulary skills makes it easier to piece together the bits you miss as a beginner, and Games) I always found myself skipping the Japanese because I just wanted to GAME! I'd be happy to give recommendations, though that can really differ from person-to-person depending on your learning style!