Is Gojikanme no Sensou Worth Reading?

Ayappi here (๑╹ω╹๑ )

When aliens invade the world, what’s the first thing you plan to do? In this manga’s Japan, the plan is to deploy teenagers to fight the alien invaders. It’s every man for Japan in this manga, in an attempt to repel the unknown threat, which only (spoiler) gets revealed at the end who they exactly are. In this review I’ll go over my thoughts I had with Gojikanme no Sensou.

Girls and Guns, and Alien Invaders

The story is set in a world where the Japanese mainland is invaded by an unknown force of aliens. In an attempt to get as much forces needed to repel the threat, the Japanese government issues an order where select high school students will get deployed in the mainland to assist the SDF in fighting. This in my opinion, while some could argue that this is just an attempt at including girls with guns, this would actually make sense given the issues Japan is facing right now such as the rapidly aging population. While old people could fight, there’s only so much an aging body could do. Therefore the decision to use young people to fight may have been the only option at the time.

One common theme in this story, is loss. As the manga progresses, we get to witness ourselves the deaths of the class. These losses however, are not limited to physical losses or deaths of the characters and Japan but extend over to strained relationships and misunderstandings between the characters.  Despite these losses and deaths (towards the end the classroom was near empty), sufficient pages were given to developing the characters and their backstories, so it wasn’t at the cost of character development. One such example of this is the entire chapter dedicated to Miyoshi, the painter boy. If anything, should the characters end up being relatable to the reader, it only boosts the drama and the immersion factor of the manga for the reader. With this whole loss thing however, there’s one thing that boggles my mind: “Why and how did Saku suddenly disappear in the end, without a trace?”

UPDATE: Saku ran off to the mainland to meet with his current girlfriend, which isn’t Miyako. However, it’s safe to assume Saku died as this is the last we’ll ever see from him.

However towards the end, we get to see Miyako bearing 2 children, a boy and a girl, in a new world without the aliens. We get to see life blooming both from her, as well as the formerly resource scarce, now crop filled island. It should be noted that prior to the last chapter, Miyako had to buy food from a merchant boat that brought supplies from the mainland. That, and vegetables were handled by a small farm near the school grounds tended by Saku. The last chapter in particular (which is really long), gave many emphasis on nature, as well as the children of Miyako. The aliens are gone, and a new life starts for Miyako, her children and Japan. This is a nice contrast in my opinion to the first theme which is loss. As old life is lost, new lives begin to grow. It reflects the natural cycle of life and death, and is a smart and beautiful way of conveying that message in my opinion. At least that’s how I interpreted it.

What’s interesting to note of is the names of the two main characters. It’s foreshadowed from the beginning by the act of declaring Miyako and Saku to be unfit for combat, that one or both of them will be the only ones to survive. Now the kanji for Miyako’s name, 都, means “metropolis” or “city.” Being a mother of two children in a newly deserted island in Japan, it’s obvious that her children will be responsible for repopulating the entire island. In other words, make lots and lots of babies, people. Saku’s name, means north or first day of the month. However if we change the characters to a verb, 咲く which means to “bloom (as in life),” then we could possibly see a connection between their “plot armor” foreshadowed survival and the cycle of life and death I just discussed. Although Saku disappears in the end, you could say Saku and Miyako’s fruits “bloomed” in the form of their children.

This cycle of life and death also extends over to the strained interpersonal relationships of the characters. In particular, this one scene with Miyako and Saku towards the end of the manga. The two have sex in order to have babies, possibly because they think they’re the only humans left, but really prior to this scene Saku just answered Miyako’s confession. Now, sex is one of those things that may possibly reflect the closeness of two individuals. This could have indicated a revival of their past relationship as in the story their relationship has been kind of rocky, mostly due to the unrequited love. Again, it reflects the theme of life and death possessed by the manga.

The art for this manga, is really nothing special. However it does set the moods really well in certain scenes. Probably one of the best instances of the art setting the mood is with the drawing of the stuffed rabbit. It is heavily implied that the talking rabbit is the alien threat, and spoiler, it is. However, we don’t know its true nature just yet, but I personally leaned towards the “messenger/traitor from the enemy out to help the main characters.” It was only until the depiction of a rabbit in an eerie devil costume (drawn well enough to give anyone nightmares) was the true loyalties of the “rabbit” foreshadowed.

The pacing of the story is okay. Scenes didn’t feel rushed at all, and I personally think skipping some months to kill off some side characters helped a lot in the pacing. Besides, the majority of the manga are scenes set in the island, so adding more chapters just for the sake of showing how the rest died probably wouldn’t have helped at all. It just would hurt the pacing and would look out of place in my opinion.

Overall I’m pretty happy I read this manga. I only have a few gripes with the story, but regardless I enjoyed the ride. Now, would I recommend, the, that you read this manga? Are you a fan of alien invasions, high school students going to war, and apocalyptic stories? If you cannot read Japanese and are alright with waiting for the translations, then I might be able to recommend this manga to you, because that’s the one thing keeping it out of reach for English only readers. But if you’re a brave soul, I would strongly suggest that you have a dictionary nearby if you choose to read the Japanese because majority of the dialogue is in a dialect. However it is by no means a poorly written story and I think it deserves a chance to be read.

Have you read Gojikanme no Sensou? Please do let me know down below! Thank you for reading, and have a great day ❤

Also, I would like to give a little heads up regarding my current situation. I will be starting my third year at university tomorrow, and I wouldn’t have time to post as much as before. Given that, I will only be posting at minimum, one post per week. Maybe even more if I have the time for it, but certainly there will be one post per week unless something like a blackout happens.

Also, thank you for taking the time to subscribe and read my articles! It really means a lot to me!

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Is Shishunki Bitter Change Worth a Read?

Ayappi here (°▽°)ノ

Spoiler Warning, Please Skim Through if You’re Not OK with Spoilers

Body swapping might not be a pleasant experience

Lately due to me being out of the house most of the time, I’ve been reading more manga than watching anime. Some of these series I only thought about reading just recently, while others I have read but have decided to re-read them because I simply lost track. Today I would like to talk about a certain manga series that at first glance might seem like it’s a Kimi no Na Wa rip off, but in reality it isn’t, and spoiler alert, it’s really good. I’ll get to why in a minute.

Shishunki (or Shisyunki) Bitter Change is a romance manga that deals with body swapping, much like Kimi no Na Wa. I figured that there would be a possibility that people would dismiss the manga as a rip off of the said series. However, the premise they operate, and how the body swapping works is entirely different. On Na Wa’s side, they body swap to each other on an alterate daily basis as soon as they fall asleep. On Shishunki’s body swapping, the two body swap indefinitely one day when the main male character Yuuta falls down on Yui, the main female character. They might be similar as well as to how they deal with their body swapping, such as “To Not Do Lists,” but the two are still different from each other. It should also be noted that Shishunki came out 4 years before Kimi no Na Wa stormed to success.

With that out of the way, let’s move on. The manga from what I read does a great job of using the whole body swapping thing to develop its characters and create, as the title implies, changes. The two, in the story, as they live out their lives in the bodies of each other, consciously and unconsciously fill in what was missing in their lives before the entire incident happened. Yuuta (in Yui’s body), fills in her desire to have friends and gets her out of the lonely zone, while Yui (in Yuuta’s body), gives Yuuta good grades.

Change is a common theme in this entire manga, and most if not all characters are NOT spared from the clutches of change. It’s a dynamic character festival, and we’re given front row seats to watch these characters grow up and change. There may be instances of characters that look like static ones, such as Mr. Hopeless Romantic, but in reality they had some subtle changes that could easily be overlooked, especially when binge reading.

(Super spoilers) But where does the “bitter” in bitter change come in? My guess on the matter, other than the side characters getting rejected of their romantic feelings for the two, which have lead to many changes in their lives, is how Yuuta developed romantic feelings for Yui. The two main characters had to deal with heartbreaks and rejections, as well as countless fights between each other for misunderstandings and deviations from the “To Not Do Lists.” Yuuta in particular had to deal with Yui not being able to “read” his feelings and blabbering nothing but Takuma, Yuuta’s best friend Yui has fallen for. These Although in the last chapter I have read, it may be implied that the two will end up together based on how I interpreted it.

My other guess on the whole “bitter change” bit is the entire concept of puberty. Shishunki translates to puberty, and in the story, we could see the characters dealing with puberty in bodies that aren’t even theirs. Oftentimes this has been bitter for the characters, especially because they weren’t supposed to experience puberty like that. Take for example Yuuta having to experience menstruation in Yui’s body. Couple that with the uncertainty on what could happen while the current owner is in the body, and it could make for one bitter experience.

As for the characters, they’re very relatable and believable, especially those that are still kids and/or undergoing puberty at the moment. The characters are the types of people you would commonly find in both grade school and middle/high school such as the smart lonely one, or the sociable one, or even the hopeless romantic. Family issues are also tackled in the story and I think it just helps with the whole relatability and believability factor. Not all families are the same after all, and it’s something every child eventually comes to know as they go out and explore and interact with the world. Although in this story’s case, they were unspared the trouble of finding out at a very early age, first hand. Me personally, I could relate with both Yui and Yuuta a lot, equally.

On the subject of character development, allow me to get this out of the way, but I’m personally glad that this didn’t turn out to become an ecchi manga. Ecchi can work and can even develop characters, maybe even faster than the current pace of the story. However, it feels kind of lazy in my opinion, and it could easily get lost in the fanservice should that be the case and I’m glad the author managed to develop its characters without going the ecchi route.

Art is handled well. It’s not tough to look at compared to something like Kotoura-san’s art style. I love Kotoura-san, but Kotoura’s eyes just look really weird and uncomfortable to look at. But it isn’t really groundbreaking or revolutionary for me to write an extra paragraph about it. Although, I have to give the author props because the simple art can actually help in keeping focus. This story can get confusing after all, given the whole body swap thing, and a lack of focus would make you get entirely lost in the story.

Would I recommend this manga? Yes. A definite yes. It’s a simple, yet beautiful story about body swapping that in my opinion, manages to hit the right spots. It’s not tough to read as well, light despite the presence of some drama scenes and fights. My only issue with this entire manga, really, is that it’s still not over. I personally want to see these two together (I ship them) and I couldn’t wait to see the ending already. It’s not a bad thing by any means, just that I can get impatient with these kinds of things.

So yes, if you’re looking for a lighthearted but interestingly kind of confusing romance manga, Shishunki Bitter Change should in my opinion be in your list. There are 8 volumes currently available, but I suspect a 9th volume coming soon. You could buy these on Amazon or eBookJapan at around standard manga price (around ¥4-500 before tax).

Have you read Shishunki Bitter Change? Would you consider reading it? Please do let me know and have a nice day ❤