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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Why A Japanese Learner Should NEVER Use Google Translate, Ever.

Hello again!

Today I’m going to talk about a topic that, I honestly, as a learner of Japanese, really wish to get across to those considering learning or are currently learning Japanese.
I am pretty sure anyone who has spent a considerable time on the internet knows about translation websites and services. These websites operate in such a way that a user enters a string in a certain language, and the software outputs a translation based on how it is coded, regardless of its accuracy. With that said, I think we can all agree that translation technology has a long way to go before it even gets close to natural, or at least accurate translation 100% of the time. I also think we can all agree that the most (in)famous of all these online translators is Google Translate.

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At least it knows it’s an expression. But still, oh my goodness…

Note, the above’s correct translation is “nonexistent.” あらへん is Kansai for ない.

Now to be fair, it’s already been established that Google Translate Japanese, is noticeably horrific, as evidenced by the many Japanese YouTubers who made videos on the subject. The way I see it, it’s really because of how English is structured that when it is run in Google Translate’s code, it tends to jack things up a lot. Japanese’s grammar is very different from English; so much different that I personally recommend studying Japanese brute force – no comparisons to English. Also, the fact that Japanese has different levels of politeness tends to mess with the AI so much, that sentences being translated by the translator could end up being overly polite, or overly rude, or a mix of both. Either way, it’s a pain to read. This issue of being jacked up in translation is also caused by the fact that Japanese has many dialects, although this one is more evident when translating Japanese to English (see my example above).

But just in case you don’t believe me:

Original English: My name is Ayappi. I’m 18 years old and love anime. I also love technology, especially my custom PC and my iPad Pro that I recently bought. I built the computer with parts I bought with my own money that I saved. 

Japanese (My Own): あやっぴです。18歳でアニメ大好きです。テクも大好きです。特に自分の自作PCと最近買ったiPad Pro。あの自作PC、貯めたお金でパーツを買って作りました。

Japanese (Google Translate): 私の名前はAyappiです。 私は18歳で、アニメを愛しています。 私はテクノロジー、特に私が最近買った私のカスタムPCとiPad Proも好きです。 私は私が自分のお金で買った部品でコンピュータを作りました。

While the first sentence is correct on the Google Translate one, it’s probably the only correct part. Notice the unnatural language, as well as the lack of Japanization of my name in the Google Translate version. あやっぴ is how you write my name in Japanese. Also notice how there is a noticeable overuse of 私, a dead giveaway that this is Google Translate, simply because a normal Japanese person would have just omitted the word altogether due to it being obvious.

Fun Tip: If you suspect someone is using Google Translate, please use a dialect or net slang. Chances are it will confuse them.

Okay, so we established that Google Translate is bad for translating sentences, but how about individual words? Surely it must be accurate in that department yeah? Well, based on my testing at least, it’s fairly accurate. It’s probably the one thing Google Translate is good at. However, I would like to point out one important thing, and that is the fact that alternatives to Google Translate for this purpose exist. Oftentimes, these alternatives are even better, and more powerful than Google Translate.

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Don’t you agree that this is more powerful?

I’m referring especially towards online dictionaries that offer English to Japanese capability. In particular, I love Jisho for its support for English to Japanese, and even support for romaji input if you’re still learning Hiragana and Katakana. I personally don’t see the point of using translation services which have been notorious for unreliable translations, when these more powerful and easy to use alternatives exist. When I’m communicating to actual people, I would much rather go through the trouble of using these dictionaries for more accurate translations instead of the arguably more convenient Google Translate.

And if a web browser based solution isn’t up to your preference, there are many free dictionary applications on both Android and iOS (if you’re on iOS I recommend Shirabe Jisho), that are equally as powerful as Jisho. Don’t worry about space too, because based on my testing, they’re small. Oftentimes it’ll just be as big as Facebook Messenger depending on how much you use the application.

I’m sorry if I came off as too rude or arrogant here, but honestly I wanted to get this out of the way. As a learner of Japanese I, too will admit that in the first few months of me learning, I used Google Translate until I realized how flawed the system is. If you have access to any form of dictionary, please for your own sake do not use Google Translate. If you don’t, look for one. I promise you, this is better than accidentally saying something else compared to what you actually wanted to say (and trust me, I learned the hard way).

Are you a learner of Japanese or do you know anyone who likes to use Google Translate a lot? Please let me know your thoughts! If you use a dictionary, what do you use and why did you choose that?

Until the next entry, please have a nice day! ❤