Book Review, Fiction, Manga, N4

[N4] サムライ漫画(まんが)

You can get a taste of samurai manga with this story about a nameless rōnin who experiences a typical day full of fights, selfish heroism and hospitality. This short manga was written and illustrated by Yuki Sengoku for the Japan Foundation’s anime-manga website.

The language of this manga itself can be challenging, but with the site’s functions for language learners I believe this short manga is just perfect as a reading exercise for readers with N4 reading abilities.

You can hover over the character lines and the onomatopoeia to get a translation in English and the text is also clickable to play a sound file for authentic pronounciation.

Every page also provides extra cultural information to click on and receive some context e.g. for Samurai hierarchy, Rōnin or the class system of the Edō period.

The first two pages from the manga. Highlights show speech and onomatopoeia.

I already reviewed the school manga by this site and comparatively this one about samurai is definitely more difficult both thematically and language-wise. I recommend brushing up on colloquial Japanese – especially on contractions and phonetic shifts (e.g. ~てしまった → ~ちまった and ()ってない → ()ってねぇ).

Because I don’t usually read this kind of manga genre, there were also many new expressions for me to learn, like in this scene, where our protagonist is asked his name.

To adress someone with そなた is already unusual, but the pronoun 拙者(せっしゃ) is exclusively used by samurai from what I found out and would rarely come up outside the genre.

This short manga is mainly a recommendation to learners who are interested in manga set in the Edō period and the samurai character archetype, but since manga characters are often hyperbolic, characters with a similar manner of speaking can also be found in many popular shōnen manga with a modern or even a fantasy setting.

You can challenge yourself to some manga practise with samurai manga here: https://anime-manga.jp/en/expressions-by-scene/samurai

Length: 30 pages

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