One of the more difficult aspects of learning a foreign language is when you encounter a word for a concept that doesn’t map clearly to something in your native language. One example is こと from chapter one, which shows up more in chapter two, giving a wider scope to its uses.
Another such word appears on the first place of chapter two: わけ.
Jisho tells us that わけ means:
conclusion from reasoning, judgement or calculation based on something read or heard; reason; cause; meaning; circumstances; situation
On its own, わけ is really generic and vague, to the point of having no substantial meaning. It needs to be modified to tell what kind of conclusion it is.
This is actually a really bad “first exposure to わけ” sentence because it involves a shogi configuration of pieces, and because it’s a negative (ない). These complicate the sentence to the point that I would say, if don’t know わけ yet, don’t worry too much about trying to understand it here. You’ll see it plenty more in time, and you’ll have many opportunities to get to know it better.
That said, it doesn’t hurt to go over the basics, if you don’t mind covering the shogi portion first.
Note: I’m looking up shogi terms as I go.
In the context of playing shogi, the verb 組む (“to assemble”) refers to arranging pieces.
One arrangement is 穴熊, a formation that places the king piece at the corner of the board, and surrounds it with specific other pieces. This is the strategy Tanaki is using, with his king at the bottom-right corner of the board, and various other pieces surrounding it.
Before delving into what わけ means, let’s first look at the clause that modifies it:
“[Subject] makes something like the anaguma arrangement.”
For what reason would someone use this arrangement in shogi? There are many reasons to use it (or not to use it). The end result of that reasoning is to use the arrangement (or not). That conclusion that one has reasoned their way to is represented by the word 「わけ」.
No Good Reason
But what if there is no reason to reach the conclusion to use the anaguma arrangement?
This is what Urushi is saying here: “There’s no (reasoning that reaches the conclusion) to make an arrangement into something like the anaguma.”
For this, ない is added onto わけ. It essentially changes the meaning of わけ from “reasoning has lead to this conclusion” to “there is no reasoning that can lead to this conclusion”.
I’m not yet good at explaining わけ, but hopefully this will have been a useful introduction. If this is your first time seeing わけ, don’t worry too much about it yet. But if you’d like to learn more, I highly recommend Cure Dolly’s video, Japanese “underlying logic”: わけ、そういうわけ、わけが分からない、わけない | Lesson 68.
Over on page 15…
In shogi, Ayumu tends to play defensively. For example, in this chapter, he’s setting up a well-known defense formation to protect his king, instead than going after Urushi’s pieces.
But outside of shogi, rather than taking the defense, Ayumu takes the offense in making complimentary remarks of Urushi, forcing her to often be on the defense (as we saw in chapter one). This is the kind of behavior Urushi is alluding to as Ayumu taking the offense.
For his line on page 15, when he says 「たとえばどういうところですか」:
The word ところ means “place”, but it can also mean an “aspect”. When he says “For example, what ところ are you talking about?” he’s saying, “What aspect are you talking about that I take the offense?” Urushi’s inner response, 「そういうところだよ」, is saying, “That’s the ところ (aspect) I’m talking about!”
Let me know if there are aspects that are still unclear!