Gundam Aggressor - page 31-4/5: locate and obstruct

I’m reading vol. 1 of the manga series Mobile Suit Gundam Aggressor, and you are welcome to join me!

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Why this book?
Because I enjoy watching Gundam and one of the reasons I study Japanese is to be able to enjoy it in its original language. So I thought it would be nice idea to read a Gundam manga, and as this particular book has not yet been translated into English, that makes it even more appealing to me.

What is this book?
From the Gundam.fandom page:

Mobile Suit Gundam Aggressor is a manga illustrated by Daichi Banjō that officially premiered in Shōnen Sunday Super on October 25th, 2014. The story follows the Aggressor unit, a “traitor” Federation unit of soldiers who defected from the Zeon side.

How difficult is this book?
I have to be honest, it is far too difficult for me! But there is furigana throughout and I’m doing just a little bit each a day. Every day I study at least one sentence and make my best guess at a translation. There are 184 pages, so if I average one page a day, that gives a finish date of July 2nd. So this is a long project at a slow pace. Oh, and if you’d like a preview of the manga, just click on the picture on the Amazon page.

But your translations are going to be awful! You’ll make a mess!
Yes, that’s right. I’m using Jisho and what little Japanese I’ve learnt so far to work on at least one sentence each day. I make mistakes and get things wrong, but I’m not setting out to be perfect and not claiming that my Japanese is anything but absolute beginner. However, the discipline of working on this manga each day is good and, who knows, perhaps there might be others that want to join in as well?

How do I join in?
Is a bookclub with just one member still a club? Does it matter? I’m committed to this reading and will be here, if all goes well, each and every day. But anybody is welcome to join in, just buy a copy of the book and watch the thread title to see which page we are on.

Where can I buy it?
At Amazon Japan, both physical and kindle.

What’s the pace?
The reading started on January the 1st, 2020, with page 4, the contents page. There are 184 pages and I hope to average one page a day, giving a target finish date of July 2nd. The day’s page is updated each day in the thread title. If the club consists of only me, I’ll probably keep everything on one thread. If other people join in then it would make sense to have a separate thread for each of the four chapters.

Is there a poll to click?
No. If you want to join in you are very welcome - just buy the book, and see you soon!

What about spoilers?
Please avoid them! If you have read ahead of the day’s page, please do not mention any future details from the story! No spoilers please! But, likewise, there is no need to blur out the details of anything up to and including that day’s page. If you are reading this in the future and don’t want to see spoilers, don’t read ahead!

WARNING
This manga contains images depicting acts of warfare and violence, some involving children, and one scene of nudity.

Resources
-Gundam Aggressor on Gundam.fandom
-Gundam Aggressor on Wikipedia (jp)

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Since the Amazon link didn’t show a preview for me, I did a web search for “機動戦士ガンダム アグレッサー 立ち読み” (no quotes), and here are a couple of sites with a preview:

(Select the text 試し読み. I’ll have to remember this one as an alternative to 立ち読み.)

(Select the blue button with 試し読み in it.)

I’m on interstate bus wifi (which advertises free wifi, but fails to mention it’s 100MB, and you have to pay after that), so I only checked a few pages. That’s not enough to judge the difficult portions, but at least the initial battletime banter looked simple enough.

The artwork looks very nice. I don’t know how it may compare with other Gundam series, as it’s not a genre of interest for me. For anyone reading along, it should be good visually. I’ve always been under the impression (without knowing the genre) that Gundam is 1/3 characters and story, 1/3 giant robot battle action, and 1/3 battle mech designs. I’ve wondered if half the intetest in the build-it-yourself Gundam models was to admire the models as moving anime robs the viewer of taking in the designs at leisure. A well-drawn manga doesn’t have that issue.

I’ll be passing on this due to it being a longer story (I’ll dip my toes outside my area of interest if it’s a short series), and because I may give myself a reading project for 2020. However, I may poke my head in to see if there’s an occasional question I can answer.

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Thank you @ChristopherFritz!

Nicely put! And of course it all depends on the particular series and the particular viewer. I started out mainly from the character angle, but the more I’ve watched the more I’ve got into the mech, and of course doing gunpla enhances that appreciation just like you say!

Yes, I don’t think this will be a hugely popular club, but I’ll be here each day (God willing) with the text and at least a stab at a translation. If you or others pop in from time to time as well, well that would be great! Thank you!

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I’ve just noticed that you are not allowed to post more than 3 consecutive replies to a post, which could cause problems once the thread gets started… so anyone coming along, even if just to give a thumbs up now and then, would be very useful indeed!

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The author of a thread does not have that limit, so you’ll be fine :ok_hand:

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Thank you! That is great news! Thanks so much for letting me know! :+1: :smiley:

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Now that I’m sitting in front of a desktop computer (rather than poking at a glass smartphone screen), there’s a bit more I wanted to write.

As you may have seen me mention elsewhere, in 2018 I read through volume 1 of a 4-panel comic series. My goal was to get through one 4-panel strip per day. I had a rocky start, between a computer problem that lasted a few weeks, then me being lazy after that, but once I got into it, I kept up my daily workload.

My take-away, suggestions, recommendations, feel-free-to-ignores, insights, etc.:

  • Have a set daily required goal. For me, it was “one 4-panel strip per day”.
  • Don’t be afraid of leniency. Okay, technically, this never came up for me. No matter how word-packed a strip was, I never broke one up into two pages. But I also had the time to devote to it. (I hadn’t started WaniKani yet.) If you can’t fit a dialogue-packed page into a single day, it doesn’t hurt to break it up across two days.
  • Don’t be too lenient. If you allow yourself to split one page over two days, it can easily become three days, or four, or five days. If you want to allow yourself to spend more than one day on a dialogue-heavy page, decide on a schedule up front. (First three panels today, last two panels tomorrow, for example.)
  • Feel free to double-up on sparse pages. Especially if there’s a battle with little dialogue, you can easily fit two, three, maybe four pages into a single sessions, and have it still be less work than a single dialogue-heavy page.
  • Feel free to relax on sparse pages. Especially if you just came off of a few days of dialogue-heavy pages, a couple of days of low-dialogue, low-effort pages can be an earned rest.
  • Explain and document what you think you kind of know. If you encounter something you think you kind of get the gist of it, but you’re not completely certain about, write it down to post in this thread. Explaining may require you to look up details to be sure you’re explaining it accurately. Teaching something makes it easier to understand, and writing it out makes it easier to remember. Plus, having it posted here makes it easy to look up if the same grammar comes up again later.
  • Try to explain and document anything you don’t know. Like above, except more effort because you have no knowledge of what you’re looking up.
  • Have fun with it. You’re not learning Japanese simply to work yourself (unless you actually are). If you’re not having fun, you’ll lose your motivation. You can’t rely on motivation to push you through, but it doesn’t hurt!
  • Don’t expect to always have fun with it. Some pages will be a slog. Motivation is meaningless. Schedules and routine are life.
  • Behold the power of prizes. Is there an expensive Gundam model you want? Set aside 100円 for every page you complete reading, and by the end you may have around 15,000円! (Wait, is that the price of an expensive model, or is that hardly enough for one of the cheap models that look more like a bootleg figure of a Power Rangers ripoff show character?)

There are plenty of free resources online for grammar (including getting “Japanese Language Stack Exchange” and “Hi-Native” results), but I also like to have some physical books to look things up. If you don’t have it already, I highly recommend “A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar” (by Seiichi Makino and Michio Tsutsui) as a “one size fits all” for grammar and particle look-ups. (It’s the yellow book.)

Speaking of one-size-fits-all, this is just what worked for me. It won’t work for everyone.

Edit: Bonus tip:

  • Don’t start watching any new TV shows. You won’t have time for it.
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Wow, thank you so much for such a detailed list of good ideas!

Yes, here I think I may have already made my first mistake! I’ve gone for a page a day, but looking at it again, that is rather ambitious! There is more text than I thought. And yet… “a page every two days” just doesn’t have the same ring to it! For all that it’s going to be tough, a page a day just sounds right!

Oh yes, I’ll be counting on that!

Yes, the range of things I don’t know is going to be huge! And fall into 2 main areas…

  • (1) Japanese language!
    I truly am a beginner. I’ve “read” quite a few books now, but my “reading” consists of looking up pretty much every single word, relying on the bookclub wordlists and conversations, and asking questions in the threads (thank goodness for people like you and so many others that have helped me out so patiently for so long). This is the first book I’m reading pretty much on my own, and is by far the most difficult thing I’ve ever attempted.

  • (2) Gundam knowledge
    I have a basic grasp of the UC timeline, characters, and mobile suits, but there are huge gaps in my knowledge and I don’t know how much of an issue that will be when reading this manga. This will be an issue not just in following the story, but in terms of language too. For example, if I see the word 連邦, I know that is the Earth Federation, but there will be a lot, a lot, I don’t know and/or won’t recognise.

Good idea! I prefer High Grades, which cost around 1000 to 2000円, and build so slowly these days that it is not an expensive hobby at all (yes, Perfect Grades can cost up to 20,000円, but I have no desire to do one of those!) - made even less expensive by having to get every purchase approved by the Gunpla Procurement Justification Committee (ie, the wife!). But yes, nice idea! Perhaps aiming for that lifetime membership of WK!

Thank you for your list ChristopherFritz, at the very least it is a reminder of what a huge project I’ve undertaken. I feel that I ought really to make a start now, at least in typing up the text, but I’m busy finishing the current ABBC book (as you know) and then the next one starts next week and I’d feel bad if I missed that. So you are right - no new box-sets for me!

Thank you for all your ideas, humour, and support!

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¥15,000 will get you an awesome kit, like the MG Sazabi…this seems like a good idea. Thanks, and hopefully I can level up enough in the coming months to join y’all!

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:joy: Genius!

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I’ve started typing up the text of Gundam Aggressor in preparation for January and have discovered that there is a lot of it, and that the Japanese is difficult, really, really, difficult!

If I try to read it line by line starting January, I’ll drive myself insane by February! So what I see myself doing is relying almost entirely on Google Translate to follow the story, and using this thread to breakdown and analyse just one sentence or line of dialogue per day - simply for the sake of language learning.

But what to post in this thread?

  1. Do I post the entire text from the page each day? After all, typing it up doesn’t take too long, I have to do it anyway to use Google Translate, and it would help anyone reading along, or…
  2. Do I post only the sentence I breakdown and work on each day?

What do you think?

Don’t use Google Translate. D:

And post all the text! :smiley:

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Since Japanese relies so much on context I also think it might be good if you post all of it.

How much text is there per page?

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How long do you normally spend doing a breakdown? How much content do you want to do a breakdown for each day? What happens if you encounter a page where you know most of it?

For example, I did a breakdown of two pages from Flying Witch in which I was very familiar with most (if not all) of the content. It took me forever to write up, so I stopped after two pages. (I really wanted to get more like six done, but just didn’t have the time for it.)

If I didn’t know as much as I did on those two pages, I’d be looking up what things meant, or looking up what I kind of know to make certain I’m understanding and portraying it right, and that would take me half the day for those two pages. I’ve experienced that with the few pages of a reading guide up on one of my web sites, wherein I not only wrote up material, but went back and cleaned it up, and redid the formatting a few times.

Since you’ll want to keep going forward, and not keep cleaning up the earlier posts, my recommendations would be:

  1. Determine how detailed you want each day’s posting to be. Will you translate the whole page, and break down just a few lines? Or just provide a line or two with breakdowns and translations of those lines?
  2. Don’t repeat yourself. That is to say, when てる comes up, you can write a bit about 「VERBて + いる」, and about the dropped い. But the next time てる comes up, rather than rewriting it, you can link to what you wrote before, or quote what you wrote before, or just say, “This came up in post 12. Have fun scrolling up to it if you need a refresher.” Joking aside, if you spend too much time repeating the same grammar over and over again, you’re taking away from your time writing other things about the material.
  3. Feel free to repeat yourself. If there’s something you encounter that you don’t feel comfortable with your understanding of, and then you encounter it again later and start to understand it better (or someone helps by providing useful information), don’t hesitate to talk about the grammar point again. It’ll help you learn it better, and that should be your ultimate goal here. (Everyone else is just along for the ride. If they’re reading along, they’re free to post in a way that helps with their learning.)

Everyone has a different writing style (and you’ll use your own), but here are a few links to my personal blog from when I read through ごちうさ volume 1 last year, and occasionally posted about it. These posts were intended only for me, but posting them online gave me a reason to push to do a write-up, which gave me a push to learn grammar I might otherwise have been lazy and didn’t put effort into (or skipped):

When I went through ごちうさ volume 1, while my goal was one four-strip comic per day and sometimes I would type it up that day, I typically tried to get comics typed in advance. Especially if I had time to get four or five pages (upwards of ten strips), I’d be assured that that’s just one less thing I’d have to do in a day. (And a year later, I still occasionally find a typo to correct in my transcript.)

Are you including furigana readings in your transcripts, or just the kanji? If you’re doing kanji only, I recommend keeping at it like that. If you’re including furigana, consider whether that’s adding too much time if you’re able to type it at a good pace. The only reason I did furigana on mine is because I wrote a tool to convert it to a web page afterwards, but doing a search text for a word written with kanji+furigana is difficult.

I don’t think it’s necessary to post all the text as if anyone else is reading along, they should have a copy of the book as well. You also want to ensure that the main portion of the post (breakdowns) are not competing for attention. One possible strategy is to post all the text, including (possibly spoiler-blurred) your translations alongside, and then include a breakdown of certain parts of the page’s content.

As for Google Translate, sometimes it’s nice to use it to get a gist of what’s being said, but I’ve seen it be very misleading or incorrect at times, and completely skip over some words at other times. You don’t want to “learn” something based off of a bad Google Translation, and continue misbelieving what a bit of grammar means.

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Thanks guys! Your feedback and ideas are so useful!

My only worry is that you over-estimate my abilities! I’ve been “reading” the manga on the train to and from work every day for a week or two and the amount I understand raw is very, very little. To read this without cheating would be a full-time job! I have definitely bitten off more than I can chew.

However, I think you are right - the best thing would be to post all the text each day (it’s perhaps four or five sentences on average) and then, underneath, a breakdown of one of those sentences.

This would mean that I’m working consistently, daily, on at least some of the text, and - by providing all of it in each post - would put it in context (and allow others to also participate more easily if anyone wishes to do so).

Thanks again - I can see what I’m doing much more clearly now!


PS: @ChristopherFritz - I had no idea you had these websites, they are amazing!

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I just had a thought… if I post all the text for each day’s pages… will that be copyright infringement? I hope not, but what do you guys think?

(I’ve not actually typed up that much so far, I’ve been busy with other reading and with life, but it’s just a month to go now and I thought I ought to get cracking so as to give myself some leeway when it starts… and then this little problem occurred to me… am I breaking copyright by doing this?)

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I read up on law around copyright infringement in this area last year. Being in the US, I focused on US copyright law Title 17, Chapter 1, § 107 (educational use).

I don’t know what Japan may have along the lines of fair use, but at least from a US copyright perspective, the less you copy, the better. By excluding the artwork (only providing transcripts), you’re already leaving out a huge portion of the work.

Do you plan to write up your translations and breakdowns and thoughts for every single line of dialogue? What happens if you reach a line containing grammar and vocabulary you just covered? If you’re doing one page per day, will you have time to type up breakdowns or everything, or will you need to pick just a few sentences to write about, and skip saying anything about the “easy” ones?

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve (barely giving any attention to) writing a reading guide where (in the four or so pages I’ve actually completed) I’ve been transcribing, translating, and breaking down every line from page of a manga. But being only about four pages in, I haven’t yet reached the point where I may skip over sentences because they’ve been covered earlier in the guide already.

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Thank you so much…

I was planning to read a page a day, and make a breakdown of at least one sentence each day. Much as I already do in the existing bookclubs I participate in. Possibly skipping the easy ones, definitely skipping the difficult ones, and trying to learn something from each day’s work - as well as follow the story.

I thought it might be a good idea to include all the text from the page in each post. But now I’m worried in case doing so breaks copyright.

I think including the whole text isn’t necessary if you’re not writing something on the whole text. Anyone who’s reading along will be buying the comic and thus will have the full text available.

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I think you are right!

How about if one day, from one page, I post the entire text and translation (much like we posted translations to every line of text in なぜどして for example) - I guess that will be okay?

So, I’ll post text when I either (a) translate it, or (b) break it down. Much like what we do in the clubs now. What I won’t do is post text that I haven’t worked on in some way.

Nice one, thank you so much for your help @ChristopherFritz!

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