Wednesday, September 14, 2011

GO by 金城 一紀 Kazuki Kaneshiro


I guess you can never tell a book by it's summary. This is the type of book I was expecting to be a serious look at discrimination, something like Touson Shimazaki's 破戒/The Broken Commandment, and yet it surprised me by being a light-hearted, fun read, which only touches on discrimination.
Summary: Zainichi Korean guy decides to go to a regular Japanese (non-ethic Korean) high school, and faces discrimination.
Plot & Characters: I'll just say it. The main character's amusing narration made the book. It sort of reminded me of the narration at the opening scenes of the movie Fight Club.  That said, this is a guy novel, which takes every chance it gets to get the main character involved in a fight, and the women play more of a supporting role. I don't mind that. The action was part of what made it fun for me, but if you like strong female characters, look elsewhere. The humor was really funny, and the characters where pretty believable (despite all the macho-ness). There are a couple sad parts, and a few serious moments, but this book is mostly a comedy/action novel. It's a shame it has no English translation, as I think this book would do really well with an English speaking audience.
Prose & Readability: The prose was pretty straightforward, yet amusing. I would say that if you liked the opening scene of Fight Club (the movie, and maybe the novel, though I haven't read it), then you will love this book. The book is pretty easy to read if you are familiar with "tough guy" speech, like the type found in shounen manga.

Who I would recommend this to: Those looking for a light, easy read that touches on darker issues, Fight Club fans, action/comedy movie fans.
First Paragraph: 

オヤジが初めて僕の前で『ハワイ』という言葉を口にしたのは、僕が十四歳のお正月のことで、その時、テレビの画面では、美人女優三人がハワイに行き、ただひたすら「きれい! おいしい! きもちいい!」を連呼(れんこ)するお正月特番が映し出されていた。ちなみに、それまで、我が家ではハワイは『堕落 (だらく0した資本主義の象徴』と呼ばれていた。

The first paragraph  is provided for readers to help judge for themselves whether a book is a good fit for their current level, and is presented with all furigana shown in the actual book. 


  1. Hey Bokusenou,

    I just read the typed in text and I guess I discovered a typo (?):

    ・・・ハワイに___行ったたび___たすら「きれい! おいしい! きもちいい!」を連呼(れんこ)するお正月特番が映し出されていた。

    See the underlined part. That would somehow make sense to me, although I'm not sure what the author wants to say by たすら.. すら = さえ, so perhaps it's another typo? :x

    Thanks for reviewing another book again!
    I'm soon passing the 7000 vocabulary mark, yay, just after 10 months of learning actively real "Japanese" (after RTK lol)


  2. Hey Tori,

    Ah, thanks! There was a space between the two kana of ただ. ひたすら is like ばかり, "only, solely doing __". Oh, and I found a bigger (official_ sample of the book, so I guess I'll add it here: http://www.kadokawa.co.jp/tachiyomi/bunko/index.php?pcd=200701000239

    Awesome! You've learned so much in such a short time.

    Yeah, I was pretty busy (and the new college semester is keeping me more busy), but I'm reading "Kokuhaku", and it's really dark. I think I'll watch the movie after I'm done.
    I'm also working on a detailed post on how I passed JLPT N2 for IceCream's and my blog, so that should be done soon...

  3. Hey Bokusenou,

    ひたすら means "nothing but; earnest", right :) I haven't learnt this word yet, I had to look it up on the dictionary.

    I'm also busy right now with school as my final exams (first wave of exams) will start tomorrow, ugh.

    Wow! There is even a book of "Kokuhaku", right, I remember! I just saw the film and I'm eager to read it as I'd probably understand more when I read without a dictionary rather than watching it with english subtitles. One of my favourite films for its bitterness and malign morbidity :)

    I guess I will need to do the same as wccrawford from the forums: piling up books after their difficulty I want to read, haha. It's just hellishly difficult getting these books in Germany here without paying an awful and unreasonable amount for those books (most of the money is needed as "import cost", he).

    Congrats on the JLPT N2. My listening hasn't really improved ever since I started learning Japanese and that is really a hassle to me which demotivates me always, constantly, whereas I have fun reading. Though, the "fun" for reading gets commonly lost as I am too demotivated and can't bring up more power than doing my daily anki work (about 40 minutes), without audio (CORE6k deck).. I know that this helped you increasing and reaching a good level of listening comprehension but I.. somehow don't process the 'heard' sentences in my head. Feels like I'm deaf/dumb lol


  4. Hey Tori,

    Yeah, that's it. I wouldn't worry too much about learning it now though, unless you want to, as it's on the JLPT N1 lists, so you'll get to it eventually.

    Yeah, they made a movie out of the book after it became a bestseller. It's pretty easy to read, I mean, the teacher's speech at the beginning is a little harder, due to its formality, but everything else is pretty easy.

    Yeah, it's somewhat expensive to import books here too, though it might be more so in Germany...You do know about the "5000 Japanese txt books" file, right?

    Thanks, I passed it last December, so it's been awhile. (alas, the US is not one of those countries which has the test twice a year) I think I'll take N1 next year to give myself some time to relax, though I've gone through the grammar, and most of the vocabulary already.

    Have you tried podcasts? Most of the "casual talk" ones with more than one person, and the news ones are pretty similar to what's on the listening exam. The other option, as you know, is going to Japan. For me, in my beginner stage, there was this one moment where it felt like it all just clicked, and I went from not understanding anything, to realizing I could understand a lot of what was happening around me. (Before then I had the exact same feelings as you about listening) Though I had similar moments when I realized I could understand 95 percent of the news/anime/variety shows after finishing core.
    I talked to other language learners and they said similar things: That it was really hard at first, until they had that moment of realization, and then it was easier. I can't explain why these moments happen, but I think surrounding yourself with Japanese helps. Also, the act of getting demotivated might be causing you to not try as hard. Remember, you may not be able to choose what happens, but you can choose how you react to it, and if you get used to doing that, nothing will keep you away from achieving what you want.

  5. Hey Bokusenou,

    I guess so, yes. I think I will torture myself through the CORE deck like this and after I finished the 5881 cards, I will kind of change my card structure, so that more listening will be enhanced.

    Yes, I know the "5000 book" package, though, I don't like using mediafire and cannot find a whole batch torrent or something else on the net, so..

    I like Sigsawa's writing style. It's easy to comprehend and I can tell that reading Kino no tabi vertically was - for the first time reading a Japanese book - not too difficult.

    I have the bad habit moreover, doing nothing besides Anki, which is.. like learning a "language in a box": it has no application or almost none. I write at lang8 a lot, but that's about it, I guess. I also get frustrated when I don't really understand what I read and try to parse the whole sentence in some way, trying a 直訳...

  6. I wouldn't use the word "torture"...^-^; Then you'll only think of reviews negatively. Frame it in a positive sense. Something like "challenge" might work better. I play bouncy Jpop while I do my reviews, you might try playing music, or even something like the "Anki Warrior". In other words, it's easier to do reviews (and you'll likely do better at them), if you enjoy doing them, or at least try not to think of them as a chore.

    Oh, there are versions of it on other file hosts. Here's one I found on Fileserve: http://ebookee.org/5000-Japanese-Books-Collection-1900-2000-years-_1179336.html And one on FileSonic: http://www.filestube.com/ckabdsnG5VTR3v89MGDCqC/5000-books.html
    I haven't tested them, but if those don't work, I can always upload it to Megaupload or something^^

    You'll get used to reading vertically. I think I read Japanese faster vertically can horizontally now. XD

    Hmm, fitting Japanese in your life in those moments when you are doing something else helps a lot for me. Like while waiting for a bus I read text files/novels on my smartphone, and even when I have to work on something in English, I always have Japanese music, or podcasts, or news streams in the background. AJATT's rule of "Get rid of silence, always have something in Japanese playing in the background" really got to me, though I don't wear headphones to sleep.XD

    If you don't understand what you read, then ask someone.^^ Seriously, the "What's this word/phrase" thread at koohi, or the Japanese/English exchange communities on Mixi, among other places, are great places to ask questions. Or you could try googling "___ 意味", though that works better for some phrases than others.

  7. Hey Bokusenou,

    I found that book reduced (HARDCOVER!) to 2,80 Pound in アダナミ in London (Soho)!!! I bought it and it's the last book in my books-to-read-pile as it requires a bit more of vocabs, I think (I'm at ~7000 right now).

  8. へえ、素晴らしいじゃん!
    That shop in London reminds me of Bookoff, from what everyone's said about it. Lots of cheap used books, most of which look like new (it's amazing how well Japanese people take care of their books).

    Congrats on getting to 7000 words! That's a lot! I think N1 is around 12k, and N2 is around 7k/8k.

    Oh yeah, and I found this on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OfTXBal0YZ4
    German sounds so pretty! o_o Hermes' dub voice sounds kind of weird though. XD

  9. Actually it kind of makes sense for it to be dubbed in German, since "kino" is cinema in German, and "motorrad" is German also, I heard.

  10. Ugh, what an ugly voice.. The synchronisation is really bad, Bokusenou! I have seen better animes dubbed into German. Glad to hear you like German ;)

    I guess I will plainly continue after good frequency system with core10k afterwards. Just 22 days left if I continue learning 20 words a day XDD Can't await it!! I guess I'll be drunk that day~

  11. (笑) I thought most of the voices besides Hermes were pretty good, Kino's being pretty similar to the Japanese one, though then again, I can't understand what they're saying, so I only have the voices to go off of. I agree about the synchronization though. XD

    Awesome! I went from Core 2k/6k to JLPT 2 vocabulary, but if Core 10k was around I definitely would have gone for that instead.