“All You Need is Kill”: Let’s Read #1

“Let’s Read” is an attempt on my behalf to master this language by reading Japanese texts found in books, magazines, newspapers, etc.

In this edition, the text is from “All You Need is Kill.” A military sci-fi written by Hiroshi Sakurazaka and has been adapted to what I think as one of the better sci-fi films with Tom Cruise in the lead, “Edge of Tomorrow.

Okay, on to the first Japanese example:


  • 戦闘開始. Noun. “Start of a battle.” Consists of two independent nouns, 戦闘 “battle,” and 開始 “beginning; start.”
  • から. Particle. Usually translated into “from.”
  • 十分. Noun. “Ten minutes.” Self-explanatory.
  • 間. This usually means “period,” or “between.” Tacked behind time, as in this case, 十分, it becomes “span.”
  • 戦闘開始から十分間 then points to a specific time, “ten minutes from the start of the battle.”
  • 兵士. Noun. “Soldier.”
  • は. Particle. Topic particle.
  • 恐怖. Noun. “Fear.”
  • に. Particle. Target particle.
  • 溺れる. Verb. “To drown.”
  • 恐怖に溺れる then means, “To drown in fear.”
  • Who drowns in fear? The topic. 兵士. The soldier.
  • Thus, the whole sentence translates into, “Ten minutes from start of battle, the soldier was drown in fear.”

Pretty easy, right?


  • 想像. Noun. “Imagination.” Kanjis in this compound are そう “thought; idea,” and ぞう “picture.”
  • して. Verb. Continuation form of する “to do.” Continuation form means that there would be some more chaining that adds to the meaning brought by this on itself.
  • する verb attaches to noun would turn the noun into its verb version. Here, as it attaches to 想像, the new meaning becomes, “to imagine.”
  • 見る. Verb. “To see.”
  • が. Particle. Officially, a subject particle. A beginner Japanese learner trap to distinguish between this particle and topic particle, は.
  • いい. I-adjective. “Good.”
  • して見るがいい construct is a suggestion from the speaker to “do something and see for yourself” with an added impression that the speaker thinks it was good for you.
  • Literally, 想像して見るがいい translates into “it is good to try imagining it.” However, the better translation to this sentence would actually be, “Imagine!” Remember that Japanese are never straight-forward so any direct imperative should be avoided.


  • 鋼鉄. Noun. “Steel.” Kanjis for this compound are こう“steel,” and てつ “iron.”
  • の. Particle. Often function as possessive, like English’s “‘s,” but also, as in this case function like English’s “of.”
  • 死. Noun. “Death.”
  • が. Particle. Subject marker.
  • 飛び交う. Verb. “To fly about.” This is actually a verb-verb construction. 飛ぶ “to fly” and 交う “to exchange.” Another example of this verb-verb construction is 飛び出す “to fly out” which combines 飛ぶ and 出る “to out.”
  • 鋼鉄の死が飛び交う then becomes “Steel of Death flies about.”
  • 場所. Noun. “Place.” A common kanji.
  • だ. Copula. This wikipedia article should explains copula better than I ever could.
  • 鋼鉄の死が飛び交う場所 then becomes a verb-noun construction and translates into, “A place where Steel of Death flies about.”


  • 遠く. Adverbial noun. “Far.”
  • 離れた. Verb. Past form of 離れる “to be separated.”
  • 弾. Noun. “Bullet.”
  • 遠く離れた弾 then formed a verb-noun construct and translates into, “Bullet that was discharged from afar.”
  • が. Particle. Subject particle.
  • 奏でる. Verb. “To dance; to play.”
  • 音. Noun. “Sound.”
  • 奏でる音 then formed a verb-noun construct and translates into, “Sound that played.”
  • は. Particle. Topic particle.
  • 低く. Noun. “Lowering; Bringing down.”
  • にごっている. Verb. ている form of にごる “to become dull (of sound).” ている form of a verb is generally an equivalent to English’s progressive form. Therefore 濁っている roughly translated to, “becoming dull.”
  • 低く濁っている could then be translated into, “Bringing down, becoming dull.”
  • Overall, this sentence’s idea could be thought of along this line. “The sound of bullet that was discharged from afar, low and muddy.”


  • 腹. Noun. “Stomach; Belly.”
  • を. Particle. Marks 腹 as a direct object.
  • 揺り動かす. Verb. “To shake.” A verb-verb construction, it combines 揺る “to shake,” and 動かす “to move.”
  • 乾いた. Noun. “Dried.”
  • 音. Noun. “Sound.”
  • だ. Copula.
  • The sentence then translates into, “It is a dry sound that shakes a belly.”

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