Last weekend, it was Comitia 109 in Tokyo. It’s a doujinshi event for original works only (no parodies). I visited Comitia 106 last autumn and met my favorite bicycle mangaka Akira Yomoyama there. He usually releases his new works in time for Comitia, and I’ve come to like them very much. So I ordered the fourth part of his “自転車男子に恋をした” from the kind folks at Alice Books – carefully packaged as you can see. They shipped it on 22 August and it arrived 2 September after being cleared by German customs (that’s the green sticker). Always a happy day when a parcel from Japan arrives!
- 印刷物（いんさつぶつ）printed matter
The series is very down to earth and focuses on the everyday life of a male bicyclist, Soma-kun.
Each volume contains three chapters of about 10 pages each. It takes me about one hour to read one chapter. That’s when I do this close-reading and write down all the words I don’t recognize, and also many words that I know, but whose kanji I didn’t recognize (like 怪我 and 奇麗), or which I need to repeat (like 人間 and 秒).
There is no furigana, but nowadays it’s so easy to draw kanji in for example Kanji Recognizer or Google Translate. In fact, since my kanji studies started at the same time as this kanji recognition revolution, I’ve never used a kanji dictionary. I use my Wacom board since drawing with the mouse is tedious. Here is the last part of 怪我:
In the first chapter, Soma-kun’s chain breaks.
- メンテ＝メンテナンス maintenance
- 切れそう about to expire
- 兆候（ちょうこう）sign, indication
- 「チェーンが切れそうな兆候なんて無かったけどなあ」The chain didn’t show any signs of being about to expire
- 地面 the ground
- 水面 the water (surface)
- 怪我 injury
- 人間 a human
- 反射（はんしゃ）する to reflect (compare 反映する)
Some frames were perfectly readable without look-up help, like this one, where a bicyclist with a badly adjusted light comes closer:
“Bright is good, but … turn it down a bit towards the ground please … or else I won’t be able to open my eyes …”
In the second story, Soma-kun goes to Akihabara and realizes that the road is closed for traffic since it’s Sunday (I learned this too). Note Comic ZIN, a famous doujinshi shop:
He meets another bicyclist with a TT frame but drop bars – an unusual combination.
- 艦（かん）ship（戦艦・せんかん battleship）
- 新刊（しんかん）new title/issue (compare 週刊)
- 秒（びょう）a second
- 盗難（とうなん）theft (盗む＋難しい！）
- 現る＝現れる（あらわれる）to appear
- 珍しい rare
- 知名度（ちめいど）name recognition, awareness
Soma-kun compliments him on his radical choice:
- 常識 common sense
- 定説 dogma, established theory
- 常識や定説を疑ってみる To try to question common sense and established theories
My tandem partner taught me how to use the new word 拘わり（こだわり）properly:
- 「僕は自転車に拘りがある」Bicycles are precious to me/I’m a connoisseur in bicycles
- 「このフォントは拘りだから、変更しないでください」I like this font/This font is precious to me, so please don’t change it
Soma-kun ultimately gets to try the other’s bike. He is excited when describing its qualities afterwards:
- 真剣（しんけん）（な）earnest, serious
- 減速（げんそく）deceleration, slowdown
- 巡航速度（じゅんこう そくど）cruising speed
- 「巡航速度はイメージ以上」The cruising speed exceeded my expectations
- 素直（すなお）straightforward, obedient
- 安心感（あんしんかん）sense of security
- モデル名（モデルめい）model name
As for the realism of this manga, here’s the TT bike in the story’s Akihabara:
And here is what I shot in Akihabara in December 2011, maybe Soma-kun in winter gear:
Even the three bars of the fence are the same! And the girl is in the same position. I guess that’s the standard position to make her fit in the wheel, but still. (I think I want a TT bike. My Tempelhof friend Robert S has one and says that it increases his “top average” speed for a lap with about 2 km/h.)
In the only slightly romantic story in this volume, Soma-kun meets his friend/date Hoshino-san, who has bought a cute jersey, white with red dots. Soma-kun explains that that is the jersey awarded to the King of the Mountain in Tour de France.
- 衝動買い（しょうどうがい）impulse shopping（衝動買いをする）
- 衝動的にXをする to do something on impulse
- テンション feeling
- 山岳王（さんがくおう）”king of the mountains”