Book review: 『ぼくらの七日間戦争』 by Osamu Soda

ぼくらの七日間戦争(ぼくらのなのかかんせんそう)
Title: ぼくらの七日間戦争(ぼくらのなのかかんせんそう)
First published: 1985
Published: 2009
Publisher:
Format: Paperback
Series Number: 1
Page Count: 392
明日から夏休みという日、東京下町にある中学校の1年2組男子全員が姿を消した。事故?集団誘拐?じつは彼らは廃工場に立てこもり、ここを解放区として、大人たちへの“叛乱”を起こしたのだった!女子生徒たちとの奇想天外な大作戦に、本物の誘拐事件がからまり、大人たちは大混乱…息もつかせぬ大傑作エンタテインメント!「ぼくら」シリーズの大ベストセラー!小学上級から。

First published in 1985, 『ぼくらの七日間戦争』 is the first novel of the series ぼくら. I am not completely sure, but I think that the series follows the same characters over the years, as they grow up. In 『ぼくらの七日間戦争』, the protagonist Eiji and his classmates are in first year of middle school. We apparently follow them through their middle school and high school years in the series (see Wikipedia).

Tsubasa is a collection of children’s books. 『ぼくらの七日間戦争』 is targeting primary school readers: 小学上級から. The book has complete furigana and there is a note at the end mentioning that it was partially rewritten to make it easier to read.

『ぼくらの七日間戦争』 was adapted into film in 1988. Last year (2019), a modern anime adaptation was released under the title 『ぼくらの7日間戦争』 (note the change in the title from 七 to 7).

Review

When I read children’s books in Japanese, I usually get bored very soon, but I loved 『ぼくらの七日間戦争』. I was genuinely interested in the story, and the plot even surprised me several times. It is an engrossing adventure for children that adults can enjoy, too.

In the story, Eiji and his classmates who are all in first year of middle school, decide to create their “liberated area” (解放区), a place for children only where adults’ rules do not apply. After all, 「おとなたちのやることに満足してるのか?」.

It is Eiji’s friend, Toru Aihara, who introduces the term 解放区, a word he heard from his parents who participated in the students protest of the Yasuda Auditorium in 1969 (安田講堂 – やすだこうどう). But for Eiji and his friends, the 解放区 is a place of resistance against adults’ (parents, schools and even the police) authority rather than a political engagement.

This “children vs adults” topic is the main theme of the novel. I found that the story was entertaining, with a lot of action and things going on, but it also contains an interesting message. Maybe this a book that children should give their parents to read.

You can read the first 60 pages of the novel on the publisher’s website (ためし読み)! I recommend that you try reading it to test the Japanese level and see if you like the story.

The audiobook

I listened to the audiobook while reading, and it greatly improved my reading experience. Kengo Takanashi’s (高梨謙吾) narration is simply amazing. The background sounds and music build the atmosphere of the novel and make it easier to picture the scenes.

You can listen to an extract here.

The anime and novelisation

I haven’t watched the anime adaptation, but from the trailer, I would say that it is a very free adaptation. In other words, if you have watched and liked the anime, this does not necessarily mean that you will like the book.

If you are interested in the story of the anime rather than the original novel (which is definitely more for children), there is a novelisation also published in the collection Tsubasa under the title『ぼくらの7日間戦争』 (again, you can read the first pages on the publisher’s website). I have never tried it myself, but I think that watching an anime and then read the novelisation is a good way to get into reading books in Japanese.