とろろのマンガを読む練習しましょう!Let's practice reading Japanese with Tororo's manga!

Twitter user @tororo2048 is a prolific creator of Go comics, known for their style of illustrating stones’ connections, but also other whimsical comics about Go techniques and culture. I’ve been using their comics as Japanese reading practice recently, and it’s fun although a bit challenging. Since I think there are some other Japanese language learners hanging out on the forums, I thought it would be fun to practice together. I’m starting a new topic rather than cluttering up the Language learner’s library or Webcomics topics. It’s my first topic so I hope it’s appropriate :sweat_smile:.

I’m still definitely a beginner, but have reached the point in my kanji study (via WaniKani) that I can read a lot of the vocabulary used, and it’s the grammar that I’m focusing on learning now. I’ll try to include complete translations so that anyone can enjoy the comics, along with interesting vocabulary or grammar notes. But inevitably there will be some errors so please correct or comment on them, or add anything interesting.

Let’s start with this comic about the ear-reddening move from earlier this year:





title: Before the ear reddening move was played

Wow! I want to expand this black territory around A!
I want to expand white’s territory around B while protecting and stabilizing!
Next, I’ll go around C and expand white’s territory.
If white comes around D we’ll be surrounded and taken… help!

title: After the ear reddening move was played

I am a god…
Okay, somehow the territory is going to be even wider!
Damn, we’re being targeted! Quickly, we have to protect!
Our expansion was obstructed…
Reinforcements! Soon we can reach them!

Here is some vocabulary… these are words that were new to me, or I thought were interesting, or Go related

単語 reading English
耳赤の一手 みみあかのいって ear-reddening move
打たれる うたれる to be played
土地 とち land, region
広げる ひろげる to expand
辺り あたり area
守る まもる to protect
安定 あんてい stability, equilibrium
囲む かこむ to surround
取る とる to take
狙う ねらう to aim at
邪魔 じゃま hindrance, obstacle
援軍 えんぐん reinforcement
届く とどく to reach, to touch

Here are some grammar notes, there are several points of grammar that I didn’t understand and because of that the translation probably lacks nuance. But these stood out to me and I have links for them.

In the first panel the white stones around B say「守って安定しつつ」. I’m used to the て-form of 守る and 安定 is a する verb, meaning “to stabilize”, but had never seen 「つつ」. From Tae Kim:

「つつ」is a verb modifier that can be attached to the stem of verbs to express an ongoing occurrence.

Also in the first panel the white stones around C say「広げてやる」. I think I’ve seen やる before (Tae Kim again: “やる means to do only as a physical action”) but ~てやる I was completely unfamiliar with. Like つつ, this does not appear in A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar, I had to look them up in the intermediate volume (which I really only own for cases like this, to file away grammar points for future study). From the entry (applying to the verb て-form + やる):

an auxiliary verb which expresses the idea that someone does something undesirable to someone else

This does seem to add some nuance to the white stone’s statement in the comic, matching the attitude of its facial expression.


Also, here is today’s comic, which I will include as a separate post. There is no way I can keep up with とろろさん, since they post a comic almost every day, but this one is a bit shorter.




Master, (I heard?) today you won 4 and lost 2…
Hmm… the time before last it was 5-0, last time it was (supposed to be?) 5-1…
A downward trend is coming… if that’s the case next time will be around 3-3?

There’s not much vocabulary in this one but:

単語 English
ご主人様 ごしゅじんさま master, my lord
しょう win, victory
はい loss, defeat
前々回 ぜんぜんかい time before last
前回 ぜんかい last time
次回 じかい next time
下げの波 さげのなみ downward trend
ふむ hmm


The sentence endings「だったって」and 「だったはず」are new to me, and I’m honestly not sure what they mean… The first is maybe a contraction?

As an aside, from the tweet it sounds like Go clubs in Japan are open? Sadly not sure anyone near me is ready for in person playing


I don’t know much but surely だった simply indicates past tense. So I think you’re right, って is like “I heard”. And はず is “should be” or translating more humanly maybe “bla-bla-bla, was it?”

Tbh, I like reading longer comics than this so context and general plotline helps me understand individual sentences. Have you already read Hikaru no Go?

Meanwhile in other countries:


I had never seen つつ before either, it’s apparently a bit archaic or stiff. I believe つつ is better described as “during” or “while”, than as an “ongoing occurrence”, that is, the verb before the つつ (in this case する → しつつ) is being done during whatever the main verb of the sentence is.

See also this excellent site.

I think you can see this in the same way as 〜てくれる (“you do 〜 for me”), 〜てあげる (“I do 〜 for you”), if you’re familiar with those. やる is the kind of favour you do to people of lesser hierarchical position than you, like giving something to children, food / water to animals or plants, etc. It’s pretty rude to use it with people of equal position.

って is a colloquial form of the particle と, used for quotation. って on its own at the end of the sentence is a shortening of って言う / と言う or って思う / と思う (context decides which, here I’d say it would be “you said” instead of “I think”).

It depends on the area, but generally there are quite few restrictions outside of areas with major outbreaks (i.e. some wards in Tokyo and Osaka)


Thanks for your comments @S_Alexander and @Vsotvep :relaxed:

Yes that’s a good point, I haven’t read it yet but it’s on my list… actually I never finished watching the anime

Oh thank you for reminding me of this website!

I guess technically there’s nothing stopping anyone from playing board games in person here in NYC either, it would be in compliance with the rules, but most people I know are not comfortable with it yet… probably a topic for another thread

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Here is a comic for today:







Next it was black’s turn, who was sick with capturing disease.
It’s possible to capture either white’s A or B, which is better?

There’s only room for one but you need to make two…But be careful about false eyes…

日本語 reading English
問題 もんだい problem, question
ばん turn
欠け眼 かけめ false eye (literally “broken eye”)

I’ve never seen「部屋」used to talk about space for something, so it’s possible I’m missing something in that sentence


Not too hard but here’s the answer to yesterday’s comic.

Since today’s was just the problem answer, here’s something more fun, one of my favorites from the past. Something about the tiny go stone sized captain’s hat and expression cracks me up :joy:




Captain! It’s a disaster!
What!? What’s wrong!?
We were headed towards a ladder breaker but…
Right, that was rescuing us… What’s the problem?
There was a measurement error, the ladder breaker’s position was confirmed to be 2 lines slightly off…!

単語 reading English
我々 われわれ we (pronoun)
シチョウアタリ しちょうあたり ladder breaker
計測 けいそく measurement
位置 いち position
判明 はんめい establishing, proving, confirming
ずれる to be slightly off, to be out of alignment, …

Today’s one is about a go term which is nice

I’d point out a word やけくそ which means desperate. And it has the following example on tatoeba: やけくそになった男はしばしばやけくそな事をする。 - Japanese example sentence - Tatoeba

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I was watching out for つつ after this conversation, found one

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Oof, tough kanji, 躊躇い


I wonder if Japanese actually write those with their hands.

Another good one I’ve seen: 鬱陶しい

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The desire of Westerners to use and show off was the butt of a joke by Dogen.

No, these are the kind of kanji that people can read, but generally don’t know to write.

That’s stolen from this guy, then:

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That’s a good one, at least go-wise