Star Wars English-Japanese Dictionary for Jedi Masters (2016) is the third installment in Gakken Plus’ popular illustrated dictionary series which uses classic quotes and vocabulary from the Star Wars saga films to teach English to Japanese high school students. The first volume, Padawan Learners (2014), used dialogue and scenes from the Original Trilogy as teaching material while the second volume, Jedi Knights (2015), drew its example sentences from the prequels. Jedi Masters goes one step further by incorporating all six of George Lucas’ Skywalker saga films as well as the 2015 blockbuster The Force Awakens.
Containing approximately 3,100 entries and over 2,000 shots from the films, this dictionary is a comprehensive, yet extremely user-friendly language learning resource that never takes itself too seriously. It contains a short guide on how to use the dictionary, an English pronunciation guide for Japanese readers, and a detailed index. Each dictionary entry includes the word’s definition, Japanese translation, IPA transcription, word class, synonyms, antonyms, and any other relevant grammatical information as well as example sentences taken from the films themselves.
There are also over a dozen character spotlights – labelled as “Classic Phrases” entries – which are double-page spreads containing a mini biography for the character in question and a selection of their most memorable quotes. And if that wasn’t enough, there are also “Jedi Archive” sections which contain short encyclopaedic entries for some of the Star Wars franchise’s better-known locations, secondary characters, alien species, creatures, weapons, and vehicles.
What makes this dictionary truly special are the 300 or so original illustrations that adorn its pages. These adorable, vividly coloured illustrations were created by Gurihiru, a duo of female comic book artists who are currently based in Saitama, Japan. Chifuyu Sasaki (penciller/inker) and Naoko Kawano (colourist) are renowned for their work on Dark Horse Comics’ Avatar: The Last Airbender comic series as well as a number of Marvel series, and the quality of their work on this series of Star Wars dictionaries is unparalleled.
Although this is a bilingual dictionary, it’s worth noting that it was designed for Japanese high school students who are learning English, and not vice versa. The lack of rōmaji or furigana to aid pronunciation means that this dictionary won’t be of much use to those who don’t already have a basic understanding of Japanese and its writing system. But if you have the patience of a Jedi Master, a decent grasp of the language, and know how to look up unknown kanji in a dictionary, you’ll be able to teach yourself how to yell “You were the Chosen One!” in Japanese in no time.
The only real downside for me – and this is a very personal complaint – is the lack of content from the animated series (I am a huge fan of The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels). But don’t let that deter you from buying it. This is a beautifully compiled book and the interior art alone makes this dictionary a very worthy and unique addition to any Star Wars collection. So if you’re a fan of that galaxy far, far away and you’re looking for a fun way to improve your Japanese, this is the book for you!
Note: An earlier draft of this review was translated into German and published on the Jedi-Bibliothek site in August 2019. Jedi-Bibliothek is the leading source for Star Wars publishing news and reviews in German.
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