Shoot the Enemy, Comrade Doushi Shojo Yo Teki wo Ute

(Doushi Shojo Yo Teki wo Ute)
by 逢坂 冬馬 (Tōma Aisaka)

Author: 逢坂 冬馬 (Tōma Aisaka)
Japanese Level: JLPT N1+
Genre: History, fiction, drama
Pages: 492 (tankobon)

Amazon Japan Kindle: 同志少女よ、敵を撃て
Bookwalker Japan: 同志少女よ、敵を撃て


Japanese Summary





English Summary (translation by Japanese Talk Online)

It’s 1942, the war between Germany and the Soviet Union is growing worse, and the daily life of Serafima, a young girl living in a farming village near Moscow, is unexpectedly taken from her.

Her mother, Ekaterina, and the other villagers are slaughtered by German troops in a surprise attack. Serafima is about to be shot herself when she is saved by Irina, a female soldier in the Red Army. Asked if she wants to fight or die, she decides to become a first-class sniper at the school where Irina serves as an instructor. But Serafima doesn’t just want revenge on the German sniper who shot her mother, she also wants to kill Irina who burned her mother’s body.

Serafima trains with other female snipers who have also mourned their families and chosen to fight, and eventually finds herself on the front lines in Stalingrad, a decisive turning point in the war between Germany and the Soviet Union. And finally, after so much death, the “real enemy” she discovers is…?


Why You Should Read 同志少女よ、敵を撃て

I don’t read much history fiction in English, let alone Japanese, but I had heard so many good things about 同志少女よ、敵を撃て (Doushi Shojo Yo Teki wo Ute), I felt I had to pick it up. And wow. Wow, wow, wow.

The story follows a young Russian woman as she learns to be a sniper to fight the Germans during World War II. The story is actually based on the real life stories of Russian women in WWII and there are also quite a few quotes from real letters and documents written during at that time. (All references are listed at the back of the book.) The author really did his research.

The first chapter is dramatic to say the least and is a fantastic kick-off for the rest of the book. I felt there was a bit of a lull in the middle, partially because of a drop in pacing and partially because I had to look up additional information real events on Wikipedia to get a better understanding of the situation. But the ending was particularly dramatic. I gasped out loud at one point I was so shocked. You can probably guess where the story is going but it still took me off guard.

This novel doesn’t hold back the horrors of war. If you’re not a fan of death, gore, and war, then this might not be a book for you. There’s also some attempted sexual assault and discussions about sexual assault.

I appreciated how the novel depicted how messed up war is. It’s hypocrisies and pointlessness. How it completely ruins people both physically and mentally.


Why Japanese Learners Should Read 同志少女よ、敵を撃て

As this novel is historic fiction based on real events, there is a lot of war related vocabulary. Terms for guns, shooting, tanks, tactics, warfare, are thrown around all the time. Not to mention the number of Japanese names and terms for events. And as the protagonist is Russian there are even a few instances where Russian words are written in katakana, or in kanji with the Russian reading in furigana next to it.

This makes the novel feel very real to match the time and place, but it also makes it a challenging read. Even a Japanese friend of mine said she struggled to read this book.

I read the first chapter and looked up all the new words, but it took so long that from chapter two onwards I read alongside the audiobook and only looked up words when I was really confused. This, combined with reading lots of Wikipedia pages about Russia in World War II, helped a lot and I was able to understand the overall story, but it was still a challenging read and there were parts I don’t think I quite understood.

If you love history, particularly World War II, and you want a fun challenge, then this is a great novel to learn and practice history Japanese.

If you want to read it, but worry about the difficulty, then I highly recommend reading alongside the audiobook. The narrator did a great job.

You can read a sample of the novel on Bookwalker!



同志少女よ、敵を撃て is a challenging but worthwhile read. The main character is easy to empathize with and each part of her journey really hits home, ending with an emotional but satisfying conclusion.

For a novel about war, it’s very anti-war, and it doesn’t hold back when it comes to depicting how messed up and pointless war is.

This book is worthy of winning the 2022 Kinokuniya Best Books award and the 2022 Japan Booksellers’ Award, and I highly recommend it for advanced Japanese learners.


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