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Upon some googling, the grammar seems to used for something akin to

Pattern 1) Noun[A] + ならまだしも + [B] [A] is the preferred option over [B].

However I'm struggling to see how it's being used in this sentence. The general meaning is that, going by top panel is that girl sneaked into the house where the criminals were, so they drugged her and dumped here somewhere else to settle the situation.

The dialog after says that it's lucky she didn't get killed.


My literal reading of the dialog would be something like:

"It would be better if it was America over not testing as missing girl for drugs"

...which I don't think makes much sense. From the previous page's context, I'm fairly sure they mentioned she got tested for alcohol. Going from context the only think that comes to mind is something akin to "It would be better if it was America. (here in japan) they don't test for drugs on missing people."

To sum it up, what is the exact structure of this sentence:


  • Would you understand the meaning if まだしも was replaced with ともかく? This use of まだしも seems a little weird to me. It's usually used to talk about the degree of acceptability.
    – aguijonazo
    Commented Aug 24, 2023 at 22:32
  • Not really to be honest? Which meaning of ともかく?
    – Kawase_K
    Commented Aug 26, 2023 at 7:18

2 Answers 2


The A なら まだしも B pattern has another use:

A is conceivable/possible/understandable, but B is inconceivable/impossible/incomprehensible.

In this case, the speaker is saying that testing a missing minor for drugs is something that might be done in the US, but would never be done in Japan.

Based on the rest of the panel, I suspect the speaker is actually describing his hypothesis of the reasoning of the criminals for dumping the girl without killing her rather than giving his own opinion, and that she was, in fact, tested and found to have marijuana in her system.

I hope that gives you enough to go on to rethink your translation.

  • This makes sense yeah but > In this case, the speaker is saying that testing a missing minor for drugs is something that might be done in the US, but would never be done in Japan." Is "in Japan" meant to be implied? >"and that she was, in fact, tested and found to have marijuana in her system" What are you basing this one? My own reading was that she WASN'T tested, since this is Japan (I don't understand how to format comments, sorry)
    – Kawase_K
    Commented Aug 26, 2023 at 17:01
  • Yes, "in Japan" is implied. I'm basing the fact that she actually was tested on two things: (1) the speaker knows for a fact that she was drugged, and (2) the までは suggests that things did not actually happen as expected.
    – Philippe
    Commented Aug 27, 2023 at 0:11

まだしも is its own word and is separate from なら.

a strengthening of the 2.6 definition of まだ. not good, but on the other hand it could be worse. ex: "if it were one or two people coming, we could still deal with that, but 10?"

And the 2.6 definition of まだ:

not entirely satisfactory, but considering the alternatives, better than might be expected. the better of two evils. madashimo. ex: "the cold[ness] is still something I/we can take and put up with" "moving forward is unfortunately the better option than retreat"

(I know this information doesn't help you in your particular question, but might help other people.)

In deciphering the manga page you posted, Philippe's answer is correct. One reason the line is difficult to parse is because アメリカならまだしも is an unfinished sentence clause. A possible continuation could be: アメリカならまだしもあり得るかもしれないけど and then [日本では]失踪した未成年に大麻の検査まではしないだろう.

In this specific case the dictionary definition might be less than helpful. When I read the line in the manga page, it sounds like the author believes that America is drug-riddled enough that it's plausible any subsequently-found missing persons are summarily drug-tested.

(This is going off on a tangent, but the majority of Japanese people are hilariously uninformed about "drugs" (DRUGS ARE THE DEVIL *but for some reason not alcohol), and more than you think would believe smoking one joint is in entirely the same ballpark as shooting up heroin with a shared needle.)

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