Learn Japanese With Anime

Learn Japanese With Anime, picture from anime K-ON with Japanese subtitles

Commonly asked by anime enthusiasts, “is it possible to learn Japanese with anime?” This is a question I’ve been wondering myself for quite some time but since I’ve interacted with people who watched tons of anime I came to an understanding that I think make sense.

Learn Japanese with Anime as a Complete Beginner

Now you might be the person who really loves anime, so much that you want to understand every little thing they say in the anime. This which leaves the question, “Did all these hours of anime-watching make my Japanese better?” or if you’re a complete beginner, did anime teach you, and maybe unconsciously? One thing is for sure, many students has their reason of why they started studying Japanese is because of their fixation behind anime. Nothing wrong with that, since the language is a interesting and fun language, and while you enjoy anime so much, why not take it to the next step.

Foot into the language

In anime there is a lot of Japanese, well, it’s all Japanese. If you think about it, it’s all Japanese and you’re probably not watching without sound, so it will be a huge amount of Japanese going through your ears. Now can all these words be comprehended easily? Short answer would be no because you simply don’t know them. All you can do at this point is grasp how the language sounds, but not so much else, but I believe listening a lot will work to your advantage in the future of your studies. If you’ve watched lots of anime, then you probably have a great idea of some word’s pronunciation. You will certainly know how Japanese should sound like from a more general viewpoint. This alone, is the first foot into the language I believe. Hopefully you’ll remember few phrases and start feel more natural hearing the language. What would be most effective as for learning is to learn not solely on hearing, but getting a fundamental understanding of the language’s core elements (reading, writing, grammar) too as we are continuing expanding on below. This might sound obvious, and it is, but some people tend ignore the fact that basics are essential for actually learning the language. If you are a person who watched lots of anime, you can see yourself as a beginner that touched the surface, one who have already (hopefully) grasped a few words here and there such as “neko” (cat) or the “watashi wa … desu” (I am …) etc. Compared to a clueless beginner who doesn’t understand how the Japanese language sounds at all, or in what kind of way correct pronunciations are made.

Bad things when learning Japanese from Anime

Now there are things that one should keep in mind when listening on anime. The major point would be that the language they use in anime compared to real life is more unnatural sounding. The guys have much more strong vulgar language where examples of the very emphatic sentence-ending particle ぞ (zo) can be seen quite regularly, and much impolite language overall is used. Females use much more feminine Japanese than normally. Another thing is the clarity of the voices in anime, which are much clearer therefore easier to hear in contrast to real life were in real situations people talk lower, with accents, slurping, binding words together, making sounds while talking which makes it harder to hear among other things. This of course can be seen as a good thing since it’s gets you hear it clear, but it can also make you blinded by the real side of real usage of Japanese.

Learn Japanese With Anime, not Only with Anime

Learn Japanese With Anime
Anime Character Aoba from the anime New Game saying: “I’ll do my best today as well!”

Learning Japanese with only anime would I consider time consuming and overall a not good idea, but, using it as a booster for the learning process itself would be a good idea. Everybody has their own things they learn from but what many agrees on is that whatever that you really enjoy learning with is probably a great tool to use. Use anime as a extra tool for practicing hearing comprehension together with other resources. When you are starting to get the basics of Japanese, and slowly (or fast) improving your skill, anime can come of more use to you as long as you focus on the Japanese itself, since it will be a point when you actually can learn more from them (than just touching the surface).

My long experienced university and overseas student of Japanese language studies told me when I asked him if it’s good idea to use anime for Japanese studying. His answer:

“I don’t believe there is such great point to watch anime with English subtitles with the exception if one were to focus on the Japanese and only look at the subtitles when not understanding what is being said, alternatively hide the subtitles as long as the Japanese can be understood. “

Again, it’s all about the focus on the Japanese, and not get hung up on the subtitling. Reading English is English practice, and listening to Japanese is Japanese practice.

Ways to Use Anime To Learn Japanese

We’ve understood that anime can be used greatly if you have studied enough to take us of it if you want to take an step into the world of Japanese. Now, to get a summary of the worst and best ways of learning Japanese with anime I’ve listed the different most typical methods.

  • Japanese Anime with English subtitles

As what previously been stated, this will get you hearing Japanese, but the English subtitles often plays too much of a role and distraction. As a complete beginner, one could always try snap up a few words here and there while working towards learning Japanese with other resources.

  • Japanese Anime with Japanese subtitles

If you are watching with Japanese subtitles is it important to first try listen to the Japanese and then look at the subtitles, otherwise you wouldn’t get any practice at listening and understand what been said which is a completely different thing than reading Japanese.

  • Japanese Anime without subtitles at all

Ultimately the best practice to learn Japanese with anime is to watch without any subtitles at all. This however would be quite a big step if you aren’t fairly skilled already; were your vocabulary wouldn’t be enough to comprehend whatever being said.

One thing to remember though is that there are tons of anime out there which means that there are many varieties of themes, characters, styles or genres. With such huge library of anime, you can hand-pick whatever you think would be suitable for your skills. You might learn towards an anime that is quite challenging, but starting out with subtitles then slowly trying without could just be the perfect method. Could be however you would want it, only you personally can decide. Personally I think the “slice of life” genre of anime is quite on the easier side of understanding difficulty were the conversations stays quite casual, were if someone wants more of a challenge can look towards other genres and themes were expected vocabulary can be more testing.