Here’s an age old question. Can you learn Japanese from watching anime? As a fellow anime fanatic, I know how most of us who love anime, also love Japan. And it’s only natural that one’d want to learn the language.
Or you might just want to watch anime without subs and enjoy the visuals as well as the story (instead of focusing on the subtitles most of the time.)
But whatever the case, can we actually learn Japanese through anime?
The answer to that question depends on several factors.
How long have you been watching Anime?
I’ve been watching anime for the past 4-5 years and I can say with surety that I’ve learned a bit of Japanese through anime. It might not be much to actually maintain a comprehensive conversation, but it is definitely enough to understand Japanese to a very little extent (Disclaimer: I actually never tried/put effort into learning Japanese from anime, so you might be able to make more progress than me if you actually commit to it.)
Honestly, even if I never had the intent to learn Japanese through anime or in any other manner, seeing how certain words are repeated in most anime, it just sticks to your mind regardless of whether you want to memorize it or not.
Watashi ga mamoru! – I’ll protect (you)
Nigerou! – Run!
Ohayou – Good Morning
Genki desu ka?/Daijobu? – Are you fine/okay?
Itekimasu – I’ll be going now/ See ya
I could keep going on with this frequent Japanese word used in anime listing. I can think of somewhere within 100-150 Japanese words without even thinking hard, but you probably get the point.
These words and sometimes, sentences, are just drilled into your brain whether you want them to are not.
But of course, it depends on how much you’ve watched and how long you’ve been watching anime.
Commitment to learn Japanese through Anime
So you just heard the story of how an uncommitted guy can manage somewhere between 100-150 words so easily. Now let’s hear about people who actually committed to it.
This is actually about a friend of mine, who was into anime way before I was. I heard that they learned spoken Japanese initially through anime and then started studying normal courses to get certification in the language.
They loved anime to the point where they absolutely had to learn Japanese and move to Japan.
And guess what? They did. Now they are actually living in Japan, pursuing their studies there! Like, how crazy is that? I never even considered it a possibility.
I always thought, I’ll finish my college in my homeland, and then visit Japan as a tourist and that should be fine.
Because I thought the Language would be a barrier, I never considered to actually live there. Let alone pursue my studies there.
But here’s what I learned. If you have the commitment to learn Japanese, then you will. Nothing can ever stop you.
Once you’ve gained a strong ground on the basics by watching Anime, and had that initial spark, you might want to take up an actual Japanese course to perfect your language skills.
I was never able to watch anime with the learning mindset. I watch anime for the fun of it. But I suppose, there are people who’ll go the extra mile of actually watching anime with a learning mindset for the sake of their dreams and still have fun doing it.
What measures are you willing to take?
As with any other language, Japanese isn’t going to be easy to learn without actually working for it.
If you only want to watch anime and do nothing more, you’ll only go as far as I did. Although you can probably surpass what I learned in 5 years, in just a month or two if you actually take proper actions.
What actions though?
Well, it’s taking notes, and talking (thinking) to yourself in Japanese obviously.
Whenever you want to think something, try thinking it in Japanese. If you couldn’t get the right words, you always have Google-senpai to help ya out.
The trick is not to learn a lot in one day, but to learn a little everyday, and to repeat and refresh those words/sentences you had learned over and over again.
So simple right? There is actually no magical technique to learn it. But unfortunately, this is too simple for some people, and they totally over look these things.
Or some are just too lazy to “think” in Japanese. I’m guilty too. It’s hard. I admit.
I want to think something, but then there is this rule that I made that I have to think in Japanese. So in order to think a simple thing like, “Damn, this day sucks”, I had to go to Google-senpai, or look at the (non-existent) notes I took while watching anime.
Think about doing this all day! It’ll exhaust you to the core.
That’s where the ‘learn little a day’ part comes in. A little progress a day is fine. Even if you learn only 20 sentences a week, you’ll be at 80 sentences in a month. So it’s fine.
But don’t get me wrong. I’m only saying this for the lazy people. If you’re someone who is capable of writing down every word of an episode and study it, then go for it!
But just remember to review it later to reinforce what you’ve learned.
So, Can I learn Japanese from Anime?
Here’s the answer to this question. It is possible. But only if you work hard for it. If you think learning Japanese from anime is going be easy, you’d better change your mindset.
Learn it because you are passionate about the language, not because you think it is easy.
As a matter of fact, it is as hard as, or even harder than taking an actual Japanese course. Because here, you’ll be doing all the work yourself and you won’t have a guide.
But the pros is you’ll be able to manage your own time and create your own learning style, and it is actually fun to learn from anime instead of just “learning to learn it.”
How and where to start?
So where do you start? You’ve decided to learn Japanese from anime, but where do you start?
Here are some tips from yours truly to get a kick start in the Japanese learning arc of your life!
- One Liners: I’d say the best place to begin is the one liners. Sure, they won’t help you in an actual conversation, but it is useful to study Japanese nonetheless, especially when you are a beginner.
So take out your notes and write down those one liners, and try to use them in your daily life.
- Words: Study every word of an episode! As you probably know, knowing the words comes before the grammar and other advanced stuffs. Once you feel like you’ve learned enough words, then transition to grammar, sentence formation etc.
- Watch each episode twice: The first time, focus only on learning the words and sentences. Then during you second time, watch the anime without subtitles and try to understand it. Once you reach the level where you can do this perfectly, you’ll meet the requirement to learn while watching. So you can finally drop watching the same thing twice, and do it all at once.
- Decide carefully on what anime you are going to learn from: This is the most important thing in the entire process. If you don’t choose the right anime you’re going to learn it the wrong way. For example, let’s say you are a boy, and you learned Japanese from a shoujo anime. How do you think you’d sound like? Obviously like a girl, right? So it is crucial to choose the right anime in order to speak right. There are anime that are highly recommended to begin learning Japanese through anime (I’ve linked the post from playbuzz on top 10 anime for learning Japanese here.) You have to do a little bit of research and pick the one you like, that’s all.
- Find like minded people: Find the people who wish to learn Japanese just like you. Form a party, and venture together! Two is always better than one, right? It’ll be more fun that way too. But it’s understandable, if you can’t find any like minded people. Just play it solo if that’s the case. There’s no problem in that either 😉
So that briefs about everything you have to do to learn Japanese from anime. If there’s a take out from this post, it is this:
Work hard and you will get the result you desire. Being persistent is the key. As long as you do that, you can emerge victorious in whatever you wish to do.
Good Luck learning Japanese (^^)