Can you learn Japanese with Anime
By asking this question, you probably have doubts about the possibility of learning Japanese solely or mainly from anime, right?
You might hear using anime as a complementary source, a tool for immersion, an input learning media, etc. But what if anime is the real passion and learning Japanese is just the byproduct of it? Can you use anime as the main Japanese learning source?
The good news is, it’s possible! Massive input can definitely help with your Japanese learning, especially listening and oral skills. However, using anime as your only Japanese learning source may not be as effective as combining it with other learning methods like a comprehensive Japanese course. There are indeed anime lovers who started watching anime from a young age and can understand a large percentage of Japanese or even communicate with native speakers. But this often takes a long time, huge amounts of immersion, and probably a strategy.
So if your goal is to learn Japanese, why not use a smart method that leverages your passion for anime? Read on to see how to do it together with an anime recommendation list.
How to learn Japanese with Anime
Here is what you can do if you decide to learn Japanese with Anime.
Choose a genre
While most anime can help you learn Japanese, there are certain genres that are especially suitable for Japanese learners. For example, everyday comedy contains more useful, everyday dialogue, making them more suitable for language learners.
However, you don’t have to restrict your selection to a certain genre. Sometimes choosing a wide range of input material is also helpful. And above all, the most important thing is to choose those that truly interest you so you can keep watching.
With or without subtitles
Subtitle seems to be a forever debate among language learners. Should I watch anime with English subtitles or Japanese subtitles? Or even both, or simply none?
For Japanese learners, it’s best to watch with both English and Japanese subtitles. Japanese subtitles help you associate spoken words with their written forms, while English ones assure you can understand everything. In this way, you don’t need to worry about missing out a plot and can still take notes of specific words or expressions that interests you.
While you can watch the most part with both English and Japanese subtitles on (using anime as extensive listening material), you can also pause and replay certain scenes with only Japanese subtitle on or no subtitle for a true immersion experience and detailed study (using anime as intensive learning material).
Boost your Vocabulary
Consider taking notes of new vocabulary while watching. Keep a vocabulary notebook dedicated to anime. Whenever you encounter new words or phrases, write them down along with their meanings and context. Review and practice using these words in sentences to reinforce your understanding.
Attune your Ears to Native Speakers
Use shadowing exercises to improve your pronunciation. Pick up some of your favorite scenes and repeat lines along with the characters to improve your speaking. Imitate their pronunciation, intonation, and rhythm.
Understand the Cultural Background
Use anime as a gateway to explore Japanese culture. Whenever you encounter something interesting, be it a line, a plot, or the environment. Research cultural references, customs, and traditions depicted in the anime you watch. You can also do this before watching to understand the background.
Know Anime Style Phrases
Some words and expressions may be specific for anime but not commonly used in daily conversations. It’s important to spot them and avoid sounding too much like an anime character. LingoDeer’s Japanese course contains a dedicated phrasebook section where you can learn Japanese expressions in specific situations, including anime. Check it out!
8 Great Anime For Japanese Learners
If you want to learn Japanese with anime, here are some of the best anime for Japanese learners.
- IMDb Rating: 7.8/10
- Genre: Comedy, Family
This slice-of-life, heartwarming anime follows a group of adorable animals in a café run by a polar bear. Based on the manga series by Aloha Higa, the anime gained worldwide popularity since its air in 2012. It features everyday language and simple dialogue, making it ideal for Japanese beginners to grasp natural conversations and vocabulary related to daily life. It also brings you on a delightful adventure with the lovable animal characters in a cozy and entertaining environment.
- IMDb Rating: 7.6/10
- Genre: Comedy, Drama
If you are a music fan, don’t miss this anime. This music-centric anime showcases the daily lives of high school students in a music club. It offers a fun and light-hearted narrative while exposing Japanese learners to various aspects of Japanese school life, vocabulary related to music, and casual conversations among friends.
- IMDb Rating: 8.0/10
- Genre: Comedy, Drama
“Barakamon” tells the story of a calligrapher who moves to a remote island. The series explores themes of personal growth and friendship. For language learning purposes, it’s more suitable for intermediate to advanced Japanese learners as it involves different speech patterns and colloquial expressions. It also incorporates rural dialect so it can be extra challenging if you want to practice listening.
- IMDb Rating: 8.3/10
- Genre: Drama, Fantasy
This supernatural anime follows a boy who can see spirits. It presents a mix of natural and slightly formal language, offering learners an opportunity to expand their vocabulary and cultural knowledge through the exploration of Japanese folklore.
Goes between real life and interactions with youkai, spirits and supernatural beings from Japanese folklore. Good for learning the difference and learning a bit about Japanese mythology!
- IMDb Rating: 8.6/10
- Genre: Comedy, Drama
Haikyuu!! is an exhilarating sports anime that follows the journey of a high school student who dreams of becoming a volleyball champion. As a sports anime centered around a high school volleyball team, “Haikyuu!!” provides learners with sports-related vocabulary and lively dialogue among high school students. It’s a great choice for those interested in sports and seeking an engaging way to improve their Japanese.
- IMDb Rating: 8.4/10
- Genre: Animation, Drama, Romance
This anime revolves around the competitive world of a traditional Japanese card game called Karuta. It exposes learners to a mix of formal and informal language, as well as Japanese poetry, and offers insights into Japanese culture and traditions.
- IMDb Rating: 8.1/10
- Genre: Animation, Comedy, Drama
“Silver Spoon” follows a city boy attending an agricultural school in the countryside. The series combines comedy and drama while providing learners with nature-related vocabulary, everyday conversations, and a glimpse into the realities of farm life in Japan.
- IMDb Rating: 8.4/10
- Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy
Detective Conan is an ideal anime for Japanese learners. With over 1000 episodes, it’s one of the most popular and classic Japanese anime. It incorporates a wide range of speech styles, dialects, and conversational patterns with captivating murder mystery plots. Its intriguing storylines and realistic language use makes it an excellent choice no matter you are learning Japanese or not.
If you are a fan of movies, we have also written about the best Japanese movies for language learners. Here is a short preview.
- Spirited Away
- Howl’s Moving Castle
- My Neighbor Totoro
- Your Name
- Kiki’s Delivery Service
Common Anime Phrases
Here are some common Japanese phrases you can hear in Anime and everyday Japanese conversations! To learn more, check out our free Japanese phrasebook in the LingoDeer app.
- はい, Hai, Yes
- いいえ, Īe, No
- そうですね！ (Sōdesune!) right / I agree
- お元気ですか, Ogenki desu ka, How are you doing?
- 凄い, sugoi, Amazing!
- 大丈夫, daijoubu, Are you okay?
- よかった, yokatta, What a relief
- ちょっと待って, chotto matte, Wait a moment
- 可愛い, kawaii, Cute
- 大好き, daisuki, really like
- 馬鹿, baka, fool
- すみません, Sumimasen, Excuse me
- ごめんなさい, Gomen nasai, I’m sorry
- いただきます, Itadakimasu, I humbly receive (used before eating)
In conclusion, learning Japanese through anime can be an exciting and effective way to immerse yourself in the language and culture. Remember to combine anime-watching with other language learning resources, such as textbooks, apps, and language exchange partners, to reinforce your skills. Ganbatte! (Good luck!)