Learning Japanese isn’t just about memorization and grammar rules. Want to know how to study Japanese and have fun at the same time? Watch Japanese anime! “The path to fluent Japanese is a self-defined one,” says Adam from Japanese Level Up. “If you love anime, not using it to learn Japanese makes absolutely no sense.”
FluentU, an online language immersion program, also recommends anime for Japanese language students. Check out their complete guide to using anime to learn Japanese here.
While there are a number of shows that will help you with your comprehension skills, here are some of the most entertaining shows I recommend to learn Japanese through anime.
1. “The Avengers”
“The Avengers” anime series is a great place to start when you’re learning Japanese. With the release of the Marvel Avengers series in the United States, we are already somewhat familiar with the characters and the story. You can watch the shows with subtitles, or use the WaniKani app to help you translate the dialogue. The stories are usually composed of a simple formula, so once you know some basic Japanese concepts, you will be able to follow along. You will also be able to understand more of the story as you progress. One great thing about “The Avengers,” is you can pick your favorite hero and root for him or her, or you can root for all of the characters.
“Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher” is available on DVD, so you can watch it whenever you want, and accelerate your learning. “The Avengers” series is also great for kids. A young Japanese student can learn his or her favorite hero’s lines, wear a costume, and act out the scenes.
2. “Eden of the East”
“Eden of the East” is a teen show that’s popular almost everywhere in the world. Animation in Japan reflects daily life, where people share struggles and triumphs, work together, and experience setbacks, just like people in the United States. In “Eden of the East,” Akira Takizawa is one of 12 secret agents. He must rise to the occasion and leave Washington, DC to make things better in Japan.
It’s not too difficult to follow the story and sound out the words, plus you can use a translation app to help you if you get stuck. When you watch the show, write down any words you don’t know; you can review these words with your Japanese teacher. When you learn Japanese through anime, it will help you understand basic anime, and introduce you to Japanese culture.
“Transformers” is an incredible feature film franchise that started as a toy and a cartoon. It was inspired by the Japanese series “Microman.” The action-packed series is great for students of all ages. Who doesn’t love shows about machines that take on human qualities and behaviors?
When you’re learning Japanese, you will be introduced to katakana, hiragana, and kanji. Microman uses these symbols, so watching the show will help you become more familiar with the Japanese writing systems. Another great learning strategy is to turn off the sound and practice saying the characters lines. You can do this with friends, or play several roles by yourself. This will help you work on your pronunciation of Japanese words.
4. “The Rolling Girls”
“The Rolling Girls” is set in a post-apocalyptic world. Nozomi, Yukina, Ai, and Chiaya ride around on motorcycles and mediate conflicts between different clans.
This show makes learning Japanese fun and exciting. There are 12 episodes that take you on a journey through Japan’s multi-layered society. The show will help you learn the language and culture, and gain a greater understanding of Japan as a whole.
The world of Japanese anime is a fascinating adventure. You can find these programs on iTunes, YouTube, and DVD. Watching anime is one of the most fun ways to learn and practice Japanese. So, what are you waiting for? Everybody likes cartoons; go ahead and get started! This is your stepping stone to a fascinating new world.
These are just a few of the many anime series out there. Japanese anime shows have had a huge impact, not only in Japan, but also in the United States and worldwide. If you’re looking for more shows to watch, check out this list of influential Japanese anime in the U.S.
Do you have some favorite anime programs that aren’t on this list? Let us know some of your favorite shows!
If you want to be able to understand more anime and Japanese TV programs, sign up for lessons with a Japanese tutor.
James W. teaches guitar, singing, and acting lessons in Jacksonville, FL. He spent a year immersed in Foreign Language studies, including Japanese traditions and culture. He specializes in teaching pop, rock, and modern country styles. James has been teaching for 10 years and joined the TakeLessons in 2010. Learn more about James here!