Reality Check:- Can you learn Japanese from Watching Anime?

Can You Actually Use Your Hobby Of Watching Anime To Learn Japanese? Yes, But Under The Right Conditions

Wanting to learn the Japanese language is a common wish for those who watch Anime regularly, which often brings the question, could you learn Japanese from watching Anime? As someone who’s both into Anime & language, and since I am actually learning Japanese on my own, I thought it would be nice to write my opinion about it. To start off, being able to learn the language that way is very appealing. After all, watching Anime is something you do regularly, so won’t it be possible to get a nice bonus from it?

There are many people who are against the idea, and some of those who completely dismiss the idea, I doubt those people actually know what’s possible to learn from Anime & what’s not.

In case you’re too busy to read this post, the short answer to this question is:- Anime can help you learn Japanese, but it can’t do that on its own. You will need to dedicate time to actually study the language, while using Anime as a way to practice some of what you learned, you will still need to pay attention to what’s being said in the Anime. I will tell you in details why I think so in the rest of this post.

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Pros Of Learning Japanese By Watching Anime

  • Can help a lot in your Japanese learning.
  • Makes the whole thing more fun.

Cons Of Learning Japanese By Watching Anime

  • You can’t learn the written language easily, if at all.
  • There’s a limit to what you can learn by watching Anime alone.

You Already Learned Some Japanese Basics From Watching Anime

After all, there’s a chance you learned most of what Japanese you know that way. You probably can make simple sentences, or even have a very simple conversation too. After all, anyone who watched many Anime knows about baka, hidoi, moshi moshi, tadaima, gomen, ohayo & many other commonly used words. In that regard, Anime has already given you a small head start, which naturally makes you wonder if you could learn even more that way. You can actually, but until you run out of the easy things to learn.

However, you can dedicate some time & build upon what learned, and correct any mistakes in your learning that way. Which is the key to my next point~

You Still Need To Dedicate Time To Study Japanese.

Anime is not a lazy way to learn Japanese, I wish it was, this is the simple truth. Some aspects of the Japanese language is very hard to be learned from Anime, and so you need to study them in their dedicated time. That goes particularly to the written language, like hiragana & katakana (The alphabets of the Japanese language). The same goes to the Kanji character (the more complex character form, which look like this:- ).

While there are tons of appearance of Hiragana in Anime, there’s as much written Katakana (the characters used to write non Japanese names, along with other things). If you visited any Japanese website, you will see Katakana used very often to denote English terms, like Homu (Home) or Kaatu (Cart). For that reason, Katakana alone can help you navigate websites to some extent.

Even if we said you were only going for the spoken language, learning the grammar is still a must here. Also, having a dedicated time for studying the vocabulary can greatly boost the speed by which you learn the language (which is very slow to learn depending on Anime alone in my opinion).

Learning these things can serve as a basis that will allow you to benefit from watching Anime. Despite my early level in Japanese, I find myself frequently able to learn new words since I know the grammar behind the sentence, and I could tell which word meant what in the subtitle. I do a quick Google search to confirm if I got it right, and this worked for me many times.

When Done Right, Anime Can Give You A Boost In Learning Japanese.

After you get to a certain level, not only will you be able to understand good parts of what you are watching, but also learn new words even more easily. It will help you get used to listen to Japanese. Doing so with an Anime with a simple language is better, so don’t start with watching Steins;Gate for that, though I know it is a masterpiece for many (I even complimented it in my review for it here), at a low level, I think it is relatively harder to learn things from it. But you surly can do this after you became good with the language.

One Anime I found particularly easy to learn vocabulary from was Aikatsu. It doesn’t take much efforts from me to learn new words from it thanks to the easy language used in it. I guess any similar Anime can be used for that too.

One more thing, in order to benefit from watching Anime, you will need to pay attention to the language while you are at it, not just the Anime itself.

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What If I Only Want To Use Anime To Learn Japanese?

If that’s what you want to do, no one will stop you, but don’t expect to learn enough to know the language. You won’t learn many grammatical rules, the use of certain words, and many other things.

You will be able to learn some basic grammar, a good number of vocabulary, but you won’t be the same level as someone who properly studied the language.

As I mentioned above, you will completely miss out on Kanji characters, which needs time to study on their own, and without it, you won’t be able to read the simplest words. Let me give you an example, can you recognize what any of the following Kanji characters mean?

If you were able to recognize them, then you at least studied some Japanese in the past (I guess). If you couldn’t, these are some of the most basic Kanji letters, they are very easy to learn, but no Anime will teach them to you.

So, Any Tip On How To Start Learning Japanese?

There are tons of free & paid ways to learn Japanese. Some of them are completely free, some are paid, and some are in-between. I will list two resources I know here below:-

  • Nihongo Master:- I was told about Nihongo Master by a friend, he was using it to learn Japanese. It is free with ads, and you could pay to get access to the premium lessons they have. You can sign up for free by clicking on the following banner:-

learn japanese like a ninja

  • Rocket Japanese:- An all-in-one solution, it is a bit expensive, so I only recommend it if you are dedicated to learning the language. You can get still try it for free from this link.

And Finally

The aim of this post is to make a reality check, and asses what’s possible & what Japanese is or isn’t possible to learn from Anime, while still being positive about things. I hope it contributed, even by little, to your plans to learn Japanese using Anime.

See Also:-

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3 responses

  1. Thanks for the reality check. For me watching anime can help not just learning the language but the culture of Japanese people. And when we know about a certain culture, we will understand more on how their language works. :)

  2. Nice post! Indeed, while anime can greatly assist in picking up lots of common Japanese words and grammar fairly quickly, it doesn’t have the structure required to properly learn any of the writing scripts, or conversational Japanese beyond anime phrases. But…I think the greatest thing about anime is in understanding Japanese culture and customs. Some series have piqued my curiosity on all sorts of Japanese customs and cultural aspects, and had I not known of them through anime, I would not have gone to learn more of them.

  3. In addition to 2 above:
    My memory is not best, and my learning abilities are poor, but after 5 years of watching animes with subtitles I have learned ~180 Japanese words, without any effort and without even realizing it until some point. One day I just start and wrote down all words/simple conversations I know and it was a surprise for me, a little bit. I can also understand ~80% of voices in some animes even without subs now.
    And yes, I watched all Aikatsu, and watching Aikatsu Stars too!

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