How to Learn Japanese with Anime: Your Complete Guide

Language learning doesn't have to be a boring experience. Watching Japanese anime can be an incredible add-on to other useful tools that you can use to study Japanese.

If you're still wondering if it's actually possible to learn Japanese from anime, then the first thing to know is that you will need a great course, a language tutor, or fierce dedication to self-study to get you started on your path to Japanese fluency.

That being said, if you have at least one of the above, then watching anime will definitely enhance your Japanese language skills.

There are many reasons why you might want to learn Japanese from anime. Maybe you're a fan of Japanese culture more generally, or maybe you want to be able to watch your favorite shows without subtitles.

Whatever your reason, know that learning Japanese from anime can be a fun and rewarding experience, whether you're watching Dragon Ball Z or Sailor Moon.

In this post, we'll show you how to make the most of watching some of the best anime television series on Lingopie, whilst touching on the magic of the anime world more generally.

Pick a language, choose from thousands of shows, sit back and binge-watch your way to fluency. Sign up for a free trial of Lingopie today.

Why watching anime will help you learn the Japanese language

There are many methods that will be crucial for you to learn Japanese. These may include taking lessons, using textbooks, finding a tandem partner, etc.

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However, more traditional tools aren't the only options that Japanese learners have available to them. Using Japanese media, including anime, can help students learn Japanese by sustaining their motivation in a creative way.

This is amazing news for all anime fans and Japanese learners out there!

However, before treating yourself to some popcorn and turning on some of your favorite shows, it's important to know why. Read into all the benefits of watching anime below!

Attuning your ears to Japanese by listening to native speakers

A great way to learn a new language is by surrounding yourself with it as much as possible. If your goal is to learn Japanese, there is no better way to do that than by watching some of your favorite Japanese anime!

Listening to the dialogues and following the storyline will help you to become familiar with the fluency, the phonetics, the tone, and the rhythm of the language, all while enjoying yourself.

Boosting your vocabulary

Learn new Japanese phrases and become accustomed to casual talk and informal pronouns by observing and listening to your favorite anime.

Your Japanese skills will improve by learning more words and expressions. Just beware of any made-up words or unusual Japanese, but we'll get into that in more detail later...

When learning a foreign language, it's important not only to memorize what you want to say to others but also to practice being able to understand what someone else says to you at any given moment. In language learning, this is the basis for fluid dialogue.

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In-person dialogue is mostly spontaneous, even if within a certain topic, so when you're speaking a language that's different from your mother tongue, you'll have to develop and rely on your listening skills to be able to follow what someone says in a conversation.

It is in this aspect that watching anime can be most useful; it trains your ability to think on your feet and to absorb what is said to you at that moment.

our use of wall
Photo by Gracia Dharma / Unsplash

Letting you hear a language used in context

Instead of relying solely on grammar-based concepts and vocabulary exercises that will always refer to a specific subject area within a controlled environment, like an exercise or text, you'll be exposed to real conversations and interactions between characters.

When watching anime television series, you will be presented with situations and language that is used in context, rather than memorizing certain words or verbs on their own.

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The casual language used in most anime will also help you in real-life situations. By picking up expressions in ways that native speakers use them, you will sound more realistic.

Learning passively while having fun

This statement is true because as you watch anime television series, you will be learning Japanese by absorption. Your brain will assimilate sounds and fluency subconsciously as you take in the images in combination with the characters' speech.

Have you ever heard of an easier or more fun way to learn? Just be careful, and avoid becoming so passive that you end up resorting to imitating anime characters.

Due to the gap between the language used in formal and informal contexts in Japanese, you might risk being inappropriate and rude or sounding like a child.

Learning about Japanese culture

The great thing about watching anime in Japanese is that you will get in touch not only with the language itself but also with the Japanese culture.

This way you can learn about Japanese people and their customs and receive a myriad of cultural insights that will help you to navigate the Japanese-speaking world.

For example, through anime which is set in schools, you'll learn about the Japanese education system, and how high school girls and boys relate not only to each other and their teachers but also to their parents.

Tips to learn Japanese through anime

Now that you know why you should learn Japanese with anime and how you'll benefit from this type of learning, it's important to highlight some tips that will help you to make sure that you avoid making basic common mistakes that may slow down your progress.

The truth is that, even though Japanese anime is obviously in Japanese, its type of language is very casual and it employs a lot of slang and crude language. Although this may be the case in English as well, depending on the shows that you watch, it's more problematic in Japanese.

For example, due to the honorific nature of the language itself, the difference between formal and informal language is much greater than in English. This is why you'll have to be wary of learning Japanese with anime.

Don't get discouraged though. It's only a matter of focus and planning!

If you know how to choose which shows to watch and learn to sift through some of the expressions, you'll be in a good position to maximize your learning and Japanese absorption.

Photo by Gabrielle Willy / Unsplash

Learn enough Japanese to watch anime

As aforementioned, watching anime will be an incredible addition for Japanese learners to gain access to the language in context.

However, in order to truly benefit from the experience, you'll most likely need to know some Japanese already so that you can focus solely on new expressions and words that appear.

That's why using anime to learn Japanese is best suited to more advanced learners or learners at the intermediate level, rather than beginners.

With English subtitles, you get distracted and cannot fully understand Japanese

If you're too focused on the subtitles, you'll miss out on what you're listening to. Hence you should already know enough to be able to use the anime to learn Japanese with anime in more depth.

It would be most useful to resort to Japanese subtitles, rather than English subtitles.

Or try Lingopie's interactive subtitles in Japanese. Start your free trial of Lingopie today.

Study the speech of a character who is of the same gender and personality as you

To optimize your learning experience, it's useful to study characters that are close to you in gender, sex, personality, and interests. In this way, you can directly incorporate their language into your own speech. That'll make your memorization more effective.

If you study anime characters that are too far apart from your own reality, you risk not being able to apply what you're learning to everyday situations.

Be sure to be certain of the meaning of new vocabulary before adopting it

Before you incorporate anime vocabulary into your daily dialogue, be sure to know what it means. Since many anime shows use unusual Japanese, you need to be careful with what you're learning.

When you're learning a new language, know that culture, customs and tradition can be as important as the language itself. So, knowing which types of speech to use in context is essential to becoming fluent.

This couldn't be more true for Japanese.

As we've explained above, there is a large gap between the language that is used in some anime and the way Japanese people talk in real life, so it's important to find out what the vocabulary means before using it in practice.

How to Learn Japanese from Anime

Now that you're aware that watching Japanese anime will be a worthwhile experience and why that's the case, let's take a look at how you can do so to your advantage in your learning process.

1. Separate by genre or setting to see what vocabulary you’ll be learning

When you learn Japanese with anime, you'll notice that characters operate within their own universe. Many use mostly casual language and even made-up words! It's important to know exactly what you'll be watching so you know the type of vocabulary that will come up.

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Be attentive when watching anime that deals with themes like science fiction and fantasy, since these tend to utilize more unusual Japanese.

2. Read the manga

Read the manga of your favorite Japanese anime television series, and learn the words and phrases used in everyday conversations. This will enable you to immerse yourself in Japanese culture by watching authentic Japanese dramas.

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Manga is the name for the Japanese graphic novels that gave origin to popular anime. If you pair up watching anime with reading the manga, you are sure to make serious progress.

You'll improve your reading skills and you'll create links between themes.

Snapped this quick photo of my girlfriend browsing some mangas at the comic convention. I really just like how it turned out and really emphasizes a hobby of reading comics.
Photo by Miika Laaksonen / Unsplash

4. Take notes when learning Japanese

The best anime to learn Japanese is anime which enables you to adopt new vocabulary just by listening to it.

In order to maximize your Japanese skills when doing so, make a note of any new words or Japanese phrases that come up and create associations that make sense to you.

This will help you to remember words, phrases, and expressions. After all, Writing helps to activate the part of your brain connected to memory.

5. Shadowing: practicing listening and speaking skills

By watching your favorite anime, you will be working on your listening skills without having to be in dialogue with another person.

The steps are simple:

  1. You listen to your chosen anime character - your model.
  2. You immediately repeat what you heard.
  3. Rinse and repeat until you get it right!

Bonus points if you record yourself and look for any mistakes you can work on.

That way, you'll have a space to practice your listening and speaking in a comfortable position, before going out into the real world and putting those skills into practice through dialogue.

6. Look at the characters’ speech styles

You have to understand if the Japanese words used by the anime characters are correct.

When you learn Japanese with anime, you will come across a range of informal language forms. It's essential to make sure the words you're learning are correct before absorbing them and using them in practical scenarios.

By observing your favorite characters, you'll be able to assess their speech style and determine whether all the Japanese words they use are real Japanese that you can use in real life or language that is far too informal or, quite frankly, gybrish!

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There are three broad anime themes that tend to use more realistic Japanese phrases that can come in handy in practice. These are sports anime, detective dramas and anime that revolve around high school students.

Best Anime to Learn Japanese

Alright, now that you know why learning Japanese with anime is a great way to pick up the Japanese language and you've got tips and recommendations for how to do so, you're ready to find out about the different anime shows available on Lingopie.

This way, you can best organize and optimize your Japanese learning journey.

Actually, I Am...

Learn Japanese through this enigmatic anime series.

Actually I am on Lingopie

WHAT'S IT ABOUT?

This cartoon follows anime character Asahi Kuromine, a 2nd-year high school student whose nickname is "sieve with a hole in it" or "hole sieve" - that he gained from being unable to hide things.

We find out that he secretly holds feelings for someone - his mysterious classmate, a girl named Yoko Shiragami. However, the truth is that she also holds a secret. What might it be?

WHAT YOU'LL LEARN

Learn about youth vocabulary and mystery related words. You'll come into contact with typical adolescent speech and you'll become familiar with how young people relate to each other in Japanese.

Bakumatsu Gijenden Roman

This anime series is on Lingopie, so find out more about it below!

Bakumatsu Gijenden Roman on Lingopie

WHAT'S IT ABOUT?

This anime television series is almost an eastern version of the famous Robin Hood.

Set in the 19th century, it follows the story of Manjiro or "the helper" who spends his days doing odd jobs around the town of Kyoto, where the anime is set.

During the night, the main character transforms into Roman, "Nezumi Kozo" or get-backer, retrieving stolen items from corrupt men in power and returning them to their rightful owners.

He's assisted by his sister Koharu in his endeavors.

WHAT YOU'LL LEARN

This anime falls under the genre of historical fantasy, so make sure you're aware of what the vocabulary means, before you aprehend it.

In any case, you'll be learning about a wide range of themes, including daily work, planning and strategizing, a variety of belongings as well as justice and social issues.

Cardfight!! Vanguard

Another anime series you do not want to miss is now available to watch on Lingopie.

Cardfight Vanguard on Lingopie

WHAT'S IT ABOUT?

This anime series' protagonist is in his third year of junior high school. Aichi Sendō is a shy boy, whose only motivation in life is a card that he received when he was little called "Blaster Blade."

It belongs to Cardfight!! Vanguard. Vanguard is a trading card game that takes place on an alternative planet called "Klay."

After having his card stolen by Kai Toshiki, the two face each other in a cardfight, as rivals.

Aichi's goal is to become the best player he can be. To that effect, he practices every day. He aims to be recognized for his skills and value as a player.

WHAT YOU'LL LEARN

This series will open doors for you in terms of vocabulary around the topic of school. Since it has a fantastical element to it, be sure to separate the words that will be applicable and the words that won't.

This anime also touches upon the topic of games, cards and battles.

Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas

Already available to watch on Lingopie!

Saint Seiya The Lost Canvas on Lingopie

WHAT'S IT ABOUT?

After the original Saint Seiya series, this anime is actually set 250 years prior to the era of the original series.

It takes place in the 18th century and follows the "Holy War," a battle fought between the Goddess Athena and the Underworld King Hades, that has been underway since the age of legends.

This new story, which involves the Pegasus Saints, sees Hades painting over the sky, "The Lost Canvas." It's commonly said that, once he finishes, all earthly lives will perish.

Find out more by watching the series...

WHAT YOU'LL LEARN

This Japanese anime uses greek mythology vocabulary. Once again, you'll find vocabulary to do with battle and fantasy themes.

Onihei

Next up, it's Onihei, a Japanese anime you do not want to miss.

Onihei on Lingopie

WHAT'S IT ABOUT?

Heizo Hasegawa is known as "Heizo the Oni" and his intolerance of crime makes the cruel thieves of the city of Edo fear him deeply.

As the leader of the Arson Theft Control, his job is to end injustice in the city, which he does while surrounded by eccentric characters.

WHAT YOU'LL LEARN

In this series, you'll learn vocabulary about morality and justice, but also criminality and robbery.

Z/X Ignition

Embark on a journey into the future.

Z X IGNITION on Lingopie

WHAT'S IT ABOUT?

Set in the near future, this series opens the door to different timelines.

As five portals appear, opening gateways to different versions of the same world, the characters living in each of these alternative worlds will do anything to ensure the survival of their own.

There is a key to survival though, and it's contained in a single card-shaped device...

WHAT YOU'LL LEARN

Another science fiction anime series, where you'll learn to explore infinite possibilities.

Brave 1O

BRAVE10 on Lingopie

WHAT'S IT ABOUT?

This plot is set during the Warring States period and follows an Iga Ninja, Kirigakure Saizou, who is searching for his path in life. As he encounters a horrific scene whereby a shrine maiden, Isanami, is under attack by assassins, he is faced with continuing battles.

Isanami, in turn, is on her way to reach sanctuary with Sanada Yukimura when the attack occurs. Yukimura is busy gathering the Sanada Ten Braves in order to alter the course of history!

Amidst all this, the mysterious power within Isanami is on the brink of awakening...

WHAT YOU'LL LEARN

By watching "Brave 10" you'll come across many aspects of Japanese culture. It will elucidate you specifically on the Shinto religion and some of its figures.

We Rent Tsukumogami

Last, but certainly not least, we recommend We Rent Tsukumogam to help you learn Japanese with anime.

We Rent Tsukumogami on Lingopie

WHAT'S IT ABOUT?

In Edo, now known as Tokyo, where fire and floods are commonplace, people have the need to rent out everyday items so that they are free to flee when necessary.

Two siblings own a rental shop that provides these times. However, amongst the inventory, there are special ancient objects that have become spirits after hundreds of years of existence. These are called Tsukumogami.

They are supernatural creatures that go around town spreading the gossip they overhear. The siblings are left to resolve the conflicts by using the powers of the Tsukumogami.

WHAT YOU'LL LEARN

This anime is quite eclectic in terms of thematics and will teach you useful vocabulary about everyday items, objects as well as natural and supernatural phenomena.

Summing up: Get started on Lingopie with the best anime to learn Japanese

If you learn Japanese with anime, you'll soon find yourself able to communicate with Japanese people in their native language. Can you imagine how impressive that will be?

The Lingopie Japanese catalog is constantly growing, so you'll be sure to find a Japanese anime to your taste.

Whilst there are other streaming services where you'll be able to find anime to your liking, Lingopie provides access to numerous features that will definitively boost your Japanese language learning.

So, why not sign up to a 7 day free trial and give it a try?

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