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How to learn Japanese with Anime

Melissa NeilsonMelissa Neilson
Published Time
Posted on June 05, 2019
Modified Time
Updated last June 21, 2022

Learning a new language, particularly a complex one like Japanese can be a fairly difficult and time consuming process. While reviewing flash cards, quizzing yourself, and repeatedly writing vocabulary over and over can work for some people, many people get bored of these typical methods fairly quickly. A big part of keeping yourself motivated when learning a language is finding ways to make the learning process fun. If you don't particularly enjoy reviewing flashcards for hours on end, your will find that your language learning will be put on the back-burner and you won't have as much time or energy to focus on it. Alternatively, if you focus on finding ways to make studying enjoyable, you will be more likely to keep your motivation strong.

How can you learn Japanese and make sure you stay motivated and on track? One way to do so, is through watching anime. If you are an anime fan, this can be extremely beneficial in building up your Japanese listening abilities in particular but you will find that you will also learn some new vocabulary. Since you genuinely enjoy watching anime, watching the Japanese version as a studying tool wouldn't necessarily feel like studying so you can enjoy your favorite shows with the added bonus of learning Japanese!

So how can you learn Japanese from anime? Let's hear from cosplayer, pop culture enthusiast, and blog writer for the Unleashed Dreams blog!

How to learn Japanese with Anime

Japanese culture is unique and different from other cultures around the world. They still preserve many traditional aspects of the culture which has an interesting contrast with their pop culture. Anime is becoming increasingly popular and is consumed not only by Japanese people but also around the globe. Anime is essentially Japanese cartoons that is often times adapted from manga (Japanese comics). However, for non-Japanese viewers it can sometimes be a bit difficult to fully enjoy anime because a lot of anime is only available in Japanese.

Japanese language

Japanese and other Asian languages in general have a unique way to write and speak and it may be a little bit difficult for language learners to understand the language as well as the cultural aspects of the language.

Its writing system is made from Kanji (漢字), an extension of Chinese writing, kana (syllabic Japanese script), Latin scripts for imported acronyms and Arabic numerals for the numeral system. Watching Anime can certainly be a useful tool to learn Japanese language. Yes, people can learn at least a bit watching anime! Although it may be tricky at times, it is possible to enjoy and learn Japanese at the same time. We just need to be careful while using this approach because anime is often using informal language and slang, which is not the same when talking with people in real life.

So you want to try watching anime to learn or improve your Japanese? First let’s find some good sources!

Where to find good sources

Time to do some little research! [Anime: Lucky Star]

Anime is so popular around the world that is easy to find and watch them. We can find paid and free anime websites. Here are some of the most popular and famous anime websites:

Crunchyroll: it is an American company, which casts plenty of Asian media (anime, manga, music and so on). This streaming is hybrid meaning paid members have benefits while free subscribers can view some of the shows.

AnimeLab: this streaming is exclusive to Australia and New Zealand, and is operated by Madman Anime Group. Similarly to Crunchyroll, it is also a hybrid where the free members can use an ad-based service.

Funimation: it is  an American corporation (and has grown to the UK, Australia and NZ) and is a major anime distributor in America.

Other Streaming services: last but not least, we have streaming platforms such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu that are always renewing their catalogues and bringing in some fresh material.

Choose wisely! =D

Which anime should I watch?

To learn Japanese through anime you should consider some points before starting:

Firstly, watching anime you are familiar with and know its story will help you understand Japanese phrases more easily. Try to focus on vocabulary by taking notes on things you have trouble with and search for it online it;

Then, you have to be conscious about our level of understanding. Take something easier to watch in the beginning and gradually increase its difficulty;

Finally, when you are able to watch and understand a higher level try watching anime without subtitles and see what you can get from this experience. If needed, take some steps back and try it again.

There are plenty of anime categories to choose from but the main are:

Shonen, anime for teenage boys (but girls like it too!) (Dragon Ball, Saint Seya),

Shôjo, equivalent to Shonen but main characters are girls (Sailor Moon, Madoka Magica),

Mecha, anime which are about giant robots (Neo Genesis Evangelion, Code Geass)

Kemono, animals or anthropomorphises are the main characters (Shirokuma Café, Kemono Friends)

And many others. Just choose that you think you will enjoy watching!

5 animes to learn Japanese

There are many anime and for every kind and person taste. Here is some anime (I think is pretty useful and good ones) to learn Japanese:

Cowboy Bebop:

it is an acclaimed anime launched in 1998. In the plot, a group of bounty hunters are travelling in a spaceship in 2071. The series has 26 episodes and is a mix of action, adventure, comedy and tragedies. It explores philosophic concepts (loneliness and existentialism) and is based on American culture which is why this series has a strong 40’s jazz music presence in the background.

Bebop crew (Jet, Spike, Faye, Ed and Ein).

Sword art online:

This anime launched in 2009 and talks about virtual reality and MMORPG games in 2022. It is practical to watch and learn Japanese because they use some text to explain some battles which helps you to comprehend a little bit of Japanese.

Some characters of SAO.

Shingeki no kyojin (Attack on Titan):

this anime is a recent adaptation, launched in 2013. The plot has interesting characters it has some functionalities such as lack of traditional names that helps us to recognize how Japanese speak non Japanese words. Another good point is that each episode has some notes about something from the current episode (example: if the episode is talking about a distant land, they show a note written in Japanese and other language to explain/show further information about that land).

Cover from the Season 1.

Otaku ni Koi wa Muzukashii (Wotakoi: Love is hard for Otaku):

it is another recent anime and is about two co-workers that are friends but they don’t know that each of them have a hidden otaku life. It’s good to learn more about this lifestyle and their ways to talk, their vocabulary that is different in a working environment and personal/social lives.

Hirotaka Nifuji and Narumi Momose. *-*


this anime was aired between 2014 and 2015 and tells the story about a girl and her friends who engaged in a school animation club and want to work with anime production. It is good to learn Japanese because the language used is for explanation. As the anime shows the way an anime is produced, it should be good to learn some vocabulary and the way of speaking.

Midori Imai, Ema Yasuhara, Aoi Miyamori, Shizuka Sakaki and Misa Tōdō.

Are you ready for learn/practice your Japanese skills? Choose your anime and have fun!

Here are some links you can access to know more about Japanese culture, anime and other tips to get into this amazing world:

Learn Japanese with Anime: 17 Series About Everything from Tennis to Idols

Best anime websites

5 animes to help you learn Japanese

Funniest animes ever made

For other great content like this, check out the Unleashed Dreams blog!

Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for more news straight from Japan!


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