5 Japanese Anime Series Perfect for Practising Your Japanese
Japan is a country that is culturally fascinating and alluring. Nowhere in the world can you find a place where the weird and the proper mix with such a wonderful symbiosis. There are multiple reasons to travel to Japan. You might be interested in the country’s interesting history, a fan of its contemporary pop culture, or a nature lover who wants to travel to the greenest and most remote parts of this beautiful nation. Whatever your reasons, learning Japanese before you embark on your journey can be a huge help. Keep in mind that even in metropolises like Tokyo finding people who speak English can be difficult. Studying up on basic conversation starters and phrases will go a long way to helping you get around Japan. And what better (and more fun) way to do so than by watching cartoons or, as the Japanese know them, anime? Check out our list of Japanese anime perfect for improving your language skills and get to watching!
Unless you’ve been living under a rock (or inside a PokeBall), you’ve undoubtedly heard of the famous Pokémon series. The Indigo League is the one of the originals and follows the adventures of ten-year-old Ash Ketchum as he sets out to become the world’s greatest Pokémon trainer. What I love about this show is that even though it’s aimed at kids it’s tons of fun to watch even as an adult. And it’s perfect for those learning Japanese because the conversations revolve around similar topics in each episode and the language isn’t overly sophisticated.
I honestly can never get enough of ‘Azumanga Daioh’. This is one of the few anime series that I enjoy re-watching every year or so for its hilarious content alone. The comedy series revolves around the lives of a group of high-school girls, one of which is a child prodigy. There’s a host of hysterical characters (like Miss Yukari, the group’s teacher) and you learn a little about Japanese culture in the process. This is a great anime series because it’s incredibly easy to watch, even if you’re not catching everything that’s going on. For beginners, find episodes that offer English subtitles so you aren’t completely lost in translation but are still practising your Japanese!
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Nana is a series that’s a bit more advanced in terms of language than the others listed above. It tells the story of two girls who are polar opposites but have the same name and somehow end up living together as roommates. The series explores themes of love, rejection, and heartache and while some of the characters may be a little stereotypical, the series has great soul. It’s not all serious though, there are both comedic and solemn aspects to this anime and you’ll learn something about cultural expectations women can face in Japanese culture.
This anime classic is considered to be one of the best series out there and if you’re into sci-fi the futuristic adventures of a rag-tag group of bounty hunters will be right up your alley! What’s amazing about this anime series is that you don’t necessarily have to watch it in order. Each episode contains its own little adventure but there are backstories and overarching themes to ‘Cowboy Bebop’ so make sure you do watch all the episodes (and then the movie!). I would recommend this series for intermediate or advanced learners of Japanese as it won’t be easy to follow if you only have basic knowledge of the language.
No list of must-watch Japanese anime would be complete without giving a shout-out to ‘Dragon Ball’! This long standing series aired its first episodes back in the 80s and wrapped up in 2009. Like ‘Pokémon’, ‘Dragon Ball’ starts out with a child protagonist so the language isn’t very complex. In the anime a boy called Goku sets out on a quest to find seven dragon balls. In the process he learns martial arts and takes on many an adversary in some very epic fights – some of which span more than one episode! Be sure to give this iconic anime a try. It’s even better if you’ve watched episodes in English already, because you’ll have a better idea of what’s going on and you can make linguistic connections with more ease when you watch it in Japanese.
Do you have any favourite anime you think Japanese language learners should check out? Share your top picks with us!