I’m really not trying to sound like a butt. Really. If you’ve ever fancied learning Japanese for any reason (be it to get a gf/bf, play otoges, watch anime without subtitles) I suggest you really think about WHY you’re learning it-or are about to.
I had friends who said they’d learn it because they wanted to watch anime without subtitles. At the time, it was pretty cool. I cheered them on. A few months later, they quit. Whenever I hear someone proclaim this as their sole reason to learn Japanese, I want to run over and tell them all the reasons why that’s a terrible idea.
If you’re a white cracker like myself (or any kind of color), then you already know-I should hope-that romance languages are going to be easier to learn. And yet, I still can’t remember any of my French classes from high school.
I thought Japanese would be manageable.
I’ve been interested in the language for years. I befriended Japanese exchange students in middle school, despite not knowing what they were saying. It wasn’t until my junior year of high school that I went, “Oh, maybe I should try and learn it.”
I started out great. Learned the hiragana all in one week, then katakana. I rewrote those characters until my hand fell off. And then school shoved its butt in my face and I was faced with the fact that college was a thing. Sure, my grades were pretty good, but what was Japanese going to do for me? Hobbies? Yeah. Job opportunities? Eh, maybe.
That’s when I stopped. I focused on my studies and as a sophomore in college, life is creeping around the corner and threatening me. If you’re younger than I, you have plenty of time to study if you want, but if not, as much fun as Japanese is, if you don’t focus on getting some kind of education, well, idk what you’ll do.
Face it-Japanese isn’t particularly useful unless you’re going into translating, games, etc. and even if you could argue otherwise, you’d still have to think about the future. I fought this over and over but life isn’t fair. Even against all these odds, I decided I loved the language too much to quit. And that’s the first thing you need to do: find a reason to keep going.
I began importing manga and novels, video games and textbooks during my summer. I sat down and quickly realized I wasn’t getting anywhere. I’d gotten over the first hurdle, so why couldn’t I commit? I was scared. Of failing, of life, of everything.
Japanese is a monster. It’s freaking beautiful but if you’re going to learn this beast, it’s a lot more to invest in than French. That’s when I imported otoges. Fully voiced (except the heroine) and let’s you repeat the text? Clear text on the vita and enough to keep me motivated? YASSS
Problem was, no furigana. No way to break it down.
I had to sit, stare at the screen, and skip what I didn’t understand
basically everything. If you try and translate every sentence it’s going to take forever, especially if you’re not good at kanji, and eventually the game will become more stress than fun. That’s not what it should be.
Kanji have several different pronunciations and meanings, and even more when paired up with others. There’s no spaces between the characters and it looks pretty intimidating.
I’m going to medical school and yet I’m determined to learn Japanese. I had to think about my reasons for doing so, the benefits and disadvantages. Wanting to watch anime without subtitles won’t cut it. Eventually you’ll either quit and continue with subs or discover other reasons to learn Japanese and actually do it.
Grab a textbook, make Japanese friends, discover other things you love about Japan. Maybe it’s dramas, music, fashion, or folklore. Maybe you like that cute Japanese actor/actress? Otoges are a hobby of mine. The language is something I am committed to. If I can learn the language then I can play those games, but even with that fact, I still have so many things I love about Japan that will make the journey worthwhile.
I’m not trying to tell you that learning it for anime is bad. No, I’m telling you that it’s unrealistic if that’s the ONLY reason to attempt learning Japanese. Despite my growing love for anime, manga and otoge, these don’t make up a culture. If you’re going to stick to that little bubble, when you do visit Japan, you’ll miss out on a lot. It’s great to have hobbies and interests, but if you think you can learn Japanese just with anime, you have a lot of stuff to think about.
Japanese is freaking difficult at times, but not impossible.