The best anime to learn Japanese, may not be the style of anime you are most interested in or what your friends have recommended to you. If you are just starting to learn Japanese, it’s best to stick with what we call slice of live anime. These types of shows concentrate more on real life situations. Remember, a lot of anime have made up words and slang that are not used in everyday Japanese. For a new Japanese learner, this can create a lot of confusion.
But one tip we give all our students, is to find a way to use their interests to help learn a new language. This helps to keep you motivated and progressing toward your goal. For many Japanese learners, manga and anime are two great interests that can be used to advance your learning in a fun way. And can be a much needed break from studying grammar and vocabulary.
This post concentrates on anime, but for those of you more interested in manga, you can check out our post, Best manga to learn Japanese. We suggest some of the same titles as here, and in fact, it might be a good idea to start with the manga for some of these titles and then move on to watching the anime. (Just a suggestion)
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Trust me, this one is not just for kids. It’s one of the most popular anime out there and loved by people of all ages. But because it was designed to appeal to everyone, the vocabulary and topics are fairly simple which is great for Japanese language learners. It’s a great starting point to improve your listening and comprehension skills.
Doraemon is a robot cat from the future, who is sent back (by Nobita’s grandson) to help Nobita Nobi. Nobita is a young school boy dealing with everyday issues children face in school such as bullying and childhood crushes. Although Doraemon tries to help by using his cool gadgets, he usually makes the situations worse.
The stories are entertaining and funny and usually ends with Nobita learning a valuable lesson.
This anime takes place in a local coffee shop, and the dialogue focuses on everyday conversations between friends. The show covers topics such as work, home life and relationship issues. Which means you will hear a lot of vocabulary and phrases that would be very useful.
What’s unique about this particular anime, is that the main characters are animals. The coffee shop is located near a zoo and is owned by a polar bear named Shirokuma. The animals have jobs, ride the train, and talk about the same types of things most people would talk about to their friends at a coffee shop. Which makes it a great resource for learning simple Japanese conversations.
There are some very interesting characters including a clumsy panda and a sarcastic penguin, who make the anime funny and entertaining. This is truly one of the best anime for Japanese learners wanting to watch an interesting show filled with great vocabulary.
For those of you concerned about finding an anime series that can teach you Japanese, but at the same time keep you interested in the story line, Tsuritama might be for you. While this show does have a slice of life feel to it, there’s also a mixture of sci-fi and fantasy mixed in.
Yuki is an anxious and shy young man who moves to the island Enoshima where he meets a strange boy named Haru who carries a fish bowl on his head and claims to be an alien. The two meet Natsuki who teaches them to fish. They also meet Akira who has a duck named Tapioca.
The dialogue in this show is perfect for a Japanese language learner. The grammar, vocab and sentence structure are simple and easy to follow. And many of the topics, such as making new friends, are very useful for learning Japanese.
Bartender is centered around Sasakura Ryu, a genius bartender who can make “the Glass of the Gods.” Which means he can serve the perfect drink for any situation. Giving him the reputation of mixing the best cocktails anyone has every tasted.
Sasakura is the owner of Eden Hall, a bar hidden in the Ginza district of downtown Tokyo. Customers wanting to visit the bar must be invited by the host. With each new customer, comes a new story of life’s struggles and hardships.
With Sasakura’s help, the customers find new hope and determination. And make important decisions on the future course of their lives.
There is some great dialogue about real life situations that make this anime a good fit for Japanese learners.
Chi’s Sweet Home
This anime tells the story of Chi, a lost kitten in need of a home and the family that finds her and takes her home as their pet. Chi usually stays inside, so the dialogue focuses on household situations and of course pet related issues.
The vocabulary is simple and the sentences short, making it an ideal anime to watch for beginning Japanese learners. The episodes are only about three minutes. Which makes it a perfect reward after a study session, or a great little habit to incorporate into your study routine.
If you’re not familiar with using little habits for language learning, it’s something we recommend to all our students. For example, you could decide every night when you get in bed, you will watch an episode. You just link this action to a habit you do everyday. Like going to bed or eating breakfast. This ensures you will complete this quick study session everyday.
Nichijiou is a cute and funny anime that focuses on the daily lives of three high school girls named Mai Minakami, Mio Naganohara and Yuuko Aioi. And their interactions with a genius named Hakasa Shinonome, her robot named Nano Shinonome, and their cat Sakamoto.
It’s a comedy with simple vocabulary about everyday events. Just the thing for learning Japanese. But don’t worry, just because it’s based on everyday life, the experiences of the six characters are far from ordinary. The anime is filled with jokes and strange but funny events. Also, the jokes and puns will give you a little more insight into Japanese culture. Which is very valuable for anyone trying to learn Japanese.
To become fluent in Japanese, learning the culture is an integral part of learning the language. This is true for most languages, but even more so with Japanese.
This is an anime about the trials and tribulations of four high school girls who attend Sakuragaoka High School. The school has a light music club, that needs at least four members in order to stay active. Hirasawa Yui who has just started high school, sees a poster for the light music club, and decides to join.
The band has a drummer Ritsu Tainaka, a keyboardist Tsumugi Kotobuki and a bassist Mio Akiyama but they don’t have a guitarist. The only problem is Yui doesn’t play a musical instrument. In order to stop the club from being disbanded, they convince Yui to become their guitarist.
The stories focus on daily school life with the girls often slacking off and hanging out in the light music club room drinking tea. The show also has some great songs that you should learn the lyrics to. This is a good way to learn some new vocabulary, improve your listening skills and pronunciation.
If you’re wondering where you can watch some of these shows for free, check out Crunchyroll. They have a great list of anime you can stream.
I hope this list gives you a good starting point to find the right anime for you. While it’s important to find an anime that’s suitable to your level of Japanese, it’s also important to find one that you are interested in. Watching anime should not be your main method of learning Japanese. It should be a fun supplement to your study routine. So if you aren’t enjoying the stories, it may be best to find another anime. One that you will look forward to watching and use it as a reward after finishing your regular language studies.
Like I always tell my students, the biggest secret to learning a new language is to study everyday. The easiest way to do this is to find things you enjoy doing and incorporate them into your daily studies.
And if you are looking for a structured program to learn Japanese, you can sign up for a free lesson with our program here at LinguaLift. We not only have a great language app, we teach you how to learn a language, create a study plan for you, and provide tutor support. Good luck on your language journey. I hope I’ve helped, at least a little.