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Level Up: Watching Raw Anime!

For a while now, I’ve been stuck watching anime via english fansubs. Sometimes the subs come out super fast. Other times, anime series will be stalled/dropped, and I never get to know what happened to Bo-bobo once he had to start his fight with the ice cream head guy!

raw anime.jpg
Sakura supplements her raw anime with raw fish…

For a while now, I’ve been stuck watching anime via english fansubs. Sometimes the subs come out super fast. Other times, anime series will be stalled/dropped, and I never get to know what happened to Bo-bobo once he had to start his fight with the ice cream head guy!

The thing is, this shouldn’t be the case. I have Japanese 101-302 under my belt! But then again, I was kind of a slacker, and the Japanese program at my university was kind of crap. But no excuses! I’ve decided it’s time for me to catch up anyway!

These past few days I’ve been watching my normal 3 anime a day with 1 raw episode. So far, I’ve watched Kamisama Kazoku 5-6, the first episode of Honey and Clover II, and Binbou Shimai Monogatari 1.

For the most part, I’ve understood a lot of what happened in Kamisama Kazoku. There were a few plot points that I missed (that I figured out reading Matthew’s Anime Blog and Random Curiosity), but they weren’t too big of a deal.

Honey and Clover II was actually really hard to understand. Luckily I had seen the first season of the anime, so I knew what was going on anyway. I think I’ll wait until I’m better at Japanese to watch this raw. I’m sure a billion groups will sub this anime anyway.

Binbou Shimai Monogatari was easy to understand. I’d say that I understood at least 90% of the conversation. The stuff that ghost mom said was kind of hard to figure out, though. I could probably watch the rest of this anime raw.

I’ve noticed that while watching anime raw, I can focus more on the actual art and voicework. This is a nice bonus! The bad part is when the characters talk too fast and I have to rewind like, a million times to hear what was said (it reminds me of my Japanese class audio cd work…).

I’d like to see fansub groups provide more stuff to help people use anime as a way to learn Japanese. Wouldn’t it be cool to have both the English and Japanese scripts available? I dunno if they offer these on commercial anime DVD releases, but that would be cool, too.

I think just watching those few anime I listed raw has already helped my Japanese listening comprehension. I think I’ll keep at it. This probably means I’ll be watching a lot more kiddie anime, since the more adult lingo goes way over my head! Anyone have suggestions for a good anime to watch raw?

38 replies on “Level Up: Watching Raw Anime!”

I hate to say this but I’m a little jealous of those who have had some Japanese language classes and who can watch raws. I myself have have no past experience with Japanese except for a few words that I’ve learned watching fansubs.

Now I know some will say “why don’t you take a class?”. Well, that is sort of a problem where I live. Its not really a class that is in high demand where I live. The nearest place that offers anything of the Japanese language and culture is at the University of South Carolina. But the problem is that USC is like 2 hrs away from here.

Now I have thought about that I could probably go back to school and get a degree in Japanese studies. But the problem is I really don’t want to go back to school for another four years. And besides my parents would be like “why do you wanna study Japanese; its not like its gonna get you a job?”. So you see what I have to deal with.

I hate to say this, but you’re an idiotic [email protected] if you think you need language lessons when all you need is a little initiative and a dictionary. Seriously, you have the internet. You have no excuses when it comes to resources.

I’d love to learn Japanese. However, it costs a pretty penny to learn here, plus the tests. Gah. And while I envision myself working in Japan in the future, I can’t be bothered.

Also, Otogi Juushin Akazukin.

The best way I learned Japanese without taking any classes was to fansub and translate manga/song lyrics. You may think ‘oh yea thats crap i need real classes!’ But I’m living proof. I used to watch fansubs and fansubbed myself up until 2003 where I quit fansubbing because I reached a point of “hey i don’t really need fansubs to understand anime anymore” and i just translated song lyrics, did some freelance help to random fansub groups. It’s all small but I don’t regret doing any of it because it was fun and it helped me learn.

at my university our jpn class was a bunch of crap and no one learned anythin either.

I would also have liked to be able to take Japanese classes but couldn’t have afforded it. However, I’ve done pretty well just using books and CDs and often watch Raws (with a dictionary beside me) to help the learning process. Sometimes being disciplined with self-teaching is hard but it’s sure worth the effort!
I agree, Binbou Shimai Monogatari and Otogi Jushin Akazukin are good watches from that point of view. I even started a amateur .srt file for BSM, so my sister could watch some. It’s a frustratingly slow job 😉

I have been watching 3 series in raw during the spring season. These are/were Higurashi no naku koro ni, Juuousei, and Black Lagoon.

Among these Higurashi was the easiest to understand. With the exception of some parts that involved complicated police or medical reports I was/am able to follow most of the normal dialogue, and with the help of an electronic dictionary and the frequent use of the rewind button I think I’m not missing anything – despite a mystery-heavy plot that out-Lynches David Lynch.

Juuousei was a bit tougher, as I couldn’t understand some of the sci-fi mumbo-jumbo, but usually I was able to follow the general direction of the story. Some additional blog-reading was needed to clarify the details, but – on the positive side – the HD raws really did justice to this show.

The dialog in Black Lagoon, on the other hand, went completely over my head.
Whether because of the heavy usage of slang, the speed of the dialogue, or some advanced, not-taught-in-class vocabulary I couldn’t understand more than 30-40% of the show. The action scenes were easy to follow (and again, very spectacular in HD), but the I missed most of the explanations and the interaction between characters. I guess I’ll need the subs to make everything clear, but unfortunately Shinsen-subs are taking their time.

As for the summer season, I want to continue watching raw anime, as it really helps your listening comprehension, but I’m not sure which shows to watch at all. Any recommendations?

As a reference, I have JLPT level 3.

I haven’t watched anything raw yet, there’s this strange kind of panic that I wont understand what’s happening…but I figured, Animal Yokocho would be great to watch raw, I could figure out what was happening and they repeat words quite a lot so it might help my listening/vocab ability!

When someone invents a computer programme that teaches people Japanese via anime characters, they are going to make a LOT of money!

@Hazel
I’d actually consider watching Animal Yokocho raw, if it weren’t for the 1 billion puns. A lot of that stuff just eludes me…

My strategy was, or rather still is, to watch raws of shows with high rewatch indexes: Azumanga Daioh, Haibane Renmei, Banner of the Stars, etc.. This way, it does not get too boring, and knowing what happens helps. It is very enjoyable and educational.

Being pigheaded and stubborn, I am also working my way through R2 DVDs of Kamichu. At my level, it is quite hard, and characters talk a lot about all sorts of complicated things. I obviously overstretched myself with this attempt. But it’s too late to quit.

I fully agree that not reading the text releases a lot of brain bandwidth. The effect is dramatic and I recommend every fan to strive for it. I remember an interview with Mike Melville, the pilot of SpaceShipOne where he said that on the first powered flight his attention was so focused on the flight director screen that he didn’t see or hear anything else. On the second flight, he glanced at other instruments and into the skies. And at the third flight, he heard the deafening roar of the rocket engine. The roar was there all the time, of course, but he was so busy keeping the spaceship on track that his hearing was completely shut down at first. This is what happens when you read subtitles as well, no matter how good you are at speedy reading and comprehension.

While being able to take in the artwork is a plus, I’ve also been wondering recently if it also works in a negative way with the less than impressive looking series.

Recently I’ve been getting a lot quicker at comprehending the subs I read on screen and being able to really concentrate on the images, and in some cases I’ve noticed myself getting irritated with some of the cheap animation or lip flaps which are waaay out of synch. All stuff I wouldn’t have noticed before.

With the halp of both raws and a couple of books, I’ve been trying to teach myself Japanese. This is due to being too impatient to wait for subs and being stubborn enough, I suppose. When I’m old enough to go to college, I’ll take some actual classes.

As for some suggestions of raws to try, I recently watched the first episodes of Otogi-Jushi Akazukin and Mamotte Lolipop raw. Both of those were pretty simple to understand. Tsuyokiss was a bit tougher, but even that wasn’t so bad. Pretty Cure Splash Star is also quite easy for me to understand raw. Actaully, Rozen Maiden Traumend was surprisingly simple too. Good luck!

I really wish I had majored in Japanese in college instead of the stupid courses I ended up taking. At least I’d be able to watch the shows raw instead of relying on others to translate it for me. I have books as well as self-learning tapes on the Japanese language, but my problem is that I lose interest after a while since I don’t have anyone nearby to practice with. I’ve watched a couple of shows raw (Basilisk for example) when no subs were provided at the time, and although I didn’t understand a thing any of the characters were saying, I paid much more attention to the art since I wasn’t constantly looking down at the subs. Someday I’ll motivate myself to learn…

I have zip Japanese except for the colloquialisms I’ve picked up from anime (Ohayo! Nani? Daijobu! etc). Nevertheless, when I really enjoy a story, particularly the art, editing, quality of animation etc, I’ll watch an episode or two raw – AFTER I’ve viewed the subbed version. It’s great just to be concentrating on the nuances of expression, motion, the cadence and expression of the voices, without always having one eye on the subtitle.

Oh, and ADV games and visual novels are good ways to pick up a lot of kanji really quickly and to fill in any gaps that you might have. Just make sure that you pick ones that aren’t going to have tons of technical terms in them.

I started watching raws on previus fall season and since then I have had 1-3 series per season that I follow without subs. It really helps certain type of shows, for example in Binchou-tan subs would only take my attention from characters and break the mood. Not to mention lack of subbing as many good shows don’t ever get those.

There are series like Aria where I wouldn’t understand all puns even if they don’t talk about rocket science.

As for suggestions, yeah Binbou Shimai Monogatari and Otogi-Jushi Akazukin are easy ones.

If your japanese is not quite good enough for raws, a good technique is to watch the sub, then rip the audio and listen to it the next day on an ipod or whatever.

Ah, the issue comes up again ^_^. I really wish that I could speak Japanese too.

I have been learning with books for a while now, but I gave it up for exams this year, and I mean to pick it up again over the summer. I do have someone to practise with, who is great, but I can’t help feeling that I would do better for myself by just giving up and just going to Japan and working there for a year or so.

Probably wouldn’t help much with the reading, but would probably do wonders with the speaking.

I think that to really learn something by watching fansubs, you have to first learn Japanese up to an extent that you can understand the sentence structures and work out which words are verbs, nouns, adjectives, etc, then you can watch and improve your vocab.

It goes without saying that I am jealous of people who can learn as such. ^_^

Good luck Hung!

[…] Since reading Hung’s Level Up post earlier today I just thought, yeah, maybe I should stop whining about the slow fansubs and just watch raws for a change. That way I could force myself to learn Japanese faster, especially in the listening department. But I’m still traumatized (?) from the first time I intentionally watched a raw, and that was Ergo Proxy 10. I could only clearly understand two sentences, and for somebody who barely passed JLPT 4 it was pathetic. I’m not doing Ergo Proxy raws again, so maybe I’ll just set my sights on anime with less complicated dialogue. Now my only problem is my connection right now which seems to have slowed down. Grrr! […]

aaw, raw. The old memories.

I remember watching the new Initial-D episodes in raw because they weren’t fansubed yet. I couldn’t understand anything, but sure it was fun 😀

[…] My real anime resolution, however, is to work on watching anime raw. I experimented with this during the Summer, but I got kind of lazy and gave up. Plus there weren’t any anime that weren’t being subbed that I really wanted to see. This year, I want to get better at Japanese (which might be hard since I’m not taking any classes) and start watching anime without subtitles. I have the Japanese grammar under my belt; it’s just the vocab that could use a huge boost. Maybe jpmeyer and hinano can help… […]

Someone told me they were suprised at just how much they learned from watching raws alone, and recommended to just axe the subs altogether and see what happens.

I don’t know about that though…I just started watching raws to help with listening comprehension. I’m already intermediate on grammar, and have been learning speech and vocab from audio tapes for the past couple of weeks. I think if your serious about learning, raws are no substitue, but can be a good supplement to a number of other learning angles you should be using. Right now I’m watching Bleach raw because I already read the manga and know the storyline anyway, so I’m not missing anything aside from filler eps.

i think this has everything to do with experience. i can speak japanese semi-proficiently, and listening is not too bad, but sometimes you know you’ll hear like “bokura soto ni” and think you heard “boku rasuto ni” and end up getting completely confused. my japanese TA that just got out of kansai university always gets confused with different english words that sound the same too, so i guess it goes both ways. i remember i was watching the honey and clover live action but i just reinstalled my codecs and the default was japanese subtitles…so i ended up watching the entire thing with jp audio and subtitles, but i got some of it by hearing and some other only by reading the subtitles (which my god scroll by quickly i’d be like just barely figuring what the kanji meant and didnt even connect the sentence together and we’re already at the next line), but i got the idea of the movie overall, even though if you ask me what precisely morita said at (insert line here) i couldn’t tell you worth a shit lol

i think this is probably easier to do, than say, russian or chinese, since japanese is a very emotionally driven language so that you can probably pick up the meaning from context or situation to which you can relate words (like when someone is doing a classic cheesy love confession even if you didnt know what suki meant or how particles or sentence structure work, you could figure it out) and then connect the strings together later to figure things out.

anyway, if you’re still pursuing this project, let me know if you find anything worthwhile in learning more japanese through watching raws. i’m interested in this too because, i’ve honestly picked up a large amount of my vocabulary (a lot of which my teacher is like what? how do you know that?) from watching anime and listening to japanese music.

to one of the above posters…if you want to learn japanese to speak or to watch tv or whatever, you don’t need to take anything past maybe elementary japanese where they teach you how to use things like wo ga no -tai -teru etc and basic adj/verb conjugation since you don’t need what goes on in the upper levels, just like how we don’t need to be english majors and know all the meticulous MLP rules or how to read old english in order to watch house. all we need is american sense of humor and basic understanding :p

In response to what Veritas said, I find Chinese much easier than Japanese! Also, if you learn to read Chinese, reading the Japanese subtitles will be no problem! More to the point: My favorite things to watch raw are Japanese horror-ish flicks like Ju-on, Ichi the Killer (more of a “don’t even know what you could compare it to in English” flick..), Suicide Club, and the live-action for Battle Royale (it has Takeshi Kitano!).

Can anyone of you tell me a good site where i find a lot of raw anime, because i took japanese calsses and can understand a lot of it, but i don`t know where to find a site with life streams… Thank you !!!

I personally am trying to find the first episodes of One Piece in raw so I can learn some Japanese. I’ve already watched eps 1-300 something twice as fansubs, so I’d like to try watching with a general understanding to build some natural verbal recognition. If you know where I can find old One Piece raws, let me know.

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