Alternatives to Cure Dolly videos?

Hello WaniKani people!

I have seen a number of people recommend the “Organic Japanese with Cure Dolly” videos on Youtube (

I like the approach of these videos in how they present Japanese grammar from the ground up, rather than trying to think about Japanese in English-grammar terms that don’t actually translate to how Japanese grammar works.

BUT—I find these videos almost impossible to watch: The animated head is super creepy, the voice is even creepier and unpleasant to listen to. On top of that, I find it very annoying that every video they dedicate a ton of time talking about how much better this method of grammar is than traditional textbook approaches. In the first video I understand why she makes a big deal of selling this, but by video 3 or 4 I wish she would stop harping on about how great her method is.

Anyway, I can’t bring myself to sit through these painful-to-watch videos, so I wonder if anyone has another resource that teaches grammar with a similar approach? I would prefer a written resource but am open to another video series as well, if a good one exists.

Any recommendations are greatly appreciated!


=== [ UPDATE ] ===

Thank you everyone for your recommendations. I’ve gathered the suggestions from this thread and summarised them here to hopefully make this thread easier to use for other people.

As for alternative YouTube channels, I haven’t had a chance to watch any yet, but the most recommended was Japanese Ammo with Misa.

Online Text-Based Resources:

  • 80/20 Japanese by Richard Webb - He has a number of grammar posts available free online (see this and this, for instance). You can also purchase a full book/ebook along with supporting media and Anki decks. [UPDATE 2 - I purchased this and did NOT find it to be useful. Would not recommend.]
  • Tae Kim Guide - Good quality beginner/low-intermediate guide, written by a native Japanese speaker [UPDATE 3 - Thanks Sergiop for pointing out Tae Kim is not a native speaker]
  • Imabi - Like Tae Kim but much more detailed and comprehensive. Covers N5 - N1 and beyond.
  • Maggie Sensei - A blog that covers different grammar points in casual easy-to-read posts
  • 国の文法 - This grammar resource seems well organised, and is presented fully in Japanese

Online Video-Based Resources:

  • Japanese Ammo with Misa - Native japanese speaker focusing on N5 and some N4 grammar. Different approach than CureDolly, but still a native-speaker perspective.
  • 日本語の森 - Native speakers present N3 and above grammar
  • Yumi Ura - Another grammar channel presented by native Japanese

Physical Books:

  • Making Sense of Japanese: What the Textbooks Don’t Tell You - Jay Rubin - Essays explaining aspects of Japanese grammar from a leading translator of Japanese literature. Cited as a source for Cure Dolly’s approach. Well reviewed by Tofugu, but uses Romaji.

  • とめ上手 敬語と言葉のきまり - Small book summarising what Japanese elementary school children preparing for middle school exams are supposed to know. Provides a lens into Japanese grammar from the Japanese POVPreformatted text


I don’t know about alternatives, but I found that speeding up the video times 2 made the speaking a lot more bearable.


Some of her stuff can be read in article-form on her website. I think. :thinking: I know some of it has little write-up and is basically a vehicle for the video, but you can always glance around. Otherwise all I can recommend is that you turn off audio and just read the subtitles that she adds. They’re not auto-generated, so they’re accurate.

For the very basic stuff (and less than she has covered on the channel so far, as I’ve heard) you can buy her grammar e-book for like five bucks on Amazon.

Otherwise, here’s hoping someone else has a recommendation for another source for you. :+1: I personally haven’t really heard of one yet.


I like 日本語の森 a lot. Their videos are presented by natives in Japanese but they speak clearly so foreigners can understand. Only N3 and above though and their material is not a complete list but it’s free.


It’s not so much that I find her voice creepy, it’s that I have a really hard time understanding the words she is saying. The heavy voice alteration garbles the audio so much that it’s hard to keep up and I end up mostly lost by the end of the video. I will give subtitles with no audio a shot, but really wish there was a written resource that covered the same material as I find learning from videos in general ineffective for me.


Use the subtitles (manual subbed)
Use 1.5x - 2.0x speed
Just muting works too since youre willing to read.

-> Try a more recent video on a grammar point youre interested in. The sound and animation quality is noticeably different.

Possible alternatives/complements:
まとめ上手 敬語と言葉のきまり

  • Small little book that summarizes things Elementary School children preparing for middle school exams are suppose to know. A lens into Japanese grammar from a Japanese POV

Making Sense of Japanese - Jay Rubin

  • Old book, meant as a complement to textbooks. Uses Romaji (if that matters to you)

Tae Kim Guide

  • Aims to do something similar and quite short. You probably know all the Kanji used.

I just looked her up on the link, then I closed the page; for some reason the audio kept going. Super creepy…

Anyway a resource I had used in the past was this one: maybe it could be useful…


I think if you start with what is labeled lesson one and later, you will find the audio much better than her earlier videos. For some reason her audio does not bother me enough to not be able to listen. Her concept has really improved my grammer .


Same here. :slight_smile:

I was a bit put off, but the first video I watched was her (older) video on transitivity. I had seen people mention it, but didn’t understand the concept. Especially with English not being my first language. So I pushed through the awkward presentation and came out feeling so enlightened that I instantly stopped caring about the sub-optimal visuals and audio.

I still understand people’s difficulties with it, but I’m personally very glad it wasn’t a prohibiting factor for me personally, since she made a huge difference.


According to several people on reddit (take that however you will), most of CureDolly’s content/approach comes from the book Making Sense of Japanese by Jay Rubin, so you might want to check out that book. Tofugu even has a Review of it. Now I’ve never read the book so I’m not sure how it actually compares to CureDolly’s content (and who knows how reliable reddit is), but the book does seem to teach grammar with the same ground-up, native approach, plus Tofugu recommends it, so it can’t be too bad.

You could also check out Japanese Ammo with Misa. She’s a native Japanese speaker who makes very easy to understand videos on all N5 and some N4 grammar. She doesn’t take the same approach as CureDolly, but being a native speaker, she still can explain things from a native perspective.

You could also try Tae Kim’s Guide. His guide is notable as he explains grammar from a Japanese perspective rather than trying to equate Japanese grammar to English grammar. It’s not incredibly in-depth, but it’s still great for beginners and low-intermediates.

Another site you could check out is Imabi. This is like Tae Kim’s guide but with waaay more detail and explanation. Granted, it’s not very newbie-friendly because some of the explanations are very lengthy, but it’s useful if you want to dig deeper into a grammatical concept. They have a ton of content, they have N5-N1 and beyond into classical Japanese.

Another thing you could try, if none of these resources click with you, is putting on subtitles to Curedolly’s videos and turning the audio off. Also, you could check out her website Learn Japanese Online, she has some posts that cover the same things as her videos. The website layout is not really the best, but it’s not terrible.


According to several people on reddit (take that however you will), most of CureDolly’s content/approach comes from the book Making Sense of Japanese by Jay Rubin, so you might want to check out that book. Tofugu even has a Review of it. Now I’ve never read the book so I’m not sure how it actually compares to CureDolly’s content (and who knows how reliable reddit is), but the book does seem to teach grammar with the same ground-up, native approach, plus Tofugu recommends it, so it can’t be too bad.

I actually have read Jay Rubin’s book (and I can’t recommend it enough), and Cure Dolly is basically just a regurgitation of Rubin. You don’t have to take my word for it, Cure Dolly is pretty open about using Dr. Rubin’s work as the basis for their teaching method:

Cure Tadashiku: The model wasn’t entirely your doing, was it?
Cure Dolly: No. I owe a huge debt to Dr. Jay Rubin whose work introduced me to some key concepts on which this book is built. What we have done is to take the implications of what he taught and expand them much further.
Rubin-sensei showed how every Japanese sentence has a grammatical subject, whether you can see it or not, how the wa particle never marks the grammatical subject (even when it might appear to), and how the invisible subject works. All this is explained in I Am Not an Eel.

I think the main difference is Cure Dolly is meant to guide you along from nothing, while Rubin assumes you’ve already completed an elementary grammar study with a traditional textbook.


I like yumi ura’s channel. She explains everything in Japanese, her explanations are to the point and concise and I like her voice. The illustrations are helpful and I find her grammar explanations easy to understand.

The only thing I haven’t figured out yet is her numbering system. “N2文法, 20-6”. Like… what? :thinking: So far my best theory is June 20th or something like that. :joy:

Anyway, her’s and 日本語の森 are the best channels I’ve found so far. And Dogen, though I’ve watched mostly his comedy instead of grammar explanations.


This is great, I just subscribed to her channel :slightly_smiling_face:!





I do have Making Sense of Japanese sitting on my shelf as well. One thing to be aware of is that it’s a really tiny book. It’s about 130 pages of main material, with 20 or so more of footnotes. Another is that it really isn’t presented in any systematic way, the way Cure Dolly’s content or any grammar resource would be. It’s mostly the author reflecting with a fairly casual tone on various ways that Japanese texts are structured differently from English, focusing on some of the notoriously hard to understand parts of Japanese grammar.

The biggest thing Cure Dolly gets from him is certainly his argument for the invisible subject, which is important enough that he features it pretty prominently in the cover blurb:

If you already generally know Japanese grammar, it’s worth reading for some additional insights on how various parts of Japanese grammar work in practice, and some discussion of how to approach reading longer texts. I wouldn’t recommend it for a primary grammar learning resource, though.


I think this should be the big takeaway regarding the book. I’m overdue for re-reading the book, as I read it probably a decade ago, and don’t remember anything other than “the invisible が”, but the way Cure Dolly’s videos present concepts is exactly why I think the videos are very valuable.

It looks like I have a non-native Japanese material book to add to my 2020 reading, so I can re-visit what I’ve forgotten from it.


Ah, Making Sense Of Japanese. The book I’ve started twice, got side tracked bit shy of halfway through each time, and forgot about.
Now where did I put that? I’ll have to look around for it.

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I feel the book is easy to do this with. Really easy to do this with. I plan to skip the preface and intro (I’m sure I’ve read them twice before), and read one “section” (text following a boldface header) on a schedule, such as one per day. There are only 22 of these sections, so I could even spread it out a bit if I need to invest more time in native material reading some days.

This is a playlist of middle school grammar review for Japanese students.

It contains the same stuff she talks about without any of the pretension (or the bizarre voice).

The only thing is it’s meant for natives, so the person explains things as he would for natives.

My point wasn’t so much to recommend this as a replacement to her videos, but just to point out that she didn’t discover some secret way of explaining Japanese. She just decided to take school grammar concepts and package them for non-natives.


Compared with learning materials that shoehorn Japanese into English grammar concepts, Cure Dolly videos certainly feel like some amazing new sensical method that was never before known =)