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I recommend Cure Dolly!

a noob question I was had as a student:

is it ok to learn japanese way of speaking or even writing using manga/anime as reference?

because my teachers always said they speak silly and wrong

for example 行く instead of saying ()って they say 行け!

so what`s you opinion about this? to this day I have prejudice to learn like that, I always stick to genki politely way

Personally, I don’t see it as a ‘restriction’ because I’m going to have to learn the reading at some point anyway. I learnt readings for hanzi at the same time as meaning all the time in Chinese, and it didn’t take me much longer. However, after reading the rest of your thoughts

Yeah, OK, I can see why you might prefer to focus on one thing at a time. It’s true that it might be easier not having to learn two mnemonics at once. Again though, that’s why my own mnemonics work based on integrating the two in an ‘obvious’ (for me) way so that thinking of one automatically triggers the other. But… that’s not always possible, and I guess I’m probably experiencing something similar to what you’re doing when I learn Japanese: I already know what most kanji mean, barring some exceptions like kanji that only exist in Japanese or special meanings that don’t exist in Chinese, so I just have to learn readings, and I can use the meanings I already know to help me remember readings, instead of doing both at once. It’s definitely easier doing one thing at a time. Is it necessarily more efficient if we add up the total time taken? I don’t know, but it’s possible.

I… have to agree. Or to put it in another way, some feel hard to remember. I just looked at the ones for 暇 (L27) and 狐 (L60): I would never remember the 暇 meaning mnemonic because it means nothing to me (I don’t comb my hair in my spare time – I call that a waste of time), and the reading mnemonic for 狐 sounds really tough. I mean, the fact that there’s a system for common readings is really good, especially for on’yomi, but I still think there are ways to make more memorable, obvious mnemonics for individual kanji without such a system. In fact, without a system – at least in my opinion – making unique, interesting mnemonics is easier.

Totally feel you there. I speak English, Chinese and French fluently (though my Chinese is definitely getting worse every day), and I know another two language besides Japanese a bit more vaguely. Having a lot of sounds (and even different grammars and word orders!) to play with can be very helpful.

This, I agree with, especially after what I just saw above for 狐.

Hm… I can’t remember what order I learnt hanzi in. Oh well. Hahaha. But yeah, I think we usually started with simpler/more common ones and worked our way up. I have to say that I don’t know what WK’s order is based on, because 狐, for instance, definitely shouldn’t be L60. It’s so common in anime, never mind in other places. It should be a low-level kanji lumped together with other animal kanji or something. I think Heisig tends to group things by primitive, which is honestly pretty good. I mean, I usually think of kanji in terms of the primitives I already know in order to learn them (of course, I’m not using Heisig’s system, but instead all the stuff I learnt studying Chinese), and I find breaking kanji down that way, even if I have to create nonsense components of my own, much better than having to absorb a ridiculously complex kanji for which I have no point of reference. For example (this is just for fun), (the alternative kanji for the verb 血塗る(ちぬる)would probably have been impossible for me to learn if I hadn’t already seen kanji with similar components.

This is why I love RtK so much. I see the primitives and everything else fall into place. WaniKani stretches their radicals way beyond what they’re first shown as often. Radicals might look completely different sometimes, and can often be hard to make out. This has become a common problem after level 10 where we receive more complex kanji. WaniKani’s system shows all of its flaws all of a sudden.

And I also like Heisigs primitives way more than Wanikani’s radicals. The radicals can be so lazy sometimes.

“There is something white and small stuck in this cliff. It’s… it’s… so original, you can’t name it. You’ve never seen anything like it. It’s the one and only thing of its type. You decide to just name it “original” because you aren’t a very original person…”

Take this one for example. I have no other words for it than plain lazy. This won’t make any stories stick to my memory.

Heisig’s primitives are way more detailed and often contribute to how the kanji is written. You can feel the thoughts behind them.

It’s easier to keep my thoughts organized when I can fully focus on one of them(readings and meanings) at a time. Since I can focus on getting things right the first time, there is less time needed afterward to correct faulty memory. And that is how Heisig chooses to structure his book, and it works. So I don’t want to stray from his methods since they work so well.

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Are one of your goals by learning Japanese to read manga? If so, you’ll have to learn those “anime” words anyway at some point. So I’d just start reading them If I was you. It’s important to have fun while learning!

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I feel like you should start a new thread for this because I really don’t think it’s related. You could also try ‘The quick or short Language Questions Thread’, though I doubt this will be all that short. Then again, I’m mouthing off about kanji learning systems, so I’m not in a position to talk. (I’m not complaining, by the way. It’s just that I think, for future reference, that that’s how the forums work! :slight_smile:)

Anyway, uh…

Did all your teachers say this, or only some of them? Where did they teach you (in a school setting when you were in your teens/at university, for instance?) and do you still have those teachers?

As for the answer… see, I don’t actually have any Japanese friends in real life, so I can’t be certain, but what I can say is that from the chats I’ve seen my friend have with his Japanese university mates, along with what I see when I read stuff on Twitter and in the live chats of Japanese VTubers… no, anime usually isn’t ‘wrong’, though there’s a lot of informal grammar (e.g. missing particles). Real Japanese people use the same sort of sentence structure when they’re being casual, and some of them really speak like anime characters when they’re fooling around and trying to be dramatic. The reason for this is not so much that anime is dramatic as it is that certain speech styles you find in anime match stereotypical sorts of personalities. (If you want an example, look for videos from, say, はじめしゃちょー(hajime)on YouTube. He’s usually quite polite when addressing the audience, but when he’s doing something crazy with his friends or when he’s being emotional, he talks more like an anime character.) In short, while some anime speech is definitely weird or wrong (e.g. adding です to every single sentence just to sound cute, even when there’s no reason for it in grammar or the rules of politeness), most of it is still real Japanese. Do real Japanese people speak like that? Somewhat, but definitely not all the time. Definitely not. For some analysis, watch this video about anime characters who speak fairly realistically from a Japanese guy who’s fluent in English:

As for this

Yeah, well, the issue here is that this is just rude in most situations in real life. 行け is not incorrect Japanese: it’s just that it’s an order, whereas 行って is a request, so 行け is usually tons more forceful than you’d ever need to be in real life. However, there are situations where speaking ‘like an anime character’ is probably the right thing to do. For example, if something is going to fall on a stranger’s head, you don’t say「危ないです!上を見てください!」(‘It’s dangerous/watch out! Look up, please!’) That’s going to get the person killed, because you’re taking too long. On the other hand,「危ない!!!上、危ない!!!落ちてる!」(‘Dangerous/watch out!!! Above you!!! Watch out!!! It’s falling!’) is just fine here, because you need to convey the information fast. Social status isn’t important here. Would it be right to use an imperative form here though, like 「どけ!」(‘Get out of the way!’)? I don’t know. Possibly? But most request forms are about as long, so it probably doesn’t matter, so you can stay polite. Real Japanese people do use the order/imperative form when they’re being forceful though:「帰れ!」(’[Get lost and] go home!’) is what you’d get from an aggressive shop owner who doesn’t like your face or something. But as you can see, that’s rude, so you generally don’t want to use it.

My opinion is that you should only use casual stuff with close friends. It’s very important to learn the so-called ‘casual’ forms though, because they actually have tons of uses outside of being casual, so don’t feel like they’re horrible, dirty words that you shouldn’t touch. What you need to learn is to convert casual or even rude speech into polite speech. That’s how you can learn using anime/manga. Also, make sure you watch a variety of anime and manga, because in some anime, there are characters who use polite speech too. These characters are usually presented as softer/more polite characters, which is why they speak that way, but the point is, they’re a good model to learn from, even if not all of their speech is 100% natural. At the very least, you can pick up grammar from them, and some vocabulary. All you need to do, once again, is to just convert those words into polite speech, unless they’re very rude words to begin with, like… くそやろう (means roughly ‘shi**y ba$—d’) or something. That’s all.

Finally, just so you know… the reason I know practically all the N2 grammar points on a particular JLPT prep site is because I learnt them through anime. I also know about 50% of their N1 grammar points, again mostly through anime. Who says it’s not good Japanese? Learn to convert casual words into polite speech. Learn super polite speech too (keigo). However, also learn some casual speech, including from anime, because otherwise, if you ever have real Japanese friends, you’re going to end up sounding ridiculously stiff if you can’t switch to casual speech when they’re ready to accept you.

Fair enough. Whatever works best for you is good. I’m used to making all sorts of utterly ridiculous links without mixing them up (my brain spontaneously does this), so I’m fine with learning two things at once, but I agree that correcting incorrect knowledge is the worst. It’s better to work with something clear and get it right the first time before moving on. :+1:

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I think casual speech is for more than only close friends. I’ve been talking a lot to a Japanese person lately. From the very start, she’s been using casual speech. Every single Japanese person I’ve been chatting with has almost instantly used casual speech.

It also seems like most internet chatter is casual speech.

You shouldn’t do that. From what I’ve heard from people. Casual speech is the most common Japanese spoken amongst the Japanese. Unless you only plan on talking to one stranger to the next in real life, you’ll use casual speech way more often than formal speech.
I started using Genki but quickly dropped it after realizing how many flaws it has. It instantly jumped to formal speech without explaining core Japanese grammar!


It doesn’t up to a certain ratio. And less than 5% time immersing and more than 95% looking for kanjis in the dictionary is below the threshold. It just makes immersion too unproductive. It’s not 0 productivity, but it’s still waaaay too little for me.

@evandcs I guess I should have specified: I meant, ‘When you’re the one starting the conversation, you should only use it with close friends.’ That’s the only surefire way to avoid offending anyone until you’ve learnt more about politeness and how others see your relationship with them. However, yes, there’s lots of informal chatter online, especially in YouTube live chats and on informal stuff on Twitter, and if somebody has decided they’re fine with using informal speech with you and you’re on the same social level (e.g. both working at the same company at the same level, both students at a particular school of the same age, both casual players of an online game/sport), then you can use informal speech in return. (@JesperHH just provided some examples.) There are also some settings in which you can automatically assume casual speech is OK, like within the same class at school or within a single course at a university among students at the same academic level. On the other hand, if a superior is using casual speech with you, that’s just because they can. You can’t reply in casual speech, because that’s disrespectful on your part.

I agree that this is a problem, but…

I think the truth is that it depends on your relationship with that person. If you’re meant to be business-like all the time, then you’ll be using polite speech forever.

What I will say though, is that I’ve heard that Japanese people find it tiring to use polite speech all the time, so I’m pretty sure that they’d prefer to use casual speech with someone as soon as they can, unless they find it necessary to keep a certain distance with that person.

I guess this is sort of true, but I don’t think the issue is the amount of time spent looking into the dictionary. Like I said, the last time I watched the anime I mentioned above, I stopped the video every 30 seconds or so, possibly less – I think it was basically every time I hit a long sentence or a word I didn’t know – and every look-up took at least a minute, I think. I think a realistic estimate was 1h to watch a 20-min episode. I still felt pretty productive ultimately. I think it’s more that, well, if someone needs to spend 95% of the time in the dictionary, then that person probably doesn’t know enough Japanese (kanji, grammar or vocabulary) to piece together what the sentence means, and that means the material is too hard for that person’s current level. What I’m getting at is that I think @ekg’s point was that there’s no such thing as ‘too early’ provided you can find material that matches your Japanese proficiency, and I agree with that: if you had had a book with only kana and mostly words and grammar that you knew at the time, it probably would have been good immersion material. That’s all I’m saying. But of course, one’s choice of immersion material is going to have to be based on what level of productivity or study-to-consumption ratio one wants, among other things.


This feels very unrealistic. I doubt anyone will learn Japanese and end up using it for business only. If you learn it to make friends you’ll likely end up using casual speech. If you learn it for anime and manga you’ll mostly read and hear casual Japanese. Jumping straight to formal Japanese is impractical no matter if your goal is business or not. Formal Japanese builds on casual(plain, basic) Japanese. Building a foundation from formal Japanese will only cause unnecessary confusion.

I haven’t exactly followed the discussion here, but for me it’s a matter of attitude toward immersion. For manga I relied on furigana since I didn’t know kanji. For games, I used dialogue extraction methods and digital dictionaries to look up words. And yeah, that could well mean a lot of the time spend was translation work and not playing. I still didn’t have any problem being “immersed” doing this. It’s a matter of how you view the whole activity I feel, whether you’re frustrated by it or you enjoy it. For me it was the latter, but it’s understandable that not everyone has the patience for that sort of thing.

Manga is much more accessible and a better starting point than games in any case. Then the threshold for what’s enjoyable is more about vocab knowledge and basic grammar. The rest you can gradually absorb during reading. Anime is also easier to start out with. :slight_smile:


Not if you have to use it for work. And to be clear, I meant ‘using polite speech forever’ with that person only. Of course you should get a chance to use casual speech with other people, unless you’re not intending to make any friends. I’m just saying that there are some relationships in which you might never need or be allowed to be casual.

It’s not the best way, I agree, especially since native Japanese speakers definitely start with casual/dictionary-form Japanese and turn it into formal Japanese. That’s how Japanese grammar works too. However, it’s not impossible to start with formal Japanese and be introduced to informal Japanese later. It doesn’t necessarily cause problems, as long as the transition happens quickly and is properly explained. I learnt formal Japanese first. I’m not having any trouble chatting with my fluent friend (who’s studying in Japan) entirely in informal Japanese. As long as you learn both, and early, in my opinion, it’ll be fine. I don’t like the fact that most Japanese textbooks teach formal Japanese first, but ultimately, that’s just a matter of personal preference, and it doesn’t matter. The real problem is that they don’t (usually) teach informal Japanese until much later. That wasn’t the case for me, especially because I had a book that was basically designed to take me from beginner all the way to N3, so I could learn it all without changing books.

Just a quick explanation: I found it easy to handle because the biggest change between formal and informal Japanese at the beginner level is verb forms, and since the masu-stem is the one that basically hardly changes anything at all (unlike て- and た-forms), I just needed to learn how godan and ichidan verbs worked: for ichidan, I took the masu-stem and added る. For godan, I could conveniently change い into う, and everything would be settled, and it helped me realise early on that stem changes were very natural. That’s why I don’t think it’s necessarily problematic, because ultimately, for each verb, you still have one base form from which you can map to everything.

Agreed. And yeah, also agreed about the attitude – or perhaps goals? – of immersion bit. It depends on what you’re willing to do, what you enjoy, and how much you can tolerate. Not everyone will like the same sort of immersion, and that’s fine. What matters is that everyone finds something that works.

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I highly recommend the Yo-kai watch series on Nintendo consoles. They’re very accessible for beginners. I find them very useful since they’re full of text with furigana. I’ve used them a lot to improve my reading speed and with great results. The bits of gameplay once in a while keeps you from being burnt out too.


1 hour for 20 minutes is super fast and productive. 4 minutes of gameplay for me required around 3 hours to get through and that was definately too early for me. :slight_smile:
And going for something extremely primitive wasn’t fun, so too early does feel like it’s a thing to me when it comes to Japanese specifically.

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Just wanna point out that there are fairly interesting, descriptive books that contain few kanji like Kiki’s Delivery Service. It’s probably meant for children and the grammar isn’t very complex, but there’s quite a bit of vivid language. It has a Studio Ghibli adaptation too. However, yeah, what’s ‘too early’ for you depends on what you want from immersion.

That was just an estimate. I’m sure I’ve spent longer than that before. But yeah, four minutes in three hours… reminds me of the time I was working on some manga with a group of people. I was doing it for them, mostly, because I was generally more advanced and had been roped in to help out, but understanding what was going on on each page in about 5-10 minutes and then taking as much as an hour (or more!) to transcribe, translate and explain everything was irritating at times. I can see why you wouldn’t want to settle for 4 min:3h. It’s like how I refuse to start most anime without English subtitles because I know I’m only fluent enough to handle all the classic everyday vocabulary, but I’ll probably be lost when it comes to words specific to the story, especially if it’s in a fantasy world.

Those are probably the least indicative of how Wanikani teaches Kanji. I’d say anything around the mid-30s would be better to look at. The Kanji from level 51+ are the addons since WK originally only had 50 levels, so they’re nowhere near as consistent as the lower levels.

My thinking is more along the lines of @Jonapedia in that I’d really learn both at the same time rather than separately but I’m glad it’s working out for you.

One thing I am interested in, though, is how much of that recall remains long term. I’d love to hear how it goes for you in a year or so. :slight_smile:

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I’ll take a look at those then. Thanks for the WK history tidbit as well. I’d heard about that before, but it slipped my mind. :slight_smile:

Yeah, there’s a noticeable difference with those levels when going through them. It’s almost like an entirely different team created them, which may be true.

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Yeah. There has to be balance, and that ratio is nowhere near acceptable. And I do know that the process speeds up as you go, but at this rate it would take too long to get to a decent pace.

Yeah, I was constantly revisiting things I wanted to read as I leveled up and I wasn’t able to do so comfortably until around the 40s. For me that’s the point where it became less about Kanji and vocab and more about grammar.

I was finally able to play video games too since I could muddle through the gist of things and only stop to look up if I wanted to completely understand something.

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