Extensive listening challenge 👂 (2022)

I’ve only really used Amazon JP for my buying needs. It’s really fast and reliable after all. I guess you could google for digital downloads and drama CDs and see if you can find something? ^^

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I think this is what you’re looking for?
Audiobook.jp drama category
ListenGo drama category
I stopped using the ListenGo because the subscription model didn’t appeal to me and so far as I was able to tell there’s no way to keep the files of the titles you purchase (maybe I didn’t try hard enough/look around enough). Audiobook.jp is my go-to though and it looks like most of their dramas are available on 聞き放題 if keeping the files doesn’t matter to you. If you purchase outright you can download the MP3s.

Wanikani is scolding me for posting in this thread too much but I want to be helpful :sob:


I think I stumbled on audiobook.jp before, but I had forgotten about it again. Thank you! I’ll take a look through their content. :blush:


Oh, thanks for pointing the way to those sites. :slight_smile:


I finally started in on FLESH & BLOOD. :sailboat: Anyone curious about what this Drama CD-series is about, can take a look in the Listening Practice-thread.

The first CD release does a good job setting up the story. You get a good feel for the characters and what type of drama to expect. I find this to be very easy on the ears, much like a good TV drama. :slight_smile:

They’ve done a great job transposing the light novel to a sound only drama. Even when there is action, it’s easy to imagine what’s going on.

I guess, I’d rate this as intermediate level difficulty for now. :thinking:

(though I think it might get harder later on)


I watched a couple more movies:

壁あつき部屋 (The Thick-Walled room)
I watched this one because I love Kwaidan, and loved Black River when I watched it last year, and so the director, Masaki Kobayashi, is batting 100 so far for me! So in my backlog system I put a queue together of some of his movies on the Criterion Channel (with The Human Condition notably left out since I think I might try pairing it with the book down the line out of curiosity).
And I’d say the streak is holding so far, since I think this is a really interesting movie! I can definitely see elements of both Black River and Kwaidan in it, with the latter coming in the form of this one delirium sequence:

… And the former showing in a strong emphasis on portraying the social elements of the subject. The movie is about B and C class war criminals - which I take to mean from the movie, rank and file soldiers who commited war crimes, rather than architects and orchestrators who planned or profited off of them. It’s obviously a really fraught and complciated subject! Especially, surely, in the 50s in the movie was made. And while I don’t really think it like, interrogates the full scope of Japanese war crimes at all (the credits say it’s based on diaries of B and C class war criminals, and the characters it portrays are individuals who definitely did bad things and killed innocents in the war no question - but also under circumstances like being ordered to do it, or being framed for further crimes by unsympathetic tribunals. It doesn’t touch at all on more systemic massacres or oppression or sexual assault or anything involving Japan’s occupation of Korea, etc.), I think it conveys a righteous socialist anger towards the “A” class war criminals and profiteers, with the focused-on characters largely being forgotten manual laborers and minorities put in horrific circumstances by the engine of war and then left to rot with their own guilt as the machine trundles away without them.
The ending arc for the closest thing to a protagonist is when he gets parole and goes to the house of the (repugnant, kitten-kicking) commander who ordered him to kill an innocent and then let him take all the blame, and ultimately decides not to kill him and returns to prison in a triumphant end. It would be an interesting one to write an essay about on exactly what I think it’s saying and how, but I’m gonna try to avoid doing that since it’s really late.
And all of that is amid a setting teeming with interesting (now) historic detail, like the communist brother visiting one of the inmates, or the news from Korea being a continuing major topic, or the independence-seeking guerillas in scenes set in (I think, I could 100% be wrong) the Philippines.
Even if the subject matter is uncomfortable, and it could never be and isn’t a be-all end-all take on the subject, I think it’s a very interesting and considered slice of a turbulent part of history.
It’s got some 50s movie clunkiness to it though. There’s a lot of western MPs and tribunal staff etc. who almost invariably all have very weird and hard to place accents (to my ears at least), in that ineffable “this is ultimately meant to be English-sounding background noise for Japanese subtitles” way. And one part I didn’t like at all is a female side character is very bluntly portrayed as having been quote “colonized” since the war ended, going from one exaggerated feminine stereotype to another, for the sake of showing the irony of an imprisoned war criminal pining for her.

Anyway, because of the complexity of the subject matter, I just let myself read the subtitles. But I’d at least like to think plenty of language got through anyway!

A while back I was reading Nobuhiko Obayashi’s wikipedia page and saw that he directed a movie where Joe Shishido plays Osamu Tezuka’s Black Jack???
That’s such a bizarre combination of things that I new I had to see it soon, and sadly I don’t think it’s in print in any form, so I just watched a version someone put on youtube without any subtitles. Language-wise, I think I did ok! It’s not the most complicated of stories (and I think maybe I’ve read the original in English).
Like Obayashi’s adaptation of The Drifting Classroom, this is an adaptation of a manga with a really distinctive style, where Obayashi’s own really distinctive style 100% takes over it.
I think a lot of what makes Tezuka’s work so good is that he can do anything - silly and endearing, gritty and tense, completely absurd and fully grounded, all sharing the same page and somehow equally effective. I get the impression from this on the other hand, Obayashi is gonna do Obayashi stuff (garish experimental visuals, simple melodrama, showing young women undressing maybe a disconcerting amount), and he’s gonna knock that stuff out of the park, but you aren’t gonna like… ever forget it’s a movie Obayashi directed, you know?
And so there’s a surprising ton of like, faithful adaptations of the characters (Pinoko moved directly into the context of a live action movie is weird) and Tezuka in-jokes all over the place. But there isn’t really any attempt to give those elements the air of weight and seriousness they have in the comic. Joe Shishido is already a pretty silly looking person because of those cosmetically altered cheeks of his… and taking the Black Jack costume directly from the page to screen does not help. He doesn’t do a bad job, but if I remember right - there’s only one surgery scene in the movie, and it’s played goofily for laughs. I definitely found myself pining for a version of this where he got to play more straight-faced dramatic scenes and could sell the absurdity of the costume more (which made me think of Branded to Kill and wonder what Seijun Suzuki’s verison of this would look like…)

… But the whole main part of the movie doesn’t really have anything to do with that and it’s about a girl tennis star getting sucked into a deadly romance with a scary pianist who might be a ghost living in her transplanted eye and that’s definitely full-on a good fun vehicle for Obayashi (fresh after House, even, apparently). There’s some really good melodramatic stuff in there, and I love the soundtrack both in how much fun it has with the repetetive plot-relevant piano riff in dramatic moments, and in the electronic noodling it gets into in lower-key scenes.
It’s aaaalmost just a fun good goofy movie - but it’s hard to ignore how distracting the Black Jack stuff is! Not necessarily in a bad way… just an unusual way.


Just wow. That’s some terrible make-up. Apparently they hated the idea of giving him black skin so much that they made him blue. :woman_facepalming:

Doesn’t sound like something I’d enjoy, though I’d love a Black Jack live action movie - if taken seriously. By far, my favorite anime adaption of the manga was the serious 90s OVA-series. But, yeah, the plotlines might not have been that different from this. :joy:


Seriously, FLESH & BLOOD has some high quality production. :astonished: everything from the music to the SFX is really well done.

In the second CD release, we get the full crew onboard the Gloria. :sailboat: There’s some rather gruesome moments, I guess realistic. I didn’t really say anything about content warnings, but there’s the physical violence at times, then there’s of course the BL angle.

I still feel like this is great listening practice, as it’s just very easy to get swallowed up by the story. I guess it helps that they got several major seiyuu names onboard. :slight_smile: Even side characters are big name actors! o_o

I should also point out that the first release was actually 2 CDs long. The second release is one CD, so it varies. But at 21 CD-releases, that’s plenty of hours of listening. :sweat_smile: (not counting the multiple special releases)



Finished another drama: 末っ子長男姉三人!

  1. 末っ子長男姉三人
    Quality: ★★★★
    Enjoyment: ★★★★
    Ease of understanding: ★★★★

I had really low expectations for it, but I ended up liking it a lot! No particular difficulties on the listening front other than the characters sometimes speaking very quickly.

For the new drama season, I’ve tried:

  • ミステリと言う勿れ - I’ve watched two episodes. I’m a huge fan of the manga, so it’s hard not to want it to be amazing in every way, but it’s not bad as it is. I will probably enjoy it to the end (which I’m wondering how they’ll manage, considering??).
  • ケイ×ヤク -あぶない相棒- - In the middle of episode 2. I’m very interested and also very prepared to be disappointed in various ways.
  • となりのチカラ - I’m in the middle of episode 1. It may or may not be good, but it has an Arashi member in it AND Ueto Aya (!), so I’ll likely watch it regardless.
  • 30までにとうるさくて - Most of the way through episode 1. Enjoying it a lot in a low-expectations way!
  • ドクターホワイト - Finished episode 1. Harmless and watchable, and I’d probably keep going if I didn’t have so many other things to watch both in Japanese and Mandarin, or if the supporting cast were two or three ticks up in the spectrum of actors I’m interested in watching.
  • ムチャブリ! わたしが社長になるなんて - Finished episode 1. I’ll probably enjoy this more than not (unless it goes downhill from here), but I may not continue it soon.

I will probably also try, among others: DCU 〜手錠を持ったダイバー〜 (it doesn’t really look like it’s for me but it has both Ichikawa Mikako and Shuri, so… I will try), 愛しい嘘~優しい闇~ (Haru! but everyone and everything else isn’t drawing me in), and 失恋めし (Hirose Alice! but episodic hm).

For 2022 I’m doing a Johnny’s-focused immersion project. I’m a long-time fan of Arashi, and this year I’m giving time each month to a different group in the same agency. I’m going for 10 variety show episodes, 1 drama starring one of the members, as much music as possible, and 1 full concert. January was V6! The drama above had one of the members in it. I watched all the stuff (though it took a concerted push at the end of the month after procrastinating). It was a lot of fun to try a bunch of different variety shows from them (they’ve had so many) and I loved their concert. :+1:

On top of the 10 variety episodes for that, I watched 10 of my normal Arashi ones.

For audiobooks I finished 鍵のかかった部屋 and started 魔女の宅急便 5. I’ve listened to several audiobooks of the Enomoto series now, but I think 鍵のかかった部屋 was the most listenably fun one yet.


I’m also watching these! I’m kind of underwhelmed by ケイxヤク so far. It seems like it’s not really committing to being BL or crime drama or comedy and just drifting vaguely not developing any of them. :confused: I only finished 2 episodes though, meaning to watch Ep. 3 tonight. I usually love comedies with 犬飼貴丈 and 板尾創路 so I want so much for it to be good.

ドクターホワイト I’m really enjoying though on a kind of brainless level (finished Ep 2). It’s probably not going to rock your world so you’re not missing much at least for the next episode.


I really want ケイxヤク to be good, too! Hopefully it can find its way. I am especially impressed by 犬飼貴丈 so far–he’s giving the character a magnetism that makes the show more compelling.

I felt the same way about ドクターホワイト! I may come back to it someday when I don’t have so much stuff to watch and I need something to anki to.


Lots of plot development and the intrigues are getting more complicated for sure in FLESH & BLOOD, 4th Drama CD release (2 CDs). I’m pretty sure I’ve missed some of the finer points when I listen for longer stretches of time, I tend to space out from time to time. :sweat_smile: (I haven’t counted, but this release is defo over 1 hour long, not sure if it’s as much as 2 hours, but, compared to an episode of anime, yeah, it’s a LOT of content and time for plot development! )

How are you guys doing your listening sessions? Do you stop once your attention start to waver or do you just trudge on? Or do you listen for shorter periods with short pauses inbetween, to maybe keep your focus? :eyes:

So, far I keep listening until I find a good stopping point in the story, much like I do with reading. But, it could also be about me being too tired to keep up translating what I’m reading/listening to. :thinking:


I stop watching shows/movies and stop audiobooks if I find my attention is drifting too much and I’m not actually listening. It feels like wasted content to me I guess. I’m consuming this media because I enjoy it, so if I’m not enjoying it why continue? And on a secondary level I’m listening to learn, and if I’m not actually listening I’m certainly not learning.

But like, occasional boredom and missing a sentence here and there? Yeah that’s no big deal and similar to how I watch/listen to things in English. I actually listen to audiobooks while out on walks so depending on how heavy traffic (or other noise) is while I’m out and about I definitely miss some sentences just from not being able to hear.

Re stopping point: I suspect audiobooks are fairly similar to drama CDs, but maybe not. In any case, if I’m not tired I go to the end of the chapter. If I am tired (or busy or whatever) I just stop where ever and let future me deal with it. :stuck_out_tongue:


That makes a lot of sense. I guess, if I feel like I can snap back to focused listening I continue, but if I start waver in my attention again and again I’ll call it a day? :thinking:

I haven’t given audiobooks a try yet. Not even in my native language. I happened to find out about Japanese drama CDs before I had the chance, and now that I know thre’s a theatrical form/drama adaption of stories with full cast, music and sfx, just listening to someone read a story out loud seems a bit…lacking? At any rate, it’s a different medium. The same distinction as between books and stage theatre really.

I guess, my love of seiyuu also plays a role, as I love to hear their acting performaces. :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:


If it’s anything to entice you to the dark side (of audiobooks?) I’ve noticed that some famous seiyuu also do voice acting for books. Those ones I’ve noticed tend to be more dramatically produced. For example I love the audiobook for かがみの孤城 (audiobook trailer) and I recall there being some famous seiyuu in 永遠のゼロ (trailer) which is a war story and had plenty of audio effects during the veterns’ recounting of events.

But yeah, different strokes for different folks. I can see myself getting into drama CDs at some point, just haven’t made the effort to investigate the genre. Podcasts on the other hand, I don’t like in English or Japanese. :person_shrugging:


I really need to do my research here! I’m defo checking out audiobooks in the future. :slight_smile: I’m sure I can find something I’ll fall in love with. :headphones:

But, yeah, I’ve tried podcasts, but they don’t really work for me. It’s not a language thing, but rather, they don’t keep my attention. I was never much for radio talkshows etc, so looking for that content in Japanese is pushing it probably.

I want my story! :triumph:


So, I have been making some effort at listening to something every day, and I’m proud of that, but it’s been a mix of flitting between shows and, primarily, spending a whole bunch of time on whatever I stumble upon on Youtube. Mostly because whatever I try is largely under the threshold of tolerable ambiguity, heh.

I’ve been meaning to ask, since a lot of you seem significantly further along in your listening abilities than me, would you say you did anything in particular to work on your listening, or was it just a function of lots and lots of time? Obviously lots of time is inevitable regardless. What’s kind of catching me is while I’m willing to just keep on listening for whatever parts I can comprehend, in practice, I find that difficult. I don’t really have problems focusing on reading or any other studying, but my listening comprehension is patchy in most places, and the real problem I’m noticing recently is that once I start losing the thread of what is being said (which, depending on the material, usually doesn’t take long heh), it’s super hard to keep the discipline to actually focus on picking out what I can.

While I’m here, for the sake of the thread focus, I will share that I’ve been watching a decent bit of RTA in Japan, Japanese videogame speedrunning (which I learned about from @VikingSchism, thanks a bunch). Comprehension varies and is rarely as good as I’d like, but because speedruns are just fun to watch, it’s good material for when you might be missing chunks. Also, I already knew this, but wow, speedrunners are impressive.


Yes, lots of time, but also, smart use of said time. :smiley:
For me breaking into listening was a combo of:

  • Audio flashcards
  • Blind listening followed by read-along listening
  • Lots of normal read-along listening

Audio flashcards:
So if you happen to have access to ~files~ through whatever means you can make excellent audio flashcards for Anki using Subs2SRS. There are also premade decks out there but I am not sure if I can share that link on this forum.
I suspended a ton of cards because they were too hard and highly recommend that over banging your head against a leech because you just. don’t. get it. :face_exhaling: Can always un-suspend later. ya know?

Blind reading:
What I mean by this is listen to a story/chapter/article once without looking at the text or any visuals. I just followed as much as I could and tried not to lose the thread. Then I’d listen to it again, with text aid. I’d look up words as needed. When I felt I understood, I relistened again blind. It’s really important to try to find something you expect will already be a comprehensible level for you reading so you’re just tuning your ear and not struggling to understand grammar and vocab. I thought Satori Reader was really good for this, and IIRC some of the news sites have narrated articles? Audiobooks are great if you can find ones at the right level and some JP hardsubbed youtube channels are good (I remember using this scary story channel a lot…)

Read alongs:
I still do this a ton. I read books with narration / alongside the audiobook. I don’t count that as listening hours, but I do think it helps train my ear, albeit to a lesser extent than the other methods.

I honestly think the first method helped me actually break through the wall of omg-they-speak-so-fast-why-can’t-I-catch-any-of-it and the second one built my stamina for longer listening sessions.

Hope that’s helpful and looking forward to seeing what others did :smiley:


Very much appreciate all of the ideas, thank you! Been thinking about it a little and I’m going to do my best to use some of this.

Audio flashcards, as helpful as they sound, probably have to at least wait until the future because between Wanikani and mining words in reading, I’m at the SRS saturation point. If I either finish WK or bail early, I’ll think about it then. The other two I’m going to do my best to work with though, and I appreciate those resources too! Used Satori Reader reader in the past, and I did make a bit of a listening effort, but at that time I was still in the “I have to make any Japanese make sense at all” zone so I was more focused on the reading comprehension side, heh.

I’m not in the worst position now – if I go to something like learner listening material, it’s not a big deal. I moved up past Nihongo con Teppei to the podcast he does with Noriko and I find that not so bad either, and that’s a step up in speed and whatnot from the usual slowed down learner things. It’s just hard to break through the wall of “real” Japanese through some combination of natural (or put on role type) speech being less clear, not knowing words so well that I can follow them at full speed / without kanji, etc. Still gotta just get better at processing Japanese with less time spent and learning more words too. I’ll be working on it, incorporating some of your ideas for sure. :slight_smile:

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I watched a couple more old movies!

雨月物語 (Ugetsu)
I had really really high hopes for this given how much I’ve enjoyed other period ghost movies in the past, and they were largely met! The movie’s very well put together, with frequent gorgeous shots (the boat sequence in the mist is lovely!) and clear storytelling that suits the fairy tale like subject matter, about Sengoku-period commoners seeking money and glory and losing sight of supporting the lives they already had in the process. It’s the first movie I’ve seen from the extremely well-regarded director, Kenji Mizoguchi, and I’d like to see more.

I think the only thing stopping it from absolutely meeting my lofty expectations, is that compared to other movies that I’ve enjoyed like Kwaidan, Kuroneko, or Tokaido Yotsuya Kaidan, this one is older and I’d say has less of an element of strangeness. Like the vibe is 100% “classic,” which makes for a plenty great movie but maybe satisfies less the part of me wanting weird or cult horror (through no actual fault). The supernatural stuff that is there is awfully cool though! (Love the scenes with the ghost of the father) I enjoyed it very much but didn’t outright love it the way I did the other movie I watched that night (the kung fu movie King Boxer / Five Fingers of Death), which just speaks to where my headspace was at at the time and my expectations going in more than the movie itself.

One major qualm I do have is it’s very much a movie about husbands’ actions and growth where their wives’ role in the story is largely to suffer heavy consequences of those actions to elicit that growth. The wives themselves are interesting and sympathetic and well-acted (the wife who is raped and goes to work in a brothel after her husband abandons her for counterfeit military glory comes across as the most competent person in the movie by the end) and I would have preferred if they were more the focus of the movie themselves instead of just a vector for the husbands to bumble into life lessons. Oh well.

I watched Ugetsu with Japanese subtitles from a Japanese blu-ray - and I could do that pretty much without thinking about it, which is cool!

張込み (Stakeout)
This is another movie from the Criterion Channel’s set of Japanese noir movies. I hadn’t ever heard of it before and had no real expectations based on the bland name, but I saw that it’s adapted from a short story, so I thought why not - might as well read that first (it’s the first one in this collection). And I’m really glad I did because seeing how the story was adapted added a really fascinating layer of context to the movie!

The short story is very simple and straightforward: a detective takes a train from Yokohama to Kyushu in order to stakeout the house of a murder suspect’s former lover who is now a housewife with step children, on the hunch that the suspect will make contact with her. He does, and the suspect and housewife run off to a hot spring together, leading to a chase followed by an arrest, and the detective notes that in all the time he observed her, she only seemed full of life with the suspect, but he makes sure she isn’t caught up in the arrest and gives her the means to go back to her regular life in time for nobody to realize she was gone. The end.

After reading it, I wondered idly how you would adapt that into a movie. Not being a screenwriter, I came up with no particular ideas, and if somehow hired for the task anyway, would have produced an 80 minute bland retelling of what happened in the book.
Fortunately – it turns out the screenwriter for this movie is Shinobu Hashimoto, an extremely well-versed screenwriter and frequent Akira Kurosawa collaborator, incl. on Seven Samurai, adapting Rashomon, etc. So it’s very safe to say he knew exactly what he was doing and was far, far better suited to the task than me, a non-writer who spent like ten minutes thinking about it.
The result makes for a really interesting case study in how to adapt story like this.
The movie makes several major changes – all of which I think strongly benefit the movie:

  1. Instead of one detective, it’s two detectives on the stakeout. This one’s obvious in retrospect - it’s a movie, there needs to be someone to talk to!
  2. Heavily emphasize the weather and heat of the Kyushu summer. There’s basically no scene in the movie without fans or cicadas or someone complaining about the heat, or trying to cool off. This injects a ton of life into the movie both by making the setting sensory and evocative and by ramping up the tension – how do you show sitting around waiting for something to happen is tense? Make the act of sitting around palpably miserable because of how hot it is.
  3. Fill out some subplots. The movie adds the background that the detective is trying to decide whether to marry his girlfriend despite difficulties they would have supporting themselves or go with a comfortable match put together by his family, giving him a clear arc based on what he observes on the stakeout as he decides to marry his girlfriend at the end of the movie, and it also adds more interaction with the staff of the in where the detectives stay, adding tension as the staff wonder who these mysterious layabouts are, and additional perspective on the theme of the movie once the tension is resolved and the innkeeper gives her perspective on women’s married life to the protagonist.
  4. Add more false alarms – the short story oddly doesn’t really have these. They go a long way to fill out the runtime and make the tension of the wait come across and make for some tense sequences all on their own (like the downpour scene or the bus scene I think are great)

The result is something that’s both a very faithful rendition of the original story, that also works particularly well for film. I saw afterward he won multiple industry awards for this screenplay at the time, so I guess it wasn’t just me who was impressed!

That process of going in with no expectations really at all and finding something interesting was very satisfying! It’s still a very simple story, that’s mostly about waiting, and I don’t like that it’s ultimately about a man feeling he knows a woman’s heart just by watching her, but I never found it uninteresting because you see a whole lot of 1950s Japan, from a whole train ride south, to a lot of Saga and the Kyushu countryside. That was present in the story too, but totally blossoms on screen. There’s also a great late title card.

I watched it on the criterion channel with English subtitles and didn’t do a very good job of remembering to try to not look at them. That probably doesn’t make for spectacular listening practice, which is ostensibly the point of the thread… but hopefully nobody minds if I post about these movies anyway.